Since Petit Tom has been around, I have secretly been longing for that day where he and I would share the kitchen and cook a meal together (Yes I know… I am a crazy foodie).
Last week friday was bliss. We cooked together for real for the first time. Not just like pricking the dough with a fork… A real dish. Moroccan meatballs. One of my favorite as a kid too.
Petit Tom was the cutest sous-chef i ever had (of course): he helped me season the meat, mix it with a spatula, roll the meatballs.. and kept a keen eye on the cooking from begining to end.
You should have seen the proud smile on his face (and mine) when he took his daddy to the table for dinner. I’ve never seen him eat so well either!
And it was good too. I could have licked my plate if he was not around!
Tips for stressless cooking with kids
1. Don’t be in a rush! Definitely plan more time than if you are cooking alone to be zen and available to your kids, especially the first times!
2. Prepare all ingredients before you start to cook: When cooking with younger kids, peel and chop the vegetables ahead as much as possible: our little ones have a short span of attention and get bored pretty quickly!
3. Dressing the table and the plates are also great activities for kids… You’d be surprised to see the enthusiasm of my son when I let him help emptying the dishwasher! ( I know, it will probably not last for so long)
4. Gently introduce the first notions of hygiene and safety in the kitchen… Wash your hands together, wear aprons, tie long hair. Make sure the younger kids are in a safe and stable position away from knives and heat sources!
5. As much as possible, tickle their senses… Have your kids smell, touch and taste (not the raw meat/egg obviously!) during the various steps of the cooking process,
6. Watch the salt and spices: kids don’t need as much salt and heat as we usually like to use.
This recipe is perfect to cook together with kids/toddlers and will make a tasty and healthy weeknight dinner for the whole family.
The youngest might, like petit Tom, give a hand with mixing the meat and spices, maybe rolling the meatballs too, while the older ones might be able to give a hand with handling the food processor the chopping and cooking (under adequate adult supervision of course!).
Feel free to adjust the amount of spices with regard to the age and taste of your children – you can adjust for yourself later, in your own plate-. Petit Tom handles paprika and ginger just fine. I still skip the pepper for now and keep it low on salt.
Boulette de boeuf a la Marocaine
Serves 4 to 6
Prep 30 min cook 30 min
For the meatballs:
- 600 g minced beef (preferebly not too lean),
- 1 small onion, peeled and puréed* or grated,
- 1 slice of slightly stale bread, reduced in fine crumbs*,
- 1 small handfull (flat) parsley, finely chopped**,
- 1 small handful coriander, finely chopped**,
- 1 teaspoon paprika powder,
- 1 teaspoon ginger powder,
- 1 tablespoon olive oil,
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste,
For the sauce:
- tablespoons olive oil,
- 1 onion, washed, peeled, finely diced,
- 1 shallot, washed, peeled, finely diced,
- 1 red bell pepper, washed, seeds removed and finely diced,
- 1 small zucchini, washed and finely diced,
- 2 handfuls of cherry tomatoes halved,
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika powder,
- 1 pinch ginger powder,
- 1 pinch cinammon,
- 1 small handfull parsley and coriander finely chopped (plus a little extra to dress),
- 1 can of tomatoes (400g),
- Sea salt and pepper to taste,
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste,
- 1 teaspoon honey,
- Water as needed,
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.
- Prepare the meat :
[great for kids from 2 years old and more. Just make sure the little ones don’t get a taste of the raw meat]
. Mix and squish all the ingredients for the meatballs together in a large bowl with your clean hands, until the spices and herbs are incorporated.
. Roll the spiced meat into walnut-sized balls and place them on a large dish.
. Leave to marinate, covered with plastic foil, in the fridge until the sauce is ready.
- Prepare the sauce :
[older kids – 6+ – comfortable with cooking and handling heat might want too help under your supervision]:
. Heat up a pan on medium to high heat.
. Add the olive oil, onion, shallot and finely diced red pepper into the pan. Stir-fry for a couple of minutes until soft.
. Add the zucchini and cherry tomatoes (save a couple tomatoes for service) and stir fry for a couple more minutes.
. Add the fresh herbs and season to taste with paprika, ginger, cinammon, salt and pepper
. Finaly, add the canned tomatoes and their juice, the tomato paste and honey.
. Toss well,
. Simmer the sauce on low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, until thick and fragrant.
- Cook the meatballs :
[beware of oil splatters… that job is for the grown ups. Kids will love giving a hand to dress the plates!]
. Heat up a large frying pan on medium to high heat,
. Working in two or three batches, brown the meatballs on all sides in 1 Ts vegetable oil.
. Then pop them into the simmering sauce and simmer gently for 5 to 10 minutes until just cooked through.
. Remove from the heat and adjust seasoning before dressing the plates.
Serve with steamed rice or italian style with spaghetti!
Dress the plates wih the meatballs and sauce on top of the rice/spaghetti. Top with a cherry tomato, and sprinkle with a bit of chopped parsley and coriander