My Little Foragers

A few weeks ago I did a story on Foraging With Kids. As with all educational things I do with my children I never know if it has any impact. So I was taken by surprise when out on a nature hike the boys suddenly screamed “ONIONS!” They had actually spotted wild garlic, which look and smell similar to small onions. All three vigorously began yanking and tugging to break some bulbs loose from the soil. We harvested a few sizable pieces and Dylan insisted he would keep them safe in his pocket, dirt and all, until we got home.

After a lively discussion we unanimously decided a pizza sauce would be the perfect thing to make with our wild edibles. Nothing hard about this recipe and a much better alternative to jarred sauce. With some simple ingredients, tomatoes, garlic, and some spices (plus, I snuck in a zucchini), we had a delicious sauce in no time. And the boys were thrilled that they had eaten off the land. I can almost guarantee they would not have eaten this zucchini sauce had they not had a part in harvesting one of the ingredients. I will confess, I supplemented with garlic cloves purchased at the supermarket.

Now if you live in the suburbs you might be familiar with this plant (or weed as most people would refer to it) as it tends to invade lawns in clumps and take over quickly. This is how I first became acquainted with it, although I would strongly advise against eating anything from a lawn that has fertilizer on it.

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Zucchini Sausage Pizza

Ingredients

1 zucchini, peeled, cut in large chunks

1 can diced tomatoes, drained

2 Tbsp olive oil, divided

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 tsp kosher salt

1 tsp sugar

½ tsp oregano

½ tsp basil

½ tsp pepper

1 lb. sausage meat, removed from casings

1 package pizza dough

All-purpose flour, for dusting

2 cups, shredded mozzarella cheese

Method

Puree zucchini and diced tomatoes until smooth. Heat one tablespoon of the olive oil over medium heat in a saucepan. Then add garlic and cook for about 1 minute until fragrant. Do not brown.

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To the garlic, add pureed vegetables, salt, sugar, oregano, basil, and pepper and stir to combine. Bring to a boil and then turn heat down to a simmer. Let sauce reduce by at least half, this will take about 45 minutes. The sauce can be made ahead and refrigerated for 3-4 days.

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Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a skillet and brown the sausage, breaking it up, until cooked thoroughly. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet by lightly coating it with olive oil. Roll out pizza dough on a floured surface and transfer to baking sheet.

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Next add the zucchini sauce in an even layer onto the dough.

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Then top with sausage.

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And lastly, sprinkle liberally with cheese.

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Bake in oven until underside of the pizza is crispy, approximately 12-15 minutes.

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 7): “That’s some good stuff”

Liam (age 5): “Only put a little on mine”

Dylan (age 5): “I love our onion sauce!”

Can you guess who made these?

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Grilling Spree

Memorial Day marks the official first weekend of summer and unofficial grilling season. After a long, cold winter I was pretty excited to get outside and flex my grilling muscles so I went on a bit of a spree. I grilled avocado for guacamole, I grilled bacon for breakfast, and I even tried grilling fruit. But the best dish we had all weekend was the grilled pizza.

Since my homemade pizza/ ketchup was due to expire soon, I decided pizza was a must for our first BBQ of the season. Pizza is one of those superfoods that my kids never ever tire of. It’s right up there with grilled cheese and chicken nuggets.

I broke out the rolling pins (we have 4), lined the boys up and we got to work. If you like to cook with your kids I highly recommend you invest in some rolling pins. It’s the cheapest babysitter in town. They keep my kids busy and happy for at least ten minutes, sometimes, even fifteen before they start fighting with them. Enough time to heat up the grill and get my own dough rolled.

Easy Peasy Pizza

Ingredients

1 package pizza dough (buy 2 if you have some little helpers)
Flour, for dusting
2 Tbsp olive oil, for brushing
Salt & Pepper
½ cup homemade pizza sauce
½ cup grated fresh parmesan or ½ cup ricotta cheese
1 tsp fresh oregano or 1 tsp fresh parsley

 
Method
Preheat grill to high. Divide pizza dough into eight small pieces. Dust your surface and rolling pin with some flour so dough doesn’t stick. Roll each piece out to desired thinness. If dough is springing back just let it rest a few minutes and start again. When dough is rolled place on baking sheet.

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Add oil to small bowl and season with salt and pepper. Brush one side of dough with olive oil and place oil side down on heated grill. Cook about 2-3 minutes until dough begins to get bubbly and is lightly browned.

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Brush top side with some oil and flip. Cook another 2-3 minutes until crust is lightly charred and then transfer crusts back to baking sheet. Spoon one tablespoon of sauce on each crust. Less is more on the toppings. Too much sauce will make your pizza soggy. Add parmesan cheese and oregano, or ricotta cheese and parsley.

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Place baking sheet onto grill and close cover, heat an additional 2-3 minutes, until crust is crispy and cheese is melted. Enjoy!

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And the VERDICT is:
Matthew (age 6): “Thumbs down on that ricotta stuff! But I love the other one”
Liam (age 5): “This pizza is GREAT”
Dylan (age 5): “What kind of cheese is THAT?”
Parmesan was the clear winner but the ricotta was also GREAT!

 

For my local readers:

Great event this weekend at Fairway Market in Pelham Manor!

Saturday May 31st. 1-3pm

Funny Food Workshop Breakfast Event – Bill Wurtzel, author of “Funny Food 365 Fun, Healthy, Silly, Creative Breakfast” teaches families how to create funny food art.

Register at customer service or online at www.fairwaymarket.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Food Trucks Of My Youth

Growing up we hung out at a place we dubbed the Loop. Basically it was just a circular driveway where we would congregate on bikes and skateboards. And also where the ice cream trucks would park when they made the rounds to our neighborhood. Once we heard the bells from the Good Humor man we would run like Pavlov’s dogs and clamor around the trucks.

Besides the ice cream trucks we also had a food truck that frequented our hangout. We called him The Chow Chow Man. Now this was before the popularity of food trucks so this guy was way ahead of his time. The Chow Chow man sold a very strange and unique American Asian fusion cuisine.

One particular item, which was, hands down, the best seller, was his egg roll. Instead of a filling of pork and shredded cabbage, they contained a hotdog wrapped in American cheese. I cringe now when I think about it but as a kid I LOVED them. It was his version of American junk food. This guy was a genius; he must have sold thousands of those egg rolls. I am sure my mother was not aware we were spending our Popsicle money on them right before dinner. I am also sure we didn’t eat our dinner on the days we bought them.

In the spirit of the Chow Chow man I am going to do an American twist on one of my favorite Dim Sum dishes – Cha sui bao, buns filled with barbeque flavored pork. Instead of the soft doughy buns I am going to wrap the filling in pizza dough, and replace the scallions with green beans. Weird I know, but I think my kids are going to love them.

Cha siu bao – American-style

Dumpling Filling (adapted from Asian Dumplings” by Andrea Nguyen)

Step 1: Make the pork

1 clove garlic, smashed

1 1/2 Tbsp sugar

1/2 Tsp ground ginger

2 1/2 Tbsp hoisin sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp honey

1 1/2 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

2 1/2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 1/2 Tbsp sesame oil

1 lb. Country style pork ribs (boneless), cut into 1 1/2 inch strips

 

Mix the first eight ingredients in a large zip lock bag or bowl. Remove 1/3 of the marinade and set aside in refrigerator, to be used later to baste the pork. Place the pork into the marinade and coat evenly. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6-8 hours, turning once or twice.

Preheat the oven to 475 degrees. Prepare a baking sheet lined with foil and place a baking rack on top. Place the pork on the rack and discard the used marinade.

Roast for 30 minutes. Turn and baste with the reserved marinade every 10 minutes. The pork is done when it is glazed and slightly charred. Remove and let rest for 10 minutes. Dice into small cubes and set aside.

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Step 2: Make the filling

1 Tbsp sugar

Pinch of salt and pepper

1 Tbsp soy sauce

2 Tbsp hoisin sauce

1 Tbsp water

1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar

1 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch

2 Tbsp warm water

2 tsp canola oil

1 cup of green beans, sliced into small rounds

1 small onion, finely diced

1 lb pork ribs, diced

 

Combine the sugar, salt, pepper, soy sauce, hoisin sauce, and water in a small bowl. Stir to dissolve sugar and set aside. In another small bowl, mix the vinegar, cornstarch and water. Stir until cornstarch dissolved and set aside.

In a large skillet heat the canola oil over medium heat. Add the onions and green beans, cook until softened and slightly caramelized.

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And the pork and combine well. Next add the sugar mixture and cook, stirring frequently until the pork is heated through. Then add the cornstarch mixture and cook until the mixture gets nice and sticky. Remove from heat.

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Note: The first two steps can be prepared up to 2 days in advance. Keep refrigerated.

Step 3: Assemble the “buns”

1 package store bought pizza dough

Olive oil for brushing

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare large baking sheet with parchment paper. Roll out pizza dough on a lightly floured surface. Cut small rounds with a pastry round. The top of a glass will work well too.

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Place a spoonful of filling into the center of the dough round and pinch ends together. Place on baking sheet with the pinched side down. Poke small hole in top of each to allow steam to escape. Brush a small amount of olive oil over the tops. Bake for approximately 15-18 minutes until dough is crispy on bottom and top is lightly browned. Filling will bubble over slightly through the hole in top.

 

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And the VERDICT is:

Matthew (age 6): “Oh, nice Chinese platter” “Lots of people will read this one!”

Liam (age 4): “I could just tell these were gonna be good!”

Dylan (age 4): “Really, really, really yummy”

House of Bedlam food truck here we come!