Free to be You and Me (with anchovies). Or: Don’t Cook Down to Your Children

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So I’m prepping a pizza, thinking I’d make it several ways, with three flavor zones to accomodate the various palates in our household: 3 year old Desmond would take the cheese-only spot. 6 year old Violet would get the sage and onion. Aimee and I would eat the anchovy and red pepper flake part. So I finish prepping the pizza, topping it, put it in the oven. Then the kids see me cleaning up, putting away the extra anchovies. They ask me what they are: I say, little fish. They say the want them. I give them each a piece. And they loved them, tiny briny bones and all. Granted these weren’t the cruddy little metallic flavored fish that likely turned off entire generations, but some jarred stuff from the great L.A. food shop Jones on Third. They couldn’t get enough, either straight or on the pizza. Moral of the story: Even if you think they won’t like something, give them a chance. Don’t cook down to your children. If you do, you might be depriving them of their favorite food, the one they haven’t met yet. I know my kids are anchovy freaks now, and I couldn’t have predicted it.

The Picky Foodie Family 3-Zone Pizza:
(Anchovy, red pepper flake, and white onion; sage and black pepper; plain cheese)
We’ve gotten into the habit of making multiple zone pizzas like this one. Think of it as a sort of tasting menu of pizzas, or “trio of pizzas” to use restaurant parlance. In reality it can either satisfy everyone or introduce picky eaters to new flavors, as it did in this case.

For the pizza base:
1 premade pizza dough (ever happy to cheat, we use Trader Joe’s premade pizza dough. The white, NOT the wheat)
olive oil
2 cups shredded mozzarella or quattro formaggio

for zone one:
cheese
5 oil packed anchovies (preferably the jarred kind from Spain or Italy) chopped into 1/4 inch pieces
3 cloves thinly sliced garlic
1/4 cup thinly sliced white onion
a generous pinch red pepper flakes

for zone two:
cheese
1/4 cup thinly sliced white onion (sweeter types like maui onions usually don’t get much of a complaint)
5 fresh sage leaves, torn into 1/2 inch pieces
many generous grindings of fresh black pepper (okay, preferably tellicherry, but that’s going a bit too far)

for zone three:
just the cheese

Preheat oven to 425. Stretch the dough out into a free form rustic rectangular shape on a olive oiled baking sheet. This might take a bit of manipulation and time, but it’s important to make it as thin and wide as possible. Spread cheese thinly allover. Top the 3 zones as described above. Bake 20 minutes or so until it’s as gorgeous as you’d like it to be. You know, brown and crispy on the edges, and everything else bubbling and happy.

Easy side dish:
on a separate baking sheet, on the lower rack of the oven, add a bit of olive oil, a mess of broccolini, chopped garlic, salt and pepper, toss, and then roast at the same time. This might take 10-15 minutes. Stir with tongs midway through. We like them charred a bit.

—Hugh

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4 Responses to Free to be You and Me (with anchovies). Or: Don’t Cook Down to Your Children

  1. i couldn’t agree more. love the quote – don’t cook down to your children. i may just use that (of course i’ll credit you) :)

  2. Lauren T. says:

    Your blog is brilliant (I read about it in the NY Times today). Here’s a great anchovy recipe, and it might help your kids eat more broccoli. Plus, I make it all in one pot, which saves on cleanup. Broccoli pasta: Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add pasta of choice (I use penne or farfalle). When pasta is about 2 minutes from being done, add broccoli from two or so crowns. After 2 minutes, drain pasta and broccoli. Return pot to stove and add a healthy dose of olive oil (enough to coat the pasta). Over medium-low heat, add 3-5 cloves of chopped garlic, depending on your taste. Add red pepper flakes, again depending on taste. Once garlic is golden, add 4-5 chopped anchovies and mash them with the back of a wooden spoon or a potato masher. Turn off the heat while you mash the anchovies. Once the anchovies have basically melted, turn the heat up to medium and let the delicious mixture cook for about 45 seconds. Turn off the heat, add the pasta and broccoli and stir everything together. If you’d like, add some feta (cut into smallish pieces) or some fresh mozzarella balls. Taste to see if any salt is needed (the anchovies are salty so be careful not to add too much salt). Enjoy!

  3. John says:

    We’ve had a good time having kids make their own mini pizzas – provided a variety of toppings they can be surprisingly adventerous… and who can resist trying a pizza they made themselves. I have on occasion gone back to recreate some of the kid’s creations.

  4. pizza says:

    thank you for sharing your recipe

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