Kids in the kitchen!

As some of you know, for my real job, I teach French as a second language to elementary school boys (aged 7-12). I am very fortunate to work at a wonderful school which is able to provide fabulous extra curricular experiences for the boys such as Chef à l’école who visited today for the third year in a row. Basically it’s a programme that comes into schools to teach students a little bit about Acadian history and they cook one dish. The workshop takes place in French (with a little English if the students need it). The hands-on factor appealed to me as a teacher of boys and I have been thrilled with the results in the past.

I was particularly excited this year as we were making tarte tatin. Now, for all you French cooking purists out there, the recipe which follows is obviously not, say Julia Child’s, but for little hands in the kitchen, it’s totally do-able!

Individual Tarte Tatin
Ingredients for 9 individual tarts

1/4 cup butter
2 tablespoons cold vegetable shortening (Crisco
1cup all purpose flour
1/8 tsp salt
2 tablespoons ice water

1/4 cup butter
1/3 cup sugar
3 green apples
Whipped cream, crème fraîche or vanilla ice cream for serving

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).

Filling – method

Peel 3 apples and cut into 8 wedges discard the core.

Put butter and all but 1 tbsp sugar in a heavy pan. On medium low heat melt butter and sugar.

Place the apples close together upright in the pan. Sprinkle with remaining sugar on top of apples.
Return the pan to medium heat and cook until the butter and sugar caramelizes, becoming syrupy, golden and bubbling up around the apples, 15 to 20 minutes. Remove from heat

Using the pastry brush put oil in the 9 foil muffin liners.
Place them in a 9 x 9 pan.

Crust – method

Combine butter and shortening in a bowl, add flour and salt. Blend with the pastry blender.

Add water a little at a time. Make a ball with the dough. Refrigerate for 10 minutes.

Using a rolling pin, roll out dough 1/8 inch thick on the table or mat sprinkled with flour. Cut 9 circles using small round cutter.

Put cooked apples in each muffin liner.

Take each circle of crust and roll the edge a bit and put roll side down on top of the apples.

Bake in the oven for 12 to 15 minutes.

Serve with whipped cream, crème fraîche or ice cream. (no pics of the cream added – sorry!)

The boys made a wonderful tea also:

And they even washed and dried the dishes, ready for the next group!

I absolutely LOVE cooking with the boys and think it’s so important for them to be exposed to working in the kitchen. Many of them really shine in such a hands-on environment and I love to see that look of pride in their eyes at a job well done (and delicious to boot!).

33 Responses to Kids in the kitchen!

  1. mathildescuisine December 10, 2009 at 07:03 #

    How lovely! Such a great idea to make all these boys discovering the beautiness of cooking!

  2. Miriam December 10, 2009 at 07:22 #

    Lovely post! I'm firmly convinced that basic cooking should be taught in schools.

  3. Neil C. Phillips December 10, 2009 at 10:34 #

    1) LOVE this whole programme. Things like this should be much more frequent in our schools.2) The true tactile wonders of food. (Brings back glorious childhood memories of Rena teaching me to make her FAMOUS chocolate chip cookies. To this day only one other person has come close to their ethereal heights)3) Can I get a new apron with stars on it? ;-)4) Not so sure about the tea…but then, I'm not ten. :-

  4. Tasty Trix December 10, 2009 at 11:00 #

    What fun! We cooked dishes in my high school French class from time to time, I loved it.

  5. Cathy December 10, 2009 at 11:03 #

    What a wonderful experience for the children and for the teacher. A hands-on approach to cooking needs to start early when they aren't afraid to try new things. Nice job of cleaning up. That's the part my kids always skipped over.

  6. Carol Egbert December 10, 2009 at 11:10 #

    I'm inspired…I never thought of making individual tarts in muffin cup liners. My younger son had a sushi club when he was eight. Every Wednesday afternoon, he and two friends got together to make sushi. He still loves to cook. Generally Asian food.

  7. Laura in Paris December 10, 2009 at 12:01 #

    WOW! What a nice workshop … when I think I have never done Tarte Tatin .. I am ashamed!

  8. 5 Star Foodie December 10, 2009 at 12:48 #

    Lovely tart tatins and how rewarding it must be to teach the boys how to make those! And fun!

  9. April Cavin December 10, 2009 at 12:49 #

    It's so great when kids get exposed to the kitchen early on– with all the fast food/convience food available it's important that kids learn the value of cooking at home early on. Only good things can come from that kind of experience!

  10. Laura Klein December 10, 2009 at 13:03 #

    This is so cool! What a great way to share your passion with food and inspire young boys to get into the kitchen! Love the idea of small Tarte Tatins as well!

  11. Kelly @ EvilShenanigans December 10, 2009 at 13:19 #

    Ok, I love this post! It makes me smile, and I think the whole thing is just great! Reminds me of when I was in 2nd grade, my mom came up to school for President's Day and we made "Cherry Pie". It was graham crackers and a pat of butter in a zip top bag, which the kids would mash up into a 'crust'. We would pour it in a bowl and it would get topped by some cherrys and whipped cream. I remember it being SO good because I made it!

  12. Tasty Eats At Home December 10, 2009 at 13:38 #

    Congrats to you for your support of this! I think it's so important that kids learn fundamentals in the kitchen. In fact, I teach our 3 kids how to cook and blog about it too! It's a fun experience, and it broadens their horizons! Great job.

  13. citronetvanille December 10, 2009 at 13:43 #

    Love those little hands, so cute! It's great they learn since early age what cooking is all about. Great post!

  14. Diana Bauman December 10, 2009 at 16:36 #

    Mardi, this is wonderful! I really think it's grand to show boys that they can cook and it's not just something for girls. What a wonderful recipe and one I'll be making at home with my boys! Love this!

  15. stephchows December 10, 2009 at 17:10 #

    What an amazing experience for the kids!! Sounds like you work for a wonderful school system 🙂

  16. Simply Life December 10, 2009 at 18:33 #

    Oh my, what a fun experience! I'm sure they LOVED that class! Wish I could've been there! 🙂

  17. The Duo Dishes December 10, 2009 at 19:42 #

    More boys need to improve their cooking skills. What fun!

  18. Suzanne Lefebvre Warner December 10, 2009 at 20:11 #

    Mardi, Glad your boys enjoyed my Chef à l'école sessions again this year! I love coming to your school to cook with your students. You're a great photographer too!

  19. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite December 10, 2009 at 21:00 #

    Thanks everyone for your comments. yes, I am incredibly lucky to work for a wonderful school that really encourages the boys to experience all sorts of fun things! And I can't stress enough how important it is for children to get involved in the kitchen – especially boys who often think it's a "girl" thing. As April said "only good things can come of this experience." I had a lot of positive parent feedback as well which is always great since so often what happens in class does not make it home ("What did you do at school today?" "Nothing"!) – but many many boys went home and were raving about it! So pleased they were so excited.

  20. Travel Eat Love December 10, 2009 at 21:17 #

    So sweet! I love this post 🙂

  21. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite December 10, 2009 at 21:19 #

    Travel Eat Love – I love that their little hands are working so hard – it's adorable!!

  22. Chow and Chatter December 10, 2009 at 21:47 #

    oh they must have loved this great snaps like being there

  23. Gourmantic December 10, 2009 at 22:02 #

    That must have been so much fun for them! I recently did the same with my 10 year old nephew. We made cherry clafoutis. Not only he loved the preparation, I did a write-up on my website as well. Great way to get them involved in French cooking early!

  24. Yvonne December 10, 2009 at 23:31 #

    What a fantastic idea – boys cooking together 🙂 Julia would be proud of all that creamy butter goodness too!

  25. Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella December 10, 2009 at 23:41 #

    What a gorgeous idea Mardi! I love the idea of teaching boys how to cook -0such an essential life skill! 😀

  26. Ellie December 11, 2009 at 02:07 #

    Boys cooking in the kitchen. Great idea. I just had a fun day with my daughter making cupcakes. Messy but fun 🙂

  27. Kate at Serendipity December 11, 2009 at 04:24 #

    I love this. I've made individual tarte tatins, but in tart molds. This is even easier! How wonderful for the chef to do this, and what a great experience for the boys.

  28. penny aka jeroxie December 11, 2009 at 08:59 #

    Oh that is sweet! Must be a lovely experience and I bet that they had heaps of fun and yummy times after too!

  29. Rochelle December 11, 2009 at 16:31 #

    These look great! I'll have to try this with my little one sometime in the near future!

  30. Unplanned Cooking December 11, 2009 at 19:46 #

    I love the idea of mixing cooking with a language class. Helps to give your kids a broader perspective of what culture means.

  31. Conor @ HoldtheBeef December 12, 2009 at 04:10 #

    Great kids version of a classic!Love seeing kids getting involved in cooking, but am glad it wasn't me teaching them 😉

  32. Nicole (Making Good Choices) December 12, 2009 at 09:24 #

    I LOVE the idea that you cook with your students. I am a teacher also and would LOVE LOVE to do this with mine. Love the recipe too 🙂

  33. Mardi @eatlivetravelwrite December 12, 2009 at 14:24 #

    Rebecca – thanks!
    Gourmantic – oooh cherry clafoutis – YUM!
    Yvonne – gotta love the butter!
    Lorraine and Ellie – it’ SO much fun cooking with kids.
    Kate – I know, I had never thought of it either!
    Penny – That is an understatement!
    Rochelle – you should – it’s so easy!
    Unplanned – absolutely!
    Conor – LOL! They are sweet actually!
    Nicole – you should try it!

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