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June, 2010

Simple Sides: Grilled Potato Packets

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’s can contribute to the family meal
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Cooking with the Kids Image

While many of these recipes may seem very basic, this is by design. It is hoped that these preparations will lay the culinary foundation necessary to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as 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; it is not impossible and, with a little planning, can even be 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 great 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
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Here are two very simple potato recipes that solve the problem of including the kids in the preparation of this month’s Father’s Day barbeque meal without exposing them to open flames or treading on the turf of the guest of honor, who considers the grill his kingdom. Both recipes are foil wrapped packets of potatoes that young sous chefs can put together in the kitchen and then deliver to Dad’s grill to be cooked alongside the main entrée. In fact, if the fare is hamburger or steak, then have the kids prepare the heartier recipe using the baby red potatoes; however, if chicken or fish is on the grill, then go for the much lighter Baby Dutch Yellow® Potato dish.

The red potato recipe preparation is completely knifeless so it can be prepared by the youngest of cooks with adult supervision. The small potatoes are cooked and served whole, so they only need washing. The dicing of the other three fresh vegetable ingredients – red & green bell peppers and a sweet onion -- can be accomplished with a food processor. Even the small amount of “chopped” parsley the recipe calls for can be simply pulled apart by the smallest of hands. On the other hand, the Dutch Yellow® Potato dish does require some careful slicing of both the potatoes and a sweet onion. These tasks are more appropriate for an older child, who should still be closely supervised. Your younger kitchen helper can also be put to work measuring out the rest of the ingredients; a practical math lesson!

Both recipes take just minutes to prepare. Wrapping the potato mixtures in foil packets should be totally left up to your kitchen crew as well as the task of delivering the goods to the Grill King of the household at his grilling station – some good old-fashioned Father’s Day culinary teamwork! Of course, the fun part comes with the careful unwrapping of the foil. Take the spotlight off dad for just long enough to instill a little culinary pride in your young chefs by acknowledging the kids’ contribution to the meal as you transfer the beautiful potato mixture onto a serving platter for all to admire.

Meal within a meal, for the price of one: Both these recipes have more cooking lessons to them if you make extra on purpose to insure that there will be leftovers. Since the red creamers are whole, you can simply grate them into shoestrings, mix in the bits of bell pepper and onion, add a little oil and fry in butter for an amazing version of hash browns the next morning for breakfast. Also, both these dishes can be transformed from a hot side dish for Dad’s Sunday celebration to a cold potato salad on Monday by cutting up the potatoes and mixing in a little celery, salt and mayonnaise to taste. This will demonstrate the versatility of potatoes to your kitchen helpers as well as the magic of a few well-placed spoonfuls of mayo!

Foiled Wrapped Red Creamer Potatoes
Recipe #1:Foiled Wrapped Red Creamer Potatoes
Serves 4 (with leftovers)

Ingredients
5 lbs. washed baby red potatoes (creamer size)
1 large Maui onion diced
1 Organic red bell pepper diced
1 Organic green bell pepper diced
2 oz. Melissa’s Herbes de Provence Mix
1/4 cup olive oil
3 cloves crushed organic garlic
1 Tbsp. fresh pepper
1/4 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. chopped Italian flat parsley
1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped

What supervising adult should do:
• Guide your kitchen crew through the preparation.
• For the King of the Grill: cook packet on medium heat, coals or open flame, for 45 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
• Handle the opening of the steaming hot foil and serve potatoes on a large platter.

What kids can do:
1. Wash potatoes thoroughly.
2. Dice onion and both colors of bell pepper in a food processor.
3. Measure out all remaining ingredients.
4. Toss all ingredients together in a food bag and shake until mixed thoroughly.
5. Lay out two large sheets of aluminum foil of equal size together for double strength.
6. Pour half the potato mixer onto one side of the foil, the fold over the empty side and seal into a leak-proof packet.
7. Repeat process to make a second packet.

Dutch Yellow® Potatoes Grilling Packet
Recipe #2: Dutch Yellow® Potatoes Grilling Packet
Serves 4

Ingredients
1 sweet onion, sliced.
2 Tbsp. fresh Italian parsley, chopped.
1 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
6 Tbsp. butter
10 Baby Dutch Yellow® Potatoes, thinly sliced.
1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese.
1/3 cup chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste

What supervising adults should do:
• Guide the kids at all stages of the preparation, especially the slicing and grating.
• At some point a child is old enough to slice and dice with a knife, be there as a guide through this important childhood culinary passage!
• For the King of the Grill: cook packet medium heat, coals or open flame, for 35-40 minutes or until potatoes are tender.
• Handle the opening of the steaming hot foil and serve potatoes on a large platter.

What kids can do:
Older child:
1. Carefully slice potatoes and onions.
2. Carefully grate cheese.

Any age:
1. Measure out all ingredients.
2. Lay out two large sheets of heavy foil for double strength.
3. Place potatoes and onions in the middle of one side of these two-ply sheets.
4. Dot mixture with butter or margarine.
5. Mix together cheese, parsley and Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper; sprinkle it over potatoes.
6. Fold up edges of foil wrap & add chicken broth.
7. Fold foil over mixture and seal tightly to make a leak-proof packet.