Cooking with Toddlers

Cooking with Toddlers: Crepes

I had never eaten a crepe before I met Jimmy…I think.  Considering that I went to France after I graduated from high school, that seems improbable, but since I vividly remember eating my first escargot but have no memory of eating a crepe, it must be true.  Thanks to their heritage, his family celebrates Candlemas Day in the traditional French way by eating crepes.  Three and then four generations of family would gather in the kitchen at his mother’s or grandmother’s house, watching deft hands expertly flip the thin, golden pancakes.  Eventually, the “kids” (me, Jimmy, his brother, and his sister-in-law) would take a turn at flipping the crepe high into the air and catching it in the pan.  The first time I flipped a crepe, I was scared to death because I didn’t want to embarrass myself in front of the family, but I succeeded.  I also remember my sister-in-law snarkily correcting a grammar mistake I made at one of these events before she decided to pretend to like me (Think I can hold a mean grudge? That incident was 15 years ago!).

Once the crepes were ready, we descended on them like vultures, topping them with Nutella, powdered sugar, jam or nothing at all, rolling them up and gorging on them.   One crepe was carefully placed on the highest surface in the kitchen to stay there until next Candlemas Day for good luck.

Over the years as the “kids” moved away, we didn’t get together to celebrate Candlemas Day as often.  In 2001, Jimmy’s grandmother sent us the recipe for crepes, and I started making them a few times a year.  Because of Mum’s death this year, I thought crepes would be a meaningful, appropriate recipe for me and Daniel to make as we continue our culinary explorations.

Since liquor is used in the recipe, these crepes are dessert crepes.  If you want savory crepes, omit the liquor and prepare as indicated.  This recipe makes a lot of crepes, and they are easily stored in the freezer or refrigerator.   As usual, Daniel loved helping make the batter (he really loved the flour!); he would not eat one even when tempted with Nutella filling.  That was ok with Jimmy since he was able to eat them all 🙂

Oh! Look at the flour! It goes everywhere if I blow on it!

 

Stirring the batter

 

Taking his job very seriously!

Ingredients

  • 1 cup cold water
  • 1 cup cold milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 2 cups sifted all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp melted butter
  • 3 Tbsp rum or grand marnier (I always use grand marnier because I like the citrus flavor)

Directions

  • Place ingredients in blender or bowl in the order in which they are listed
  • Blend for 2-3 minutes
  • Refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight
  • Oil an omelet pan or small saute pan and heat on medium-high
  • Place no more than 1/4 cup of batter in the pan and swirl it around so it spreads out
  • Once the edges begin to crisp and the batter is setting, gently flip it over.  It should be a light golden color
  • Place the finished crepe on a plate, pour in more batter and continue

 

Almost ready to flip

 

Since the hallmark of a crepe is its thinness, don’t be afraid to mess up when cooking them.  Even though I’ve made them for years, I still ruin the first 2 or 3 crepes (at least) before I get in the groove.  Experiment and figure out what works best for you.  This recipe is very versatile, and crepes make a great base for many other recipes.

 

Done! Ready to cool and eat!

 

Cooking with Toddlers: Yogurt Cake

A few weeks ago, I mentioned that one of my lingering takeaways from Bringing Up Bebe had been how French families bake with their children from a very early age and how capable even the youngest toddlers were of preparing a batter.  It’s not so much the baking that struck me per se but the idea that my son, not quite three, might be capable of more than I often give him credit for.  I think that I too often fall into the mode of thinking that my son is too young to be able to do XYZ and therefore delay pursuing it.

As a result of reading the book, I decided to start baking with my son as often as possible in order to attempt to instill patience, an understanding of cooking and an appreciation for food.  I really like to cook.  The first career I ever wanted was to be a singer (??? Ok, I was 5 years old), but my second career (at the advanced age of 8) was to be an artist (never mind the fact I have no artistic ability) AND a chef.  I’m not at all the caliber of a restaurant chef, but I’ve always enjoyed cooking and watched my mother cook amazing homemade meals. Since Jimmy and I have started making many of our meals and sauces from scratch, I’m really excited that I might be able to pass along an appreciation of cooking and food to Daniel at such an early age.

The first recipe we made was yogurt cake, inspired from Bringing Up Bebe.  I didn’t use the recipe that Druckerman included but thanks to the awesome power of Google, I used Chocolate & Zucchini’s recipe with a few minor variations.  Due to limitations such as Jimmy buying a ginormous container of yogurt, we couldn’t use the yogurt container as the measuring cup.  Details, schmetails!

Yummy, yummy, yummy in my tummy

Ingredients

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup plain yogurt (I used Greek yogurt and was a bit liberal with it)
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp rum
  • 1 teaspoon lemon extract

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees
  • Line bottom of round pan with parchment paper and grease sides (I confess I did not do a good job with this part, so my cake looked a little misshapen)
  • Combine yogurt, eggs, sugar, vanilla, oil, rum, and lemon extract
  • Sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in another bowl
  • Combine dry and wet ingredients until just combined
  • Pour batter into prepared pan
  • Bake for 30-35 minutes (we found 32-33 to be perfect)

Verdict

I loved making this recipe with Daniel.  He was able to participate throughout the entire process and had a good time.  The cake was amazing.  It was lighter than a pound cake but denser than the basic yellow cake, and I think the addition of lemon extract really helped.

Horrific picture of me; adorable sous chef

Mixing the batter

The cake cooked quickly. That first night, Daniel had a small bit and then refused to eat any more (grumble).  I had a few pieces over the next few days before declaring myself done.  I took the leftover cake to work, and my coworkers happily demolished it.

Parchment paper fail, but it got the job done.

Yogurt Cake and chocolate syrup FTW!

I would definitely make the cake again.  The yogurt cuts the sweetness but adds a depth to the cake that is rather unusual and very nice.  In my Googling, I saw several variations on the recipe that included more exotic ingredients such as fruit and nutella, so it looks like it is a very versatile recipe.

Enjoy!