There are many cookbooks published on the topic of cooking with kids and, when I first saw the title of Joshua David Stein‘s cookbook, I initially mistook the “for” in the title for “with.” So, I was pleasantly surprised when the book arrived from the publisher, and I realized my misunderstanding. Speaking from experience, cooking for a child can be a tough business — while my daughter is a “pretty good eater” in no way do I get to coast on easy street at meal times. What is offered in Cooking for Your Kids are recipes that “reflect both the passion of chefs and a harvest of their professional expertise for home use.”(9) As Stein goes onto explain, “As it turns out, the same skills work just as well for one or two very choosy clients as they do for a restaurant full of them.”(9)
Cooking for Your Kids is an interesting compilation of recipes shared by chefs across the world — the recipes are organized into 5 chapters: Breakfast, Lunch, Snacks, Dinner, and Treats. There are symbols to helpfully indicate which recipes are: vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, gluten-free, 30 minutes or less and/or 5 ingredients or less. Most of the recipes are not kid-specific but I did notice a few recipes — such as Sean Brock’s recipe for Japanese Omelet which also included baby formula on the ingredient list — that are very kid-centered. Ingredients are easy to source, and I found much to inspire me at mealtimes. 52 different chefs, in total, have given recipes for the cookbook and there’s a small section at the back of the book that provides biographical notes on each contributor.
I find it fascinating to see what other parents cook for their kids, with each recipe giving a small peek into another family’s kitchen at mealtime. One of the first recipes I made from the book was one shared by Elisabeth Prueitt (of Tartine Bakery) — David Eyre’s Pancake is a variation of the classic puff pancake recipe which was shared in the mid-1960s by the New York Times Critic, Craig Claiborne. The batter is whisked up, then poured into a pre-heated cast iron skillet and then placed in the oven. Such a delightful and magical thing to watch as the pancake creeps up the side of the skillet as it bakes. Once it’s puffed up and lofty, the pancake is then dusted with powdered sugar and squirted with lemon juice. This meal is certainly one of my daughter’s favourites from the book.
Another favourite comes from Edouardo Jordan (of Salare, Junebaby, and Lucinda Grain Bar). His recipe for Akil’s Morning Oats combines rolled oats, maple syrup, and water in a pot. Once simmering, thinly sliced banana, vanilla, cinnamon, and milk are added, and everything is cooked until creamy. Since the banana is thinly sliced, it sort of melts into the oats as it cooks so that (in my daughter’s case) there’s no “slimey bits” that may offend (I find texture is a big thing for my child). Garnished with fresh fruit and yogurt, this breakfast has become part of our weekly rotation.
Sometimes getting a meal ready means pulling together just a small amount of ingredients in a way that is hearty and filling. Such is the case with Asma Khan’s (of Darjeeling Express) Spiced Potatoes w/ Peas. Spiced with dried red chilies, this dish is warming and delicious. Khan suggests that it can be served alongside rice, paratha or puri, or thickly buttered toast. I think one of the keys to feeding a family is flexibility and the ability to offer customization (without effort) — so with Khan’s recipe she and her boys can enjoy the dish as each would like. This is the kind of one pot meal that is so welcome on busy weeknights.
Some other recipes I tried came from Manoella Buffara (of Manu). Her recipe for Zucchini Bread is such a great after school snack or side accompaniment to a bowl of soup. A hearty bread, due in part to the whole wheat and chickpea flours as well as a generous cup of grated zucchini. I served the bread with cut fruit and veggies, which my daughter really enjoyed. I had also baked Buffara’s recipe for Cocoa Cookies as an after-school snack, which unfortunately didn’t turn out (I’m not sure what I did but the cookie dough ran together on the pan as they baked — I looked at the photo shared with the recipe but I’m not sure the cookie pictured is one baked from the recipe as the recipe uses cocoa powder which turns the dough a lovely chocolate colour.)
What Joshua David Stein’s Cooking for Your Kids offers parents is a wide selection of recipes shared by world-renowned chefs. These recipes are far from being “cheffy,” rather the recipes are efficient and delicious and make excellent use of the ingredients. I’ve found several recipes that my family enjoys, and I appreciate learning how other parents approach mealtimes for their children.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank Phaidon for providing me with a free, review copy of this book. I did not receive monetary compensation for my post, and all thoughts and opinions expressed are my own.