Tag Archives: cooking with kids

Apple Crisp (and the answer to the contraption challenge)

15 Oct

Yesterday I asked if you knew what this was:

Peel Away Peeler, Corer, and Slicer, courtesy Hatti Langsford.

And I got numerous responses, most of them correct! The hair removal comment was pretty funny! (Thanks Conor from One Man’s Meat)

It is indeed an apple corer, which can be set to peel and slice as well. Want one? Click here to shop around….

My dear friend from college (The New School, if you’d like to know), Hatti Langsford, whose recent “sustainable” wedding  to Chris Moratz, was covered in these pages, gave it to Leandro when we were visiting them in the New Paltz area last fall. It has since traveled, not just home to us, but to Leandro’s school during Apple Week last year! The kids (and teachers) loved it! And it is a terrific way to get kids eating fruit and involved in the kitchen!

It is a marvelous contraption, that Hatti wants me to remind you can also be used for peeling potatoes, and it can be used for pears as well. It came in particularly handy for this simple apple crisp recipe, as the spiral slice was the perfect thickness for the dish (1/4 inch); all I had to do was slice each apple once in half from top to bottom after Ashley and Leandro had peeled, cored and spiral sliced them.

Make sure the butter is well-distributed through the dry ingredients or you’ll have dry patches. I eliminated the dry patches by covering with foil; the heat finished the topping!

I made it in two 8×8 baking dishes so that I had one to take to this month’s Single Mother’s By Choice meet-up (where it met with general approval and most people took seconds), and one to keep! You could also do one large baking dish.

Yum!

Apple Crisp (adapted very slightly from Betty Crocker!)

10 small-medium cooking apples (we used Gala this time), cored and sliced (peeling is optional)

1.5 Cups mixed brown and white sugar, packed

1 Cup all-purpose flour

1 Cup quick-cooking oats (old-fashioned can also be used)

2/3 Cups butter, softened

1.5 tsp ground cinnamon

1.5 tsp ground nutmeg

Whipped cream or ice cream, if desired

Heat oven to 375°F. Grease bottom and sides of two 8×8 or one 8×13 rimmed baking dish with shortening.

Spread apple slices in pan(s). In a large bowl, stir remaining ingredients except cream, wetting thoroughly with the butter. Spread over the apples.

Bake 30 minutes (add five minutes for glass baking dish), or until top is golden and apples are fork-tender. Serve warm with cream.

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Back-to-School Freezer Fillers 1: Basil Pesto

29 Aug

My darling son starts kindergarten this week. Yikes!

And I go back to the classroom to teach next week. Double Yikes!

Drying blanched basil

I look upon school food with deep suspicion; I haven’t spent the last five years nurturing a good and healthy eater only to surrender him to the deep fryer as well as the public education system. And for myself, I refuse to waste $10 a day or more eating lunch out when I can eat better for less in the comfort of my office, listening to Pandora and checking my emails. Continue reading

“Mom. Blog This. Right Now.” (Leandro Makes His First Pesto and Wants You To Know How Great It Was)

11 Aug

It is high season for basil, which means high season for pesto. I forgot to pick up basil from the farm this week, but one of the neighbors’ friends, in gratitude for Sangría Night, sent some over from the overabundance in her own garden.

From Lindsay’s Garden

Between that and my little plants scattered around the yard, I had enough for a quickie pesto for Leandro’s couscous.

From our garden – not the greatest shot, but the other ones showed all the perforations from unknown creatures feasting merrily on my herbs!

And then, BONUS! I had Leandro making his own dinner! He loves the smell of basil, but what he truly couldn’t resist was a go with the pestle. Nothing like offering a five-year-old a club and saying “Have at it, kid. Call me when you’ve beaten this stuff to a pulp.”

The Little Chef at work

He was tremendously excited at every turn, making me smell all the different aromas as we added ingredients to the mortar. We mixed it into couscous for lunch with the grands and wasn’t he so proud to have made The Best Pesto Ever? We were proud too and it really was delicious. I also used some of it to spread on roasted eggplant, peppers and zucchini. What a terrific lunch! And a wonderful kitchen experience!

Note the unorthodox use of walnuts (Poor Marcella Hazan; I use her The Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking all the time, but never quite stick to the classical line). I can’t afford to keep pine nuts around so walnuts were a worthy and handy substitute. (Mind you, with the price of walnuts rising — around $18 now for a 3-lb bag at Costco these days, up from $15 not too many months ago — who knows how long I’ll be able to afford those!). Also, this recipe can certainly be increased; I only had a cup of basil.

 

With Couscous

Hand-Ground Pesto (Mortar and Pestle needed)

1 Cup basil leaves, tightly packed (washed in cold water and patted dry)

1 clove garlic, smashed and peeled

2 Tbs walnuts

 Coarse sea salt (pinch by pinch, to taste)

¼ Cup freshly grated parmigiano reggiano (additional Tbs romano cheese optional)

¼ Cup extra virgin olive oil

In a mortar and pestle (marble mortar with wooden pestle is what Marcella Hazan recommends; I use all marble) grind basil leaves, garlic, walnuts, and sea salt into a paste. Add cheese and use pestle to mix well. Add the oil in a thin stream, mixing well with a wooden spoon.

If using pasta, this amount will suffice for about a pound, Reserve some of the pasta cooking water to thin the pesto as you turn it into the pasta. If using couscous, start with two Cups dry (Israeli-style couscous – the big kind – preferred)

On stacked grilled veggies

Spaghetti a la Carbonara (or bacon and eggs Italian-style!)

15 Feb

Nowhere does it say that Hot, Cheap & Easy means low-fat, low-carb or low-cholesterol. As it happens, a lot of what I prepare and eat is on the lighter, greener, and grainier side, but I am never averse to bacon and eggs; in fact, sometimes I feel that they are the only possible answer.

Bacon and eggs for dinner? Yeah.

Bacon and eggs and pasta for dinner? Double yeah.

Bacon and eggs and pasta and cheese for dinner? Bring It On.

Thus spaghetti alla carbonara, a dish from Rome that  shows once again, no matter the state of their government, economy or traffic, no one can as consistently make as many people happy with food as effortlessly as the Italians.

Leandro and I threw this dish together in less than 20 minutes. He is getting very handy with the egg-cracking and beating and whether it was pride in his own handiwork, or just the ineffable joy of bacon grease and cheese, he made short work of two heaping bowls of it. We will be doing this on our next camping trip; I may try to make it a one-pot affair and will keep you posted!

Spaghetti alla Carbonara

1-2 Tbs olive oil

1-2 Tbs butter

4 oz bacon (about four rashers), or pancetta if you’ve got, cut into ¼ inch squares

1 lb spaghetti or other long pasta

4-5 fresh eggs*, well beaten

½ Cup grated Parmigiano Reggiano or Grana Padano or, more typically Roman: Pecorino

Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Heat the oil and butter in a skillet; add the bacon and sauté until golden and crisping up. Remove from fat and drain on paper towels.

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Make sure you have the next step completed before that pasta is cooked so the pasta is piping hot when you turn it into the bowl.

While the pasta is cooking, beat the eggs, ¼ Cup of the grated cheese, and pepper in a large serving bowl. As soon as you drain the pasta, turn it into the bowl and toss well. (If you are worried that the egg hasn’t cooked enough, return it to the pasta pot and stir it around over the still warm burner or a low flame for a minute or two). Add the remaining cheese and serve.

*To make sure eggs are fresh, place them in a bowl of water to cover. A very fresh egg will stay completely submerged. A relatively fresh egg will float up on one end, while the other end remains on the bottom. An egg that floats is an egg that is rotten.

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