Welcome Chinese New Year with Lucky Dumplings

Chinese people like to eat lucky foods on New Years Day. One of them is dumplings, because they look like gold or silver ingots. To be really lucky, make your dumplings with lots of pleats, and arrange them in lines, rather than (bad luck) circles. Circles are interpreted to mean that your life will go in circles, and you won’t go anywhere.

Young Chefs followed our friend Pat Tanumihardja’s recipe from her cookbook, “The Asian Grandmothers Cookbook: Home Cooking from Asian American Kitchens.  We tried making the dumpling dough, and we also tried round dumpling wrappers available in the freezer case of Asian markets. Both were delicious!

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Enthusiastic student chef literally ‘dives into’ making dumpling dough from scratch during her Young Chefs Cooking Club class.

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Young Chef student chefs practice the dumpling pleating technique.

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Student chefs arrange dumplings in a skillet in preparation for the steam-fry cooking technique.

Valentine’s Menu

Happy Valentine's Day!

This week Young Chefs prepared Chicken Caesar Wraps,  Garlic Fries and  Chocolate-Dipped Strawberries  just in time for Valentine’s Day.

The adult chefs worried about how to prepare enough oven-roasted, garlicky potato wedges to give up to 20 cooking club members a sample. Would we be able to split five pounds of potatoes between two baking sheets in a single layer? Should we use aluminum foil, parchment paper or Silpat?

On Monday Chef Crye used aluminum foil but did not oil it, thinking that the potatoes had been tossed in plenty of oil. Mistake! The potatoes stuck to the foil, and it tore when the finished potatoes were scraped out.

On Tuesday she tried oiling teflon-coated baking sheets with similar results. The young people said that the potatoes tasted wonderful, but they looked like hash browns.

Here is Team Silver Spoon’s amusing menu:

Hash Drowns!
Hash browns, NOT Hash Drowns!

The consensus is: Line the baking sheets with aluminum foil, and oil it. Remove the “fries” with a silicone spatula, rather than a metal one.

Young Chefs Grand Finale Party!

written by Chef Sheila

Our Young Chefs  after-school cooking club is one of the free Excel Beyond the Bell activities offered at some Montgomery County (Maryland) middle schools.

Here are a few highlights from this month’s Grand Finale Party:

Want to speak up? Pass the potato, please!
Want to speak up? Pass the potato, please!

Each cooking club meeting begins with Circle Time. Whoever is holding “Mr. Potato” has the floor. The rules: Everyone has a turn to talk. You can pass, if you like. No put downs!

Learning to "French" a drumstick
Learning to “French” a drumstick

I showed youths how to “French” a chicken drumstick. We prepared the drumsticks for the party to be held the following afternoon, so that the chicken could soak up the Chinese Barbecue marinade overnight.

The next Jacques Pepin?
The next Jacques Pepin?

M. toasts pita chips to go with Jacques Pepin’s warm white bean puree.

Popcorn makes the holidays more festive than ever!
Popcorn makes the holidays more festive than ever!
We used Chef Catherine’s Whirligig popcorn popper to make Garlic Herb Parmesan popcorn. The cooking room smelled divine!
Chef Sheila & Chef Catherine are teaching us to decorate cookies like pros!
Chef Sheila & Chef Catherine are teaching us to decorate cookies like pros!
Chef Catherine uses plastic chip bag clips to secure the end of the pastry bags. How’s that for multi-tasking tools?
The secret to perfect gingerbread cookies
The secret to perfect gingerbread cookies
Chef Catherine shared her trick for rolling out gingerbread cookies evenly: Place lengths of yard sticks on either side of your rolling pin. The thickness of the yardstick is just right for rolled cookies.
Guess what? You can make gingerbread cookies with nutritious whole grain flour!
Guess what? You can make gingerbread cookies with nutritious whole grain flour!
Part of the fun of learning to cook and bake is finding ways to make our favorite recipes taste great — and make great nutritional sense. For the perfect balance, we used 50% white whole wheat flour in our gingerbread cookies.

Happy (and Healthy) Holidays from Young Chefs!
Happy (and Healthy) Holidays from Young Chefs!