Thursday, July 29, 2010

Week 4! A Rainbow of Colors!

Yesterday I was able to catch the children selling crops at their farmer's market. I stood there in amazement of their beautiful, colorful array of tomatoes, peppers, and squash. Naturally this made me eager to get into the kitchen and cook. The kids were all ready, aprons on, cutting boards out and all washed up! We went over the crops we would be cooking with and then explained what everyone would be doing for our recipes. Today we worked on a mildly flavored Ginger-Curry Stew of chick peas, an assortment of beautiful tomatoes and okra. For a dessert homemade Shiro plum jam over cream cheese covered crackers.

Naturally everyone began cutting cherry tomatoes, slicing whole tomatoes, peppers, rinsing chick peas, and cutting plums. We allowed the stew to come together while we prepared our jam. Then the children plated dessert and I gave a final drizzle of honey over the top. The results? Well, the Curry Stew was met with mixed reviews. Some children tasted it and passed on eating, which made the other children who loved it happy as it meant more leftovers for them! Either way I am proud that they trusted me enough to try something new. The jam was a hit on all accounts!

I was told a parent wanted the recipe after hearing what we were making so hear it goes!

Mildly Flavored Ginger-Curry Stew (side dish or vegetarian main dish)
1. Mince onion, red, yellow or orange peppers (we used purple!), garlic, and ginger. Set aside.
2. Saute onion and peppers until translucent. Add garlic, ginger and 1-2 tsp. of curry powder and cook until fragrant.
3. Add 1 or 2 cans of chick peas and some diced tomatoes and water to barely cover (chicken/vegetable stock would be even better). Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes for tomatoes to break down.
4. Next add okra (that has been trimmed) and allow to cook for another 10-15 minutes.
5. Remove cover and continue to simmer until some of the liquid is absorbed.
6. Adjust flavoring, salt & pepper and serve over basmati rice.
Note: If you are not a fan of okra, spinach would be a nice addition.

Basic Plum "Jam"
1. In a saucepan add a couple of chopped plums, a splash of red wine vinegar, a few tablespoons of honey and a pinch of salt. Allow fruit to soften and caramelize for a few minutes. Remove from heat and cool.
2. In a blender or food processor, pulse fruit to get a spreadable mixture, some fruit pieces are nice. Adjust sweetness.
3. Serve with crackers with cream cheese, over ice cream or as you would of any flavored jam.

Enjoy! And see you next week P.S. 11!!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Week 3 at P.S. 11!

Yesterday we received a wonderful basket of goodies: Boothyby blonde cucumbers, regular slicing cucumber, cherry tomatoes, red onions, and nectarines. Greek salad seemed perfect! It's refreshing and offers many bright flavors that embrace summer. For dessert, a dish similar to last week's peaches, but with a twist: Sauteed nectarines with a balsamic reduction. Naturally the children chopped, peeled and worked on preparing our dishes--they even cut onions! We combined all the diced veggies, some oregano, a few splashes of red wine vinegar, extra-virgin olive oil, salt and pepper and allowed it to marinate a bit. Moments later we were enjoying a wonderful salad with an equally delicious dessert. Both of which were quickly gobbled it up--Awesome! Can't wait to cook with you all next week!

BTW, Love the aprons!!!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Week 2!

This Wednesday our group of third graders at PS 11 and I made Vegetable Medley Crostinis and Peaches & Cream for dessert! The week's shipment consisted of summer savoy, summer squash, leeks, Italian style eggplant, cabbage, green beans and white and yellow peaches. This provided me with a chance to teach them one of the most commonly used cooking techniques--Sauteing. Simply stated the term refers to cooking an item over high heat in a pan that was first heated dry, and then lightly coated with oil and warmed through. To put all this into action my mind instantly thought of a vegetable medley of eggplant, squash, leeks sauteed with a bit of salt, pepper, and then tossed with minced garlic, minced savoy, and torn pieces of fresh basil. This would serve as our topping over a lightly toasted baguette rubbed with garlic. For dessert we sauteed some peaches until they were caramelized and then made homemade whipped cream! The children all took turns beating and managed to make soft peaks and not butter which is what happens if you over beat! Excellent job guys!

We then topped each peach with a dollop of cream and a drizzle of honey. The only thing left was to tidy up and sit down to eat our creations. Ratings: Thumbs up, and a student who said "this was the best dessert I ever had!" To think a healthy appetizer that was filling and delicious plus a dessert, with just a little bit of sugar and a whole lot of truly natural flavor, equaled complete happiness among all! Another good cooking lesson at P.S. 11!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

First Week at PS 11 Michelle Obama's Let's Move! campaign

Today was my first day of putting Ms.Obama’s Let’s Move project in action. Where? At P.S.11 in NYC! I was fortunate to come across a school that has a wonderful relationship with a farm, more specifically Stoneledge Farm a certified organic farm in Greene County, NY. Every Wednesday the school receives fresh, seasonal, local crops, which the children sell at their very own farmer's market outside the school! Then I have the privilege of working with these ingredients as well and deciding on how they would become the star of the week's recipe. Today we had on hand, Chinese napa cabbage, rat tail radishes, scallions as well as beets, escarole and bright lights Swiss chard. Considering the delightful heatwave we are experiencing, I thought including a creamy cole slaw recipe would be ideal. Naturally, I had given other recipe ideas to Deborah--as we were both excited about the beets and greens--but the Napa Cole Slaw won!

I had the pleasure of working with 3rd graders. The boys and girls each rushed to wash their hands and sit by a cutting board in anticipation of creating something fresh, healthy and delicious. I was so happy to see their eagerness and thrilled by how excited they were to work alongside a “real chef”. It warmed my heart to know how the profession I love so much has became the new “superhero” of choice for so many children! Moments later the boys and girls were working hard cutting napa cabbage, radishes, scallions and apples. I must say they did a great job in getting uniform pieces, especially considering that they were using plastic knifes. Then we were on to the dressing. We mixed buttermilk, apple cider vinegar, a bit of dry mustard, sugar, salt, and pepper. (You can get the actual recipe on P.S. 11's Blog by clicking here!) We lightly dressed our salad and allowed the dressing to do its work in wilting the cabbage. In the meanwhile I drilled them over the ingredients used and asked each student to explain a step in our recipe. I was delighted to know that when Deborah came over to inquire they all eagerly knew what made up their slaw.

Half hour later we had Napa Cole Slaw! After a final taste we were ready to serve. I must confess as a student and I began passing out individual servings of our masterpiece I grew nervous of their reaction. I knew the slaw tasted good, but still serving a group of children a bunch of greens on the first day they meet you can be a little nerve wrecking. Their reactions: a unanimous 2 Thumbs Up!!! I was more than happy to provide them with the seconds, and thirds they requested and honored to have taken part of this mission! Together we made a great impact. I am excited for a lot of things: Of working with the children next week, of learning of the bounty that awaits us in the upcoming weeks, and the endless possibilities and recipes that the summer will embrace us with! Cheers to a good start!