Teach your kids to cook – they might even make you dinner
Reading, writing and arithmetic are obviously seen as the top three core educational subjects, but it’s strange to think how far ‘learning how to cook’ comes down the priority list, considering it’s something that most of us have to do every day. But kids need to feel that cooking can be fun as well as a practical skill, which is why Food Sorcery’s monthly Big & Little Cooks parent and child cooking classes are such a great idea.
Food Sorcery Cookery and Barista School in Didsbury shares the same grounds as the Waterside Hotel, right across from the Parrs Wood Cinema complex. They offer a huge range of different classes covering all sorts of food preparation for individuals or groups. The modern, well equipped kitchens are set up with everything you might need, including state of the art induction hobs and ovens, top quality Tefal pans (with removable handles for putting in the oven), stainless steel sinks, (with someone on hand to do the washing up for you) a huge communal dining table and even an outside terrace overlooking the River Mersey for you to go if you can’t stand the heat.
Don’t worry if you’re not a confident cook
You’ll both be guided by a professional chef who will be on hand throughout the three hour class to help you out. Each group gets to make a starter, main course and a dessert as well as picking up a few extra tips along the way. After each dish, the group is encouraged to sit down and eat whilst workstations are wiped down and set up ready for preparing the next course. To help you feel relaxed, everyone is welcomed with a glass of fizz or orange squash before donning aprons, washing hands and settling down to watch a demonstration of the first dish.
We sent one of our writers along with her 9 year old son to try it for themselves. Although the menus change from class to class, the first course was arancini – Italian risotto balls stuffed with mozzarella cheese and coated in breadcrumbs. Chef Jason Palin showed everyone what to do, before parent and child paired up to have a go for themselves at designated work stations.
Kids need to feel that cooking can be fun as well as a practical skill
Everyone set to work, rolling cold risotto rice into round flat shapes (Tip: with wet hands to stop the rice from sticking,) putting a square of mozzarella cheese in the centre and rolling it all up into a ball. These were then rolled in turn around trays of flour, beaten egg and breadcrumbs before being popped in a hot frying pan. Jason also explained how to prepare these at home for an easy dinner party starter, as well as telling everyone about the many different types of filling that could be used as an alternative to the cheese. Once the arancini had been devoured, hot and crisp from the fryer, the class regrouped to learn about preparing the next dish.
The main course was chicken parmigiana– a flattened out chicken thigh (which all the children especially loved bashing out, between sheets of greaseproof paper, with a rolling pin) again coated in flour, egg and breadcrumbs (this technique is called pané.) Jason showed everyone how to shallow fry each coated chicken thigh, then leave it to rest before making a simple tomato and onion sauce, using the same pan to save on washing up. The whole dish was then sprinkled with more mozzarella before being finished off in the oven whilst the class learnt how to prepare the final course.
Fried Polenta and Buttered Green Beans
After eating the delicious chicken Parmigiano with a side of fried polenta and buttered green beans, the class moved on to the preparation of pudding – poached pears in orange juice with a cheeky side of ‘cheats’ custard (which included corn flour in the mixture to stop it curdling). This was an excellent opportunity for the children to learn how to use vegetable peelers and to core the fruit safely with a paring knife.
Foil takeout containers were made available for anyone keen to take their newfound skills home and show the rest of the family what they’d made.
Confidential thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon at Food Sorcery and feel we’ve done a good deed assisting the next generation in learning how to cook. It’s so friendly and accessible; we’re already looking at their list of upcoming classes to see what else we can learn in order to show off a bit.
Find out more about Food Sorcery at Waterside Hotel, Didsbury, M20 5WZ
Find the next Big & Little Cooks class. Tickets cost £90 for an adult and child and include all the ingredients, a three hour class, a welcome drink and all an opportunity to sit down and eat all the food prepared.
Check out the Food Sorcery recipes below;
A wonderful dish consisting of risotto rice, mozzarella, basil and tomatoes. Incredibly versatile allowing you to add spices, vegetables and even chopped cooked beef or bacon/pork.
- 300g of cooked, cooled risotto rice (as instructions on the pack)
- 2 eggs (whisk into ½ pint of milk)
- 200g of plain flower (seasoned)
- 200g of fresh breadcrumbs
- 3 medium mozzarella balls (cut in half)
- Vegetable oil for the frying pain
- Salt / Pepper for seasoning
- Small container of cold water
1 tray with egg and milk (beaten together)
1 tray with seasoned flour
1 tray with breadcrumbs (you can make your own in a food processor)
- Wet fingers to make 6 medium balls of risotto
- Take one ball of risotto at a time and flatten
- Wrap the risotto around a piece of mozzarella to seal
- Repeat the above steps with all the balls
- Coat each ball in flour shaking off any excess
- Coat each ball in the egg and milk mix shaking off any excess
- Coat each ball in breadcrumbs shaking off any excess
- Heat up a deep fryer or a shallow fry pan and fry each ball until golden brown
- Drain off excess oil on kitchen paper
- Serve with fresh tomato sauce or sweet chilli dip
- You can also try making with cold ham, fresh basil etc