I have a 10 year old daughter who prefers dessert to her main courses, though she eats a surprisingly wide variety of dishes when compared to her peers. She is also on the cusp of a major growth spurt so she is eating like a horse at the moment. She is not afraid to try new dishes and has on occasion surprised us in restaurants around the globe by ordering octopus, frogâ€™s legs, sushi, etc. She still considers most green things to be â€œevilâ€ but eats asparagus, kangkong and broccoli when itâ€™s part of the meal on the table. She has spent hours and hours with me in the kitchen, watching me cook, helping me photograph produce and dishes, and occasionally attempts to cook and or prepare something to eat for herself. She can actually cook spaghetti sauce and her secret is to add a touch of sugar to the tomato sauce as well as several cloves of garlic that once cooked and soft, she crushes and mixes in with the sauce. We have successfully prevented a preference for Jollibee or McDonaldâ€™s sweet spaghetti by frequently serving good old fashioned spaghetti a la pomodoro with a hint of sugar to balance the acidity of the tomatoes.
She is one of those kids that will hopefully have warm memories of the kitchen. She sometimes ate in the kitchen as a toddler, watched me make the first gingerbread houses while safely ensconced in her high chair, she has decorated cookies, cupcakes, etc. with my stash of 30+ types of sprinkles. I have sometimes tried to include math tips while she fooled around with measuring cups for flour, sugar and other ingredients. She has a preference for all things sweet/dessert-like and is particularly discerning when it comes to chocolateâ€¦some La Maison du Chocolat, 1 pound assorted selection of Godiva or some Royce never fails to perk up this 10 year old. As a wizened adult, she will probably recall the time a generous guest sent a dozen humongous and spectacularly FRESH lobsters and when I tried to cook them, they got loose, crawling everywhere in the kitchen and were literally fighting back when I tried to plunge them into boiling water. She was mortified that I was murdering the creatures who were clinging to the pots rim with incredible strength. I wonder if that will be as memorable as the time I walked in on my mom cooking dinuguan just as she was pouring in the pigâ€™s bloodâ€¦I have never eaten dinuguan since thenâ€¦
My daughter and I discussed what we might post for the LP8 on cooking with kids and decided on a panini or grilled sandwich and fruit based dessert. First up, the paniniâ€¦ we got some whole wheat bread and some foccacia. Raided the fridge and found some jamon Serrano, regular deli ham, provolone, â€œsquareâ€ American cheese, tomatoes, etc. My daughter made a panini by buttering the outside panels of the sandwich, placing cheese on either interior side of the bread and a thin layer of jamon seranno. Grilled for just 3-4 minutes on a hot grill or panini contraption and voila, grilled sandwich perfectionâ€¦down to the dark grill marks on the sandwich. Sliced in two, it had this wonderful crunch to the bread and encased the just melting cheese and salty jamon Serrano. She had friends over that day and we tried regular ham with square cheese, tomatoes and cheese, provolone and Serrano and frankly, all were delicious. The key is the right amount of butter on good substantial bread and just enough cheese inside with a well-spread out amount of meat if you are using it. Yum. Seriously good stuff and except for handling the panini grill itself, almost completely child friendly.
For dessert, my daughter would opt for a nice big bowl of ice cream or a nice box of chocolates, but she knows that some balance is required so she attempts to find ways to incorporate fruit into her chocolate. First up is a classic pairing of strawberries and chocolate. She breaks off a few triangles of toblerone chocolate and sticks it in a bowl and zaps it in the microwave for a few seconds until melted. She then puts it on top of ripe strawberries and for added drama a sprinkling of powdered confectioners sugar. She put it on a small mother of pearl plate and she has a totally self-made dessert that is delicious, nutritious and attractive to look at. Finally, devoid of things to keep her and a bunch of friends busy at the beach one day, I gave them some food to work with and come up with a plated dessert in less than 10 minutesâ€¦the result, a mango and orange salad with broas and chocolate shards. On top of these went some mango ice cream and the kitchen was an absolute disaster area after 5 girls spent 10 minutes frantically trying to come up with something a la Iron Chef Childerenâ€™s Editionâ€¦ Other things we make together include home made-frapuccinos (those PHP100 versions at Starbucks are OUTRAGEOUS), cupcakes, cookies, etc.