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Les petits chefs – Food Revolution Week 1

This term’s Petits Chefs club is a smaller group of boys since it’s also a huge term for sports teams but I have a dedicated group who seem really excited to be learning some cooking skills and recipes.  Since the smaller group is a little easier to manage, I have decided to use Jamie Oliver’s Food Revolution cookbook as my guide, thus enabling me to bring in little snippets of my thoughts on the show which I am following.  I certainly don’t mean to “preach” to the boys but education is the first step in any change and I think discussing some of the issues raised on the show will be great to get them thinking about what they eat and where it comes from.

Ok, enough of all that, onto this week’s recipe!  I was thinking “spring” since the weather has been gorgeous.  Nothing says spring like peas so I was drawn to the Mini Shell Pasta with a Creamy Smoked Bacon and Pea sauce.

We actually used sour cream instead of crème fraîche since that is so hard to find in Toronto (well during a 30 minute break, that is!).  I used full-fat sour cream since there were only 2 tablespoons in the recipe, I would rather eat a small amount of a full-fat product than a bucket of low or non-fat with all those chemicals and unpronounceable ingredients.  I also couldn’t find fresh peas at short notice so I made sure to use organic frozen ones.

We started by dicing the bacon.  I made the boys remove some of the fat since some rashers contained a lot.  Even when we cooked it, there was still a lot of fat we had to drain from the pan.

We picked the mint leaves off the stalks and rolled the leaves, cutting them into fine strips:

Grated the cheese:

Then we got cooking:

Result?

Isn’t it beautiful?  It tasted amazing – a combination of the mint and lemon juice really brought out the “spring” in this dish!  From start to finish, including packing the dishwasher, about 40 minutes so definitely one I would add to my repertoire, considering I generally have all those ingredients on hand at home.

Bravo petits chefs!

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Jamie Oliver’s mini shell pasta with peas, bacon and mint sauce

Ingredients
10 slices smoked streaky bacon or pancetta, preferably free-range or organic
a small bunch of fresh mint
150g Parmesan cheese
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
optional: 1 chicken stock cube, preferably organic
400g dried mini shell pasta
olive oil
a knob of butter
300g frozen peas
2 heaped dessertspoons crème fraîche (we used sour cream)
1 lemon

Main courses, Serves 4-6
Jamie says: This is one of the dishes I cook for my kids, but to be honest, it’s so good that me and Jools always eat it too! Mini pasta shells are actually meant to be added to soups, but they’re quick and easy to cook, which makes them a good thing to serve with pasta sauces. All in all this should take you no more than five and a half minutes to cook. However, if you decide to go for a bigger type of pasta, remember that it will need more time to cook than these mini shells.

To prepare your pasta
Finely slice the bacon
Pick the mint leaves and discard the stalks
Finely grate the Parmesan

To cook your pasta
Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and drop in the stock cube (if using)
Stir until it’s dissolved, then add the mini shells and cook according to the packet instructions
Get a large frying pan over a medium heat and add a good lug of olive oil and the butter
Add the bacon to the pan, sprinkle a little pepper over and fry until golden and crisp
Meanwhile, finely chop your mint leaves
As soon as the bacon is golden, add your frozen peas and give the pan a good shake
After a minute or so, add the crème fraîche and chopped mint to the bacon and peas
Drain the pasta in a colander over a large bowl, reserving some of the cooking water
Add the pasta to the frying pan
Halve your lemon and squeeze the juice over the pasta
When it’s all bubbling away nicely, remove from the heat
The sauce should be creamy and delicious but if it’s too thick for you, add a splash of the reserved cooking water to thin it out a bit
Add the grated Parmesan and give the pan a shake to mix it in

To serve your pasta
Divide your pasta between plates or bowls, or put it on the table in a large serving dish and let everyone help themselves
Lovely with a simply dressed green salad

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48 Responses to Les petits chefs – Food Revolution Week 1

  1. Meeta April 1, 2010 at 05:42 #

    mardi this is grand! love it when kids help in the kitchen. i am glad to say i am happy that i do not have to preach to soeren. from the day he could eat solids i cooked all of his baby food paying special care in what ingredients and products i use. it’s been a part of what he has grown up with. till today he eats all kinds of fruit and veggies and makes no big fuss. so i think it’s important to start early with kids and show them what the right choices in life are. later it becomes difficult and need a “revolution” to get the message across!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 5, 2010 at 08:12 #

      Yes Meeta, I firmly believe that education must start at home. Soeren is so lucky to have you as a mum to teach him all about real food! We have friends like that and their kids are a dream to eat out at a restaurant with…

  2. bunkycooks April 1, 2010 at 08:00 #

    It is terrific to see children starting out in the kitchen so early. I was very young when I started to cook and have kept the passion to cook with me my whole life. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if these children do the same!

  3. candice April 1, 2010 at 10:29 #

    Great job petit chefs! Also love that you are using Jamie Oliver’s approach. It’s great to teach the little ones that cooking is approachable and you can get a good, tasty, healthy meal that doesn’t come out of a box – kudos!
    Cheers,
    C

  4. Martha April 1, 2010 at 17:01 #

    Looks delicious! And I bet your boys know what the vegetables are called. We were appalled in the first episode when the kids didn’t know what a tomato looked like.

  5. K a b l o o e y April 1, 2010 at 19:45 #

    That looks fantastic! I think I’m going to accidentally show it to Moochie (since everything has to be her idea) and let her suggest we make it. Then I’ll get us the cookbook. We have tons of wild mint in our yard (or soon will) and she loves peas, so we’ll plant those again too.

  6. Divina April 1, 2010 at 21:23 #

    Beautiful dish Mardi. This is one of the perfect spring dishes to make.

  7. Andrea@High/Low April 1, 2010 at 22:46 #

    Hooray for Mardi and Jamie Oliver! Wish more people would take this initiative to teach our kids! Fresh herbs and citrus are so easy to add and make such a difference in taste.

  8. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction April 1, 2010 at 22:57 #

    Lovely dish! So great of you to be teaching the kids at your school how to cook. Jamie Oliver would be proud!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 5, 2010 at 08:09 #

      I wish I could teach them to cook all day everyday. How does “French through Food” sound to you?

  9. Fuji Mama April 2, 2010 at 00:29 #

    FANTASTIC CHOICE of books! Everything I’ve tried out of that book so far has been a huge hit with my family. Can’t wait to see what you make next!

  10. penny aka jeroxie April 2, 2010 at 07:01 #

    I love this and what you are doing. Kids in the kitchen and cooking and learning about food.

  11. 5 Star Foodie April 2, 2010 at 13:33 #

    Delightful spring pasta!

  12. mademoiselle délicieuse April 2, 2010 at 19:44 #

    Such an easy combination of flavours with a combination of colours to appeal to appetites of littlies.

  13. Carolyn Jung April 2, 2010 at 20:52 #

    Nothing says spring like peas, mint and lemon. Favas are good with that mix, too. ;)

  14. Carol (CGtheFoodie) April 2, 2010 at 21:40 #

    That looks delightful! I love the combination of peas, mint and bacon. If I wasn’t on the road this weekend, I would rush out and buy all of the ingredients!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 5, 2010 at 08:07 #

      What’s great about this is that you usually have MOST of those ingredients on hand in the spring…

  15. Sarah, Maison Cupcake April 3, 2010 at 04:07 #

    I don’t have that particular Jamie book so thanks for sharing. It looks very tasty.

  16. Lisa April 3, 2010 at 07:32 #

    I love that you taught this recipe to kids. I’ve been cooking through the same book, and have taught some of the simpler recipes to my kids (who are older than your group but they have no idea in the kitchen). I have made this pasta dish myself and while it was intended for kids, I thought it was a wonderful flavour combination as well!

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 5, 2010 at 08:06 #

      See I have been surprised by the boys’ knowledge in the kitchen… Our lunch program does try to introduce them to new foods and whilst they might not always like it, at least they are learning something!

  17. Lori Lynn April 3, 2010 at 20:30 #

    Love the combination of ingredients, especially with the mint!
    LL

  18. French Cooking for Dummies April 4, 2010 at 07:18 #

    wow, you’re doing such a great job with your petits chefs! I love the mint and peas combination… I actually might have all these ingredients at hand, definitely going to try this pasta recipe soon :D

  19. Tami April 5, 2010 at 19:02 #

    Yum, how good does that look – just printed out the recipe. Peas are my most favourite vegetable.

    Check out Stephanie Alexander’s website. She started a schools kitchen garden project in Australia six years ago, following the success of her teaching programme in a Melbourne school. The Oz govt came on board and offer grants of up to $60,000 to schools to implement the programme.

    Actually Mardi, you’d be happy to know there is a French chef – Chef Laurent, operating a school canteen, near here in the Sunshine Coast hinterland, having removed all junk food and serving up healthy, fresh-cooked fare instead.

    • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 7, 2010 at 08:54 #

      Thanks for that idea Tami – that would actually be my dream to start a cooking/ growing food project…

      • Tami April 15, 2010 at 19:24 #

        and, do you know what Mardi? Knowing you, it will happen and good luck with it.

        It will take time and I realise Spring has only just arrived, but an Autumn suggestion is to see if you can organsie to set aside a small plot of school ground and plant garlic. Plant, mulch well and voila, come Spring, garlic appears. Fresh, home grown garlic for Les Petits Chefs.

        • Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite April 18, 2010 at 14:03 #

          Actually Tami, there are a few of us who would LOVE to start a learning garden. You never know….

  20. A Canadian Foodie April 5, 2010 at 23:35 #

    They must be SO proud of themselves. What a wonderful spring recipe. I love that they are wearing starched white jackets to cook in. It looks so professional and serious. And, I know, cooking nutritious, delicious, and economical food is a serious business. I love to see what you do with your students and marvel at your photography… and their young, expressive, and very clean hands.
    :)
    Valerie

  21. Conor @ HoldtheBeef April 6, 2010 at 08:49 #

    Yay! Another term of Petits Chefs!

    I LOVE that photo of the rolled up mint leaves, it’s a scary mint monster! Don’t let him get me with his big minty mouth!

  22. Casey Angelova April 8, 2010 at 03:58 #

    It is so vital for people to know what they are eating and where it comes from! I try to impart that knowledge to my children, so when it comes time for them to make decisions, they can be educated ones. I love this recipe. I have peas growing in the garden, but at present they are only an inch tall! I need to save this recipe for a month or so!

  23. Chez Us May 5, 2010 at 19:27 #

    What a perfect meal for a family – healthy, fast and easy. I am going to add this to our cooking plan, especially with spring peas showing up at the markets.

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