When I was asked if I’d be interested in reviewing the recently released Hardie Grant cookbook for kids Little Kitchen, Around the World by Sabrina Parrini, I got excited! A trip around the world for young kitchen adventurers – perfect for the little girl who is just starting to become interested in a variety of different flavours and cuisines and whose kitchen skills have improved immensely over the last few months.
Ever since reviewing Hardie Grant’s Bite Sized Treats app together she has been more keen to cook on her own, so I thought the book would be a fun way to introduce savoury dishes to her already extensive cupcake repertoire.
Little Kitchen, Around the World is Sabrina’s second kids cookbook, filled with “delicious international recipes that kids can really make”. There are 36 recipes in fact, that come from all corners of the globe introducing kids to a variety of cuisines and cooking techniques in a new and exciting way – thanks too to the imaginative, fun and sometimes very quirky styling by Deborah Kaloper.
Flicking through the book we giggled at the photos of the super hero protecting the scalloped potato dish from villains, we learnt that Japan is made up of four islands and that people in the USA and Mexico celebrate the Day of the Nacho every year on 21st October. I thought that was a great and a unique feature of the book. After all learning is more fun when you’re having a good time!
We picked a couple of recipes to try, including one of Daddy’s comfort food favourites – the French onion soup. Weather in Spring, just like during Fall, tends to be temperamental so it’s always good to have a cold-spell dish up the sleeve. We have included our adaptation of the recipe below.
The Little Kitchen, Around the World cookbook is aimed at 8 – 12 year olds as this is the group that Sabrina ‘tested’ most of the recipes on in a cooking class environment. My only issue with this age bracket is the fact that, even though the recipes are graded from easy to tricky in terms of preparation difficulty, the content is definitely designed for the upper range of that age bracket. Even I have found some of the introductions and method descriptions a little lengthy at times. I understand the need for detailed information, but it may feel overwhelming and become tedious quickly, even for the most brilliant of little readers.
While I am pretty certain that for the time being I may still need to do most of the reading, prep and cooking, I think as the little girl grows older she will happily cook from the book again, with less help from the grown ups.
What we liked about the book:
- Variety of recipes from around the globe teaches about different cuisines, cultures and traditions.
- Turns cooking into a fun learning activity!
- Great photography and styling!
- Facts about some dishes and countries were presented in a fun way.
What we found a little difficult to work with:
- Introductions to some dishes and method descriptions were a little lengthy for 7-8 year olds to grasp and not get lost in.
- Relatively small font in the recipe method (due to one page size of some of them) made it easy to get lost too…
French onion soup with cheesy croutons
From Little Kitchen, Around the World by Sabrina Parrini (an SBS book, Hardie Grant 2011).
The recipe itself was easy to follow and yielded a rich, sweet soup. We followed the suggestion of asking a grown up (me) to help with the chopping. My own tip: you can blend the leftover soup, freeze it in an ice cube tray and use as gravy! Also, we used a beef-style stock to make this soup vegetarian but still yummy.
For the soup:
- 50g butter
- 1kg brown onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
- 2 thyme sprigs, leaves only
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 litre beef stock (I used Massell’s vegetarian beef-style stock)
- 1 tbsp brown sugar
- 2 tbsp Dijon mustard
For the croutons:
- 8 slices of baguette
- 3/4 cup grated cheddar cheese
To make the soup: melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion and thyme. Stir for a couple of minutes until the onion begins to soften. Cover with a lid and cook, stirring often for about 45 minutes, or until onion is soft and caramel brown in colour. Do not let the onion burn, it will taste bitter.
Add the flour and stir well. Cook for a further 2 minutes. Add stock, sugar and mustard and stir to combine. Bring to a boil then lower heat, cover partially and cook for a further 30 minutes.
To make the cheesy croutons: preheat an oven grill to medium hot. Place baguette slices on a baking tray. Sprinkle with grated cheddar cheese. Grill until the cheese has melted and starts bubbling.
To serve: divide soup between 4 bowls. Serve cheesy croutons on the side or dunked into the soup. Sprinkle with freshly ground black pepper if you like.