Enticing children to cook

The Kids’ Turn to Cook, by Margaret Brooker, published by New Holland Publishing (NZ) Ltd, RRP $24.99.
The Kids’ Turn to Cook, by Margaret Brooker, published by New Holland Publishing (NZ) Ltd, RRP $24.99.
Finding things to do with your children on these drizzly days is hard but New Zealand food writer Margaret Brooker believes cooking is the answer.

''It's fun, you get to enjoy making the food and then you have the pleasure of eating it.''

She is an advocate for getting children into the kitchen to learn to cook, skills which will stay with them for life.

''Knowing how to cook is an important part of learning how to look after yourself.''

Being able to cook also helps self-esteem and gives people a sense of achievement, she says.

''Cooks are always popular.''

So her book The Kids' Turn to Cook has been put together with the help of Alexandra (10) and Charlotte (8) Stephen.

They have chosen recipes, including those for breakfasts, school lunches, snacks, main meals and treats, that they like to eat and are easy enough for a beginner cook to make.

Brooker says a 10-year-old is capable of making the dishes unaided but an 8-year-old may need some help.

 

Photos: Supplied
Photo: supplied
Cold soba noodles

Serves 4

Ingredients
4 litres water
400g soba noodles
2 spring onions
1 medium knob fresh ginger
1 sheet nori
light soy sauce

Equipment
1 large saucepan with lid
1 wooden spoon
1 colander or large sieve
1 large bowl
1 heatproof jug
1 chopping board
1 sharp knife
1 grater
kitchen scissors

Method
1. Pour the water into the saucepan and bring it to the boil over a high heat (cover the saucepan so the water will boil faster).

2. When the water is boiling, add the soba noodles slowly, stirring with the wooden spoon as you do so.

3. Allow the noodles to boil gently over a medium heat until they are cooked. This will take about 4 minutes. The noodles are cooked when they are only just soft when you bite them.

4. You need to save the cooking water for the dipping sauce, so place the colander or sieve over the large bowl and carefully pour the noodles and the cooking water into it. Take the colander or sieve out of the bowl, rest it in the sink and run cold water through the noodles. Allow the noodles to drain and set aside. Pour the cooking water into the jug to use later.

5. Wash and dry the spring onions. Slice off the roots and the green part and discard. Finely slice the white part, then place in a small serving dish.

6. Peel the skin off the fresh ginger and discard, then finely grate the ginger and place in a small serving dish.

7. Cut the sheet of nori in half with the scissors, then cut the halves in half lengthways. With the four lengths of nori on top of each other, cut them into thin strips crossways. Place strips in a small serving dish.

To serve
Divide the noodles between four plates, then sprinkle some nori strips on each pile. Pour some soy sauce (about 1 tablespoon) into four small cups.

Place the dishes containing the ginger, spring onions, extra nori and the cooking water on the table to share, along with some spoons.

Soba noodles are made with buckwheat, which is a type of grain. They were one of our favourite dishes when we holidayed in Japan.

They taste so much better than they sound!

To eat
Add some of the cooking water to the soy sauce, then add some spring onions and ginger.

Using chopsticks or a fork, dip a mouthful of noodles into the watery soy sauce and eat.

 

Photo: supplied
Photo: supplied
Cupcakes

These individual cakes were the first thing that I learned to bake when I was a child. They are delightfully light and moist and I prefer them just as they are. However, you can ice them.

Makes 12

Ingredients
125g butter
125g caster (superfine) sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla essence
125g self-raising flour
2 large eggs
3 Tbsp milk

Equipment
12 paper muffin cases
1 muffin tray
kitchen scales and measures
2 medium bowls
1 sieve
1 wooden spoon or electric mixer
1 cup
1 metal tablespoon
2 teaspoons
1 wire rack

Method
1. Heat the oven to 180degC.

2. Place the paper cases in the muffin tray hollows.

3. Place the butter in a bowl and soften it if it is hard. Add the sugar and vanilla extract and beat together with a wooden spoon or electric mixer until smooth and well combined. This is called ''creaming''.

4. Sift the flour into the other bowl.

5. Break one egg into a cup - if any eggshell falls in remove it. Add the egg to the butter mixture and beat well.

6. Stir a spoonful of the sifted flour into the butter mixture. Break the second egg into the cup, add to the butter mixture and beat well.

7. Add the rest of the flour and fold into the mixture with a metal spoon.

8. Add the milk and stir well.

9. Using 2 teaspoons, scoop and scrape the mixture evenly into the paper cases.

10. Bake the cupcakes in the middle of the oven for about 15 minutes until their tops are golden in colour and they spring back when lightly touched.

11. Remove the cupcakes from the oven and cool for a few minutes, then take them out of the muffin tray and spread them on a wire rack to cool. If you want to ice them, wait until they are completely cold.

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