I married a man who can’t cook but always wished he had learned the basics early on. Everything is so much harder to grasp when you are older (you know, like learning Japanese or ice skating!). Well, I am determined that this doesn’t happen to my kids, at least when it comes to cooking. It would be sinful not to teach them a little of what I have learned over the years, and keeping children out of the kitchen because they make a mess is a poor excuse when you think that one day they could make a dinner like the one my 14-year-old son made for us all this weekend!
Granted he needed a nudge to get going, and he thought because he had watched me for so long he would magically be able to dice an onion into minute uniform squares. He soon realized the only way to learn is by doing it over and over again. My two children have always helped doing “jobs” in the kitchen (my son’s favorite being to chop herbs to a fine powder!), but the other night when I looked at my son as he towered above me I had this vision of him four short years from now in some college wondering how to make good basic dishes to sustain him – panic!
The two of them certainly know a lot about food and they know how most basic dishes are made (stews, curries, noodle dishes, sauces, stocks, soups etc), but this year I want my son to be our Weekend Chef. This past Saturday his job was to grab any cookbook magazine or food idea, tell me what it was and I would give him free reign in the kitchen (with me of course hovering to impart any wisdom I might want to force upon him). He loves Asian flavors (and sriracha hot sauce) and decided on Hot Wings from a new cookbook (present for my husband which he will probably never open!) and a rice dish I make variations on quite a bit.
He did an amazing job and from watching him I am pretty confident that in the next few months he will be slicing and dicing better than me. He was very specific about his rice and when he tasted it, he only added a little mirin to the end result because he wanted a little “sweetness to balance the fire from the Hot Wings Sauce” We didn’t fry the wings as in the recipe. I think it is a tad dangerous and the risk of crisping them up too much was a factor. He argued that cooking them in the oven would not get the same effect but then seeing the result was happy enough with the crisp skin. I also told him the quantity of sauce was way too much for the amount of wings so he halved the recipe (again arguing with me) and it turned out to be an ample amount of sauce for everyone. He’s already learning that cookbooks should be a guide-book not a Bible.
He tried to be cool about the whole “making dinner” thing but when we all thanked and complimented him he got to feel the pride and satisfaction that comes with doing something for someone besides yourself. There will be star meals and bombs made over the next year of Saturdays, but I can’t wait for each and every one.
3 lbs chicken wings – tips removed (demo picture below)
2 tbs olive oil
1 tsp salt
Preheat oven 400*
1 – Prep wings (see picture below) and place in big bowl with oil and salt. Mix everything together to coat the wings with oil.
2 – Place a cooling rack or some sort of oven rack into a baking tray (it will keep the wings separated from the dripping fat) and add the wings in an even layer. Place in oven for between 40 to 50 minutes, or until the wings look nice and crispy.
Remove to a bowl and coat with half of the hot sauce (recipe follows)
Hot Sauce for Wings:
1 stick unsalted butter
1/3 cup sriracha sauce
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp salt
1/2 lime – juiced
Festive rice Just For You (serves 4-6)
This recipe should be tailored to veggies you like and what you have available in your kitchen. In other words, treat everything as optional, except for the rice!
You will need:
Basmati Rice – stove top made rice: 2 cups (16oz) and follow package instructions and for Rice Cooker: 3 cups in rice cooker measuring cup and follow rice cooker instructions (my ratio is 1 cup rice to 1 cup water)
2 to 3 tbs olive oil
Pick up to three or four of the following:
1 onion – diced (can be sweet, yellow, white or purple)
2 ribs celery – diced (optional)
1 cup diced or Julienned carrots (optional)
8 oz mushrooms – thinly sliced (can be any kind of mushroom)(optional)
2 small yellow squash or zucchini or 1 of each – diced (optional)
4 cups spinach or kale – chopped (optional)
2 large cloves garlic – roughly chopped (optional)
1 to 2 tbs various chopped fresh herbs (optional)
1 to 2 tsp spice (curry powder, mix of cumin, ginger and coriander or anything else you like when it comes to spice flavors) (optional)
1 – Put rice on to cook and then set aside.
2 – Put a big saute pan on medium heat and add 2 tbs of oil. When it has heated up a little add the veggies that will take the longest to cook, ending with the veggies that cook quickly. So, add things like onions and garlic first for 3 minutes, next the mushrooms, and then the carrots and squash, and ending with quick cooking things like the chopped greens. Add more oil if necessary.
2 – So, add things like onions and garlic first for 3 minutes, next the mushrooms, and then the carrots and squash, and ending with quick cooking things like the chopped greens. Add more oil if necessary. Everything should be cooked within 10 minutes.
3 – If going to use herbs and spices, add after the base ingredients like the onions and garlic.
4 – Add cooked rice and stir. Keep warm until ready to serve.