A couple of weeks ago, I went to a cooking class camp called Kitchen Kids. This week was Italian Week, which was called “Mangia! Mangia!” meaning “More! More!” I had so much fun learning the different ways to use different knives safely, how to core and seed or pit fruits, and lots of other things that were useful in the kitchen. I made lots of friends, including Ellen, Jackson, Wiley, and Jocelyn. Our counselors (Cindy, Ashley, and Sam) were incredibly nice, helpful, and experienced.
My least favorite dish was the caramelized carrots, but they weren’t so bad. Four of my favorite dishes we made were: the bruschetta bar, the zucchini risotto, the fluffy potato onion soup, and the chocolate and cocoa powder truffles. The bruschetta bar had three different kinds of bruschetta: a ricotta cheese and chopped kalamata olive spread, a cannellini bean spread, and a tomato, garlic, and basil bruschetta (my favorite!).
On the first day of cooking camp, I made focaccia bread, basil pesto, and broiled zucchini and potatoes with parmesan crust. Jocelyn and I worked on the whole wheat focaccia bread (which had basil) while Wiley and Jackson worked on the white bread focaccia (which was topped with rosemary). Then, Wiley and Jackson worked on the pesto, and Jocelyn and I worked on the parmesan crusted veggies. This recipe was adapted from Giada De Laurentiis, my favorite Italian chef on Food Network. Here is the delicious, kid-friendly, 3-step recipe:
Broiled Zucchini and Potatoes With Parmesan Crust
4 small new potatoes, red or white, about 1.5 inches in diameter
2 TBS butter
1 clove garlic, minced
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme leaves
1 tsp chopped fresh rosemary leaves
2 small zucchinis, cut in half lengthwise (about 1 inch wide by 5 inches long)
Pinch kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/4 grated parmesan
1. Bring a medium pot of water to a boil over high heat. Add the potatoes and cook until just tender, about 8-10 minutes. Drain the potatoes and let them cool. When cool, cut the potatoes in half.
2. Place a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the butter, garlic, thyme, and rosemary, and let cook until the butter melts, about 2 minutes. Meanwhile, season the cut sides of the zucchini and potatoes with salt and pepper. Carefully place the zucchini and potatoes, cut side down, in the melted butter. Let them cook until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.
3. Preheat the broiler, and line a baking sheet with foil. Place the browned zucchini and potatoes on the baking sheet, cut side up. Sprinkle the tops with the parmesan. Place under the broiler until the cheese is golden brown, about 4 minutes. Transfer to a plate and serve.
So good! Makes 4 servings.
The focaccia was a big success! I enjoyed the crunch of the thin wheat more than the soft doughiness of the white bread, but I adored the rosemary’s strong delicate flavor. Here’s the easy, four-step recipe:
Focaccia Bread Recipe
Flour for the work surface
1 1-lb package refrigerated white pizza dough
1 1-lb package refrigerated wheat pizza dough
12 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp black pepper
8 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced
1 1/2 cup shredded asiago cheese
1 1/2 tsp fresh rosemary needles
1 1/2 tsp fresh basil leaves, chopped
For the white focacccia:
1. Heat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.
2. Spray and 8 x 8 square pan with Pam or nonstick spray, and then gently press the dough into it. You may also do a free-form loaf by stretching the dough into an 8 x 12 rectangle pan and placing it on a parchment-covered cookie sheet.
3. Let the dough rest for 5 minutes. Use your fingers to make dimples in the dough.
4. Bake for 5 minutes, and remove from oven. Brush the dough with the remaining oil and sprinkle with the garlic, rosemary, and asiago cheese. Return to oven until golden brown, approximately 10-15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.
For the wheat focacccia:
Use the same steps as the white focaccia, just substitute wheat pizza dough for the white dough, and substitute basil for the rosemary.
The basil pesto was extraordinary! I loved watching Jackson and Wiley make it in my rare free time; it seemed like tons of fun!
The other group (Ellen, Erin, and Tyrell) made Giada’s marinara sauce (obviously adapted from Giada) and honey-drenched struffoli (adapted from Mario Batali). I couldn’t believe that there were healthy vegetables in Giada’s marinara. It was so good it could have been served in a restaurant! Yum! The honey-drenched struffoli (also known as Christmas fritters, or little round dough balls) was very well made, but I personally don’t love sprinkles, and they put rainbow sprinkles on top.
What a fun week at Kitchen Kids! There is a camp in Santa Monica, California and one in Manhattan Beach, California. I’m so glad I found one! Thank you to Ashley, Cindy, and Sam for inspiring me to do even more cooking at home, and to all my fellow campers for helping me along the way!
Kitchen Kid Cooking Camp
Tel: (310) 450-3462