|By Danielle Paine|
Reminder Assistant Editor
EAST LONGMEADOW - Even those tweens who can't make it to this week's cooking workshop at the town library can still learn to cook with Katie Wilton.
Wilton is a long-time Boston area chef and recent author of "You're the Cook," a cookbook for ages nine and older. Whether by attending her April 19 class at the library or by purchasing her book, she believes that tweens and even adults could gain from her advice.
"Sometimes general cookbooks can be intimidating and they can take for granted that most people just have a basic knowledge of terms and techniques," Wilton said.
On the other hand, she explained, many "kid cookbooks" are designed for younger children and have more of a play with food approach with no-cooking-required recipes such as "Ants on a Log."
"These recipes are a little bit more mature so that an adult could use it and not be embarrassed that they were using a kids cookbook," Wilton explained.
Dishes straight from the page of her book that she'll be making with local children at the library include Deviled Eggs, Pizza Wontons, Parmesan Pita Triangles, Yogurt Fruit Shakes and Cream Cheese Filled Strawberries.
Her recipes are designed to teach children a love of the culinary arts through their own creativity. After lying down solid tips and foundations, such as the proper way to measure ingredients or how to choose the freshest produce, she encourages children to alter the recipes to cater to their own preferences.
"Recipes can be played with and altered and changed, which is perfect for this age group who is very particular about what they like," Wilton said.
Aside from the fun of learning to cook, Wilton has strong convictions about the positive impact this life skill can have on children, especially those teetering between their childhood and teenage years.
"We can instill confidence in this age group through cooking," she said. "When you cook, it is usually for other people and that builds their confidence so that they can be successful and happy adults, it's also a great way for kids to participate in family responsibilities."
Two working parents, coming home from a hectic day don't have to worry about making dinner one night, Wilton said, if their tween knows how to prepare a meal. The child benefits from the praise and the time spent around the table communicating as a family.
Her favorite recipe from the book is also one she'll be making with children at the library this week, Pizza Wontons. Made by pinching squares of pre-made wonton dough around sliced pepperoni and string cheese, this pizza treat is a favorite among her students. The recipe is versatile enough to change from pizza wontons to fruit, caramel, chocolate, or just about anything. It is a great way, Wilton said, to get that great pizza taste in a bite-sized snack and not by stuffing your face with a large slice.
"I believe this is one way we can reduce the obesity in this country," Wilton explained about teaching young people to cook for themselves. "They will prepare foods that will be smaller portion sizes than what they would get eating out and by eating at home we can control what we put in our food."
Although this is her first book, Wilton says it will not be her last. A second is currently in the works. "You're the Cook," as well as additional information is available at www.cookingwithkatie.com and several local book stores.
2 mozzarella sticks
10 thin slices pepperoni
10 round or square wonton wrappers
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 tablespoon water
Cut mozzarella stick in half lengthwise and then cut in to 1/2-inch pieces. Place the 2 tablespoons of water in a cup. Lay out 5 wonton wrappers, place a slice of pepperoni in the middle and then place two pieces of the mozzarella on top of it. Dip your finger in the water and then run your finger around the edge of the wonton wrapper. Fold the wonton wrapper over and seal the edge by pressing down with your fingers. Set aside on a plate.
Place a large non-stick frying pan over medium heat. When it is warm, add the olive oil and swirl around. Carefully place the pizza wontons in the pan, brown for about 1 minute on each side using tongs to flip them over. Remove pan from the heat, add remaining water to the pan, (be very careful because it will splatter) and quickly cover with a lid.
Let sit for 1 minute, carefully remove cover, place on a serving plate and serve with a small amount of warm pasta sauce. Eat immediately.
PULL QUOTE IF NEEDED:
Cooking With Katie's Kitchen Tip
You know how when you crack an egg, a tiny piece of the shell always manages to get into the bowl? Instead of fishing it out with your finger, dip one half of the cracked shell into the eggs. This will act like a magnet and immediately attract the broken piece.