Cooking with kids is not just about ingredients, recipes, and cooking. It’s about harnessing imagination, empowerment, and creativity.
– Guy Fieri
One of my favourite little people, The Jam, loves cooking. Sometimes, when we Skype, he is in the middle of baking something delectable with his parents. This made picking an activity to do with him (besides reading stories) quite easy! In fact, when I was home in January I decided to get him, and his family, two cookbooks – The Usbourne Beginner’s Cookbook and Ella’s Kitchen: The Cookbook. When I returned in August, I picked a recipe from the former of these books to make with him. So, off we marched the local shop where we picked up some baguettes and where he conned me into buying ice-creams for his parents and a King Cornetto for himself (smart kid!).
One reason why I feel this recipe is a great one to do with kids is because they can choose their own toppings based on their own likes and dislikes, and can help at a variety of levels depending on their age. They can learn to chop onions, mince garlic and pull together a tomato sauce, under supervision, or, if not quite ready for that, just add the toppings like The Jam did. Plus….pizzas are always fun!
When I made this recipe with The Jam it was a three person effort: his mom chopped the deli ham, chorizo, and peppers, I cut the baguettes and made the sauce, and he made the pizzas with my help. As he is only three, he did need a little help spooning the sauce onto the baguettes and smoothing it out. However, he was more than capable of sprinkling on the meat, peppers, and cheese. He also had fun dolloping on the pesto. Best of all? He had his own little pizza!
I tried to replicate these recently with my friend, Ashley. Unfortunately, the bakery didn’t have any baguettes that weren’t loaded with cheese or sweet garlic. After a moment of panic and crossness, I picked up some English Muffins as I figured that the sauce wouldn’t sink through the bread. I was right, and while the taste is definitely different, I’d recommend them as an alternative to baguettes and they’d be a good idea for making individual portions with kids.
When making these with kids, organise your table left to right – baguettes on the right with your sauce and toppings to left of the baguette. Make sure that there are spoons for the sauce, pesto and cheese.
Pizza Baguettes and English Muffins
(Adapted from Usbourne Beginners Cookbook)
2 baguettes/ 4 English muffins
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, sliced
- 2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
- 410g (14oz) tin, chopped tomatoes
- ½ tsp dried mixed herbs (use a mix of basil, parsley and oregano)
- ½ tsp tomato paste
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 stick chorizo, cut into bite size pieces
- 1-2 slices of deli ham, cut into bite size pieces
- 1 bell pepper, washed cut into bite size pieces (yellow, red or orange work best)
- handful spinach, washed and chopped (optional)
- 3-4 black olives,cut into thirds (optional)
- Bunch of cilantro, washed chopped (optional)
- 3 sundried tomatoes per “pizza” (optional)
- 1 cup shredded cheese (Mozzarella, Cheddar or “Pizza” Cheese are good options)
- Preheat your oven to 200°C.
- Cut the baguettes in half lengthways/cut the muffins in half burger bun style Place on a baking sheet or pizza pan and set aside.
- Meanwhile, heat the oil on medium heat.
- Once hot, add the onion and garlic and cook for 5 minutes or until they are soft.
- Increase heat and add the tomatoes, paste, herbs, and seasoning. Bring to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium and cook for ten minutes until most of the liquid is gone.
- Remove from stove and set aside to cool for around 10 minutes.
- Whilst cooling prepare your vegetables and meat.
- Divide and spread the tomato sauce evenly among the baguettes/muffins.
- Top with chorizo, ham and peppers. If you want, you can move on to step 11. Otherwise, add some, or all, of the other vegetable toppings
- Sprinkle cheese on top of each baguette
- Using a ¼ teaspoon, dollop pesto on top of the cheese.
- Place in the oven* and cook for around 15 minutes until the cheese is bubbling and lightly toasted.
- Let them cool slightly and then enjoy.
*If using a toaster oven, you can keep the same temperature but use the lowest level of the toaster oven and check at 10 minutes to see how “done” it is. If ready, remove and serve. As you can see by my photo of the English Muffin, I didn’t think to do this originally. It was bit crisp but still good!
Vegetarian Option: Leave out the chorizo and ham. Use sautéed mushrooms or courgette instead.
For a larger crowd: This recipe is easily doubled, or you can cut the baguettes into smaller pieces and use a starter.
Make it your own: Add the vegetable toppings you like, experiment with different meats and use half cheddar or half mozzarella. You can also add more or less cheese than specified above based on your own tastes.
Leftovers: If you don’t mind eating cold pizza, they make a good lunch or breakfast. If you have any left over vegetables, put aside in containers and in the morning, spread pesto on some baguette or English muffin and top with the remaining vegetables and some cheese. You could also add leftover vegetables to an omelette or scrambled eggs.