My Daughter's Kitchen: Week 1

Our six junior chefs, a group of six young ladies in the 5th grade, came to class with open minds, ready hands and evident enthusiasm for cooking. “I am the official taste-tester in my house,” said Sobechi Igweatu, 10. “And the chopper.”  Before we started we paid a visit to the UrbanPromise garden, where instructor Jane Berkowitz taught the girls how to cut the fresh Swiss chard that was growing and would replace spinach in our recipe.  A few late grape tomatoes were plucked as well and our chefs were willing to give them a try.  Back inside with hands washed, we got down to business with a preview read through of the recipe and some talk about favorite foods; and learned our group of chefs had fairly sophisticated palates, rolling off dishes like Alfredo sauce and linguini with shrimp, and French macaroons as favorites.  “One thing you need to know about me and understand is that chocolate is my life,” said Cianni Green.

The girls got their assignments, some chopping vegetables and some cutting oranges but all of them following the directive ‘Mise en place’ –or everything in its place.  “Mise-en-what?’ said Nailah Lipscomb, “that sounds like a disease!”  Instructors Becky Bryan, Jane Berkowitz and Maureen Dodson worked closely with the girls on knife skills, filling small bowls with chopped peppers and onions, acutting board full of Swiss chard and another larger bowl with compost waste. Everyone had a turn whisking the eggs, sautéing the vegetables and scrambling the eggs. “I’m like a pro!” said Brazil Taylor, 10, moving the eggs around the pan with a spatula.  The table was set without complaint and we all lined up to fill pita pockets with eggs.  “Look at this,” said Cianni Green, holding up her plate with her stuffed pita.  “I can’t believe we made this!”