It’s fun to take a walk with Malcolm, because he talks a lot. He’s a scrounger, and an inventor, and he has a wonderfully vivid imagination. He likes to talk about the things he’d like to create – contraptions he’ll make out of bits and pieces he finds; cars that he’ll invent that will make the world cleaner; superheroes that will make everyday life easier for people, or will save trees or animals. He has such sweet, zany ideas, and they’re always a pleasure to hear about, even though they’re not always possible to carry out. Not yet, anyway.
He has these schemes for things to create in the kitchen, too, and these are possible, they’re always possible. Nobody is going to tell him that it won’t work, or it sounds like a bad idea. (Luckily he has very good food instincts!) It’s a delight to cook with him – he’s so confident and creative. He likes to use the blender and the little food processor. He likes to chop things up. I was nervous about this at first, but I took a cue from my husband, the furniture maker. It will come as no surprise that Malcolm likes to go to David’s shop as well. Rather than tell Malcolm that he can’t use a saw, or a chisel, or (gulp) a lathe, David will teach him the safe way to use it. It takes some of the mystery out of it, and it makes it more fun, because he can create something really useful and beautiful. So I showed him how to chop vegetables with a big knife, but safely. (It’s nice to have a helper with that job!)
When my boys were littler I used to worry that I told them too often that they were handsome and smart and wonderful at everything. I thought I might turn them into vain little egotists. Now I think you can’t tell them often enough. The world is not an easy place, and the knockings-down start when they’re pretty young. I love cooking, I love sharing it with Malcolm, and I love to see him feel good about what he makes. What a joy to sit down as a family and eat something we’ve made together!
Phew – I just got very side-tracked. Let’s talk about beezza! It’s a pizza, and it’s made with Malcolm’s Supreme Spicy Sauce, which is made with Malcolm’s Supreme Spicy Spice mix. The mix reminds me a little of ethiopian berbere – it’s a little sweet and a little spicy. The toasted beets – also Malcolm’s invention – are in the sauce itself, and then dotted about the top. This is like no pizza you’ve ever tasted! It has a roastiness, from roasted red peppers and smoked paprika; a sweet earthiness from the beets; and a bit of tang, from tomatoes and balsamic. Even Isaac ate about four pieces!
Here’s Body Movin, by the Beastie Boys. One of Malcolm’s favorites. He’s so sweet he’s like a nice bon bon!
One batch of pizza crust. (this is enough for two large pizzas. I made them rectangular, on a cookie sheets, but if you have a pizza stone or a big enough pan, you could make them round)
MALCOLM’S SUPREME SPICY SAUCE
(I should mention that in the original version of this, which we made in the summer time, we didn’t cook the sauce on the stove at all. We roasted tomatoes, peppers, shallots and garlic, and blended them with the spices, and with a slice of crustless french bread. I did it a little differently this time, because I wanted it to be nice and thick (pizza sauce, you know!) and because I don’t have fresh tomatoes and peppers this time of year.) So this is how it goes…
2 T olive oil
1 shallot – finely diced
1 clove garlic – minced
1/2 t marjoram
1/2 cup roasted red peppers (fresh or from a jar)
1 can fire-roasted tomatoes
1 beet, grated, tossed with a little olive oil and toasted for about 15 minutes, till it starts to darken on the edges, and smells sweet and toasty. I used the toaster oven, but you can use the broiler in a regular oven.
(Reserve about 1/4 cup of toasted beets to dot on top of the cheese)
1 t smoked paprika
1 t green peppercorns
pinch cayenne, or to taste
1/4 t. each cardamom and coriander
pinch each allspice and cinnamon
1 T balsamic
1 T butter (unless you want it to be vegan)
Warm the olive oil in a large frying pan over medium heat. Add the shallots and garlic and marjoram. Cook for a few minutes, until the shallots and garlic start to brown.
Add the peppers and beets. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Add the tomatoes and all the rest of the spices. Stir and cook for about ten or fifteen minutes, till it’s starting to reduce and thicken. Add the balsamic and butter, if you’re using it, and blend (carefully, it’s hot!) until it’s nice and smooth. It will be a pretty garnet color.
Stretch the pizza crust until it’s quite thin, and place on your pan or stone of choice. As I mentioned, I used two cookie sheets, which I’d coated with a thin layer of olive oil. I stretched it quite thin, because I like a thin crispy crust.
I put the trays in the oven for about 3 minutes while I was preheating it. Just to cook the crust a tiny bit, so it lost it’s shininess.
Top with the sauce. This quantity is enough for two pizzas.
Top with grated mozzarella. I’d say it took 2 or 3 cups, but you can use as much as you like.
Dot little spoonfuls of grated beets around the top of the cheese.
Bake at 500 (preheated!) for about 10 minutes, till the cheese is melted, bubbling and starting to brown. Keep your eyes on it, it can go very fast at this heat.