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 thoughts on “Kids in the kitchen!”

  1. 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. :-

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. 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!

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. 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.

  11. 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!

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

  13. 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.

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

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

  16. 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 🙂

  17. 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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