Before I had a chance to flip through Susie Fishbein's new "Kosher by Design: Kids in the Kitchen," my 9-year-old, Yair, had swiped the hardcover off the pile of mail and bookmarked the recipes he wanted to try.
And try -- and succeed -- he did.
In "Kids in the Kitchen," best-selling author Fishbein has translated into kids lingo her formula for great cook books: interesting recipes that tweak the traditional, with points for presentation and originality. The full-color photos and cutesy thematics in this book are as bright as her others (her "Kosher by Design Entertains" is known universally as "The Pink Book"), with a few more smiley faces.
But what's really nice about this book is that the recipes aren't for silly foods that let kids patschke (mess) around but don't actually get them cooking. As Fishbein says in her introduction, no gummy worms crawling out of cookie crumbs in this book.
Rather, she includes recipes for kid-friendly real food like burritos and meatballs and breaded cauliflower and lots of desserts. What makes this book for kids is that the recipes are written in a way that any beginner -- even a latecomer adult -- can easily understand and follow.
Fishbein has an intro for parents and one for kids, and each recipe is rated with one to three chefs' hats to show the level of difficulty. She gives great advice -- like read through the whole recipe before you start, set out your tools and pre-measure your ingredients. She has a pictorial glossary of kitchen gadgets and basic safety and kashrut rules, and starts every recipe with an equipment list.
So when Yair set about making alphabet vegetable soup for Shabbat, he needed only hovering supervision from me. While an adult recipe might read, "one onion, diced," she starts off with "on the cutting board, use the sharp knife to chop the onions into small pieces."
In no time, Yair and his helpers, Ezra, 7, and Neima, 4, were chopping, sautéing, measuring and simmering, all with an eye on the timer so as not to overcook the creation.
The soup was fantastic, as was the chocolate cake Yair made for dessert. But what was even better was his newfound confidence in the kitchen. And my favorite part: He did his best to follow Fishbein's "clean as you go" rule, and took to heart her advice that "leaving your kitchen clean is key if you want to be invited back into it to cook."
Level of Difficulty: One Chef's Hat
Measuring cups and spoons
Medium mixing bowl
Small silicone spatula or spoon
Paper muffin cups
Cupcake or muffin tray
1 cup sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup canola oil
12 ounces baby food carrots (usually 3 jars)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
2 large eggs
Preheat oven to 350 F.
Place the sugar, flour and oil into a medium mixing bowl. Add the baby food carrots, using your small spatula or spoon to get all of the baby food out of the jar.
Add the baking soda, cinnamon and eggs.
Mix with an electric mixer at medium speed for three minutes, until the batter is smooth.
Place the paper muffin cups into a muffin or cupcake tray.
If your bowl has a spout, pour the batter from the bowl into the muffin cups; if not, use a large spoon. Fill the muffin cups almost to the top.
Place the tray into the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
Open the oven and carefully pull out the muffin tray. Stick a toothpick into the center of a muffin; it should come out clean. If it comes out gooey, return the muffins to the oven for another two to three minutes. When the muffins are done, remove from the oven and allow the muffins to cool.
Makes 12-14 muffins.