This week the cooking class came home for the first time ever. What a tremendous relief to have all the mini-chefs in our kitchen here, instead of lugging everything across town as I’ve done for the past almost-two years! As wonderful as Sonia’s and then Karen’s kitchens are (and they are fabulous), it felt so nice to have everything prepared and less frantic when the Yummies showed up.
We broke out the big guns this week and made cod covered with lots of special things and wrapped to bake in parchment, or “poissons en papillote” if you want to be all fancy pants about it-and let’s face it, who doesn’t? It’s a very light dish and perfect for a Spring or Summer meal. You can play with the veggies that accompany this dish, adding whatever is available to you seasonally and locally.
There were, to my surprise, some neutral reactions from the kids toward the fish and it’s smell or “odour” if you’re fancy. Ben, for instance, seemed very comfortable with it. Not true for all the kids though. You can see my daughter’s reaction above. She makes this same gesture each time we pass through what I lovingly and she disparagingly call “the stinky cheese aisle” at our market. I always just giggle, shake my head, and tell her how she’ll be gobbling up and loving that very same stinky cheese when she gets older. For a while, she looked at me like I was out of my tree, but now she has taken over by saying, very nasally as she is holding her nose, “When I’m a big woman, I’m going to DIE for the stinky cheese!!!” She will then run off and take great whiffs of the soap-by-the-slice as if coming up for air as soon as we’ve made it through the SCA.
What impressed me most about the mini-chefs this week is how very concentrated they were on their assembly. Crossing from the threes into the almost or just fours, you can see that the scope of what they can do all by themselves is widening. Whereas a few months ago, most of them would be bouncing off the walls during at least a part of class, now they sit down, focused on the task at hand till it is accomplished. Only then do they go bounce off the walls for a bit. Impressive.
Fishies in Parchment
For each kid-sized serving:
*6 oz. piece of a mild, white fish (talapia, cod, etc.)
*a large handful of baby spinach leaves
*a couple of “coins” of ginger (peeled)
*a handful of carrots, peeled or scrubbed and sliced very thin
*1/2 a scallion, sliced
*2 T. chopped tomato (canned is fine)
*2 slices of lemon, very thinly sliced
* 2 T. coconut cream or water
*salt and pepper, to taste
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Tear a 20-inch piece of parchment for each piece of fish you’re baking and fold each parchment piece in half with your Yummy. Re-open the parchment so that you have a crease down the middle.
To assemble the packets, have each ingredient in its own bowl, at your Yummies’ fingertips. If you’re at all worried about them touching the fish and putting their fingers in their mouth, you should place the piece of fish onto the parchment along the inside crease for them. Otherwise, they can do it themselves.
Place the fish, salt and pepper it generously, and then let them pile the rest on top as they see fit.
Now re-fold the paper in half. Starting from one side of the parchment begin to crimp the paper over itself so that you end up with a semi-circle. (hard to describe, but Queen Martha, of course, has a tutorial on her site if you need further instruction) Basically, you want to end up with a totally sealed little package so that no steam will escape and so that the steam will cook everything inside the package.
Big Person: Place each package on a rimmed baking sheet (we fit four to a sheet), and slide the sheets into the oven. Bake about 20 minutes. Pull out of the oven, cut the parchment open, revealing the deliciousness inside.