Kids love to help cook"The key to cooking with kids is setting up a lot of little jobs that they can do quickly and aren't too messy or technical," Quinn Hatfield, who runs Hatfield's Restaurant in Los Angeles with his wife, Karen, tells Yahoo! Shine. Hatfield's son Bennett is just over a year old. "He's happy hanging out in his high chair watching us cook and being handed things to eat." But his daughter Paige, 4, "wants to do everything mom and dad are doing. She would be swinging knives around if we let her," he laughs.
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Quinn and Karen Hatfield often spend "family time" with their kids making and eating breakfast or brunch around the kitchen island since both mom and dad work at the restaurant in the evenings. This Mother's Day, Hatfield plans to have his children help make brunch and let Karen sleep in. "I'll make the crepe batter the night before and set the fillings up before Paige and Bennett come into the kitchen," he says. That way they get the fun of stuffing and rolling the crepes without it becoming to messy or complicated. "You are dealing with a short attention span but children love to finish a dish and be involved."
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Keeping kids interested with doable tasks in the kitchen gives them a feeling of satisfaction and mastery. As important, it means they are less likely to drift out and wake up mom on her special day. Some jobs children under five enjoy and can complete successfully: hulling strawberries, segmenting oranges or tangerines, whisking eggs, mixing, putting pre-measured ingredients into a blender and making a smoothie, garnishing and layering ingredients by hand. Save cracking eggs, measuring ingredients, and cutting for when their motor skills are more developed unless you have unlimited time, patience, and paper towels.
Foolproof Mother's Day Breakfast (all recipes serve four)
Buckwheat Crepes with Nutella and Banana (adapted from Quinn Hatfield)
Hatfield suggests making the crepes the night before. After they cool, layer on a plate alternating with sheets of parchment paper to prevent sticking. Wrap the whole thing in plastic wrap and refrigerate. The kids can have fun stuffing the cooked crepes without things getting too hectic. After filling, re-heat in a 350-degree oven for five minutes.
½ cup buckwheat flour*
½ cup all purpose flour
¾ cup milk
¾ cup cream
½ tsp. salt
3 Tbs. butter, melted
1 cup Nutella
2-3 bananas, sliced into thin coins
*You can use all-purpose flour but Hatfield likes the nutty flavor and nutritional boost of buckwheat flour.
Place the flours and salt in a large mixing bowl. Combine the milk, cream, and eggs in a separate bowl and whisk to combine. Add half of the wet ingredients to the dry and whisk until smooth. Add the rest of the wet ingredients and whisk until smooth again (the two step addition ensures a smooth batter). Whisk in melted butter.
Preheat a small non-stick pan over medium-low on the stovetop. When the pan is hot, spoon about 1 ounce of batter into the center and tilt, while carefully rotating, so that the batter spreads thinly and evenly over the entire surface. Let the crepe cook until the edges are nicely browned and begin to form small bubbles. Carefully lift one edge and gently flip the crepe to briefly cook the other side for a second; the first side should be evenly brown, but it is okay for the second side to simply be cooked and not as beautiful. Transfer the cooked crepe to a tray to cool and repeat until the desired number of crepes is reached (about 2 per person.) This process may take a couple tries before you feel comfortable and you may need to slightly adjust the heat and/or the quantity of batter depending on your pan. Always allow the pan to reheat for about 20 seconds between crepes to ensure even cooking. Store in refrigerator.
To assemble: Arrange a line of banana slices down the center of each crepe. Spread a strip of Nutella over the bananas and roll the into a cannelloni shape. Re-heat as directed.
Baked French Toast (adapted from Quinn Hatfield)
Hatfield recommends slicing the strawberries, whipping the cream, and making the custard mixture in advance. The kids can pour the custard into the ramekins and then decorate when the dish is done baking.
1 loaf of day-old brioche, sliced ½" thick
½ cup sugar
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
¼ tsp. vanilla extract
1 pint strawberries, rinsed and sliced
2 tsp. sugar
½ cup heavy cream, whipped
1. Macerate the strawberries in the sugar while you prepare the rest of the dish.
2. You will need four ramekins, three to four inches in diameter. Use a round cookie cutter or knife to cut the brioche slices just small enough to fit inside each ramekin.
3. Layer three slices of brioche in each ramekin.
2. Whisk the eggs and sugar together, then mix in the milk, cream, and vanilla extract.
3. Pour mixture over brioche in each ramekin until it is completely soaked (about ½ a cup). Sprinkle each with a little sugar.
4. Place ramekins on a sheet tray and bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, check to see all liquid is absorbed by gently pressing on the top of each brioche.
5. Remove from oven and let cool in ramekins. When ready to serve, unmold by running a knife around the outside.
6. Garnish with sliced strawberries and whipped cream.
Golden Delicious Applesauce (adapted from Alice Waters 'Fanny at Chez Panisse')
Chef Alice Waters's delightful children's cookbook, Fanny at Chez Panisse, is written from the point of view of her young daughter. It contains delicious, seasonal recipes that kids love to cook and eat. This ultra simple applesauce can be eaten with a dollop of crème fraiche, used to fill the buckwheat crepes, or accompany the baked French toast.
1 pound Golden Delicious Apple, peeled, cored and cut into one inch chunks
¼ cup water
Heat apples and water in a saucepan over medium until simmering gently. Cover and cook for 20-30 minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. When fully cooked and slightly cooled, mash with a wooden spoon to the texture you prefer.
Fruit salad with honeyFruit salad with Honey dressing
Kids can hull strawberries and segment oranges. They can also mix dressing and gently toss fruit salad. Have the fruit washed, peeled and cut in advance.
2 Tbs. orange juice
1 Tbs. honey
4 cups mixed fruit and berries. Options include strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, mango, melon, kiwi, apple, seedless tangerine or Clementine.
A few sprigs mint (optional)
Peel and cut fruit into bite-sized pieces. Mix dressing in the bottom of a medium bowl. Add fruit and gently toss. Garnish with mint if desired.
Mixed berry smoothie
Kids love using a noisy blender to puree ingredients together.
2 cups frozen mixed berries
1 cup plain or vanilla yogurt
½ cup orange juice
Put all ingredients in blender and puree until smooth.
Do you have any tips for cooking with kids? Please share in the comments below.
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