One of the things I look forward to most about having the children home for the holidays is the chance to brush up their cooking skills. They have all been cooking from a young age but for quite a while we stuck to baking cakes and making cookies. When they asked if I would write my recipes down for them so they could take them with them when they leave home (sob), it seemed like a better idea to teach them how to cook from scratch. It is such an important life skill.
Puff pastry pies are always a winner but when you turn them into treasure boxes filled with the children’s own choice of delights you may well earn the ‘Mummy of the Year’ award!
Jewel Filled Treasure Chests
1x 500g pack of puff pastry
A selection of tempting vegetables (we had carrots, peppers, mushrooms, olives, basil leaves, cherry tomatoes and courgettes)
Preheat the oven to 200C
Get a small enthusiastic person to roll the pastry out into a long rectangle and then cut it into as many pieces as you have people. You should aim for each piece to measure about 15cm x 10cm)
Set the children to slicing the veg into little treasure box sized pieces (If you are not the old woman who lived in a shoe like I am you may have to double up on jobs here, we have a bit of a production line going!)
Give each child a rectangle of pastry. Cut a 1cm strip from each edge of the pasty rectangle.
Moisten the bottom of the strips with milk or beaten egg
and stick back onto the pastry to form a border. (I cut the pastry for my 5 year old and he stuck it on to his base but everyone else did their own) Prick the base all over with a fork.
Pop the pastry case into the preheated oven for 5-10 minutes until puffed and golden brown. Squash the centre down with the back of a spoon to make your chest.
Spread 2tsps of passata in the base and then fill with your choice of vegetables.
Top with cubed mozzarella cheese. Make it into a funny face design if you wish!
Pop the Treasure Chests back into the oven for 5-8 minutes to melt the cheese and heat the veg.
Serve with salad and new potatoes and a bit of ‘Ar Har me hearties’
As the children get older it is a good idea to ask them to choose a signature dish which they can knock up easily for family meal times and to give them one day a week when it is their turn to cook. I still go through all the safety information like an air stewardess which provokes ‘Oh Mu-um’ from the teens but ensures they are careful with pan handles, sharp knives and the hot cooker. It also gives me a few nights away from a hot stove! It takes a while to get there, but it’s worth it!
Have you got any top tips for encouraging children to cook?