Cooking with the Kids
Simple Sides: For Dad on Mother’s Day
By Dennis Linden
Children in this country consume an estimated 12 percent of their calories from fast food and 20 percent of all American meals are eaten in the car! The consequences are predictably unhealthy. 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 and confidence 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. “No one is born a great cook, one learns by doing” – Julia Child.
One of the morning traditions of Mother’s Day has been to ban her from the kitchen, while her offspring prepare and serve breakfast [in bed, optional]. It’s a nice gesture unless you are the parent or partner left to supervise this time-honored custom while in reality your role in the kitchen has always been eating, never cooking. Fear not, here’s a simple crêpe recipe for all your partners who find yourselves being looked at as the executive chef du jour by a couple of young sous chefs in a kitchen that you seldom use.
Melissa’s ready-to-use Crêpes are the perfect start in this kind of a situation. Crêpes are fancy and difficult for an inexperienced cook to make successfully from scratch. So for a culinary-challenged supervising adult on Mother’s Day, half of this recipe in accomplished by simply opening our package! This leaves just three tasks for your helpers: cook down the strawberry sauce, blend the simple filling, then spreading that filling on each delicate crêpe without tearing. As a think-ahead supervisor, be sure to soften the cream cheese in advance so it is easy to blend. The last step of folding the crêpes might be reserved for the youngest helper who cannot participate in the stovetop stage and could tear the crêpes with the cheese spread.
The strawberries do have to be heated to a gentle simmer before being mashed to a jam in the same pot. It’s a task that needs more supervision than culinary expertise. For a child, standing on a chair in front of the stove to stir a pot for the first time becomes a lasting memory. Once the cooked strawberries have been mashed, the chia seeds, lime and cinnamon need to be measured and added in off flame. These simple additives really make this jam-like sauce very special. BTW, if on the off chance there is sauce left over, it can be refrigerated for up to a week and makes for a delicious and healthy morning starter slathered on toast!
WHAT THE SUPERVISING ADULT SHOULD DO: The recipe below has been formatted into four easy step-by-step procedures. Remember, while you may even have less acuity in the kitchen than your young helpers, they don’t know that. Familiarize yourself with each step before starting the preparation with the kids and have all the ingredients laid out. Start by overseeing the measuring out of all those ingredients to get used to being “head chef”. Take a breath before beginning your first day as a cooking class teacher and know it’s all for mom!
Make 4 servings (2 crêpes per)
2 cups fresh strawberries washed, and sliced
3 TBS Melissa’s Organic Blue Weber Agave Syrup
2 TBS Melissa’s Chia seeds
1 Tsp Lime juice
1 Tsp ground cinnamon
2/3 cup Cream Cheese, softened
3/4 cup Sour Cream
1 tablespoon Lemon Juice
1 package Melissa’s Crêpes
WHAT THE KIDS CAN DO:
Step #1: Place sliced strawberries and agave syrup into a medium sized sauce pan. Bring the mixture to a simmer over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove the pot from the flame to safely mash the strawberries, using a fork or a potato masher, then simmer another 5 minute.
Step #2: Turn off the heat, stir in chia seeds, lime juice and cinnamon. Mix well. Leave the mixture to rest for an additional 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Set aside to cool while constructing crêpes.
Step #3: Whip together the cream cheese, sour cream and lemon juice in a small bowl.
Step #4: Place one crêpe on a cutting board, spread filling over one half of the crêpe, then fold the other half over the filling, then fold it in half again.
Plating: Two overlapping crêpes on the plate per serving, drizzle the strawberry-chia sauce generously over the top of both crêpes, garnish with whole strawberry slices.