Cookin' with the Kids
Simple Sides: Mother’s Day Breakfast
By Dennis Linden
Competing schedules in the day-to-day lives of a 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 become a fun family event and learning opportunity. This feature will focus on providing a child or a group of children, working together under the supervision of an adult, with one uncomplicated, healthy and delicious side dish recipe. The dishes will be centered on seasonal fresh produce items; the recipes will always contain tasks will allow even the youngest kitchen helper to contribute to the family meal. Parents should always read through each recipe carefully to judge the division of labor based on age and ability as well as to identify where adult attention might be especially needed.
Many of the recipes presented here will seem very basic -- this is by design. It is hoped that these simple preparations will provide the culinary foundation and confidence to inspire kids to try more challenging recipes as their experience in the kitchen develops. 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 a child basic culinary skills and, more importantly, cooking with your children will build memories in all of your hearts forever.
While the core focus of this feature is all about encouraging families to regularly cook a meal together, this month’s Mother’s Day celebration provides one traditional exception – namely, the kids wanting to cook a breakfast for mom. So here’s a one-dish recipe plan to help a dad, or any ‘significant other’ for that matter, who has been charged with supervising a kitchen full of young cooks in this annual ritual -- while mom no doubt cringes at every clatter while listening from the next room!
The simple two-part construction of a quiche recipe [crust and filling] makes it a great dish for the beginning cook without being too overly complicated. There are several tasks in the prep of the dish that can be assigned to helpers according to culinary experience. Plus, presenting mom with the whole finished pie so she can make the first cut certainly kicks off Mother’s Day breakfast with a party-like flair! Makes sense, as the word ‘quiche’ is from the German ‘kuchen’, meaning cake. Treat mom to this special occasion breakfast “cake” of ham and cheese wrapped in a crust of crispy potato shreds! Recipe note: This special occasion dish requires the overnight chill of the quiche pie crust.
In cooking breakfast for mom, your kitchen crew must also be kept aware of timing. While serving a quiche eliminates the burden of your young helpers having to worry about getting multiple breakfast components -- like bacon, eggs, hash browns and toast – cooked and on the table simultaneously, the quiche cannot take an hour to bake and serve either! The supervising adult should gather his or her kitchen helpers the day before Mother’s Day to make the special hash brown pie crust. It makes sense to do this part of the recipe in advance, as it will shave at least 30 minutes of prep time off Mother’s Day morning. And besides, this is the fun hands-on part of the recipe that a child of any age or culinary skill can try without fear of damaging the dish. Breaking the prep into two parts will also allow for less pressure and more enjoyment of the cooking process, as it is not to be hurried. I also found that chilling the potato shell overnight before the second bake made for a crispier crust. Most importantly, having the pie shell ready to fill at the start of the prep on Mother’s Day morning will cut down on mom’s wait time! And we can all agree that it’s not nice to keep mom waiting!
Preparing the filling ingredients list ahead of time and keeping those ingredients simple will help your sous chefs accomplish the morning assembly quickly; the choice of ingredients will also speed up the final bake time of the quiche. I used the traditional breakfast combo of pre-cooked Canadian bacon and green onions, both small diced. A sharp cheddar cheese blended into the egg-milk mixture adds the perfect flavor balance along with a few seasonings – keep it quick and simple. Once the quiche begins to firm up in the center, remove the pan from the oven so your helpers can add the rounds of Veggie Sweet peppers. The slices should float on top of the filling rather than sink into the mixture. A nice touch, as well as a lesson in presentation could be emphasized by demonstrating how setting the oven flame to BROIL for the last few minutes of cooking will put an attractive browning on both the pepper slices and the entire surface of the quiche. Mom will be proud!
Hash Brown Quiche
Yield: 6 servings
2 pkg Melissa’s Pre-cooked Parisienne Potatoes, shredded
1/3 cup butter, melted
1 ½ cup fully cooked ham, diced
2 green onions, diced
1 cup milk
4 eggs, beaten
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
Salt & pepper to taste
½ cup Melissa’s Veggie Sweet Peppers, sliced into rounds
What the kids can do:
Shred the potatoes using a simple box shredder. Place shredded potatoes in a bowl and toss with melted butter until fully coated.
Press shredded potatoes into the bottom and up the sides of an ungreased 9-in. pie plate. Bake at 425° until slightly browned. Remove from oven, let cool. Best to let chill overnight.
Cover the bottom of the pie pan with a layer of diced ham and green onions. Combine the beaten eggs, cheese, milk, paprika, salt & pepper, then pour over ham mixture until covered. Bake @ 350° for 15 minutes, then sprinkle the slices of Veggie Sweets across the top of the firming quiche. Bake for another 15 minutes or until a knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Allow to stand for 5 minutes before cutting and serving.
What the supervising adult should do:
Firstly, the quicker the prep the more relaxed mom will be about staying out of the kitchen; consider working with your kitchen helpers the night before to create the hash brown pie shell. For speed and safety, handle the removal and return to the oven of the quiche mid-bake to add the pepper slices.