Every now and again I come across a kids cook book that is really excellent.‘Cook It Step by Step – Learn to cook 100 easy recipes’ by Dorling Kindersley is that kind of a book. It’s got lots of fabulous meal ideas, uses ‘grown up’ flavours and original ideas – not the usual cheesy jacket potatoes and vegetable skewers, and it’s bursting with recipes you’ll want to try yourself let alone let the kids have a go at. It’s the perfect find for any school holiday entertainment.
So what’s in this book
Let me start by saying that this book isn’t for little kids. It’s aimed at older kids (and by that I mean 7 year olds upwards) There’s no ‘ask an adult for help’ plastered all over each cooked recipe, just a simple warning sign, so I think it’s good for young teens too. Beau, who’s 9, couldn’t put it down and has flicked through every page whilst eating her breakfast for a whole week. My sister (who is a little older than 9 !!!!!) also couldn’t put it down.
As you would expect it’s packed full of helpful advice on healthy eating, kitchen hygiene, what equipment you’ll need, and most importantly a really easy to follow ‘ways to cook’ section with everything from how to chop and peel to bake and roast. All the fundamentals for an inquisitive young mind.
Eggy bread, how to cook an egg( four ways), smoothie and fruit bar recipes. Not a boring cereal in sight!
Some of the recipes in this section are the kind of ‘throw it all together and it will taste great’ variety, but as a young cook you need to learn how to do this, so this has some great, simple dishes, picnic and tuna salads, soups and more difficult breads and pizza dough.
Simple dishes like hotpots and pasta feature here with every kids fave – lasagna, but a vegetable one. Jambalaya (a Cajun rice dish) looks mouth-wateringly good as do the fish cakes. I love the recipe for BBQ chicken in this chapter, but it’s the slow roasted tomatoes from the ‘Tomato and aubergine layers’ that I made first. I can’t stand aubergine – it’s a texture thing – but I love, love, love tomatoes, even when they take 2-3 hours in the oven! (n.b. please note that when it says ‘cook tomatoes for 2-3 hours at a low temperature’ don’t rush it like I did with a high temp. You end up with very burnt – although not too bad tasting toms!)
Now we’re talking! Strawberry tarts, four ways with cookies, brownies and fridge cake all look delish but it’s the meringue crowns that caught my eye. Such a clever idea.
Other chapters include:-
Planning a party, a three course meal and picnic time.
What I like about the book
As well as being a great cook book for kids, it’s got a fantastic range of recipes for adding a bit of diversity to their diets- maybe even making them a little braver in their choices. I don’t know what other kids are like but if mine make or bake food they are ten times more likely to eat it. It’s also great for giving us mum’s some inspiration on what to cook at tea time. I love that!
Diversity aside – there are also all the basic recipes – roast chicken, burgers, beef pasta (or spag bol to you and me!) and chilli con carne , all of which are good for kids to learn know how to make.
The layout throughout is really clear and the tone is perfect – not at all condescending and not at all confusing. I think we’ll be using this one for a long time to come.
Cook It Step by step by Dorling Kindersley available from Amazon.com
p.s. I just want to apologise for the dark grey/blueness of the photos in this post. It just goes to show you how dull the weather has been here in the UK – and that I have absolutely no idea how to work my camera! I really do need to sort that out!