Some teachers love to get things cookin’ in the classroom
When I think of heroes, I think of schoolteachers. A good teacher can make a big difference in a student’s life. Our daughter Kathy is one of those teachers who I think of as a hero.
When Kathy was a little girl, she had a reading problem, and as with many people with this dilemma, it helped her to become an artist. Cooking also is one of her talents, and she has combined both interests to help teach 30 preschool students under the age of 5 how to create tasty and healthy recipes. Combining art and cooking has been fun for these preschool children. Her students call her Miss Kathy, and they can’t wait to come to class every day. The moms love her, too, and often stay to help and learn.
Recently, someone made a video of Kathy teaching the students how to make pasta. She began with the students sitting on the floor in a half circle around her. She showed drawings from a children’s cookbook on how to make pasta and then divided the class into small groups, where they were given a bowl and the ingredients to make pasta from scratch. It was amazing. Using flour, oil and water they were able to knead it into a ball and crank out tagliatelle (or spaghetti) in minutes.
‘Miss Kathy’ teaches preschoolers how to make pasta.
During the holiday of Chanukah, she makes potato latkes with the children, and at Passover they make matzah brei, an egg and matzah omelet. They’ve made ice cream — “And it is delicious!” they yelled over the phone into my voicemail — as well as a Nutella-style hazelnut spread with a rich chocolate flavor.
For Chanukah, we gave Kathy an Italian pizzelle grill, similar to a waffle iron. It makes large, thin cookies with a design on both sides. When she brought it to class, the kids made dough in the morning and baked pizzelle the next day. It was served as dessert during lunch, and there was enough for the children to take home.
When Kathy is not cooking with the children, she is making art with them. Some of the projects are colorful hats to celebrate spring, turkeys made out of paper or ceramics for Thanksgiving, even space ships and Fourth of July paper firework decorations. Sometimes she’s able to coordinate art and food, as when the kids bake hamantashen and make groggers (noisemakers) for Purim.
Here are some of Kathy’s recipes. Have fun as you prepare them with your children or grandchildren.
NOODLES FROM SCRATCH
∗ 1 cup flour
∗ 1 tablespoon olive oil
∗ 2 eggs or 1/2 cup water to moisten dough
In a bowl, add flour, olive oil and eggs, or enough water to moisten the dough. With fingers or a fork, mix thoroughly until the mixture comes together into a smooth ball, adding additional flour or water as needed.
Divide dough among the helping hands and thump, bump and mush the dough (knead it) for 5 to 10 minutes, until it is smooth. If it gets sticky, a little more flour won’t hurt. Roll out dough until it is thin as noodles, more or less. Cut the dough into shapes. Let the noodles dry on a rack for a couple of hours.
Cook the noodles in a great big pot of boiling water for about 4 or 5 minutes, depending on their thickness. When they are just al dente (cooked through but still firm, not mushy) remove them from the pot and top with plenty of butter, cheese or red sauce.
Makes about 4 servings.
∗ 2 cups raw, shelled hazelnuts
∗ 1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
∗ 1 cup powdered sugar
∗ 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
∗ 1/8 teaspoon salt
∗ 1 tablespoon hazelnut oil or more as needed.
Preheat oven to 350 to 400 F.
Spread hazelnuts evenly on a cookie sheet, and roast them until they darken and become aromatic, about 10 minutes. Transfer to a damp towel and rub to remove the skins.
In a food processor, grind the hazelnuts to a smooth butter, scraping the sides as needed so they process evenly, about 5 minutes. Add cocoa, powdered sugar, vanilla, salt and oil to the food processor, and continue to process until well blended, about 1 minute. The finished spread should have the consistency of creamy peanut butter. If it is too dry, process in a little extra hazelnut oil until the desired consistency is achieved.
Remove to a container, cover and refrigerate until needed. Allow the spread to come to room temperature before using, as it thickens considerably when refrigerated. It will keep for at least a week.
Makes about 1 1/2 cups.
PIZZELLE (ITALIAN COOKIES)
∗ 3 eggs
∗ 3/4 cup sugar
∗ 1/4 cup unsalted margarine (melted and cooled)
∗ 1 teaspoon vanilla
∗ 1/2 teaspoon anise (optional)
∗ 1 3/4 cups flour
∗ 2 teaspoon baking powder
In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat eggs and sugar. Add cooled margarine, vanilla and anise. Add flour and baking powder, and blend until mixed thoroughly. The batter should be stiff enough to be dropped by spoon. The batter can be refrigerated or stored in the freezer.
Heat the pizzelle iron, and place about 1 tablespoon of batter on each section of it. Cook pizzelle for about 30 to 35 seconds or until golden.
Makes about 10 pizzelle.
JUDY’S SIGNATURE STRUDEL
(From “The Gourmet Jewish Cook” by Judy Zeidler)
∗ 1 cup unsalted margarine
∗ 2 cups flour
∗ 1 cup sour cream
∗ 6 tablespoons vegetable shortening
∗ 1 (2-pound) jar apricot-pineapple preserves
∗ 1 (1-pound) package shredded coconuts
∗ 3 to 4 cups toasted chopped walnuts
∗ Powdered sugar for garnish
Preheat the oven to 375 F.
In the large bowl of an electric mixer, blend margarine and flour until crumbly. Add sour cream, and beat until the mixture comes away from the sides of the bowl.
Turn the dough out onto a pastry board lined with generously floured waxed paper. Toss the dough around on top of the floured waxed paper to coat it lightly with the flour. Flatten it with the palm of your hand, shaping it roughly into a rectangle. Then use a well-floured rolling pin to roll it out into a rectangle about 6 by 10 inches.
Drop 6 (1/2 teaspoon) small pieces of shortening equally spaced on top of the pastry; with your finger, smear them down, then fold the pastry into thirds. Turn the pastry 90 degrees with the ends facing you. Roll it out again, dot with another 6 pieces of shortening and fold into thirds again. Turn and repeat this procedure 2 more times. Wrap the pastry in waxed paper and store in a plastic bag in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Cut the dough into 4 equal pieces. Roll out each piece on floured waxed paper into a rectangle about 6 by 10 inches and as thin as possible. Spread generously with preserves; sprinkle with coconut and walnuts. Lifting the pastry with the waxed paper as a guide, roll up the strudel jellyroll fashion.
Place the strudel on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for 30 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Lift the edges of the foil to transfer the strudel to a wooden board; loosen the strudel with a knife if necessary, and carefully roll it off the foil so it rests on the board, seam-side down. Cut it while still hot into 1-inch slices, and transfer them to a cake plate or platter. Just before serving, sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Makes about 24 pieces.
CHOCOLATE-COVERED FROZEN BANANA ON A STICK
∗ 16 wooden sticks/skewers
∗ 8 bananas, peeled and cut in half crosswise
∗ 2 pounds semisweet chocolate, melted
∗ Chopped nuts, candy sprinkles or chocolate sprinkles for garnish
Push each wooden skewer through the center of the cut end of the banana, about halfway into its length. Do not push too far or the banana will crack. Wrap it in waxed paper like a bonbon, crimping and twisting the paper around both ends. Freeze for at least 6 hours or overnight.
Using a spatula or flat knife, coat each banana with the warm melted chocolate. If you like, dip the chocolate-coated bananas in nuts, sprinkles or other garnishes. Rewrap the bananas in the waxed paper and return to the freezer for at least 1 hour.
Makes 16 frozen bananas.
Judy Zeidler is a food consultant and author of “Italy Cooks” (Mostarda Press, 2011). Her Web site is JudyZeidler.com.