Foodies are spoilt for choice with the current abundance of TV cooking shows which also have the added bonus of enticing kids into the kitchen. And not just the older ones. I know a three-year-old girl who insists on getting creative with salads and soups.
The soups are made with the help of packet ingredients and adult guidance. A few favourite vegetables make them unique (healthy) colourful creations and they are consumed with great relish, especially when animal crackers (see recipe) are part of the fun.
Holidays are made for introducing your own junior ‘masterchef’ programme — complete with a certificate of achievement. Suggest to the children they choose a simple dish they enjoy, encourage them to choose their own ingredients at the supermarket. At home, guide them when measuring and weighing ingredients. Persuade them to taste and comment on their creations as they go.
Even making sandwiches can be a satisfying experience for creative kids. Or get them to bake potatoes in the microwave, then hollow them and combine the flesh with a selection of savoury goodies such as grated cheese, diced cooked bacon, sautéed mushrooms or chopped spring onions. Stuff it all back in the potato shells, reheat in the microwave and garnish creatively. Delish!
These animal (and bird) crackers are super with soup or salad or as a snack.
1 cup shredded tasty cheddar cheese
100g butter, chopped
1 1/4 cups plain flour plus extra for dusting
1/2 teaspoon each: salt, ground paprika
2 tablespoons each: finely grated parmesan cheese, milk
tiny dried currants for eyes
Place the cheddar cheese and butter in a food processor and mix until well combined. Sift the flour, salt and paprika into a bowl. Add to the food processor together with the parmesan and milk. Mix well.
Tip the mixture onto a clean bench and gather it into a ball. Knead until smooth. Cut into two equal portions. Wrap in film and chill in the fridge for 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 180°C. Line two baking trays with baking paper.
Dust the bench with a little flour. Roll out one portion of the dough to 5mm thickness. Using animal-shaped biscuit cutters, cut out shapes and place on the baking paper. Add currants for the eyes. Repeat with the second portion of dough. Any scraps can be kneaded together, rolled and cut into shapes.
Bake for 30 minutes, until golden. Cool on a wire rack. Store in airtight containers. Makes about 16.
2-3 flour tortilla wraps
2 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon finely chopped chives
pinch salt and pepper
4 tablespoons frozen peas, thawed
1 slice rindless ham, finely diced
3 cherry tomatoes, halved
Preheat the oven to 180°C.
Use a 10-11cm cutter (or a bowl as a guide) to cut 6 rounds from the tortillas.
Line into 6 medium-sized muffin pan holes, pushing them in firmly.
Beat the eggs in a jug together with the milk and chives. Season. Pour into the tortilla cases. Add the peas and ham and top with the tomato halves.
Bake for 15 minutes until the egg has just set.
Can be garnished with chopped chives. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6.
MAC N’ CHEESE FRITTERS
1/2 cup dry macaroni
1 small onion, diced
1/2 cup milk
1 cup grated tasty cheddar cheese
2 eggs, beaten
2 tablespoons self-raising flour
2-3 tablespoons canola oil for frying
Cook the macaroni in a large saucepan of salted water until tender. Drain well.
Meanwhile, melt the butter in a medium saucepan. Sauté the onion on low heat until softened, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the milk, cheese, eggs and flour. Add the macaroni. Stir until thickened then remove from the heat.
Heat a non-stick frying pan on medium. Add a little oil. Add tablespoons of the mixture leaving about 2cm between each fritter. Fry until crisp and golden. Turn over and cook the other side. They are ready to turn when the mixture is almost set on top and when gently nudged, will slide easily in the pan.
Great served with salad. Makes about 16.