kids & cooking
August 11, 2011 9:35 AM   Subscribe

recipes for a budding chef?

so last weekend my 11-year old weekend guest & i made pesto, which i needed for a stuffed pork loin i was making. first time pesto-making for both of us. it went so well, we cut some more basil and made a second batch for him to take home to his family. he enjoyed the heck out of it, and we had a delicious end product, which we could taste-test instantly with some crackers.

the experiment was a success in part because 1) he got to use gadgets (food processor), 2) we didn't have to use exposed sharp blades (all chopping was done in the food processor), 3) it didn't require fire (didn't have to heat up the house), and 4) nothing (dishes, fingers, my cats, etc.) was harmed in the making.

he's VERY excited to tackle another cooking project, so i'm looking for something easy, fun, and delicious. it need not involve basil, and buying fresh ingredients is not a problem. ideas?
posted by msconduct to Food & Drink (14 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
We make hummus all the time at our house when kids are around.
posted by Zophi at 9:38 AM on August 11, 2011 [2 favorites]

Salsa can be prepared similarly in a food processor. Your young friend might enjoy hitting a Farmers Market to pick out the ingredients too.

Mmmmmm. Homemade salsa...
posted by TooFewShoes at 9:44 AM on August 11, 2011

Salsa also seems like a perfect fit for your points. Also maybe pudding from scratch? A little bit of cooking, but minimal for the delicious result.
posted by brilliantine at 9:45 AM on August 11, 2011

I think sauces might be fun -- like making something that involves making a simple syrup, or caramel, or like macaroni and cheese with a bechamel sauce (or something with a roux). I think the chemistry part of cooking is the most fun for kids -- turning one thing into something else..

Though you'd have to heat all of them...
posted by empath at 9:47 AM on August 11, 2011

Mayonnaise or Aioli would be nice (nice with fries or on a BLT). You could also make salad dressing. Vinaigrette is a pretty easy yet cool project, and a basic ranch-style dressing isn't much harder. If you're not skeeved out by raw egg or anchovy, you could also throw together a pretty nice caesar salad. A toaster oven could provide you with croutons.
(on preview) yes, salsa. Dry roast tomato, onion, and a chile in a cast iron skillet. Then whir it up with some cilantro and some salt. Ta-dah!
posted by Gilbert at 9:48 AM on August 11, 2011

Something simple but with a lot of ingredients (like chili) might be a lot of fun. You can taste it as each ingredient is added, so you get feel for how flavors mingle and the process of cooking it.

Smoothies are also good (and more hot-kitchen friendly), because you can get really creative with what you add in and it generally always comes out tasty.
posted by phunniemee at 9:58 AM on August 11, 2011

Hummus is the obvious answer, of course. Guacamole is fun! I prefer putting the ingredients in a freezer bag and squishing it by hand, which has a delightful feeling without actually getting your hands messy.

posted by grouse at 10:01 AM on August 11, 2011

around that age I used to loooove to make bruschetta. Slice up a baguette. drizzle with olive oil and salt and pepper. slice up tomatoes, fresh(!) mozarella, and basil. construct. place on cookie sheet. broil in oven until cheese melts. consume. it's like pizza only better!
posted by ghostbikes at 10:21 AM on August 11, 2011

Response by poster: re the bruschetta: i was actually thinking about maybe a galette since the dough doesn't have to rise overnight.

all good answers! love the idea of squishing things in a bag, which means the little chef will love the idea even more!
posted by msconduct at 10:31 AM on August 11, 2011

You could try making ice cream--I'm thinking of the kind that involves freezing it in a tray, then breaking it up and blending it in the food processor. Maybe go to the farmer's market and see what's in season to put in it?
posted by WorkingMyWayHome at 10:59 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]


Ziploc bag ice-cream!
posted by LN at 11:09 AM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I remember this rocking my world as a kid:

Kids Cooking: A Very Slightly Messy Manual

Everything in it is hands-on, fun, and requires very little chopping.

Some of the recipes are a little TOO American (tuna melt, chili), but that's my only (current) issue with it. It actually seemed exotic to me when I was little--my parents didn't believe in 'little kid food' and I grew up eating a very international diet. Alphabet soup and pigs in a blanket seemed like a whole other world. I'm only sharing this because the pesto story makes me think that he is treated in the same way and would benefit from learning how to make an english muffin pizza or two!

posted by 200burritos at 12:32 PM on August 11, 2011 [1 favorite]

posted by Bruce H. at 5:51 PM on August 11, 2011

Response by poster: ok, if anyone checks in on this post, here's what we did.

we ended up making sausage balls, salsa, and red, white & blueberry cream pie (using a pre-made crust). note: those recipe links were googled after the fact and are close, but not exact, instructions for the recipes we used.

he had a good time that would have been a GREAT time if we'd only done two of those 3 things. as it was, he got a little bored & distracted by the end but was super excited about the results & the overall process.

i learned that his attention span might be shorter than the hands-on time needed, and his enthusiasm can make quite a mess at times--although we used the clean-as-you method & he happily participated. i also learned that my patience level isn't quite as high as i thought it was. : )

then of course when it was all said & done, he told me, 'well, what i *really* wanted to make was hummus.' grrrrrrr! there's always next time.
posted by msconduct at 1:05 PM on August 16, 2011

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