Creating memories in the kitchen

styled and directed by Jenn Smurr • recipes submitted by Jenn Smurr • photography by Penny & Finn

Many of us grew up being told not to play with our food. Playing with my food wasn’t very appealing to me, though. (I was a weird kid.) I did think that pouring milk into my oatmeal and making mountains out of it would be a fun thing to do, until I did just that. I haven’t played with my food since. But I have always enjoyed spending time in the kitchen with my mom, “playing with my food” but more in an exploratory way.
Kids enjoy experimenting with different tastes, textures, aromas, and colors. The early years spent in the kitchen with my mom encouraged me to be a food explorer. I love trying new foods. The Lakeland Food Truck Rally is something I really enjoy each month. I’m able to experience foods from all over the place while staying right in my own backyard. I was recently invited into the kitchen with Jenn Smurr — The Lakelander’s Taste editor and owner of Born & Bread Bakehouse — where she was assisting a group of kids in making pizza. While observing the kids making their pizzas, I was surprised that a full-fledged food war didn’t break out! And, while I was disappointed that there were no gummy worms or flying dough in Jenn’s hair, I’m sure their parents were not. I was expecting something similar to the food war in the movie Hook. In that scene, it’s not just your typical food fight; it’s the Lost Boys’ faces that make it the best scene in the movie.
The looks on their faces when Peter throws food with, and at, them are pure bliss. Those were the faces the kids making the pizzas wore, and they wore them well.
Jenn coached them through gently stretching their pizza dough,spreading their sauce evenly, and adding toppings as they desired.
Round one was “normal pizza” with typical toppings of pepperoni and cheese, which made me keenly aware of my hunger and my deep love of pizza. No, seriously, I am in love with pizza. Round two was kind of a free-for-all with all candy toppings of their choosing: chocolate, gummy worms, apples, frosting, and marshmallows — every kid’s dream and every mom’s nightmare. No one lacked creativity in their taste combinations and color schemes. The kitchen carried a fragrance of pizza crust, s’mores, and cotton candy. There was quite a bit of laughter as Jenn pulled the pizzas from the oven revealing the gooey and vibrant concoctions that would make Willy Wonka proud and make the Lost Boys scream “Bangarang!” in approval.
While there were lots of laughs from the Dukes and Duchesses of Awesomeness — which is what the group of young cooks dubbed themselves — and quite a mess to clean, a lot of memories were made and a fun time I don’t think any of us will soon forget.
Guy Fieri of Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, says “Cooking with kids is not just about ingredients, recipes, and cooking. It’s about harnessing imagination, empowerment, and creativity.” So, get in the kitchen with your people and create food, but more importantly, create memories. Create memories that will make your heart say “Bangarang!”
This is Jenn’s favorite pizza dough. She says:
A couple of years ago I became obsessed with pizza and its dough. Blame it on Pizzeria Delfina
in San Fran. When you have something so tasty from the other side of the country you feel inspired to give it a go! So, I searched for the “perfect” home oven recipe, and this is one of my favorites. In my opinion, the dough has the best flavor after it’s been in the fridge for two days. (I know, I know! TWO DAYS!? It’s a good practice in patience.) Have fun with unusual toppings or stay traditional. As you see from the photos, gummy worms, caramel sauce, and marshmallows are not recommended.
2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon pure olive oil
3/4 cup warm water
2 cups bread flour
1 teaspoon instant yeast
2 teaspoons olive oil
olive oil, for the pizza crust
flour, for dusting the pizza peel
Place the sugar, salt, olive oil, water, one cup of flour, yeast, and remaining cup of flour into a
standing mixer’s work bowl. Using the paddle attachment, start the mixer on low and mix until the dough just comes together, forming a ball. Lube the hook attachment with cooking spray. Attach the hook to the mixer and knead for 15 minutes on medium speed.
Tear off a small piece of dough and flatten into a disc. Stretch the dough until thin. Hold it up
to the light and look to see if the baker’s windowpane, or taut membrane, has formed. If the dough tears before it forms, knead the dough for an additional five to 10 minutes.
Roll the pizza dough into a smooth ball on the countertop. Place into a stainless steel or glass
bowl. Add two teaspoons of olive oil to the bowl and toss to coat. Cover with plastic wrap and
refrigerate for 18 to 24 hours.
Place the pizza stone or tile onto the bottom of a cold oven and turn the oven to its highest
temperature, about 500 degrees F. If the oven has coils on the oven floor, place the tile onto the lowest rack of the oven. Split the pizza dough into two equal parts using a knife or a dough scraper. Flatten into a disk onto the countertop, and then fold the dough into a ball.
Wet hands barely with water and rub them onto the countertop to dampen the surface. Roll the dough on the surface until it tightens. Cover one ball with a tea towel and let it rest for 30 minutes.
Repeat the steps with the other piece of dough. If not baking the remaining pizza immediately,
spray the inside of a zip-top bag with cooking spray and place the dough ball into the bag. Refrigerate for up to six days.
Sprinkle the flour onto the peel and place the dough onto the peel. Using your hands, form a lip around the edges of the pizza. Stretch the dough into a round disc, rotating after each stretch. Toss the dough in the air if you dare. Shake the pizza on the peel to be sure that it will slide onto the pizza stone or tile. (Dress and bake the pizza immediately for a crisp crust, or rest the dough for 30 minutes if you want a chewy texture.)
Brush the rim of the pizza with olive oil. Spread the pizza sauce evenly onto the pizza. Sprinkle
the herbs onto the pizza and top with the cheese.
Slide the pizza onto the tile and bake for seven minutes, or until bubbly and golden brown. Let
it rest for three minutes before slicing.[/item]
28-ounce can of San Marzano tomatoes (these tomatoes are naturally sweeter and less acidic than others)
1/2 teaspoon salt
*a pinch of garlic powder
*a pinch of crushed red pepper
Add all ingredients to a bowl, stir, and then crush tomatoes with a potato masher or large fork. That simple. So tasty.[/item]
Cheese pizza: Good mozzarella. I even like Polly-O!
Whatever brand you choose, buy a block and grate it yourself.
Freshly grated cheese is always worth your time.
BBQ chicken pizza: Prepared BBQ’d chicken, mozzarella
cheese, sliced red onions, cilantro, chopped tomatoes
Carbonara pizza: Pancetta, green onions, fresh romano
cheese, a little heavy cream, and an egg (put on a few minutes
before the pizza is finished).[/item]