My twin sister Dimity, a middle school teacher in Harlem and the CEO of Beyond Teaching, asked me to create kid-friendly recipes that were high in calorie (read: fuel for their learning minds), healthy, and easy to prepare. I scanned my past recipes and quickly realized the challenge she had put me up to. And so, the experiments began! We were even honored with the visit of an expert 3-year old taste-tester!
I immediately thought of the flaky, whole wheat and light olive oil crust I adapted from the Harvest Tart recipe in the NY Times. It gives the impression of pie, without the sugar or butter. It’s easy as pie to prepare. It wraps around any filling and seals off seamlessly. You can prepare the dough in bulk, freeze, and defrost for later use. Or create an infinite number of tarts, empanaditas, rolls or any other imaginative wrapping style, shape or synonym, and freeze those for later defrosting, toasting, and munching.
I settled on a few worthy combinations for the filling, that above all, seemed friendly to a child’s palette. These would also be fun to prep with the kids! First, I’ll run you through the variations, and then report on the findings.
Remember, try to source as many pure ingredients as you can. What does this mean? Ideally you know exactly where your food comes from and how it was produced (without chemicals, and for animals – lots of pasture and sunshine!). In the U.S. food system, this can seem nearly impossible, particularly in cities. So instead, try not to buy food products from the store that have illegible ingredients, or as Michael Pollan says, “edible food-like substances that are masquerading as food.” If you find yourself saying “dihydral…what the heck on earth is that!”, gently return to the shelf. Avoid high fructose corn syrup.
1. The crust is simply too much work for a 3-year old! We have yet to see whether older age groups find it more scrumptious.
#1 Apple Pie Pocket
#2 Country Breakfast
Since this was an experiment, and I didn't want to make too much of any god-awful filling combination, so I limited by batches. Just multiple the filling ingredients to yield more! Once you've prepared your fillings, I'll explain how to prepare your dough squares and wrap up the inner goodies!
- 2 1/4 teaspoons fine salt
- 3 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
- 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
- 3/4 cup light olive oil, plus more for greasing
- 2/3 cup very cold water
- 1 tablespoon toasted wheat germ
- 1/3 cup mashed banana
- 1/4 cup crunchy, unsalted peanut butter
- 1 tablespoon strawberry jam
- 1 teaspoon chocolate chips
- 1 teaspoon hemp seeds
- 1/3 cup applesauce
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon honey
- 2 tablespoons quick oats
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- 1 teaspoon crystallized ginger, chopped
- 1 egg
- 1 teaspoon milk
- 1/3 cup shredded cheddar
- 1 tablespoon chives
- chopped ham
- 1 teaspoon tomato sauce
- 1/3 cup shredded mozzarella
- 1 tablespoon finely diced roasted peppers or fresh peppers
- optional: pepperoni
- 1/2 cup mung beans
- 1/2 cup cooked mixed vegetables, preferably from a soup stock
- 2 shakes garam masala
- 3 shakes yellow curry powder
- 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon ginger powder
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- Straight from the NY Times: To make the pastry, in a large bowl combine 4 1/2 cups flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons salt. With pastry cutter or fork, mix in 3/4 cup oil until it forms coarse crumbs. Add 2/3 cup (163 grams) very cold water, a few tablespoons at a time, until mixture just comes together. The dough will be stretchier than a pie crust. Form into a ball, cover with plastic, and refrigerate at least 1 hour.
- Nutbutter Pocket (Yields 4) Mix together in a bowl. Store in the refrigerator until you're ready to wrap!
- Apple Pie Pocket (Yields 3) Mix together in a bowl. Store in the refrigerator until you're ready to wrap!
- Country Breakfast Pocket (Yields 2) Beat the egg and milk in a bowl. Scramble in a pan. Transfer to a new bowl and mix with cheddar and chives. Set in the refrigerator until you're ready to wrap!
- Pizza Pocket (Yields 2) Be creative here! Maybe you're child prefers a Hawaiian pizza? Ham and pineapple please! Maybe buffalo chicken or broccoli? Mince them up and mix in a bowl. Set in the refrigerator until you're ready to stuff your wrap!
- Samosa Pocket (Yields 4-6) Mix in a bowl. Set in the refrigerator until you're ready to stuff your wrap! You can also take these to a dinner party. Make them glisten with an egg wash. In a small bowl, beat 1 egg with a dash of milk, and use a pastry brush to coat the pockets before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 375.
- Roll out squares of dough that are 4-5 in. long, and 2-3 in. wide (trim edges) - as shown in the Samosa Pockets above.
- Place about 2 tbs. of your filling in the center of half of your square. (As shown in the Country Breakfast pocket above.)
- Dab your finger in the water, and lightly smear the face-up edges of the dough on the half with the filling. Fold the other half over the top of the filling. Use a fork to seal two sides (See Country Breakfast pocket).
- Pick up the pocket so that the third open side is face up (See Apple Pie pocket). This will prevent the filling from oozing out, though some might anyway when pressing down the first two sides - don't worry! Pinch the third side together. Hold sealed and finish off with a fork on the counter-top. You can the dab the sealed edges with water again.
- For adults, or fancy kids, you can brush with an egg wash to glisten the pockets (see Samosa Pocket), or not!
- Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the crust is light brown. Let cool for about 10 minutes, and serve. Or, keep in an airtight container in the fridge and pack in your child's lunchbox. You can also make many extras and freeze them. When you're ready, defrost and bake for 10-15 minutes, until warm and toasty.