Book Reviews by Norene  

Kitchen for Kids
by Norene Gilletz

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Kidding Around in the Kitchen

If you are looking for amazing recipes your children can really make then get them a copy of Kitchen for Kids by Jennifer Low (Whitecap). Low, a busy mother of two young children, is the food editor of House & Home magazine.

Kitchen for Kids
by Jennifer Low

Whitecap

Order Now from Chapters.Indigo.ca or Amazon.com

Kitchen for Kids contains more than 100 easy, yummy recipes that let children work safely in the kitchen (no sharp knives, no stove-top cooking). The instructions are detailed but not overwhelming. Every recipe has been successfully tested by kids aged four to 11, helping them discover the thrill of cooking from scratch.

The fabulous photos by talented Mark Burstyn are excellent. This delightful kid-friendly cookbook is ideal for Chanukah gift-giving. Without a doubt, the kids will use it all-year round!

There are lots of recipes for sweets such as cakes, cookies and desserts – isn’t that the most direct path to a child’s heart? Who wouldn’t love Gooshy S’More Cakes, Sweet Snowflakes or Alphabet Cookies? There are also tempting recipes for Big Soft Pretzels, Peek-a-Boo Meatloaf and Noisy French Toast.

Cindy Beer, a busy Thornhill mom, always meant to get her kids involved in cooking, but somehow it just never happened. I decided it was time for Cindy to start “kidding around” in the kitchen! I handed her a copy of Kitchen for Kids and told her to let Daniel, almost 10, and Shoshana, 6, pick several recipes they would like to make. The kids made “a whole bunch” of choices, then Cindy pared down the list and helped them choose two recipes.

Daniel and Shoshana decided on Chocolate-Mint Pinwheel Lollies. They loved the picture of the cookies, so their choice was easy! Cindy was determined to include a healthy main dish, so she chose Tuna Fish Patties, since they’re baked, not fried.

Cindy put all the ingredients out on the kitchen table, as the kids helped her. Cindy lined the baking pan for them and softened the butter in the microwave. The kids measured out the sugar and added it to the bowl. They mixed the butter mixture, with a little help from Mom. Daniel broke the egg and added it. He carefully measured each ingredient, then Shoshana added it to the bowl.

Mixing was a bit difficult, so the kids used their hands. They loved squishing the dough! They dropped the blobs of dough and flattened them with their knuckles, with Mom guiding them. Mom started rolling the dough into a cylinder and the kids finished it up. Daniel cut the cookies, under Mom’s nervous eyes.

It was hard for Cindy to let them do things on their own. She was worried about them getting egg shells in the batter and making a mess, but she decided to relax and let them do their thing. The kids inserted the Popsicle sticks, then waited with bated breath for the cookies to be ready. They were slightly browner than they might have been, but that was Mom’s fault – she didn’t check them soon enough!

“Daniel and Shoshana did an A-1 job!” says Cindy.

Conclusion: “We’ll make these again, but next time we’ll omit the peppermint extract and replace it with extra vanilla extract.” (Daniel decided he doesn’t like mint, but Shoshana does.)

Shoshana helped Cindy make the tuna patties and it was a good learning experience. There wasn’t any onion salt, so they added a little extra salt. Cindy forgot to buy dried dill, so they omitted it. They didn’t have saltine-type crackers, so they crushed up some croutons together, then added a little extra matzah meal to make up the difference. Shoshana mixed up the tuna mixture, then shaped and coated the patties with cereal and put them on the baking sheet. They came out delicious and crunchy!

Conclusion: These would make a good choice for Chanukah. Everyone ate them. The adults enjoyed them and the kids ate them up, although Shoshana prefers plain tuna right out of the can.
“Next time we’ll try them with salmon,” Cindy says.

CHOCOLATE-MINT PINWHEEL LOLLIES

Supplies: 8x8-inch pan, plastic wrap, baking sheet, parchment paper, bowls, measuring cups and spoons, baking spatula or wooden spoon, dinner knife, about 18 wooden Popsicle sticks

Butter Mixture
1 cup unsalted butter, soft
1 cup white sugar
1 large egg
3 tbsp. corn syrup
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/8 tsp. salt
flour for dusting

Mint Dough
1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup butter mixture
1 tsp. peppermint extract
about 8 drops of green food colouring
1
1/4 cups all-purpose flour (spoon in, level)

Chocolate Dough
rest of butter mixture
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1/4
cup unsweetened cocoa powder (spoon in, level)
1
2/3 cups all-purpose flour (spoon in, level)

Line the square pan with plastic wrap and lots of overhang. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

To make the butter mixture, in a large bowl, use a baking spatula or wooden spoon to cream the butter and sugar. Add the egg, corn syrup, baking soda and salt. Mix well.

To make the mint dough, measure out 1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup of butter mixture into another large bowl and add a drop of green food colouring to it so you won’t have a mix-up. (Don’t mix up the two bowls of butter mixture because they are different amounts.) Set aside.

To make the chocolate dough, use the butter mixture in the bowl that does not have the food colouring. Add the vanilla and cocoa powder. Mix well. Gradually stir in 1 2/3 cups flour. When the dough gets too stiff, use your hands to knead it into a smooth ball, working inside the bowl.

If the dough is too sticky, knead in 1 tsp. of flour. Pinch off and drop big blobs of the Chocolate Dough into the lined pan. Press them down to cover the bottom of the pan in a thin layer. Dust pans with flour, if needed.

Chill the pan for about 10 minutes. (Don’t leave it for much longer or it will get too stiff to roll.) Wash your hands.

While the Chocolate Dough chills, finish making the Mint Dough. Stir the peppermint extract and another 7 drops of green food colouring into the butter mixture in the second bowl for a bright colour. Mix well.

Gradually stir in 1¼ cups flour. When the dough gets too stiff, use your hands to knead it into a smooth ball, working inside the bowl.

The dough might seem crumbly at first, but keep squeezing and it will soften. After chilling the chocolate dough, drop blobs of mint dough on top and press to cover the chocolate dough.

Dust hands with flour, if needed. Use the plastic to lift the square of dough out of the pan and onto your work table. Keep the plastic under the dough.

To make it easy to roll, use the heels of your hands to flatten one side of the dough to 1/4 in. thick. (Flatten 2 inches into the slab.) Place this flattened strip in front of you to begin rolling. Lift the plastic to help you roll the dough into a tight cylinder. Pat the ends in. Wrap the dough in the plastic. If the cylinder is fatter in some parts than others, roll the fatter parts a few times to even it out.

You should have a cylinder that is 2½ inches in diameter. Chill 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F.

After chilling, remove the plastic, then use a dinner knife to cut the cylinder into 1-inch thick rounds. Or a grown-up can cut it with a sharp knife. If the dough is too stiff to cut, let it warm up a little first.

Place the rounds on the lined baking sheet at least 3 inches apart. Insert wooden sticks into the rounds so they look like lollipops. Pat the rounds back into circles if they get squished.

Bake the cookies about 16 minutes, or until the edges are firm, the tops are no longer shiny and the green dough is still green. (If baked too long, the green dough will turn golden.)

They might be slightly soft in the middle, but will firm up once cooled. Cool completely on the sheet.

Makes about 20 Chocolate-Mint Pinwheel Lollies.

TUNA FISH PATTIES

Supplies: baking sheet, parchment paper, measuring cups and spoons, heavy plastic bag, rolling pin or coffee mug, bowls, fork or pastry blender

Ingredients:
1½ cups cornflake cereal
1 tsp. vegetable oil
6-oz. can of solid white tuna
about 10 saltine-type crackers (for 1/2 cup crumbs)
2 large egg whites
3 tbsp. mayonnaise
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp. onion salt
¼ tsp. dried dill
¼ tsp. dried oregano
pinch of pepper

Preheat oven to 350F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Seal the cornflakes in a heavy plastic bag. Crush them with a rolling pin or coffee mug to the size of rolled oats. Pour into a bowl. Drizzle in the vegetable oil and stir with a fork to coat. Set aside.

Get help opening and draining the can of tuna. Put the tuna into a bowl and mash into small flakes with a fork or pastry blender.

Put the crackers in a plastic bag and crush the same way as the cornflakes. Add 1/2 cup cracker crumbs to the bowl of tuna. Except for the cornflakes, add the rest of the ingredients and mix well with a fork.

Shape the tuna into four 1-inch thick patties. Roll the patties in the cornflake crumbs to coat all sides.

Place on the lined baking sheet. Bake about 25 minutes, until the cornflake crumbs are lightly browned.

Makes 4 tuna fish patties.

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All images and recipes © Norene Gilletz 2011 unless otherwise noted.

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