Making memories: cooking with kids
Getting messy in the kitchen with the kids was a popular activity during lockdown, but even now that we’re free, cooking with kids has continued to rise in popularity among parents looking for an activity to do with their kids that doesn’t involve screen time. This includes cookbook author Julia Busuttil Nishimura. She loves getting her children to help with the cooking and teaching them about the ingredients they’re cooking with.
“I love getting my kids involved in the kitchen, particularly my six-year-old, Haruki,” she says. “He’s always keen to cook with me and really enjoys getting his hands dirty. His favourite task is cracking eggs into whatever we’re making together. It’s such a great way for him to start making special memories of cooking with me, just like I have with my mum.
“When I see Haruki cracking eggs or whisking them together, it reminds me of when I was a child. That used to be my job when I cooked with my mum. There’s one egg dish that reminds me of my childhood, which I now love to make for my kids. My mum would take the leftover pasta sauce from the night before and crack some eggs into it before baking it all together. We would then dip our bread into the sauce and runny yolks. So delicious!”
Nishimura agrees that cooking with kids can get messy. But that it’s all part of the fun!
“We know that as soon as Haruki and I start cooking together, mess is inevitable,” she says. “And that’s okay. So, we roll our sleeves up and just enjoy the process.”
Nishimura’s top 5 tips for cooking with kids
1. Have the right ingredients
It might not be every parent’s dream, but getting messy in the kitchen is part of the fun! Choose recipes and ingredients where they can get involved, like cracking eggs for a delicious clafoutis, or making pasta dough and getting their hands into the dough to help mix. They’ll not only start to form special memories of cooking together; they’ll also begin to understand how key ingredients, like eggs, work in cooking.
2. Make quick recipes
Most kids don’t really care about fancy meals or ingredients. They just want to get involved and have some fun before they get tired or too hungry. So choose quick recipes for the win. Go for recipes that are simple and have only a few steps so they can really be part of the process from start to finish. One of Nishimura’s go-to recipes is a simple baked egg dish that can be made with leftover pasta sauce from the night before and really quick homemade flatbread that takes about 20 minutes to make in total.
3. Cook for an occasion
Get your kids to give you a helping hand when preparing food for a special occasion. Then they can show off and be proud of the food they helped make. This could be for a Mother’s Day lunch, or maybe they can help create a birthday cake for someone in the family.
4. Choose recipes together
This is a great way to get kids involved from the start. It can also get them excited about helping you, as they get to create something they had a hand at picking. Even if it’s something super simple, it’s all about the experience.
5. Just give it a crack
Cooking with kids can be so much fun. Plus, over time, you’ll notice they’ll start asking to whip up something together, or if they can be the ones to crack the eggs in the recipe. It’s a great way to keep them entertained. It’s also an enjoyable way to spend time together, creating memories through the food you’re preparing. Below, Nishimura shares two easy recipes that you can make together with your kids while you’re making memories.
To find more inspiration on making a meal to remember with your loved ones, visit australianeggs.org.au/mealtoremember
Clafoutis is a wonderfully simple French dessert of fruit suspended in a flan-like egg custard and baked in the oven. It’s a beautiful way to celebrate seasonal fruit. It’s often made with whole cherries or blueberries in summer. Or I love it with plums. Other stone fruits like apricots and nectarines are lovely, too. In winter, I often use frozen raspberries. I’ve used a rather large dish here, but you could use one a little smaller, which will result in a taller clafoutis. It may need a little extra cooking time, so begin checking at the 25-minute mark for “doneness”. The clafoutis should still wobble a little and will firm up upon cooling.
Cook and prep time 30 minutes
100g caster sugar
125ml full cream milk
1 vanilla pod, seeds scraped
60g plain flour
Pinch of fine sea salt
3 tbsp unsalted butter, melted and cooled, plus extra to grease
450g plums, cut into quarters, or eighths if large
Raw sugar, to line and top
Almond flakes, to top
Double cream, to serve
1. Preheat the oven to 190°C/175°C fan-forced. Grease a 28cm round ceramic dish with butter and place a few heaped tablespoons of raw sugar into the dish. Shake it around to coat it in the sugar then tip out any excess. Arrange the plums in the dish and set aside.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together eggs, sugar, milk and vanilla. Sift flour into a large bowl then whisk in the wet ingredients. Pour in butter and whisk to combine. Pour batter into the dish around the plums, scatter over some more raw sugar and top with flaked almonds.
3. Bake in the preheated oven for 25-30 minutes or until just set. Allow to cool for 10 minutes then serve warm with spoonfuls of double cream.
Baked eggs with spelt flatbreads
Growing up, my mum would often make baked eggs with leftover pasta sauce. It was a quick and nutritious way to feed the whole family. Now that I have my own kids, I find myself doing the same thing. Here, it’s with spinach and chickpeas which, together with the beautifully cooked eggs, make for a satisfying and comforting meal. It’s perfect for breakfast, brunch or anytime. I make my baked eggs in a large oval copper pan which can go from stove to oven, but any ovenproof pan or dish works well. Just be sure the sauce forms a decent layer on the base for your eggs to nestle into. If you want your baked eggs to have a little kick, add a pinch of dried chilli flakes when you add the fennel seeds.
While grilled bread is a perfect accompaniment, I love making quick flatbreads to dip into the yolks and vibrant tomato sauce. My kids love helping me make the dough, which comes together in minutes. If you can’t find spelt flour, simply use all plain flour instead.
Cook and prep time 20 minutes
For the baked eggs:
1 bunch English spinach, stems removed
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp fennel seeds
500g cherry tomatoes
2 sprigs oregano
1 x 400g tinned chickpeas, rinsed and drained
Sea salt, to taste
For the spelt flatbread:
250g spelt flour
250g plain flour, plus extra to dust
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp fine sea salt
450g plain natural yoghurt
1 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
For the garlic parsley oil:
2 cloves garlic, crushed with the side of a knife
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tbsp finely chopped parsley, plus extra to serve
1. Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan-forced. For garlic parsley oil, combine all ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
2. Blanch spinach in a pot of salted boiling water for 2-3 minutes or until wilted. Drain, and when cool enough to handle, squeeze out excess water and set aside.
3. In a large ovenproof frypan, warm oil over low-medium heat. Add garlic and fennel seeds. Cook for 30 seconds, then add cherry tomatoes, salt and oregano. Increase heat to medium. Cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring often. Add passata and a splash of water, stir to combine. Reduce heat to low. Cook for 15-20 minutes.
4. While sauce is cooking, prepare flatbreads. Combine flours, baking powder and salt in a large bowl. Mix to combine, then make a well in the centre. Add yoghurt and olive oil, mix until a shaggy dough forms. If too dry, add a little water. Turn onto a floured work bench. Knead until it comes together into a smooth dough. Roll into a log, divide into 8 pieces. Roll into 18cm rounds, using more flour if they begin to stick.
5. Heat a heavy-based frying pan over medium-high heat. Cook flatbreads for 1-2 minutes, or until underside is golden and tops are puffing up. Flip and cook for another minute or so. While hot, brush flatbreads with garlic parsley oil. Wrap in a clean tea towel to keep warm and soft while you make the rest.
6. Add spinach and chickpeas to pan with sauce, warm through. Make six small pockets in sauce. Crack eggs in so they’re nestled into sauce. Cook in oven for 8-10 minutes or until set. Top with parsley. Serve with warm flatbreads.