Cooking basics for kids

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Omelette odyssey: From left, Sophia Ullrich, Jett Fa'amalepe and Kaia Collins

Children should learn to cook. It’s a basic life skill and everybody with access to fresh food should have the ability to pull together a few basic ingredients and create a simple meal. Cooking with your child is also a great way to introduce healthy ingredients and discuss healthy eating. It can help foster good eating habits that will produce life-long benefits. At Arrowtown Primary I’m teaching some basic cooking skills to the Year 7 kids. At some point, every one of your children is going to have to put a meal on the table, so here are a few basic recipes – written for kids to use, to help them on their way. Enjoy!

Basic cheese, tomato and ham omelette (serves one)

2-3 eggs

1 smallish tomato

1 tablespoon milk

1 teaspoon butter

3-4 tablespoons grated cheese

1 tablespoon fresh chives (optional)

1 tablespoon fresh parsley (optional)

2 ham slices, thinly-sliced (or salmon or chorizo)

Salt and pepper

Method

1.Cut the tomato in half and then dice (chop into small squares by placing the tomato with the flat cut side down, slicing the tomato about half a centimetre apart one way, then half a centimetre the other way).

2.Finely chop the parsley and chives, being careful with the knife.

3.Break the eggs into a mixing bowl then lightly beat with a fork. Add milk, salt, pepper and herbs and beat some more.

4.Heat a frypan to a medium heat and put in butter. Once butter has melted pour in egg mixture, making sure the egg is evenly spread around the pan.

5.When the bottom of the omelette is starting to get a little firm, lower the heat a little. Scatter grated cheese, diced tomato and ham evenly around the omelette.

6.Cook until cheese has melted, and the egg on top is nearly cooked. Use a spatula to loosen around the edges of the omelette then fold in half. Slide the omelette from the pan to a plate.

Say cheese: Back row, from left, Sam Davis, Charlie Stanley and Olive Weatherston, frontrow, Alice Jones (left) and Jake Abbiss
Say cheese: Back row, from left, Sam Davis, Charlie Stanley and Olive Weatherston, frontrow, Alice Jones (left) and Jake Abbiss

Simple macaroni cheese (serves two)

Ingredients 
1 1/2 tablespoon butter

1 heaped tablespoon plain flour

1 cup (250ml) milk

1 cup (125g) grated cheese

200g macaroni

Chopped parsley, to serve

Salt and pepper

Method

1. Bring a large pot of water (with one tablespoon of salt) to a rolling boil. Pour in macaroni ONLY when the water starts boiling. Make sure you stir once you have poured it in.

2.Cook macaroni as long as the instructions on the packet tell you (different brands vary in size and cooking times) until al dente (a little firm to bite).

3.Melt butter in a medium saucepan. Add the flour once butter has melted. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute over medium heat.

4.Take pot off heat, slowly add half the milk, stirring quickly until it’s smooth. Put back on heat to thicken a little, constantly stirring. Add a little more milk, stir again until smooth and keep going until you have used the milk. If it goes lumpy use a whisk to make it smooth again.

5.Bring sauce to simmer for 2 mins, always stirring. Remove from heat, add the grated cheese and stir until melted and smooth. Add salt and pepper.

6.Drain pasta in sieve or a colander and return to pot. Pour cheese sauce over the pasta and stir until well coated. Season with salt and white pepper to taste and serve.

NB:You can add cooked vegetables for nutrients and bacon for flavour.