Les petits chefs – Week 2

This is the second in a 6-week series chronicling my adventures in the kitchen with my cooking club at school – Les Petits Chefs – using recipes from the
book C is for cooking, which I received for review.

This week’s recipe is Lidia Bastianich’s C is for Cheesy Crunchy Broccoli Cauliflower (you can find the adult version of the dish – with some spice – here. I have slightly changed this recipe to reflect what really happened!)

it’s all about organization with little chefs:

Serves 6


1 pound broccoli
1 pound cauliflower
2 tablespoons Italian parsley
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
pepper to taste
2 tablespoons soft butter, for the baking sheet
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or Grana Padano (I added some mozzarella to cut the sharp flavour a bit too)
3/4 cup fine dry bread crumbs
Lemon slices, for serving


Place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees.

Prepare the baking sheet by by greasing it with the butter:

(there was extra leftover so I let the boys place dobs of butter in the bottom of the pan to help prevent sticking)

Snap or slice off the big clusters of broccoli and cauliflower florets from the stems. Trim the stalks of the broccoli pieces but don’t separate the tiny florets. Slice the cauliflower clusters in half or quarters so that they’re roughly equal in size to the broccoli pieces. You’ll need only the floret pieces for the dish, so save all the good stalk and stem pieces for soup or another dish.

(ahem – here some of the boys got a little obsessed with the broccoli florets being the exact same size and what ended up happening was similar to when, as a little girl, I would cut my Barbie’s hair. You know how plastic doll hair won’t cut straight? Wells I just kept on hacking away at it, determined to get it straight… Barbie had a very – shall we say – short ‘do! The broccoli florets ended up being way smaller than I had intended them to be but hey – they were of uniform size, which we discussed was great because it meant they would all cook evenly!)

(ok, some people just wanted to practice their knife skills with the cauliflower stalks!)

Par boil the broccoli and cauliflower florets until they are al dente. Drain and cool slightly.

Grate the cheese, chop the parsley and mix in a large bowl with the breadcrumbs, olive oil, pepper and salt.

Lay the florets on the baking sheet, in one layer with space between them, so all surfaces will crisp and caramelize in the oven. Pour the cheesey breadcrumb mix over the florets and coat well.

Put the baking sheet in the oven and bake for about 10-15 minutes, rotate the pan back to front for even browning, and cook 10 minutes more. The florets should be crispy and nicely colored but may need a few more minutes for deep color. If they’re still not dark enough after 5 minutes, raise the oven heat or move the sheet to a higher rack and bake a bit longer.

Let the vegetables cool on the sheet briefly, then arrange them on a serving platter. Scrape up the crispy bits of crumbs and cheese and crumble them over the florets. Serve warm or at room temperature, with sliced lemon. Eat them by squeezing a few drops of juice onto a floret and popping it in your mouth.

Doesn’t it look amazing? The boys were quite excited to make this dish – I was shocked!!! They loved the smell of the cheese and I caught quite a few of them sneaking bits and pieces of cheese, breadcrumbs, raw cauliflower etc… in their mouths when they thought I wasn’t looking! Who said kids don’t eat their veggies??? As an experiment for timing, I made this dish on the weekend and this is what mine looked like:

Not much difference, huh? I loved it – unfortunately when I served it to Neil, I forgot the lemon juice and he pronounced it quite dry which I can see would be the case. Sorry!

This is a great side dish to make with your little ones – so many jobs you can involve them with and less than an hour from start to finish (unless you have 15 little boys – we took just over an hour, but since we don’t have a dishwasher, I think it was well done!) so a perfect before-dinner or weekend afternoon project.

I am really enjoying working with the boys in the science lab/kitchen and can’t wait till next week. We’re baking a sweet treat!

Broccoli on Foodista

25 thoughts on “Les petits chefs – Week 2”

  1. So great you get to teach cooking to your class! I'm impressed about the kids sneaking bits of raw cauliflower, I always thought all children hated it 😉

  2. I love your lessons for children, they show how clever children are, how they can eat everything if we teach them to appreciate veggies!

  3. That is so cute! I just love that you're instilling a love of cooking and good food in these tiny mold-able brains. Good for you, and their future partners will thank you I have no doubt!

  4. This is wonderful I love it! Good for you for teaching the little ones how to cook, and that making food at home is approachable. Kudos!

  5. Great job! Our kids love to cook in the kitchen – although grating cheese seems to be hated by all. This does look yummy!

  6. Thanks everyone – yes, it's a pretty fun hour, I have to admit. I love seeing my students in different environments, outside the classroom – it's wonderful to interact with them on a different level than just being their teacher.

    I have been very impressed by their willingness to try different foods and how they just jump in and start working with no thought on how easy or difficult the tasks are. It certainly is a great learning experience.

  7. Yum. And I will make this at home, since my kid likes both cauliflower and broccoli anyway. I'm always broiling cauliflower but this looks tastier (and cheesier). That's a really interesting observation that they jump in without regard to how easy or hard the task will be. Guess they trust you! And I know what you mean about outside interaction; when I taught high school, I really loved class trips for this reason even though they were exhausting.

  8. I promise you those kids will remember that day for their whole lives! It may sit somewhere in the back of the memory for years (decades even) but out it will pop one day, and it will be a special memory to them. Doing stuff like this with kids is so important. GREG

  9. This is exactly what is needed in the elementary school system – an excellent cooking class! If we lament the poor nutritional habits of our children, then let's show them at an early age how much better cooking your own food can be!

    I love the anecdote about the little boy and his quest for perfect florets – that you found a teaching moment in the resulting less-than-ideal-size shows what a fantastic instructor you are!

  10. How fun that you're in a cooking club! I am taking some nutritional chef courses this summer that I'm really looking forward to. The broccoli cauliflower looks yummy!

  11. Just love this series Mardi! I also love that those knives are covered. Would love to have some of those at home!

  12. Mardi, what a great project! These kids will surely remember this for the rest of their lives. Who knows, maybe you have some top chefs in class? 🙂 I love Lidia, ate at Becco, the restaurant in NYC she has with her son. VERY good!

  13. I bet the kids had fun doing it… It's great that they're being introduced to something aside from arts, arithmetics and science..
    Amazing job!

  14. I love your little chef stories. I wish I could be there to help out. Kids in the kitchen are wonderful! And what a gift to give them–cooking REAL food.

    I think you picked the perfect recipe for them, too. Would you do me a favor? Would you reach around your shoulder and pat yourself on the back? Thanks.

  15. Mardi, I am LOVING these posts! I have to agree completely that organization can make or break a cooking lesson with children. My kitchen time with Squirrel always goes much smoother when I'm prepared and organized!

  16. Great way to serve little trees to kids. Big kids too.

    Poor Barbie, I think we all did that. I also managed to melt one of mine as I thought she was feeling the cold and needed to get closer to the heater. I was learning about physics from an early age.

  17. Sippity Sup – thanks, I hope they WILL remember some things they learn with me, both in and out of the classroom!

    Tangled Noodle – you are too kind! As a teacher I am always thinking on my feet and making the best of a less than ideal situation!!

    Diana – yes, they're just from the dollar store but they are pretty sharp so the covers are very useful!

    Laura in Paris – they are indeed!

    Travel Eat Love – I would not be surprised if some of these little boys turn to a culinary career!

    deadale – the boys in my school are lucky that they are introduced to a lot of really cool things!

    Kate – Awww – shucks!

    Fuji Mama – I am nothing if not organised!!!

    Conor – glad to know someone's Barbie suffered a worse fate than mine!

  18. A great way to get the young ones to eat their vegetables! I'm loving the food photos with the the little hands at work 🙂

  19. what a great opportunity you’re offering these boys – not only are they learning new, delicious ways to enjoy vegetables, but they’re learning lifelong kitchen skills. i’m impressed!

  20. Pingback: What’s Cooking Blog » Blog Archive » What’s Cooking with YOUR Kids – Cooking Club for Boys

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.