Cooking with kids is a good education
I can’t think of a better way to bond with your children or grandchildren than to cook with them. Kids love to cook, and the lessons you teach them mean so much more than simply how to knead dough or bake a pie.
“As kids grow to be comfortable in the kitchen, they will become more independent and gain a better awareness of what they are eating,” writes Susie Fishbein, author of the wildly successful Kosher by Design cookbooks.
“The best way to get kids to try a new food is to have them prepare it. Nutritionally speaking, looking at a food pyramid is meaningless to a child. An invaluable lesson can be learned when children see foods in the raw form and learn how to use the ingredients to turn out fresh, fabulous dishes. When children see just how much sugar there is in a cup of sugar, they are given a new perspective for healthful eating.”
Santa Ana resident Joyce Simpson learned the value of that special bond when she signed up her granddaughter Daphne, 13, for the Radish Kids Cooking Club. (A Baking Club and Global Eats Club are also available.)
Once a month Daphne receives a kit with three illustrated recipe guides, three culinary skills lessons, as well as assorted swag. Membership includes digital access to all clubs as well as the recipe collection. Plans start at $23.95 per month. Visit RadishKids.com for more information.
Daphne is my great-niece, and I was thrilled when she and her Nana Joyce invited me for a Stuffed Crust Pizza baking experience.
“I hadn’t cooked from scratch before,” Daphne told me, “just simple things with my mom like mac and cheese. These recipes are easy and fast and fun to make. They give you all the instructions and a list of ingredients.”
I was impressed with the skills these recipes teach.
“I learned from the confetti cake to cool the cake down before doing the frosting and how to fill the cake by frosting one of them and then putting another cake on top,” she said. She learned how to blind-bake a crust from the chocolate cream pie recipe, and baking this pizza taught her how to knead dough, all skills that she can use to make other dishes. She is also tasting new ingredients. “The tacos were very different,” she said. “I never used garam masala before, and I never cooked with fresh ginger. I would make it again.”
“The recipes are really good too,” Joyce added. “The salted chocolate chip cookies were the best I ever had!”
Even many adults are afraid of yeast and have no experience kneading. The illustrated guide accompanying the pizza recipe teaches you how: “Before you begin, sprinkle a small amount of flour on your workspace, and shape your dough into a ball. Use the ‘heel’ of your hand to push the dough down and away from you. Pick up the dough and turn it 90° – from 12 o’clock to 3 o’clock. Fold the dough in half. Repeat steps 1-3 until your dough is smooth and stretchy. Be patient. Kneading may take several minutes.”
Daphne, who begins 8th grade in the fall, spends about a month every summer in France with her mother’s family there and is fluent in French. “Sometimes I make waffles with my other grandmother,” she said, “but next time we will do more cooking.”
Chef Liron Regev, is a great resource to help you develop your cooking talents as well. You can find online lessons at https://www.facebook.com/watch/live/?ref=watch_permalink&v=3650163331766667. She grew up in Jerusalem where her father was a prominent Reform Rabbi. Frequently there were guests for the holidays and Shabbat, so she grew up helping her mother in the kitchen and developed an early interest in food. After her service in the Israel Defense Forces, she completed a degree in baking and pastry arts at the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. She studied hotel, food and tourism management at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, becoming the sous pastry chef for the grand opening of the Jerusalem Waldorf Astoria Hotel. She also worked at the Grand Californian Hotel at Disneyland.
Hot Pretzels 2 Ways
2 packets rapid rise yeast
2 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 cups warm water
3 1/2 cups bread flour or all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups hot water
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 large egg
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
2. Place yeast and sugar into large mixing bowl. Add 1 1/2 cups warm water. Stir to dissolve yeast. Let stand 7 minutes. Check to see if bubbles are forming. This shows you that yeast is alive. If there are no bubbles, wait another 3 minutes. If there are still no bubbles, you need to start again with new packets of yeast.
3. Add flour and salt to yeast mixture. With your hands, mix ingredients in bowl to form a rough dough; it will not be smooth. Transfer dough to your work surface. This could be a kitchen counter or piece of parchment paper on a table. Knead dough. Really push and pull it to get the dough smooth.
4. With a knife, cut dough into 8 equal pieces. Roll each piece into a long, thin rope, about 12-16 inches long. Twist into a pretzel or any shape that you like
5. Pour 2 cups hot water into baking pan. Use a spoon to stir in baking powder. Dip each pretzel, one at a time, into baking powder solution. Turn each one over and dip other side. Place dipped pretzels on parchment-lined cookie sheets
For salted pretzels:
1. Place egg into small mixing bowl. Beat it with a whisk. Brush egg onto pretzels. Sprinkle pretzels very lightly with kosher salt.
2. Place into hot oven and bake 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Carefully remove pretzels from oven and allow them to cool a few minutes.
For cinnamon sugar pretzels:
1. Place 4 tablespoons butter into microwave-safe bowl. Add 2 tablespoons sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. Microwave 45 seconds to melt butter. Stir with spoon. Brush butter mixture onto pretzels, saving extra butter mixture.
2. Place into hot oven and bake 12-15 minutes, until golden brown. Carefully remove pretzels from oven and brush on more butter mixture.
Source: Kosher by Design Kids in the Kitchen by Susie Fishbein
Radish Kids Stuffed Crust Pizza
2 cups flour
1 package (0.25 ounces) instant yeast
1 teaspoon sugar
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup warm water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
4 mozzarella string cheese sticks
1 1/4 cups shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
20 pieces vegan pepperoni
Your favorite pizza toppings (olives, mushrooms, peppers, etc.)
- Add flour, yeast, sugar, salt, water, and oil to large bowl. Stir until a soft dough forms. Add dough to lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic, 5 to 10 minutes.
- Return dough to bowl. Cover with a towel and let rise in a warm place for 30 minutes.
- Meanwhile, prepare sauce. Mix tomato sauce, garlic powder, oregano, and pepper. Set aside.
- Preheat oven to 450°F. Grease baking sheet with cooking spray.
- Turn dough onto lightly floured surface. Roll into a 14-inch circle. Carefully move dough to baking sheet (some dough will hang over the edges). Tear string cheese in half lengthwise. Lay around pizza edge, leaving 1 inch of dough as a border. Fold dough over string cheese, pressing firmly to seal cheese inside dough. Spread tomato sauce over pizza. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan. Add vegan pepperoni and your favorite toppings.
Bake 15-18 minutes, until crust is browned and cheese is bubbling. Taste and share!
Jlife Food Editor Judy Bart Kancigor is the author of “Cooking Jewish” (Workman) and “The Perfect Passover Cookbook” (an e-book short from Workman), a columnist and feature writer for the Orange County Register and other publications and can be found on the web at www.cookingjewish.com.