Teaching my teen to cook from scratch(22 Posts)
DS1 is almost 14 and wants to learn to cook properly this summer. He is already perfectly capable of cooking quick food like pasta and pesto, ready made pizza etc, but now he wants to move on to real recipes.
If you have taught your teen to cook, what did you start with? He'd like to make lasagne and I'm thinking a curry would be nice. Maybe also a roast. Any other ideas?
I agree with making a curry as its quite easy even if doing it from scratch and if he wants to make a lasagna then maybe teach him how to make a good bolognaise first.
Lots of recipes here from Jamie Oliver
Soup; it is very difficult to get that wrong and it gives plenty of experience in vegetable chopping and adding seasoning.
DD has just learned to make chicken fajitas at school. She loved doing that.
How about risotto or kedgeree?
I think it's a good idea to think about what skills he wants to learn, then look at recipes using them. If you teach skills rather than recipes he can apply them to all sorts of dishes. So maybe look at roasting (roast dinner, roasted veg), baked things (sausage and veg tray bakes, chicken and chorizo tray bake, pasta bakes etc), things cooked on the hob (risottos, soups etc), chopping (veg, meat, etc), pastry (pies and tarts). You get the gist! I think a lot of cooking is experience, how do you thicken/thin a sauce, reduce things down, control heat, rest meat, check things are cooked. Maybe look at your own staples teach him them then follow his lead.
Thanks for a the ideas!
I've sent him the Jamie Oliver link. We'd been looking at Jamie recipe books for ideas already.
In terms of skills, he has been peeling and slicing veg for me for years. He often preps the veg on a weeknight before I get home from work, or makes the side salad. He hasn't done a lot of very fine chopping though, so that is one to practice. He also hasn't cooked a lot with raw meat.
We are going to start with bolognese, as that is really versatile and can be turned into other things (eg lasagne). Then thinking about a curry (probably a lamb korma), sweet and sour pork, chicken chow mein and steak fajitas. So some slow cooked and some cooked quickly.
His pastry is already better than mine, as are his scones. He has a lighter touch and more patience than me! Thinking of utilising this with pies and cobblers next winter
I always always recommend it on here, but Jamie Oliver ' s Ministry of Food is great for this. Get it from the library.
It teaches basics, eg a meat sauce, and then tells you how to tweak it into, as you say, eg bolognese, shepherd's pie...
I think Mary Berry's The New Cook is excellent for teaching the skills and then providing good recipes to use them.
a full roast is a great idea - getting the timings right for the individual components can be a challenge - as well as learning to do things like roast potatoes, proper gravy etc
Things like risotto could also be good - once he has done the roast chicken he could use the carcass to make stock to make it with and leftover meat to stir through
Teach him to cook to sort of food he actually likes to eat.
I started cooking a lot in my early teens and it was all stuff that I liked a lot but my parents didn't (so if I wanted to eat it at all, it had to be me who made it). I would have had limited interest in how to cook a roast dinner, etc.
For example, you say he likes pasta, so teach him how to make a proper Italian tomato sauce to go with it. Lots of great skills there - finely chop veg to make a soffrito, let him see for himself the difference between a quick-cooked sauce with fresh tomatoes or a slow-cooked sauce with tinned tomatoes, ditto for fresh vs. dried herbs. Once he knows how to make a great basic sauce, let him explore how to tweak it with meat, seafood, etc.
Or if he likes stir fries, let him hone his knife skills by chopping veg into a range of textures, finding out whether he (and the family) likes different flavours and spices like ginger, coriander, cumin, lemongrass, chilli, anise, fish sauce, soy sauce, etc. Once he's found his favourite combinations, he can explore which go best with different types of meat, seafood, tofu, etc.
It's more about learning judgement about food and flavours rather than following lots of different recipes. If he's anything like me, he might find it more fun!
He is almost 14 and growing like a beanpole. He likes ALL THE FOOD!
The bolognese recipe he has chosen is in Ministry of Food. I bought it when it first came out and wasn't that impressed with it for myself, but it is perfect for teaching DS1.
I wasn't taught to cook properly by my parents, but I taught myself as a student using Delia's How to Cook. I still use some of the recipes two decades later.
Jamie a Oliver sausage bake.
Loads of cherry tomatoes into an ovenproof dish, some rosemary and thyme, loads of olive oil and balsamic vinegar and some crushed garlic. Mix it. Put in six sausages and mix again. Bake in the oven till the sausage are cooked (or u till you remember that you put it in there), around 40 mins. Serve with crusty bread and salad.
I'd also suggest cooking a few veggie recepies if like me as a student, he ends up skint and doesn't want to live off baked beans and instant noodles
Soups - leek and potato/ carrot and coriander
Dahl is easy cost pennies and is super delicious
Its a good thing to do. All her life my goddaughter was around men who cooked her father, her uncles and me - she was always encouraged to help and from 12 to cook on her own.
When she went to University she was the only one in her block who could cook and it saved her a fortune. She had them all organised, each day some bought, some prepped, she cooked and anyone left would wash up. Didn't buy any food for 2 years. Once she moved into a flat she baked, 2 cup cakes for a coffee.
Bolognaise is a good start, you can also explain that the base of a bolognaise is so versatile as you can make many meals from it.
Definitely teach him how to deal with raw meat, especially chicken safely.
Maybe how to BBQ? It's a fun one and again teaches caution with food, making sure it really is properly cooked ect. It is also one a lot of people struggle with. Both my husband and I were previously chefs so are pretty good cooks, but never have bbq's as we can't light the damn things! When we move we are buying a gas one!!!
Do you need to follow recipes for everything? If you always cook with recipes then fine but most people I know who enjoy to cook were taught techniques and how to apply them to food. Even now I very very rarely follow a recipe exactly and if I do it's because I'm trying something new and next time I cook it I will change it a bit to how I think I'll like it. I'd never use a recipe for a bolognaise!
Being able to work with food without needing a recipe is also good when you are running low on food and it's a make it up as you go along kinda meal. If you have never experimented with recipes yourself you will struggle with that!
I taught both my DD's to cook, and then I picked up a children's cookbook so I could start showing DGS but it is good
the new version is called Usbornes Beginners CookBook - maybe the library has a copy so you could try it out?
Making a proper white sauce using butter and flour with no lumps is a useful skill.
This book is easy to follow and ideal for future students.
As well as teaching him cookery skills, teach him kitchen skills i.e. learning to clear up / put back / put away as he goes along. Otherwise he'll produce cordon bleu masterpieces that leave your kitchen looking like a bomb has hit it! (And guess who gets the job of making your kitchen look respectable again?)
Is he into basic cooking or is he wanting to try more ambitious stuff?
Nap I've put that sausage bake recipe on the list, looks really nice.
He is already pretty good at clearing up after himself, so at least that's one less thing to worry about.
I think at the moment he wants to be able to cook dinner for us as a family one night a week. So nothing too fancy, just normal family food. I think he feels more confident following a recipe at the moment than trying to improvise.
Agreeing with everyone above. As for clearing up, my mother's rule was that if we wanted to cook anything, as opposed to just helping make dinner, the deal was that we had to clean the kitchen ( it was usually pretty tidy, so no big hardship) and then return the kitchen to that state before we were finished.
As PP said, cleaning up as you go along is a very useful life skill. I checked DH liked to cook before i married him, but forgot to check that he was equally good at clearing up. Sigh.
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