of the most challenging things about being a chef/father is
realizing that you have limited influence over what your children
eat. Restaurant's working hours keep most chefs away from
their families during the crucial eating times of lunch and
dinner. After all, breakfast is all about fruit and cereal
or grains, not much of an influential culinary opportunity
there. As a result, many chefs' children fall victim to the
eating habits of their peers. McDonald's, Burger King and
Friendly's become the norm, causing children to cringe at
the thought of a beautifully roasted sweet pepper.
good success in approaching my children from flavor angles
they are comfortable with. Adding pickled ginger juice and
ketchap manis to regular ketchup (something in which they
can dip their fries) makes for a mild taste change while peaking
their interest about the ginger and manis. Taking them on
a journey also helps. Finding back-up materials on regional
foods is a no-brainer given the plethora of cookbooks available.
Speak about the region, show some pictures, and they're on
an imaginary airplane to a far away place! Eventually, childhood
curiosity gets the best of them and they actually taste the
raw ingredients. Like a small miracle, you come home one day
to find them dipping their fries in ketchap manis. Getting
the children involved in making the recipes is the real hook.
When they take ownership of the process, all is won!
- 1 each
skinless, boneless chicken breast, cooked and cooled
- 4 each
6-inch, store-bought flour tortillas
- 1 Tablespoon
- 1 each
ripe, medium tomato, seeded and chopped
- 1 loose
Tablespoon cilantro finely chopped (see tips*)
- 1/2 cup
finely shredded cheddar cheese
- 1/2 cup
finely shredded, mild white cheese (like Monterey Jack)
Cut or pull
the chicken breasts into small pieces. Heat a medium sauté
pan over a medium- high heat. Brush both sides of each tortilla
very lightly with the oil. Cook each tortilla on both sides
until they crisp lightly. Don't be alarmed when they puff-up.
pat them and they will deflate (this is fun for the kids to
watch). Lay two of the tortillas side-by-side on a cookie
sheet or baking pan large enough to accommodate them both
without overlapping. Spread the cheddar cheese evenly over
each tortilla. Add the chicken then sprinkle with cilantro.
Add the tomatoes, then the white cheese. Top with the remaining
tortillas. Bake in a pre-heated 400° oven, turning once
with a large metal spatula, for eight to ten minutes. Remove
the pan from the oven and press each quesadilla firmly. This
will make them easy to cut and prevent the filling from escaping.
Cut into one- sixth wedges and take a trip south of the border!
Cooking With Kids:
1) Cut new
things into the smallest pieces possible. This will tone-down
the initial flavor impact of the new ingredient.
2) Do not
force or even encourage a child to taste the raw product first.
The reasoning behind this approach is to temper the tastebuds
by introducing flavors gradually through mediums that their
palates already understand. There is a thin line between encouragement
and prodding. Test them on the raw ingredients only when they
lots of fun. Be very up beat and play on the journey. There
is a reason why children generally do better in geography
than math. World travel and great chefs go hand in hand. Come
to think of it, I don't believe I know any mathematician/chefs.