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teaching cooking to kids (8y/o)

I have been nominated to do a cooking demo for a group of 8 y/o girls, and there are around 8 of them (fortunately some kids think I’m awesome because I feed them when they visit). I’m thinking something eas(ier) hands-on and obviously the kiddos will try.

I feel like it is my responsible for their cooking lives, as this may be the 1st thing they ever made (the general observation is that chicken nuggets and turkey sandwiches on white bread is a food group). I’d like to incorporate some kind of veggie (if possible).

Given the attention spans of kids, I suppose certain things would not fly (eg. Brasing or soups).

I was thinking making pizza- make dough? And baking your own pizzas
Quick breads that can be made in a single bowl and or cookies
Make focaccia (faster yeast bread?) and make some grilled sandwiches
Mac and cheese baked in personal ramekins (this leaves the béchamel mainly to me)
Pate au choux - cheesy ones filled with chicken salad and sweets filled with ice cream

What would you do? How young were you when you cooked your first thing?

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  1. How long is the demo? If you have time to make two items, I would go for pizza and dessert.

    Pizza is my favorite idea since the kids can pick and choose how they want to prepare it. Prepare a batch of dough with the girls, and have a batch of dough already prepared. They'll use the already prepared dough to make their pizzas, and the dough that they prepared will be sent home as kind of a "party favor" with the baking instructions.

    After the dough is mixed and set to rise, split the girls into groups, and have topping statings. The kids will rotate thru the stations, so everyone gets a taste of all preparations. Slicing veggies, grating cheese, prepping olives, setting out ricotta and spices and sauce...

    When it's time to assemble, explain the basic principles of shaping dough and applying toppings. Thicker dough for chewier pizza, thinner dough for crispier pizza, evenly placed toppings...

    3 Replies
    1. re: cheesecake17

      pizza was my first idea too. that was something we enjoyed making when my sister and i were kids. I like your idea with the extra pizza dough.

      we have around around 3 hours to do everything. maybe we'll just make some pizzokies... =)

      1. re: jeniyo

        For dessert- make a few sauces to go on top of store bought vanilla ice cream. A fruit sauce (strawberry, raspberry) and a homemade hot fudge. Let the kids chop walnuts or pecans and have a 'make your own sundae' type dessert.

        1. re: cheesecake17

          This is terrific. Heat some cream and pour it over a chopped bittersweet chocolate bar, whisk... the kids won't know what hit them. Sic one of them with a potato masher over some thawed frozen raspberries. The good, real flavors will burn into their memories forever.

          I like the pizza thing too.

    2. I have very vivid memories of taking an aftershool cooking class at my school when I was about this age and it definitely left an impression on me and is absolutely part of the reason I love to cook so much today.

      Things I remember: Going shopping for ingredients at the local grocery store with the instructor, banana bread and Swedish meatballs (the teacher was Swedish). I think the main things that really turned me on was: a. watching something go from the store to a bowl to something that tasted great; and b. that I could do it/it was simple enough for a kid to do in their own kitchen under mom/dad's supervision. In terms of vegetables, I'm torn between trying to get the kids to like them early and not wanting to turn them off to cooking altogether because vegetables are icky...

      3 Replies
      1. re: StheJ

        ah- Banana bread is the first thing we made in my first cooking class in middle school also! I remember my friend brought a big bag of the nastist looking bananas ever for our group. Ours are the best =)

        it's the girls birthday so i'm thinking there is a cake involved. i'm thinking of making cookies - maybe those cookie dough where you can encase a small piece snickers as the "filing"

        1. re: jeniyo

          Maybe small cakes so they can mix different icing colors and frost one themselves?

          1. re: StheJ

            that is such a neat idea! i think the girls would enjoy decorating cakes!

      2. What about mac and cheese and chicken nuggets but better versions than they're used to having? You can have them dip the chicken nuggets or shake them in bags full of buttermilk/eggs and then dip in bread crumbs w/ parmesan cheese. Spray and bake. Mac and cheese--use Alton Brown's recipe or Cook IIlustrated's recipe that use evaporated milk and eggs, instead of a bechamel sauce. It's fun for them to grate real cheese and they can do almost the whole thing themselves. Have them make a salad w/ various vegetables and make a dressing they can taste and season for themselves.

        1. A restaurant I worked at did cooking classes for adults & children...in the kids classes, pizza was a favorite. I was the restaurant's baker so I made up a bunch of pizza dough and measured it out into 3 ounce portions...then the chef teaching the class would let the kiddies make up dough and they'd swap it out for my dough. They then rolled it out & topped it with their choice of toppings and I'd bake it off for them. Healthy sandwiches (some toasted) and dips for veggies, were other popular items as well as cookie dough and filled individual pies.

          1. Dessert pizza might be an option.
            http://vegan-food.suite101.com/articl...
            One batch of dough for regular (veggie!) pizza (a great cheese substitute can be made with cashews and red bell pepper in a VitaMix (or blender) and for dessert pizza.
            There are some good easy no-bake cookies or freezer fudge recipes. I like the quick bread idea.
            If you don't already know, I would check first to see if any of them has allergies or food restrictions because it's a real bummer to help make food that you then can't or shouldn't eat.
            Sweet potato cookies or zucchini bread also come to mind.

            2 Replies
            1. re: lgss

              i was going to recommend zucchini muffins as well. you could do a whole muffin array -- zucchini, blueberry cornmeal, cinnamon streusel, etc

              1. re: Emme

                Apple peanut butter muffins if no peanut/nut allergies...