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July, 2011

Simple Sides: Peaches

By Dennis Linden

This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with two uncomplicated, healthy and delicious side dish recipe options centered around one seasonal fresh produce item that a child can contribute to the family meal.

Kids with LA Kings Mascot

While many of these recipes may seem very basic, this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will lay the culinary foundation necessary to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their confidence in the kitchen grows. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to decide the division of labor based on age and ability as well as to identify where help might be especially needed.

The competing schedules of today’s busy modern family make it difficult to share a home-cooked meal together but not impossible. In fact, with a little planning, cooking together can even be great fun. Melissa’s encourages parents to find the time to gather as a family unit at least once a week for a dinner that everyone pitches in to prepare. It’s a wonderful way to teach your children some basic cooking skills and, more importantly, cooking with your kids will build memories that remain in all of your hearts forever.

While it is probably not a good idea for children to work with open flame cooking, this does not mean that kids cannot be a part of preparing the family’s backyard barbeque meal. Here are a couple of ideas using one of the most abundant summer fruits of the season. In fact, these two recipes allow your young sous chefs to help out with what’s on the grill as well as the side dish that will accompany it on the plate.

Recipe I – Peach BBQ Sauce

There are a couple of great cooking lessons in this simple sauce. The first is how to blanch peaches for easy peeling. Supervise the scoring of each fruit with an “X” on the tip end. Your youngest helper can participate by counting down the 40 to 60 seconds that the fruit needs to be in the boiling water, depending on the ripeness of the fruit. Once the peaches have been cooled in an ice bath, any aged child can strip the skin off easily and your oldest can do the knife work involved in pitting and quartering the fruit. There’s no knife work involved in using a kid-friendly food processor to combine the ingredients. However, there is another teaching opportunity in the proper use and clean up of the machine. Finally, the recipe provides a wonderful chance to demonstrate the concept of stovetop reduction; a technique that will be the basis for your child’s sauce making for many years to come, not to mention learning that patience is an ingredient too! While grilled chicken thighs were used to show off the tasty flavoring and condiment, it will also complement any cut of pork deliciously.

Recipe II – Peach Quinoa

The primary cooking lesson here, especially when plated with the peachy chicken, is how a single ingredient can taste so different and play two very diverse roles in a recipe. It is truly and distinctly a peachy chicken; while in the Quinoa dish the fruit is cast in a more subtle supporting position combined with the stronger flavored ingredients of the herbs and chile pepper. Add an extra peach to Recipe I and you have the start to Recipe II. The dish is a classic as far as cooking up a grain and then using it in a sauté. In fact, the Quinoa could be swapped out for rice or even a couscous, though Quinoa packs the most punch nutritionally.

Recipe I

Peach Barbecue Sauce

Peach Barbecue Sauce
4 servings

Ingredients
3 firm ripe peaches, peeled, pitted and quartered
1 medium tomato, quartered and seeded
2 Tbsp. cider vinegar
1 Tbsp. canola oil
½ cup chopped Perfect Sweet onion
2 Tbsp. fresh ginger, finely chopped
2 Tbsp. honey
Freshly ground pepper & salt to taste

What kids can do:
1. Measure out all ingredients and prepare peaches before starting.
2. Purée peaches, tomato and vinegar in a food processor until smooth.
3. Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
4. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden brown.
5. Add ginger and cook for about one minute.
6. Add the peach purée, plus salt and pepper to taste.
7. Bring to a boil over high heat and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
8. Cook until reduced by about half, 20 to 25 minutes.
9. Reserve ¼ cup of the sauce for basting the chicken.
10. Keep the remaining sauce warm in the saucepan until ready to serve.

What supervising adult should do:
Demonstrate how to blanch, cool and peel peaches. Closely supervise or do the initial sauté of all ingredients depending upon the skills of your helpers. Of course, have one of the kids deliver the basting portion of the sauce to the barby. The remaining sauce should be put in a serving bowl to be passed around the table.

Recipe II
Savory Peach Quinoa
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 cup Quinoa
2 water or vegetable broth
½ cup dried cranberries
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Anaheim chile, seeds removed, insides light scraped, finely diced
1 peach, peeled, pitted and cubed
1 orange, juiced
¼ cup chopped mint
¼ cup chopped cilantro
Salt to taste

What kids can do:
1. Measure out all ingredients before starting preparation.
2. Cook Quinoa according to package directions.
3. Add cranberries to boiling liquid as Quinoa is cooking. When done set aside, covered.
4. Heat olive oil in a large sauté pan over high heat.
5. Add onion and cook until tender.
6. Add peach, Anaheim pepper and cook for about 1 minute, stirring constantly.
7. Add the cooked Quinoa to the pan, plus the rest of the ingredients and cook for another few minutes until all ingredients are well blended.
8. Serve family style in a large serving bowl sprinkled with remaining herbs.

What supervising adults can do:
Supervise the cooking of the quinoa step-by-step according to directions. It would be wise to demonstrate how to seed and take most all the heat out of the chile by scraping its interior. Remember to wear gloves while handling the pepper; though it is a very mild variety, it is a good habit to pass on to your kitchen helpers by example. This is a good opportunity to teach an older child how to sauté on the stovetop.