Cookbooks are delightful. Resplendent pictures on glossy paper and adjoining recipes can half fill a hungry tummy. I have an aspiring little cook at home. She wants to roll the dough, make hard to bite cookies, slice the onions for pakoras and such. She can be found often searching for recipes kids can make.
Children love being in the kitchen, smelling spices, questioning mums/dads the difference over sauteing and deep frying. The Lil chefs of today are very knowledgeable and curious about the things on their plate.
It’s an interesting thing too, this understanding of food, how to prepare it and savour it. As the iconic Julia Child who brought French cooking to the American housewife said,
“There are only four great arts: music, painting, sculpture, and ornamental pastry.”
Dr. Louise Fresco, the Dutch writer and scientist who has done extensive work on sustainable development says,
“Food, in the end, in our own tradition, is something holy. It’s not about the nutrients and calories. It’s about sharing. It’s about honesty. It’s about identity.”
Little Kulture has strung together some wonderful books that bring together the child reader and food in myriad ways.
Berkley-based restauranteur Alice L Waters’ daughter Fanny has grown watching her mum running her restaurant Chez Panisse. Modern recipes, fresh ingredients are the mainstay at Chez Panisse. The book explores not just the making and eating of food, but the gathering and recycling of it too. Banana milkshakes and green apple sherbet to cherry tomato pasta and black beans and sour cream, as well as spaghetti and meatballs, french fries and pizza are some of the recipes showcased in the book.
Amanda Grant’s quintessential book of Italian recipes for children. Beautiful illustrations, as fresh and simple as the recipes in this book. A great resource for recipes ranging from Tomato Bruschetta, Tuscan Minestrone Soup, Rigatoni with Meatballs, Chicken Stuffed with Marscapone, Foccaccia to Fruits of the Forest Ice Cream.
40 recipes have been broken into types – pizzas, pasta; courses categorisation – lunches, desserts; Ideal for children 8 and above to try and enjoy.
Children are also given details on the equipment to be used, how it must be used and how best to make the dish as authentic as possible.
Jesse Hartland brings alive the life of Julia Child, now immortalised by Meryl Streep in the film, Julie and Julia. The book traces Julia’s childhood, her war years, her deep learning years in both cooking and writing in France and her very successful TV career.
It is quite fitting that Hartland, a New York-based illustrator, writer and artist who wears her many hats so successfully is the biographer of this lovely book.
A super, super book by Cristina Björk which chronicles young Elliot’s (about 10) culinary journey. Locked out one day from home, a hungry Elliot learns from his neighbour Stella the many wonders of the potato. He learns more about artichokes, beets, soups and baking. Elliot explains the food wheel as well as how we digest our food.
Elliot moves from simple recipes to complex recipes. He progresses from simple soups to t bread making. Elliot whips up fresh milkshakes, fruity yoghurt and finally an apple tart for Stella. Elliot progresses to become such a wonderful cook, that he is soon cooking with friends and Stella waits for his next dish! It is refreshing to see a young boy at the heart of a cookbook.
Claudine Pepin, daughter of the French Masterchef Jacques Pepin is a family collaboration. Claudine’s daughter Shorey and grandfather Jacques are responsible for artwork and tasting. Claudine believes as parents we try to ‘smuggle’ good foods.
She, however, believes fresh ingredients must be showcased and children will revel in them. This English-French cookbook does not provide recipes of kid food but good food. The book has recipes to start, to continue, on the side and to finish.
Eggs Jeannette, chicken with cream sauce, herb-roasted potatoes and almond cake are some of the exquisite French recipes that children can try making.
The Roald Dahl Cookbook Series
I was half-expecting frogs legs, oak leaves, raspberry jelly, a sprinkle of thunder and beetle bugs as ingredients in the Revolting Recipes book but it turned out to be quite different. Full of beautiful recipes, they all require adult help. A great series that adults and children can collaborate on. The three cookbooks are Roald Dahl’s Revolting Recipes, Roald Dahl’s Even More Revolting Recipes, Roald Dahl’s Completely Revolting Recipe.
The Roald Dahl site gives the recipe for Whipple- Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight sauce, from his delicious book, Charlie and The Chocolate Factory:
How to make a Whipple-Scrumptious Fudgemallow Delight sauce
You will need:
- an adult to help you
- a saucepan
- a large bowl of your favourite ice cream ready in the fridge
- 60g dark chocolate
- 1 Cadbury’s Crunchie or similar chocolate bar
- 60g butter
- 80g dark brown sugar
- 150ml double cream
- 8 marshmallows
What you need to do:
- Break the chocolate and the Crunchie into large chunks and set to one side.
- In a saucepan, over a low heat, melt together the butter, sugar and cream.
- Stir until all the sugar is dissolved and then turn the heat up and continue stirring for 10 minutes. Be careful, as it gets very hot and can splatter. Use a very long wooden spoon or a tall adult with a long arm.
- Turn the heat down again, and get your bowl of ice-cream from the fridge.
- Put the marshmallows, chocolate and Crunchie into the saucepan, stir around once and pour over your ice-cream.
You can keep the leftover sauce in the fridge and reheat it in a microwave.
Quentin Blake’s illustrations are whimsical and delightful as always. The easy to make, delicious recipes are not revolting at all. They have been compiled by Dahl’s widow Felicity with names from his various books. So you can look forward to making Pishlets, Nishnobbers, Tongue Rakers, Bruce Bogtrotter’s cake and much more. Unfortunately, as the book is not written by Dahl word gourmets may be disappointed.
The Neil Flambé Adventures
A restaurant owner, a chef and a detective solving mysteries all over the world! Could we ask for more?
This boy wonder with a sensitive nose can be a pain sometimes though as this excerpt from the Neil Flambé website informs us.
It’s not any fourteen- year -old who can talk to me in that tone of voice he thought.
That was certainly true, but Neil Flambé was not just any fourteen year old. He had his own restaurant, his own line of cooking pans, and his picture on the front cover of the latest issue of CHEF! magazine under the headline “Is there anything that this boy can’t cook?”
Neil Flambé was a star.
Another of Flambé’s talents? He could make an ordinary telephone sound like a mega phone.
“HELLO! GUNTHER! Are you still there? I need a different fish.”
Marco Polo, Aztecs, Tokyo and London are all backdrops for Neil’s adventures, gastronomical and others.
Some of the books in this series by Kevin Sylvester are Nick Flambe and the Tokyo Treasure, Nick Flambe and the Aztec Abduction, Nick Flambe and the Crusaders Curse, Nick Flambe and the Marco Polo Murders and Nick Flambé and The Bard’s Banquet.
This series has no recipes unless you are looking for recipes of adventure as readers are taken from place to place on the trails of a new mystery.
Cooking is both a science and an art, a life skill worth learning. Let me close with this Ted-Ed video about The Chemistry of Cookies. Bon Appetit everyone.