Without a doubt, if you’ve been raised in a foodie household, you have an advantage in the cooking stakes. So why not get your kids involved in these 10 simple preparation and cooking tasks, and teach them ‘how to’. They’ll thank you for it later.
How to chop an onion, celery and carrot into a small, dice size pieces.
These vegetables are the flavour base of so many dishes (soups, stews, sauces, casseroles, etc). This is a great skill set to start with and one that will be invaluable to them when they finally move out of home.
How to crush, peel and finely chop fresh garlic cloves.
We all love our garlic and it is used in numerous recipes. With the addition of two other ingredients – a baguette and some butter – they’ve created their first super-popular dish: the kiwi favourite, garlic bread. Make sure you buy fresh NZ garlic, which tastes great and keeps for weeks.
How to make an omelette.
The one dish that has limitless flavour combinations and can be served for breakfast, lunch and dinner. The basic ingredients are everyday items – all that is needed is eggs, a touch of milk, a knob of butter, salt & pepper to season, plus any leftovers from the fridge, such as ham, capsicum or mushrooms.
How to season food properly.
Think salt, pepper, lemon juice, sugar. With the addition and combination of these four basic ingredients, food will always taste better … a simple tip, but one that is so often overlooked.
How to make a basic tomato sauce.
Again, this sauce is a ‘go to’ sauce for so many dishes … pasta, lasagne, pizza, spag bol, etc. Grab the kids and have a go at completing the organic cycle – try growing your own tomatoes to roast up for the sauce. Then simply add stock, herbs, and season to taste. It’s much easier than you’d think and avoids the preservatives you find in tinned sauces. It also uses many of the techniques and ingredients from above, so a great way to hone the basic skills.
How to transform mayonnaise into tartare sauce.
Just by adding a few simple ingredients such as capers, capsicum, gherkins and lemon juice, an already tasty dressing can become something extra special. From a simple mayonnaise, add garlic to make garlic aioli, and limitless combinations using fresh herbs and spices.
How to turn the staple side dish salad into a main meal delight.
With the summer months coming, salad takes prime position on the dinner table. Mix up the flavours by adding fresh ingredients such as mango, red cabbage, or pomegranate. Let the kids experiment and pick some fresh herbs from the garden, such as basil or coriander, to mix with the greens. Try spinach or rocket, instead of lettuce, to spice things up, and use nuts and seeds to add bite to the meal.
How to make a simple, light vinaigrette.
All they need is a whisk, a bowl, garlic, wholegrain mustard, malt or red wine vinegar, brown sugar, extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and they’re away laughing. A cheap way to add a little zing to salads that keeps well and is easy to whip up in a hurry.
How to prepare a hearty, flavoursome gourmet sandwich.
This is a really good way for kids to figure out for themselves how different flavours work together. Think roasted lamb, lettuce, tomato, fresh basil, feta, rock salt and pepper … And to add a little extra zing, pop a few sage leaves on the outside of the bread before putting into the sandwich press.
How to make meringues or a traditional pavlova.
Let’s be honest, even if pav’ isn’t your favourite treat, it’s our national dish and everyone should know how to make it – it’s easy and looks super-impressive when dressed with seasonal fruit.
Al Brown is an acclaimed chef, cookbook author, TV host and very keen fisherman. As a Dad himself, he is passionate about families and food, and would love to see all kids learn the basic skills of home cooking. www.albrown.co.nz