Inspired by one of her Food Network heroines, my thirteen-year-old gourmet-in-training decided to whip up a quick Italian feast for her girlfriends one Saturday night. We agreed that while she will tell me when and how hot, I’ll be handling the stove.
Before I could say “mozzarella,” Hannah was smashing garlic cloves like a pro, with a flat blade and the heel of her hand. Into the stainless steel saucepan the garlic went, followed by a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, chopped Italian parsley, diced heirloom tomatoes, sea salt, red chilies and a sprinkling of basil and oregano.
It was time for my cameo appearance at stove-side, following my daughter’s direction to turn on and adjust the flame. Hannah took it from there, stirring the ingredients assembled in the saucepan, until they blended into a sauce that filled the kitchen with its mouthwatering aroma.
Next, she rolled out mini dough balls—cut from readymade pizza dough, we purchase at Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s, and store in the fridge for just such occasions—and gave me the cue to preheat the oven at 350 degrees. Without missing a beat, Hannah slathered the dough discs with her well-seasoned tomato and olive oil sauce, topped them with shredded mozzarella cheese, and by carefully folding these mini-pizzas in half, transformed them into perfect, finger-food-size calzones. She sealed the deal by brushing a white egg wash on her little masterpieces, arranging them on a lightly olive-oiled, stainless steel baking sheet, and together, we popped them into the oven.
While the calzones were baking, Hannah washed four long, firm romaine lettuce leaves, and filled them with chopped tomatoes, black olives, carrots, hard-boiled eggs, and broccoli. A sprinkling of olive oil and balsamic vinegar completed the hand-held salads, which the kids polished off in no time.
Ten minutes after enjoying their improvised antipasto, the girls were admiring the piping-hot calzones sitting all golden and puffy on their plates. A great believer in doing more than expected, Hannah had made each plate into a colorful still life, by adding sprigs of fresh parsley, halved cherry tomatoes, and slices of yellow pepper for garnish. Needless to say, her friends were impressed.
But wait! My Hannah-Banana was not done dazzling them (and me, too, I must admit). She quickly splashed a mixture of pomegranate and apple juices into tall glasses, added sparkling water and crushed ice, stuck in colorful “crazy straws,” and floated a few lemon and strawberry slices on top of this refreshing teen cocktail.
Just when the girls thought the feast was over, Hannah topped it all with scoops of pumpkin gelato, served on plates she decorated with artistic shapes made of drizzled organic chocolate sauce and fresh raspberries.
Here’s a thought: I’ll have Hannah cook dinner for us next Saturday night. (Well, I can hope…)