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Les petits chefs – Week 1

This is the first in a 6-week series chronicling my adventures in the kitchen with my cooking club at school – Les Petits Chefs.

When I received the book C is for cooking for review, I knew immediately that I wanted to start an after-school cooking club for my students.


Remember when we Le Chef à l’école came and visit and what a huge success that was? My students love cooking and I think it’s such an important and useful skill for all children to learn.

The book itself is very visually appealing to both a child’s and an adult eye – when I was carrying it around at school, it generated a lot of interest from boys who just saw the cover – and definitely easy on the eye in terms of the way it’s organised. The font is large and pleasant to read and the recipe steps are clearly marked, including a special symbol for when it’s a “kid friendly” step (i.e. things to NOT do with the oven or stove top).

It’s organised into eight chapters:

  • Chefs Cook on Sesame Street (celebrity chefs like Martha Stewart, Alton Brown and Jamie Oliver share recipes)
  • Sweet Sips (smoothies and the like)
  • Best Breakfasts (emphasizing that it’s the most important meal of the day)
  • Lunches to Munch On
  • Super Soups
  • Family Dinner
  • Something Special on the Side
  • Sweets and Treats

Additionally, there are chapters of information about things like what you can expect children of different ages to be able to do in the kitchen, nutritional notes, ideas for how to involve the whole family in meal preparation and kitchen safety and at the end, there are some ideas for how to make food visually appealing to kids (fun shapes etc…), different kinds of quick snacks and ideas for “together time” in the kitchen with your child.

What particularly attracted me to the book was the fact that it showcases healthy yet fairly sophisticated dishes (Chinese meatballs with sesame rice, anyone?) simplified to the point where many of them could be prepared in an hour (that’s all the time we have for a club!)

For our first week, I chose a Jamie Oliver recipe, as a nod to how much I enjoyed his talk in Toronto last November.

The original recipe can also be found on Chatelaine.com. We added the zest to the dressing instead and shook it up with the oil and lemon juice instead of sprinkling it over the salad so I have changed the directions slightly.

Ingredients

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 1/4 cups mixed long grain and wild rice
A few sprigs of fresh basil
A few sprigs of fresh mint
A few sprigs of fresh flat-leaf parsley
200 g roasted red peppers from a jar
1/2 a fresh red chilli (we used cubano peppers)
1 lemon
6 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

Directions

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil. Add the rice and cook it according to the packet instructions. Once cooked, drain the rice in a sieve and spread it out on a tray to help it cool down quickly. (We cooked our wild rice separately since it took much longer to cook and didn’t need to cool our rice down so much – we just mixed it all in!).

Meanwhile, pick all the herb leaves off the stalks. Finely chop the peppers. Halve, de-seed and finely chop your chilli.



Put your cooled rice into a big serving bowl. Finely chop your herb leaves and add them to the bowl, together with the peppers and chilli.



Lemon dressing

Zest and juice the lemon. Put 6 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil into a jam jar with a pinch of sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, the zest and lemon juice. Put the lid on the jar and shake well (err… yes – make sure the lid is on properly….).





Mix remaining rice with the pepper/chilli mixture and pour over with dressing.


Bon appétit!

This was a super easy recipe to follow. The boys did a great job and I was impressed with both their food knowledge (we chatted about the different ingredients and passed some around like the herbs and the wild rice so they could smell them) and kitchen skills – they totally rocked the chopping!

Check back in next Thursday to see what my 15 little budding chefs get up to next week!

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21 Responses to Les petits chefs – Week 1

  1. penny aka jeroxie January 21, 2010 at 10:23 #

    That is brilliant. It is good to see young children getting into cooking and understand food and what they are eating. I am looking forward to next Thurs too.

  2. Conor @ HoldtheBeef January 21, 2010 at 10:42 #

    This is such a fantastic thing that you're doing, Mardi. You rock. And so do your little chefs, it seems.

  3. Divina Pe January 21, 2010 at 12:59 #

    That is great exposure for the kids. A friend of mine in Vancouver is doing the same thing in different schools where she teach children how to cook. Maybe you have heard of Project CHEF. I hope I can join you there. :D

  4. La Table De Nana January 21, 2010 at 13:15 #

    Very cute post..I will remember this recommendation..I think I have budding chefs:)

  5. Simply Life January 21, 2010 at 13:36 #

    I LOVE that you're cooking with kids!!!!

  6. Cocina Savant January 21, 2010 at 14:21 #

    wow! what neat idea and a fun way for kids to spend there afternoon. it sounds like it is fun for you to! and of course the recipe looks great :)

  7. Juls @ Juls' Kitchen January 21, 2010 at 14:26 #

    Brilliant! cooking classes for children are brilliant, it is important to show them how to cook and which are the best things to eat, to have one day well informed audults!

  8. Evelyne@CheapEthnicEatz January 21, 2010 at 15:32 #

    Kyuddos on you idea and getting kids involed. I know my love of cooking started with my getting involved at a young age. Great book you founf too!

  9. Laura in Paris January 21, 2010 at 15:45 #

    How fun! Here in France kids make cakes ( classic is yogurt cake), crepes, and more! They love it!

  10. K a b l o o e y January 21, 2010 at 17:55 #

    Hey, Mardi. You didn't tell us that it was Jamie Oliver's Rice Salad. I checked the link you provided, though. And also, what did the kids think of the food they made?

  11. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite January 21, 2010 at 23:25 #

    Thanks everyone for your kind comments. The boys (and parents!) apparently LOVED the salad so I am glad it was a hit.

    Divina – I have not heard of Project Chef but will look it up.

    La Table de Nana – it's a great book!

    Kablooey – ummm, I did mention it's a Jamie Oliver recipe!!! But you are right that I forgot the title in the post! Ooops…

  12. The Duo Dishes January 22, 2010 at 00:15 #

    Little kids just love cooking. What a fun thing to do with them!

  13. Yvonne January 22, 2010 at 01:46 #

    This is really impressive, and a great way for the little boys to get a dose of domesticity :)

  14. Julie @ Pickley Pear January 22, 2010 at 01:47 #

    How fun! I wish I was taught to cook as a kid. It's something fun for the kids and you too!

  15. 5 Star Foodie January 22, 2010 at 02:53 #

    This sounds like a great recipe to with kids! I know my daughter would love it!

    I'm so glad you enjoyed the latest posts on my site, thanks :)

  16. Diana Bauman January 22, 2010 at 04:43 #

    Mardi, I love that your taking time to show your students what an important lifetime skill it is to cook. I know my kids would love this book!

  17. Gourmantic January 22, 2010 at 07:03 #

    This is wonderful! I like the photo of the little hands chopping parsley. My gourmet nephew would love the chance to do something like this.

  18. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella January 22, 2010 at 09:10 #

    What a wonderful idea Mardi! I'm so impressed wiht it and can't wait to read more about you and your team of mini chefs! :D

  19. Caroline@BudgetMeals January 22, 2010 at 22:18 #

    This meal looks amazing! I am glad I found your blog! I can't wait to use some of your ideas and recipes!

  20. Fuji Mama January 23, 2010 at 00:14 #

    This book looks like one I need to get ASAP! Squirrel is starting to help me a lot in the kitchen, but how fun would it be to have a cookbook specifically geared towards her (PLUS she LOVES Sesame Street)? I'm looking forward to the rest of the series!

  21. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite January 24, 2010 at 23:51 #

    Thanks everyone for your comments. I would totally recommend this book to anyone based on my experience with it so far :-) I think it's so important that little people whatever their gender learn about food and cooking from a very young age. I am looking forward to next week already!

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