Cookin with Kids
Simple Sides: Dad’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.
Since the kids cooked up a delicious breakfast quiche for Mom’s Day last month in this blog, I thought it only fair to give dad a little equal kitchen time on his special day this month. So let’s stick with the same meal and ask dad to sleep in or go read the Sunday paper while mom [or any designated adult] directs the kids in preparing a “short stack” of some unusual pancakes to go with the rest of this hearty Father’s Day breakfast. Mashed potato pancakes, according to culinary lore found on the Internet, was probably invented to use up dinner leftovers from the previous evening’s meal. Of course, for these pancakes to be practical for the breakfast those leftover potatoes are kind of mandatory. After all, starting from scratch with raw potatoes would add about 90 minutes to the prep time just to provide the “mashed” ingredient. Dad’s breakfast would have slid into a brunch or maybe even a lunch by then! Or, if those leftovers are not available, use Melissa’s pre-cooked Roasted Dutch Yellow® Potatoes or Parisienne Potatoes, as either can be transformed into mashed with a quick stop at the food processor. Either of these convenient fresh potato products will redefine the term instant mashed potatoes!
Speaking of leftovers, since I had to make this recipe a few times for this feature, I inadvertently discovered that chilling the mashed potatoes seemed to produce the best batter. I am not sure why, perhaps the time in the ‘frig captured the spirit of using leftovers for this dish. Anyway, if it is possible to do a little pre-planning/prepping of dad’s breakfast, have your kitchen crew whip up the potatoes into a mash the night before. Turn the task into a separate lesson on how to make mashed potatoes. Mashing the potatoes ahead of time will also speed up the meal preparation in the morning; no one wants to keep a hungry dad waiting!
The objective for your sous chefs is to make a batter-like mixture that will be shaped into patties on a hot griddle or frying pan. However, the batter’s consistency should be quite a bit thicker than a traditional thin pancake mix. The ingredient list of this mixture and the cooking time is kept to a minimum by design in order to allow even the youngest of kitchen helpers to participate in the making of dad’s special breakfast. While an older child with some knife skills can easily prepare both the green onion and parsley, remember that a younger child could accomplish the same jobs with a relatively dull pair of kitchen scissors. And, of course, measuring out the ingredients into fractions of cups and smaller measures is a lesson in applied math that makes the practical connection between a child’s schoolwork and the kitchen.
Depending upon the age and height of your assistants, pull up a chair and hand out spatulas for the final lesson in stovetop cooking. It goes without saying, which I will state anyway, working over a flame takes constant vigilance on the part of the supervising adult in the room. Still, the extra thick batter makes cooking these pancakes the perfect first-time stovetop experience for the beginner. A novice cook should be shown how to use the spatula to shape the thickening batter into a patty on the hot griddle or fry pan, how to carefully flip each over when the time comes and then how the ‘cake can be reshaped again until it holds into a crispy brown patty. It all sounds very rudimentary, but not for the novice flipping his or her first pancake! Depending on the number of troops being fed at the family breakfast nook, it may be necessary to cook up the batter in batches; keep finished pancakes warm in the oven until ready to serve. While your crew is busy building up an inventory of pancakes, scramble some eggs and sausage to accompany dad’s stack!
Mashed Potato Pancakes
(Makes 6 medium pancakes)
1 package of Melissa’s Roasted Dutch Yellow® Potatoes or Melissa’s Parisienne Potatoes
¾ cup Milk, divided
1 TBS butter
¼ cup cheddar cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/3 cup flour
1 Tsp baking powder
1 Green onion, diced
2 TBS parsley, chopped fine
Salt & pepper, to taste
2 green onion sprigs for garnish
What the kids can do:
Place potatoes in a food processor with ¼ cup of the milk and butter, then pulse until thoroughly mashed smooth – add a little more milk as needed.
In a mixing bowl, combine potatoes, egg, flour, baking powder, egg, green onion, parsley and remaining milk to make a thick batter.
Sauté the pancakes in oil for about 2-3 min on each side over medium/high heat or until golden brown. Add more oil if needed. Do in batches, keeping finished pancakes warm in an oven set on low heat.
Plating: Stack 3 mashed potato pancakes on a plate garnished with a few sprigs of green onion serve with scrambled eggs and sausage.