Making food memories with sweet pizza

I have to admit, I was late in the game with discovering Ruth Reichl’s work. In fact, I hadn’t really known much about her until she came to Australia last year for the Melbourne Writers’ Festival to talk about her novel Delicious! But then I was serendipitously sent a wonderful book, the Italian translation of Reichl’s memoir, Tender at the Bone (La parte piu’ tenera in Italian). It’s the first of a series of twenty food related stories (among them are books such as Banana Yoshimoto’s Kitchen, Michael Pollan’s In Defence of Food and Laura Esquivel’s Like Water for Chocolate) that will be published once a week by Corriere della Sera, one of Italy’s leading newspapers. Available from 5 February is Simonetta Agnello Hornby’s Un filo d’olio — you can also buy the books online here.

storie di cucina IMG_6542 blog
pizzette dolci - sweet pizza

As an aside, I’ve started writing a column for the newspaper’s food website, Cucina Corriere, so for anyone that has been wanting to read me in Italian, now is your chance — it’s in both Italian and English! The column is called I Classici a Pranzo and the theme is classic Italian cookbooks. I’ll be bringing to light recipes from some of my favourite cookbooks twice a month, things like Artusi’s Florentine style meatloaf and Ada Boni’s egg and butter-less chocolate cake.

Picking wild strawberries
picking wild strawberries blog IMG_5927

Reichl’s book is one of those ones that even though it’s late and you really should be going to bed, you go, “Oh, just one more chapter.” It got me thinking of my own food memories – behind every major event in my life, I realised, there is a dish or some food punctuating every memory.

There’s my Sydney grandmother’s old fashioned pork chops with mashed pumpkin, shaped with an ice cream scoop, and my Tokyo grandmother’s miso soup with clams and a memory of eating impossibly giant, perfectly sweet, round peaches in the middle of the sweltering Japanese summer. There’s the memory of making jiao zi after school with our family cook, Mr Zhang, when I was a teenager living in Beijing. And eating the most divine carrot gnocchi with my college roommate, photographer Sara Lando (years later, while I was visiting her in Bassano del Grappa, she cooked them for me again and I got her to write down the recipe for me and it became one of the early recipes I blogged about). It goes without saying that the moment I knew the man who is now my husband was the one was over a plate of pasta.

food memories - wild strawberries

Now I try to create food memories as often as I can with my two year old daughter. If she sees me in the kitchen doing something without her, she says “I want to help!” and pulls up a chair. I can never get away without giving her a job to do. She has become my number one egg cracker and salt sprinkler. She helps me pick basil from the garden and knows how to pick only the ripe strawberries or raspberries (though those, admittedly, never make it to the kitchen). We make a daily smoothie together in the afternoon – I pour in the milk, she puts in the fruit. I blob in some yogurt and she pushes the button to whirl it all together. Then we drink it through coloured straws together.

When I have to roll out pizza dough or pastry, she is there, standing on her chair, ready to sprinkle flour and roll with her mini-roller, a small wooden version of mine. If cutting out shapes is required (also here), she knows the drill from plenty of practice with playdough.

I love that she knows her way around a kitchen, that she feels comfortable kneading dough or that she knows how delicate an egg is and can hold it with confidence. I hope that as she grows she always feels at home in a kitchen.

making pizzette

Like many kids, pizza is one of her favourite meals and we often make it together at home. This time I made some pizzette dolci, mini sweet pizza with various toppings. It’s an easy, flexible recipe that can be made to your taste, using what you have on hand and would be a rather fun thing to do as a make it yourself activity with kids. As the base you could use nutella, jam, ricotta, cream cheese or mascarpone. Toppings could include any fresh fruit, a drizzle of honey, a sprinkle of chopped nuts or coconut. Really anything goes — and big people like these as much as little ones do.

pizzette dolcisweet pizzette with fruit

Pizzette dolci (sweet mini fruit pizza)

This recipe makes a lot of pizzette. If you want less, I would recommend making the full dough recipe below, splitting it in half after rising and freezing half of the dough for making a full sized pizza or more pizzette another time — just let it thaw completely before rolling and using.

Makes about 48 mini pizzette

For the pizza dough:

  • 7 grams dried yeast
  • 280 ml lukewarm water
  • 500 grams flour (I used half wholemeal, half plain flour but you can use all plain), plus more for dusting
  • 60 ml olive oil, plus more for brushing
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

For the toppings:

  • Nutella, apricot jam, mascarpone, ricotta or cream cheese
  • Fresh strawberries, blueberries, peaches, sliced thinly
  • Toppings such as cinnamon or powdered sugar

For the pizza dough, combine the yeast and water. Stir into the flour and when half combined, add the olive oil and salt. Continue mixing until well combined, then knead until smooth and elastic, about 5 minutes. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let it rise until doubled in size (you can either put it in a warm place for at least an hour, if you are in a hurry, but better is overnight in the fridge). If you are freezing some of this dough, portion it now, wrap well in plenty of plastic wrap and freeze it now.

Roll out the dough on a lightly floured surface 4-5mm and cut out rounds with a cookie cutter or glass (about 4cm diameter). Place them on a baking sheet oiled lightly or lined with baking paper. Poke the pizzette all over with a fork, brush lightly with a little olive oil and bake 10 minutes in a oven at 180C (350F) or until lightly puffed and dry to the touch. If they brown too much they end up quite crunchy, I prefer a softer pizzetta for this.

Remove to a cake rack and let cool before topping with your desired toppings. Here, I did the following combinations:

  • 1/2 teaspoon nutella, a few strawberry slices, a few blueberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon apricot jam, a few slices of peach, cinnamon, blueberries
  • 1/2 teaspoon mascarpone (or ricotta or cream cheese), a few strawberry slices, a few blueberries, dusting of icing sugar

pizzette dolci

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Comments

12 Responses to “Making food memories with sweet pizza”
  1. Trisha says:

    These books sound great – I would love to read them! THanks for the recommendation

  2. Raja Makan says:

    Yes i like strawberry’s that’s make me feel surprise when i bite it. and now i will try your recipe for make the cookies with the amazing taste surprise from strawberry’s.

  3. There’s nothing sweeter than a mother and her child/ren spending time together in the kitchen xo

  4. What an extraordinary gift you are giving your daughter. I think i was about 8 before I learnt how to crack an egg, she’s obviously following in your footsteps.
    I love dessert pizzas but have never though to make these mini ones- what a wonderful idea for an afternoon tea, perhaps with a glass of Prosecco :)

    • Emiko says:

      I was too! I can remember learning how to make scrambled eggs probably around that age too. So I’m starting her young ;) Oh and good idea as an afternoon tea/high tea thing!

  5. Mary Frances says:

    These are so darling, such a perfect mother/daughter activity. You are giving her so many wonderful memories!

    • Emiko says:

      Sometimes it’s the only way I can think of getting something done, but I love having an activity that we both love doing together!

  6. Kate says:

    These pizzette are so sweet as are the pictures of your girl! Also, carrot gnocci – I need those in my life.

  7. Diana Bates says:

    Hello Emiko,

    I am a French translator and a great foodie, born in France, of Armenian origins and having lived in France and in London for a long time. I actually saw London change from a cheddar and bacon city to one of the great culinary destinations of Europe! I have just discovered your blog and love it, and have just read about your First cookery book. I dream of translating a cookbook with beautiful illustrations and interesting stories, which no doubt your would be. I would therefore love to be in contact, so please let me know what you think, and we can chat about this.

    Looking forward to hearing from you,

    Diana

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