Ask A Boston Chef: Cooking Ideas For Kids

January 4, 2013 6:00 AM

(Photo Credit: Brian Poe/Facebook)

Cooking with your kids and for your children should be fun. By keeping the recipes simple and the ingredients familiar, kids may chip in on preparing the dish, but most importantly will enjoying eating them too. These Boston chefs understand cooking for kids and are here to help you get creative in the kitchen with your kids, with ideas for breakfast, lunch and dinner perfect for any family.
(Photo from Facebook)

(Photo from Facebook)

Brian Poe at the Tip Tap Room
138 Cambridge St.
Boston, MA 02114
(857) 350-3344

A breakfast quesadilla is a perfect dish to serve to your kids as it is quick and tasty, plus you may already have the ingredients on hand. Brian Poe shared his take on a new way to start the day with a quesadilla in the following recipe. Kids may help to layer the ingredients of the quesadilla onto the tortillas and then hang with you as you cook up the eggs and let the oven melt the cheese. It’s served with a mango salsa recipe that can easily be assembled and enjoyed together. For lunch Poe shared a recipe for a twist on the usual peanut butter and jelly. For dinner, chicken tips with fresh herbs, served with a light salad, are sure to please the whole family.

Breakfast Quesadilla With Mango And Avocado Salsa
Makes 6 servings

12 six-inch flour tortillas
12 slices of Velveeta cheese
6, one-ounce slices of smoked ham or Turkey
6 eggs

Mango and Avocado Salsa
2 mangos, peeled and diced
1/4 cup of orange juice
2 tsp chopped cilantro
1 diced shallot
1 avocado, peeled and diced
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine in a mixing bowl and reserve.

On an oiled cookie (sheet) tray, lay out the tortillas and then layer a piece of ham on six of the tortillas, followed by a layer of cheese on each tortilla. Place in a preheated 350-degree oven until the cheese melts. When the cheese has melted thoroughly, remove it from the oven. While this is cooking, fry the eggs separately to the desired doneness and reserve on a plate. After removing the tortillas from the oven, place a cooked egg onto six of the tortillas and then top with the other six tortillas. Cut into fourths and place on plates. Then top with mango salsa and enjoy.

Pine nut butter
2 cups pine nuts
1/2 cup olive oil
1 tsp olive oil
Combine in a blender until smooth.

Fig Jelly
2 lbs fresh figs (stems removed)
1 cup apple juice
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 bay leaves
1 tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
2 cups water
1 cup grape juice
1 apple (cored) (you need this for the pectin to naturally tighten the sauce)

Bring to a simmer and allow to slowly cook for about half an hour, then puree and reserve. Slice thin coins of baguette, butter them and toast in the oven for less than five minutes at 300 degrees. Spread pine nut butter, then fig butter, then top them with blue cheese. Next put them together as little sandwiches. The pine nut butter and fig Jelly may be reserved in the refrigerator for unlimited use.

Chicken Tips
3 lbs of diced chicken (marinated for 12 hours in the following marinade)
1 bunch scallions
1 bunch parsley
1 bunch rosemary
1/4 cup garlic
1/4 cup shallots
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tsp cracked black peppercorns
2 cups olive oil

Combine all ingredients in blender and pour over chicken. Then, in a hot saute pan, sear the chicken for three minutes on each side. Place in a 350-degree oven for an additional eight minutes or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

3 diced tomatoes
1/2 red onion diced
1 bunch of fresh basil, chopped
2 cups of fresh corn kernals
1 hot house English cucumbers diced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/4 cup high quality olive oil.
Juice of two limes

In a mixing bowl combine the ingredients and reserve them in the refrigerator. When the chicken is complete, place it on a plate and top it with tomato salad.

About Brian Poe:
Well-known, creative Chef Brian Poe of Poe’s Kitchen at the Rattlesnake and newcomer to the Boston dining scene Tip Tap Room in Beacon Hill, is also debuting Estelle’s in the South End soon. Because of his travels and upbringing, he has made a name for himself within the Boston culinary world and beyond.

(Photo from Facebook)

(Photo from Facebook)

Lydia Shire at Towne
900 Boylston St.
Boston, MA 02115
(617) 247-0400

Providing a new and exciting version of the classic kid’s sandwich PB&J is Lydia Shire. Children of all ages won’t be able to resist the smell of bacon filling the kitchen in this tasty treat. They may help load up the toaster, slather on the peanut butter, and stack up all the finished sandwiches while you take care of the sometimes splattering bacon strips. For lunch, turkey croquettes with arugula will give them a peek into a little bit more complex side of the excitement of cooking, and for dinner, a simple flavor-packed fish recipe to easily prepare before popping in the oven to broil will make a great, healthy dinner for the entire family.

Peanut Butter & Bacon Sandwich
4 servings
1 loaf of white sandwich bread
1 jar peanut butter, either creamy or crunchy
1 pound bacon
Good quality butter at room temperature

Cook desired amount of bacon — three slices per person or more — over a medium/low temperature in a frying pan. Cooking it more slowly will result in a more uniform crisp rasher rather than over high heat where you will end up with either fatty bacon or burned bacon, neither which is ideal for this sandwich. Drain cooked bacon on a paper towel. Place the bread into your toaster and toast it until it’s a light golden color  (not darker). Spread a little butter on each slice, and then generously spread the peanut butter on top of one slice.
Place the cooked bacon on the other buttered slice, sprinkle a little extra salt on top of the bacon, close the sandwich, cut in half and serve with Sunday’s funny papers, and watch it disappear.

Turkey Croquettes with Arugula Leaves
2 cups chopped cooked turkey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp celery salt
dash of cayenne
1 tsp lemon juice
few drops of grated onion juice
1 tsp finely chopped curly parsley
a few celery leaves from the heart of the celery plant – julienned into tiny shreds

Mix together and add one cup cooled croquette sauce.

Croquette Sauce
Melt in a heavy pan or a double boiler four tablespoons of butter, whisk in four tablespoons of flour, cook over low heat until you see the color almost change to a light golden. Add one cup of liquid: part milk, part cream, even part stock. Whisk and cook until thick and glossy. Season with salt, freshly ground black pepper and the slightest touch of nutmeg. Seasoning should be conservative. As soon as it is done, cover directly with a sheet of plastic wrap so no skin can develop, chill or use when at a cool room temperature.

Mix well, carefully season, and shape the beautifully seasoned croquette meat into little tree shapes with a larger bottom, smaller top.

Mix two eggs well in a small bowl with two tablespoons of cold water. Have ready in another bowl half cup of flour seasoned with a bit of salt and pepper. In your third bowl have half package of panko bread crumbs bought in the Japanese section of your supermarket.

Dip and roll the croquettes first in the seasoned flour (shake off any excess) then dip in the beaten egg. Make sure the egg totally encloses the croquette. Then immediately put it into the panko crumbs ensuring the croquette is fully breaded. Again it is important the egg is all around and you get it quickly into the crumbs so they adhere.

Heat 1 quart of peanut oil into a tall sauce pan to 310 degrees. It is important that the oil come approximately half way up the interior of the pot. Using a slotted spoon, lower the croquettes gingerly into the oil and fry for roughly four minutes until they’re a light golden brown.

Serve immediately with a light arugula salad. The bitterness of arugula is the perfect foil for the rich croquettes.

Related: The Best After-School Activities for Kids in Boston

Broiled Filet of Sole
8 oz per person of lemon sole or grey sole
1 loaf of challah or brioche, crusted and pulsed into crumbs, dried to golden in 300-degree oven
1 cup finely chopped curly parsley
Lemon zest and juice

Preheat broiler to its hottest. Lay the fish on top of the aluminum foil, sprinkle with sea salt, freshly ground black pepper, a good dusting of paprika and finely chopped curly parsley. Grate a bit of lemon zest on top. Squeeze a little lemon juice over it, and sprinkle handfuls of the challah crumbs on top. Slice cold butter thinly and cover the fish with a generous amount of the butter sitting on top of the crumbs. Position the rack at least four to five inches from the broiler heat, place the pan into the oven and broil until the fish is done. It makes its own sauce right in the pan. Serve the dish with a vegetable and potato or rice of your choice.

About Lydia Shire:
The talented, award-winning Lydia Shire, co-founder and chef of Towne Stove and Spirits, has been cooking her entire life. She has more than 40 years experience within the restaurant industry doing a wide range of positions and even attended London’s Cordon Bleu Cooking School. She has worked amongst some of the most talented chefs in the area. She too is an avid traveler and she knows a thing or two about cooking for and with kids as she’s a mom herself.

Related: Some Fun Things To Do When School Is Canceled

Michelle Levine is a creative energetic, young professional that is passionate about everything Boston has to offer. She loves to attend local events, dine out, and cook and wants to share her findings with you. Her work can be found on