from Jude’s Kitchen: kids’ stuff

Invite your favourite kids into the kitchen and enjoy Jennifer Low's new book of recipes just for the younger crowd.

Cookie Tortoises made by Liz

Can you imagine a book full of recipes for every meal of the day, plus snacks and desserts, that kids can make without using sharp knives, stovetops or motorized appliances?

Look no further. Jennifer Low has written a new book called Everyday Kitchen for Kids published by Whitecap Books that offers exactly that, with 100 recipes youngsters can really make.

And it’s true. Our 11-year-old granddaughter was over for the weekend, and she made most of the meals. It was terrific.

First, she made us Fin-Tastic Fish Fillets, page 80, for dinner, with Smashed Mini Potatoes, page 36, and microwaved fresh green beans, for supper. It was all delicious and not a crumb was left.

The next day, she practiced making some Christmas treats, including a simple, but delectable bite called Cookie Tortoises, page 167, which everyone agreed were both cute and tasty.

For breakfast, we broke the rule about motorized appliances and used a blender to make a delicious smoothy with yogurt, orange juice and frozen blueberries. Yum.

Jennifer gives very clear instructions, including a list of what supplies will be needed to make each recipe, so kids can find out for themselves that preparing simple meals and snacks from scratch using healthy ingredients tastes better, is more satisfying and is better for you than using mixes and prepared foods—or than eating out all the time!

If you let kids help out in the kitchen, they not only learn how to feed themselves, which is a vital lesson for every youngster, but they also begin to appreciate the flavour of freshness, the cost of ingredients, how to substitute, the value of cooking and a bit about nutrition and balanced meals.

My kids always got the trimmings from the butcher block when I was cooking dinner and I found they somehow appreciated the raw carrots and beans much more than they would have if they’d just appeared on their plates already cooked.

Plus, whatever they cook themselves is of much more interest than what’s simply placed before them, cooked by someone else.

Letting youngsters help with the meals can also take some of the pressure off the other cooks in the family. Some of the prep work for a meal can be done by those younger members of the family.

There are lots of recipes that can also be used by younger members of the family in my book, Jude’s Kitchen, which is available wherever books are sold.

Both would make great gifts for anyone who enjoys eating good food.

Parmesan Puffs

These look like they would make terrific appetizers for when company drops by, or a nice breakfast nibble with fresh fruit and yogurt.

soft butter for muffin pan

3 tbsp. (45 ml) flour

2 tbsp. (30 ml) fine grated parmesan cheese

3/4 tsp. (4 ml) white sugar

1/4 tsp. (1 ml) garlic powder

1/4 tsp. (1 ml) dry mustard

big pinch of salt

tiny pinch of cayenne pepper

1/2 c. (125 ml) cream cheese

1/2 c. (125 ml) ricotta cheese

1 egg yolk

Pre-heat the oven to 350 F.

Use a pastry brush or scrunched-up piece of plastic wrap to generously butter 12 mini-muffin cups. Set aside.

In a bowl, mix the flour, parmesan cheese, sugar, garlic powder, dry mustard, salt, and if you like, cayenne pepper (wash your fingers after touching the cayenne.) Set aside.

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat the cream cheese at half power to soften it (about one minute). Ust the back of a wooden spoon to cream together the cream cheese and ricotta, then mix in the egg yolk until smooth.

Use a baking spatula to gradually stir the flour mixture into the cheese mixture. Mix into a thick, smooth batter. Scrape the sticky ingredients off the spatula with a dinner knife to make sure everything is well-blended.’Use an ordinary teaspoon to scoop the batter into the 12 mini-muffin cups. Fill each cup up to the rim. You might even get an extra one or two. Use your finger to push the batter off the spoon into the cups. It doesn’t matter if the batter is bumpy and uneven on top.

Bake in the middle rack of the oven for 30 minutes or until the puffs are golden and, well, puffed!

Cool until slightly warm before lifting the puffs out of the cups using the tip of a dinner knife.

Makes about 12.

Cookie Tortoises

These little bites are easy to make and provide a taste bud-tingling combination of chocolate, peanut butter cookie and crunchy nut base. They’re very quick to make and would keep in the refrigerator for a week or so, if you had them under lock and key. We prefer pecans to walnuts, so substituted them.

3 tbsp. (45 ml) smooth peanut butter

3 tbsp. (45 ml) packed brown sugar

1 egg yolk

24 walnut halves

24 chocolate baking wafers

Pre-heat the oven to 325 F.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, use a wooden spoon to mix the peanut butter, brown sugar and egg yolk into a smooth, glossy, soft peanut butter dough.

Pinch off pieces of the cookie dough to fill a half-teaspoon, packed down and levelled off, then roll the dough into balls. If the dough is too soft to roll, mix in another tablespoon or brown sugar.

(We skipped the ball step after the first couple, and slid the dough out of the spoon, upside down onto the nut and pressed it down.)

Place each cookie dough ball onto a walnut half, then gently flatten it onto the nut with the palm of your hand until the dough is a quarter-inch thick and covers the top of the walnut half. Do this with all 24 nuts.

Place the dough-topped walnut halves an inch apart on the parchment-lined baking sheet.

Bake on the middle rack of the oven for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven, but leave the oven on, and cool until the baking sheet is safe to work with.

Place one chocolate wafer on top of each dough-topped walnut. Put the baking sheet back into the oven for one minute to slightly melt the chocolate onto the peanut butter cookie layer.

Cool the cookies to room temperature, then chill in the fridge for five minutes to firm up the chocolate before eating.

Makes 24 Cookie Tortoises.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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