Cooking Clever with Your Kids - Gary Maclean

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As we’ve all got that bit more time at home at the moment, the kitchen has even more than ever become the focal point of the house! There’s no better time, then, to rally the kids and get them involved in making meals with you so they can understand the whole process. Whether that’s buying fresh produce or understanding what needs to be used up, right through to prep and cooking!  

Here are my top tips to get the wee ones excited about cooking up a storm in the kitchen:  

1. Get the kids involved from the start  

Let them be part of the food selection process, encourage them to put as many types of veg and fruit to that trolley or online basket! That way they can see the whole journey - from selection to prep to seeing it on the plate!  

2. Open them up to seeing and trying different types of food 

There will be hits and inevitable misses, but the point is show them variety and they will find their own favourites in time. 

3. Get them involved in lots of little jobs 

The more tasks they try the better so don’t worry about them taking on a job to completion, like rolling 30 identical arancini balls! It’s more important that they’re given the chance to try their hand at different things and practice new skills.  

4. Base tasks on ability, not age  

This is straightforward really. You’ll know your own kids’ abilities and so for some wee ones they’ll have the concentration and coordination to lend their hand to lots of types of tasks, from a simple sprinkling of cheese on home-made pizzas right up to chopping the herbs!  

5. Let them come and go 

You don’t want cooking to be seen as a chore, so don’t force the issue. If they want to intersperse tonight’s dinner prep with a quick game of football in the garden - let them!  

6. Be brave!  

Challenge them and ask for feedback - especially if you see there’s a natural talent simmering in the kitchen beside you!  

7. Chill and have fun!  

Not every cooking occasion lends itself well to getting a team involved! Make sure you’re relaxed, be patient and choose the right recipe. This way you’ll find everything comes together easily...like the perfect risotto!  

 

Try it yourself!  

And to put all that into practice, here are a few easy recipes to try out with the kids at home - from grating the cheese, to kneading dough, or stirring the risotto, there’s so much they can get involved with.  

Pantofala Bread - A wonderfully simple Italian-style stuffed bread recipe which is perfect for using up ingredients in the fridge such as leftover cheese, cold meats, herbs and veggies.  

Italian Sausage, Pea & Parsley Risotto - Once you’ve mastered the perfect risotto you’ll never look back. Again, it’s a great way to get the kids involved as they can choose some of their favourite ingredients or vegetables, not to mention being a great way to use up ends of cheese from the fridge.  

Chicken Katsu Curry - At home we love to try different versions of our favourite restaurant or takeaway dishes and I have to confess, this Chicken Katsu curry is one of mine! The sauce is really easy to make and the kids can get involved in the various steps of preparing the chicken for that perfect crispy coating!  

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