This term the Petits Chefs are cooking our way through a series of cookbooks and this week, we used The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs.
You know a book coming out of America’s Test Kitchen is going to be well-tested and this is no exception. 750 kids tested these recipes, both in their home kitchens and alongside professional chefs in the Test Kitchen kitchens so you just know they will be reliable! The book is visually appealing with lots of photos of the dishes, tips and techniques and actual kids who look like they are cooking (as opposed to overly staged photos). I love the way they have incorporated quotes from the recipe testers through the book which address the recipes, the skills they learned and how the dish tasted.
As you’d expect with ATK, this book is comprehensive and full of practical advice. For a kids’ book, this can be a delicate balance – making it informative yet approachable without it being overwhelming for budding cooks but this book delivers. Visually, it’s a fun read – the graphics, drawings and images draw you in and the overall design, though busy, is eye-catching and keeps you reading. There are SO many fun facts, tips and techniques on each page, you’ll linger much longer than you intend – and keep reading!
There are so many useful sections in the book – the recipes, obviously (Breakfast, Snacks and Beverages, Cooking for One, Cooking for Family and Friends, Side dishes and Desserts), but also a super useful “Getting Started in the Kitchen” (outlining the symbols used in the book, tips for success with the recipes, “Decoding Kitchenspeak” (a glossary of terms used in recipes), a primer for a well-stocked pantry, tips on how to measure (volume measurement is used here), a beautiful visual guide to kitchen tools, 7 Essential Prep Steps and even sections on garnishing and “plating like a pro”. Tips continue to be shared throughout the book – there is SO much information to take in but it’s delivered in a friendly, approachable format that kids will love. A must have for any budding chef (and their parents!).
For this week’s recipe, I chose one that I knew the boys would be able to make pretty much on their own – Rice and Bean Bowls with Corn and Avocado Crema. Apart from learning some good basic skills – chopping onions and mincing garlic as well as cooking rice, the recipe has a fun element – plating – that I knew the boys would enjoy.
I had a group making the avocado crema (we used frozen avocado that we had thawed slightly and it was perfect – kept the sauce chilled until we were ready to serve) – lime juice water, cilantro and sour cream (we used Greek yoghurt) all blitzed up to perfection in a food processor…
There’s a little bit of down time in this recipe which is perfect “clean up” and review the recipe time (as long as someone is keeping an eye on the rice that’s cooking, giving it a quick stir from time to time…)
I’d say that’s a win all round!
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Disclosure: I purchased this book for myself. I was not asked to write about it and am not being compensated for writing this post. All opinions are my own