Friday, February 28, 2014

Kids in the Kitchen - Roundup

And now for an update on all we've been cooking up since my last post on the topic, including links to the recipes -

As it seems to happen again and again, when the kids cook, the food is the best it's ever been.  Aidan tried a new recipe for spaghetti and meatballs, and we're never going back to anything else. Thank you, Great -Grandma Turano!    I don't know which is better - the sauce or the meatballs.

Aidan also made Lettuce Hand Rolls, which we've dubbed "Asian Cocoons" instead.  This is *such* a simple, satisfying weeknight meal that is easily adapted to appeal to kids and adults alike.  We add jasmine rice and steamed edamame to round out the meal. The kids usually wrap their filling in tortillas; Jeff and I opt for crunchy lettuce instead.

A family favorite that Leo served up recently is Chicken Parmesan meatballs.

 Leo also made a scrumptious, from-scratch spaghetti sauce that was officially voted BEST EVER. As in ever EVER, in the History of All Spaghetti Sauces Ever Made.  We adapted it from this recipe - we (more than) halved it; we used ground turkey; we didn't simmer it for quite the full hour, since suddenly Master Chef Night turned into Master Arsenic Hour.  (My mother's phrase - arsenic hour - you don't know whether to give it or take it....)  Anyhoo.  The sauce was the perfect accompaniment to the pasta that we all used to "carb load" before the 5K race we're all doing in the morning, to benefit the local day shelter serving the homeless in our community.

Pax served up a delicious helping of Sloppy Toms (turkey meat instead of beef); sweet potato fries, and steamed broccoli with cheese sauce. The food was delicious - Pax is an excellent cook of simple meals - but the cheese sauce did not thicken as it should have...  The next night, I took the leftover cheese sauce and mixed it with about 8 ounces of cooked macaroni.  I added panko breadcrumbs, baked it for about half an hour at 350, and it yielded the most delicious, fuss-free, and kid-approved macaroni and cheese we've ever had. (There's no guarantee, of course, that I'll be able to replicate the UN-thick sauce required to make the mac n'cheese, but I'm still feeling proud of my ingenuity here.)

 Finally, Pax whipped up some mighty fine Molten Lava Cakes, a la Emeril Lagasse.  I really liked the process involved in making these cakes - you prep them well in advance, then freeze them before baking, then serve immediately - but they did not yield that highly satisfying mounded cake form that, when cut into, pours forth the molten lava.....rather, they collapsed onto the plate.

After reading about our adventures in the kitchen, my aunt recently sent us a recipe for a chocolate pudding cake that my grandmother (her mother) used to make. I cannot wait to make it with Pax!  Ever since Grandma Turano's meatballs, I've been more eager than ever to delve into recipes passed down from generations.  Was my grandmother a chef?  Hell no.  She was famous for her gorgeous table settings and flower arrangements, infamous for the dishes she served from the sideboard.  Along with setting a beautiful table, she was immaculate, fashionable, and chic.  But her culinary skills were quite another story.  Once, thinking she'd removed a portion of cake to serve for dessert, she unwrapped the parcel in front of her expectant guests, only to reveal... an angora sweater, kept in the freezer to prevent shedding.

And yet perhaps some of what I've learned about cooking, and what I'm hoping to teach to my own children, was, in fact, passed down from Jean Seehaver.  For in the moment when the lava cake collapsed, and the cheese sauce refused to thicken, I simply chuckled and announced, "Oh Well!" - a Jean Seehaver phrase, if ever there was one.

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