The Petits Chefs are back and this term we’re cooking our way through a bunch of cookbooks! For Week 1, I chose the latest from Best of Bridge, the iconic Canadian cookbook series whose latest is a collection of recipes to help you get dinner on the table, even during the busiest of weeks in Weekday Suppers.
This latest collection offers a wide variety of recipes to suit any style of weekday dinner – soups, sandwiches, salads, pasta and pizza, meats (beef, veal, pork and lamb), poultry (chicken and turkey), fish and seafood, vegetarian dishes and quick and easy desserts. Recipes are designed with busy families in mind – using easy-to-find ingredients and simplified methods and techniques that help you get a nutritious dinner on the table fast. I love that many of the recipe include some options to help you make dinner even faster (rotisserie chicken, bottled sauces and frozen items) – because we can’t always do everything from scratch (and that’s MORE than ok!). Semi-homemade beats takeout anyday!
Fact: Last term, I had this book at school and some of my boys saw it and were leafing through it and loved the sound of SO many of the dishes. The fact that there are less images than in typical cookbooks didn’t deter them from looking at the book and a couple of them even commented how they liked the spiral bound book because it lays flat (I agree – out of the mouths of babes!). Keep this one on hand to help you through busy weeks – there are many recipes bound to become firm favourites!
This term, I have a lot of new faces in cooking club so I wanted to choose something fairly straightforward so I could spend some time getting to know the boys and learning their skill level fast. We don’t often bake sweet treats (as the boys will tell you!) but I figured a baking recipe was the perfect recipe for me to gauge an idea of where they are “in the kitchen” and the Chocolate Zucchini Snack Cake from Weekday Suppers was calling my (and their!) name! As we often do, I adapted the recipe slightly to make muffins because the whole cake takes 30 minutes to cook and we just don’t have that sort of time! Muffins were much more do-able in the time we had – and it meant each group of 4 or 5 boys could work with their own recipe (always easier in terms of organisation!).
My only “con” with the recipes in Weekday Suppers is the way they are laid out. It’s tradition – the block capital letters (in Comic Sans?), pages of text only and less pictures than you might expect. The recipes also written “paragraph” style as opposed to steps which I personally find sometimes hard to follow and definitely don’t find easy for younger cooks and chefs. The ingredients are also listed with volume as opposed to weight (I just find baking and cooking with weight so much more simple than volume – less room for error, less dishes to wash etc…). This week with the boys, I did a combination of measuring ingredients with weight (flour because it’s important to get that right) and volume (sugar because you can’t “over fill” a cup of sugar like you can with flour).
In short, I needed to make a few adjustments for the boys – namely, photocopying the recipes for each group and highlighting the dry and wet ingredients in different colours then highlighting the directions in the same colour so it was clear what was happening with which ingredients. Worked like a dream and made me realise my idea of colour-coded recipes for kids – which I had proposed in my own book but which wasn’t apparently feasible – is just so smart. Other teachers who saw the colour coding mentioned what a great idea it was and it certainly helped the boys figure out who was doing what in their groups very easily.
I set up stations of wet and dry ingredients, let the boys choose what they were in charge of fetching for the group. I made them organise the mise en place before they started working… (sssh- we actually reduced the sugar in this recipe – calls for 1 1/2 cups and we just used one – didn’t notice in the final product!)
The muffins baked beautifully…
There was one left and I had it the next day and can vouch for it being super tasty (and we didn’t notice the reduced sugar!). Bonus? In the 20-something minutes it took the muffins to bake, we had enough time to clean the STEM lab! AND read through the recipe again!
Weekday Suppers is full of family-friendly recipes (to eat and make!) like this and I’m sure it’s going to find a permanent home on the kitchen counters of many Canadians for years to come!
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Disclosure: I was sent a review copy of Weekday Suppers by the publishers. I was not asked to write about this book and am not being compensated for writing this post. All opinions are my own.