Friday, 23 April 2010

Kids in the Kitchen

I mentioned in my Family TV post that my boys wanted to book in a regular Thurs evening cooking class.

True to form my lads came home and were very keen to get on to their first cooking class request- Pavlova!

We had spent a bit of time looking at various recipes and came back to one that is in Jamie Oliver's "Jamie at Home" cookbook as our preferred choice- the oven baked meringue.  The lads loved the free form style and also the fact that it is drizzled in chocolate- what is not to love!
The recipe is super simple and doesn't include tricky bits at all- a real kid friendly recipe.  The most difficult thing was separating the eggs.  I remember thinking that was the coolest job in the kitchen when I was a young cook. The miracle of how the yolk would slop from shell to shell and (mostly!) remain in it's perfect circle was just so much fun to watch over and over.  Well Mr. Eleven also thought this was pretty darn cool- he ended up being the only participant in this week's Thursday class.  The others just wanted to eat the finished result- fair enough!  Here he is ever so carefully separating the yolks:
He separated the eggs individually just in case we had a yolk disaster.  He was very careful and had 100% success- not bad for a first effort!
This is how the pav looked before and after baking:

So..... Mr.11 was feeling suitably proud at this time!  Doesn't it look fantastic! And then comes the fun part....inventing ways to dress his work of art.  Mr. 11 subscribes to the keep it simple method of cookery (clever boy!) and just wanted to drizzle melted chocolate and passionfruit pulp on top and get stuck in.
So that is what an eleven year old's first ever pavlova turned out like.  And his comment- "Well I can safely say that is the best Pavlova I have ever cooked!"
His brothers were pretty happy with it too- all of them asked if he could cook it for their next birthday cake.  You can imagine it didn't last long!
It was chewy, crunchy not overly sugary and pure deliciousness!  And I was pleasantly surprised at what a child friendly recipe it was.
It was also a huge amount of fun and a lovely way to get some time together. 
He even cleaned up afterwards!

So I challenge you to get your children in the kitchen and cook a pav and let me know how you get on.

Cooking has to be the best excuse ever to spend some fun time together.

My tips to successful cooking with kids are to let them choose a recipe- spend some time reading through some cookbooks together and chat about what foods you enjoy.  Have a look and see if you can simplify the recipe a little (for both of your sanity!).
I remember when we all started to cook for the family my mum was horrified at some of the choices made (ham steaks and pineapple anyone?? BLAH!) but you will all appreciate that kids won't get excited about cooking things they don't enjoy eating- this applies to adults too!  Lower the bar a little- they are only kids but soon enough they will become capable of cooking fabulous meals that are delicious for grown-ups too!

Also- very young children are capable of cooking, we as parents are just scared to let them.  I guess there is an element of being afraid of them getting hurt but mostly I feel that we are afraid of things like the mess and just generally not having control.  It is such a great way of encouraging your child to become more independent and take risks.   Yes there will be a mess but get them to clean it up!

Best of all I believe that through cooking my children have become much better eaters- they are willing to try things they wouldn't have normally eaten and are now pretty adventurous eaters with a very broad palate.  It demystifies the process.  They are able to see in action that familiar ingredients change in appearance and texture when they are cooked.

My children have also learned to appreciate the work that goes in to their meals every day and since they have started to be cooks themselves they all thank me every night when their meal arrives.  Let's face it - it is always nice to be appreciated.  "Thanks Mum for cooking dinner"...... Ah those words make me so happy!

Once you have chosen a recipe let the child do most of the work- and don't be afraid to let them make mistakes.  We were all beginners once.  It is an important part of their journey to make disastrous mistakes.  And VERY IMPORTANTLY teach them to clean as they go- it is really important that you don't end up being the one cleaning up at the end or you will never want to spend time in the kitchen together ever again!

Good luck!


  1. What a great looking pav! The chocolate is inspired - well done!
    My 9yo son is a keen cook and has requested we make a home made meat pie this weekend. Sounds like a good plan, except he wants to make the pastry from scratch. We shall see... He has been away at school camp this week and was most excited about "kitchen duty"!

  2. We can't wait to cook this one tomorrow. That Pav looks absolutely divine and delicious. Sebastien loves cooking and thanks for the advice to let the kids choose the recipe! We'll be getting the cookbooks out this weekend. Thanks Gourmet Girlfriend!

  3. Hey Ruth,
    Reading about the pavlova and the great pictures inspired me to start finding new recipes. I went to Jamie Oliver's site (following the pavlove idea) and made the Ale Stew. Bloomin Marvelous. My first dumplings since I was a kid cooking with mum!
    Blog On!


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