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Announcement: Monday, November 23: Easy Weeknight Dinner? Rack of Lamb
Nov 26th, 2020 by Max Koster

Welcome to kidscookdinner.com, a website I started with my sister in 2015 to document what we were cooking (or trying to cook ) and to encourage more kids to cook.  For more about the website, scroll down. For what we most recently cooked, stay right here.

Tonight I made a surprisingly quick and easy dinner: rack of lamb.  The only thing you have to remember is to marinate the lamb at least 2 hours before you cook it.  And your marinade can be as simple as olive oil, chopped garlic, and salt and pepper.  We happen to have rosemary and thyme in our garden (which Koko helped find) and that made the marinade even better.

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Here’s the ingredients I used:

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The rack of lamb was frenched, which means the meat and fat were removed from the ends of the ribs. The first step of making the marinade was stripping the rosemary leaves and thyme leaves from their stems.

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Then it was time to chop up the herbs.

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After that, I chopped up the garlic and added olive oil.  I spread the mix over the rack of lamb and put it in a plastic bag for 2 hours.

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After letting the lamb marinate for 2 hours, I preheated the oven to 450 degrees.  I removed the rack from the bag and wrapped each rib bone in aluminum foil to keep them from getting burnt (honestly, this was the trickiest part of the dish).  Then it was into the oven in a foil-lined pan for 15 minutes.  After 15 minutes, the lamb was nicely browned so I reduced the heat to 300 degrees for 20 minutes. I took it out and let it stand for 5 minutes.  The meat was perfectly medium-rare.

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We ate it with couscous and a spinach salad.

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Delicious!

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Announcement: Wednesday, November 11, 2020: Coconut-Curry Shrimp and Couscous
Nov 18th, 2020 by Max Koster

Welcome to kidscookdinner.com, a website I started with my sister in 2015 to document our food adventures and encourage kids to cook.   For tonight’s menu, stay right here.

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Tonight I wanted to cook something new but also needed it to be something that didn’t take a long time since I have a lot of homework (and college applications).  My mom suggested I try this shrimp curry recipe, which, because it has shrimp and couscous (two quick-cooking ingredients), wouldn’t take too long.  She was right: it was quick and easy. Ingredients are as follows: 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 medium oil, three tablespoons red curry paste, 1 can coconut milk, 1 pound small tomatoes, 1-1/4 cup couscous, 1 cup frozen peas, 1 pound large peeled shrimp, and salt and pepper.

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The first step was to slice the onion thinly and cut the tomatoes in half.

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(I also chopped up some veggies for separate stir fry) but that was easy.

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The next step was to saute the onions in the olive oil with a little salt.

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When the onions were translucent, I added the red curry paste, the coconut milk, and a cup of water.  I brought that to a boil and added the sliced tomatoes.

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After 3 minutes, I reduced the heat to low, added the couscous and frozen peas.

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Finally, I layered the shrimp on top, covered the pan, and cooked for 5 minutes.  All of the liquid was absorbed, but when I tested the couscous, it was a little crunchy, so I added a 1/4 cup of water and let cook for 3 more minutes.  One tip for cooking the shrimp: besides peeling them, take off the tail.  No one wants to bite into the tail.

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Then I plated it. Delicious.  Just needed a little salt and pepper.

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Announcement: About Kids Cook Dinner and Max and Alex’s Adventures on Chopped Junior
Sep 29th, 2017 by Katekoster

Welcome to kidscookdinner.com: a website/blog dedicated to kids cooking (usually dinner, but not always) and also to draw attention to the fact that a lot of people don’t have enough to eat.   And thanks for all of you who watched us compete on Chopped Junior on Food Network which first aired on Tuesday, October 3rd, 2017, and then still occasionally reruns.   We were thrilled to compete to raise awareness (and hopefully money) for Action Against Hunger, an international hunger relief charity that we have supported since we first won a prize for our website domain name: kidscookdinner.com.  If you want to find out more about Action Against Hunger or donate to this charity, please click HERE.  But if you just want to see what we cooked this week or other weeks, just scroll up or down! 

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Dinner in 2015

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Dinner in 2020

As you may know, we (Max and Alex…the kids) started cooking dinner for our family once a week back in 2015.  We realized how fun it was to cook and we wanted to share our experiences (and encourage kids to cook), so we started this website.  We also randomly entered the website in a national domain name contest.  Amazingly enough, we won the contest and $35,000!  Click here for more about the story of our domain name.

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But because we have plenty to eat, and millions of people around the world don’t, we donated half of our prize ($17,000) to Action Against Hunger–a charity dedicated to saving the lives of malnourished children and helping vulnerable communities become self-sufficient. We were lucky enough to get to visit the Action Against Hunger office in New York and meet some of their amazing staff. (Below we are sitting with Alex Cottin, Director of External Affairs, and Andrea Tamburini, CEO of AAH-USA, in August 2015)

Max and Alex with Alex Cottin, Director of External Affairs and Andrea Tamburini, CEO, of AAH-USA

We hope you enjoyed watching us compete on Chopped Junior and we hope you are inspired to cook more.  Let’s all try to take the time to enjoy what we cook together. And, at least for our family, let’s be thankful for what we have and try to help those in need.

 

Sunday, October 24, 2020: Braised Lamb Shanks
Nov 3rd, 2020 by Max Koster

Welcome to kidscookdinner.com, a site my sister and I started more than 5 years ago.   As the weather turns colder, I felt like something hearty and comforting for Sunday dinner so I turned to one of our favorite family dishes: Braised Lamb Shanks.  I make this the day before I want to eat it so the flavors really combine (and so it’s easy to skim the solidified fat off the top).  Ingredients are straightforward: lamb shanks, carrots, onions, garlic, chopped tomatoes, red wine, broth, and cannellini beans, and I serve it over couscous.

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The first step is to really salt and pepper the lamb, and then brown it all over in a saucepan with a little olive oil.  Once the lamb shanks were browned, I put them in our slow cooker.

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Meanwhile, the onions, carrots and garlic had to be chopped.

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Then I sauteed the onions and carrots sauteed in the same saucepan in which I had cooked the meat.  Once they were softened and browned I added them to the slow cooker.

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Then I added the wine, broth and tomatoes to the slow cooker and turned it on high for 6 hours.

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This is what it looked like 6 hours later; the lamb was falling off the bone:

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And this is what it looked like the next morning (with the oil and fat solidified).

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I spooned most of the yellow stuff (fat) off, and about an hour before we were going to eat, reheated it on a low temperature.  I usually add the canned white beans at this point but forgot this time.  It still tasted great!

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Final product.

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Saturday October 3, 2020: Pork Buns (Char Siu Bao) on an unSATisfactory day.
Oct 13th, 2020 by Max Koster

Today I (Max) woke up early to take my SAT Subject tests in Chemistry and Math 2.  After studying for weeks, I was eager to get them done and had chosen a test site in New Jersey that seemed certain to stay open.  (All the ones in New York City were closed or closing.) I checked the testing site the night before and again as soon as I woke up, and it was still open.  Unfortunately, when I arrived at the site, the sign below was on the door…no explanation, no human to explain, just a lot of frustrated high school students!

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Once I got home and took a nap, I decided to make the most of the unSATisfactory day by making pork buns.  We still had a lot of leftover pork from the Bo Ssam I made last week, so this seemed a good way to use it up.

The first step was to make the yeast dough for the buns. Ingredients were flour, yeast, neutral oil (canola or grapeseed), sugar, water, and a little salt.

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I proofed the yeast by adding it to water and sugar and then combined it with the flour, adding oil at the end. Then I kneaded it and put the dough in a bowl to rise to double its size (about an hour supposedly).

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The next step was to make the filling.  Ingredients were: pork, scallions, ginger, garlic, rice wine vinegar, honey, soy sauce, and hoisin sauce.

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The recipe said to use a pork tenderloin, cook it and then combine with the other ingredients. But since we had all this leftover Bo Ssam pork, I decided to use that instead.  I just needed to chop it up.  The scallions, garlic, and ginger also needed to be chopped and Alex helped out with that.

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When everything was chopped, I combined it all in a big bowl, added in the vinegar, honey, and hoisin sauce, and mixed well.

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Then I let the filling marinate in the fridge until the dough had risen enough.  Once it doubled in size, I punched it down and divided it into 8 pieces.

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Then I shaped each piece into a ball and rolled it out flat to at least a 5-inch diameter (I even used a ruler to make sure!). Each round got a dollop of filling in the center.

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The next step was the hardest: shaping the pork buns by folding the top inward. That took a while, but eventually, I got all 8 done.

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Then I steamed them two at a time in a double boiler (over parchment paper and with a towel on the lid on top to prevent condensation).

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After 15 minutes, I took them out, cut them in half, and devoured!  Tasted great but next time I need to put in double the filling.  Just a little too much dough to meat for me.

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Sunday, September 27, 2020: Bo Ssam!
Oct 5th, 2020 by Max Koster

Today I (Max) wanted to use the Insta-Pot I got mom from Christmas (that she rarely uses) to cook something I’ve never cooked or eaten: Bo Saam (Korean marinated and roasted pork shoulder).  Relying on Melissa Clark’s recipe in Comfort in an Instant (which is based on a dish from Chef David Chang’s restaurant, Momofuko ), I bought the ingredients on Saturday and prepared myself for a big day of cooking on Sunday.  For the pork, only 4 ingredients are needed salt, sugar, 8 pounds of bone-in pork shoulder, and dark brown sugar.  Melissa Clark recommended serving it with a ginger scallion sauce, so for that you need: scallions, fresh ginger, neutral oil, soy sauce, sherry vinegar, and kosher salt (optional…ended up not needing it).

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First step was to make a salt/sugar mix and rub it all over the pork, and then let marinate in the fridge for at least 6 hours.  Getting up early Sunday was hard, but ultimately worth it.

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I am glad I had gloves.  The salt and sugar started to soak into the pork immediately.

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After 7 hours, it was time to put in the Insta-Pot.  As you can see below, after all that time, there is no evidence of the salt or sugar: it has all been absorbed.

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I placed the pork shoulder on a rack in the Insta-Pot with 1/2 cup water below.  It needed to pressure-cook for 110 minutes, but the maximum our pot goes is to 99 minutes…so that’s what I used.

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After 99 minutes was up, I set it for another 11 minutes of high-pressure cooking and started making the ginger-scallion sauce.  I chopped scallions and ginger and mixed them with the oil/soy sauce/sherry vinegar combo.  Salt was an option ingredient that I didn’t need: the soy sauce gave it plenty of salt.

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When the 110 total minutes was up, I tested the pork with a fork: it was supposed to be very tender but I thought it wasn’t quite tender enough, so I set it for another 10 minutes of high pressure. When that time was up, I removed the pork and rubbed it all over with brown sugar mixed with salt.

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After that it was under the broiler for about 7 minutes till the sugar carmelized and the skin was crispy.

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Voila!  We ate it with rice, the ginger-scallion sauce and stir fried vegetables.  Delicious.

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Friday, September 18, 2020: Homemade Bagels
Sep 28th, 2020 by Alex Koster

Welcome to KidsCookDinner.com.  To learn more about our website and how my brother Max and I started cooking, scroll down a few posts.  To find out what I (Alex) am cooking, please stay right here.

Today I felt like New York bagels but we are not in NYC so I decided to make my own.  Ingredients are pretty simple: flour, water, yeast, salt, sugar, and luckily we had some good toppings in the cupboard (sesame seeds and Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel mix).

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The process isn’t difficult but there are quite a few steps.  The first one was to proof the yeast by combining it with warm water and sugar.  This usually takes about 5 minutes, so while that was going on, I combined the flour and salt and made a well for the yeast mixture.

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Once the 5 minutes as up and the yeast was activated, I poured it into the dry mix.

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Then I had to mix everything together and knead the dough for 10 minutes.  It was very stiff: I got a good arm workout!

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After that, I let the dough rise till it doubled (about an hour) and then punched it down.  That was satisfying.

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Then I split the dough into 8 pieces, rolled each one into a ball, and then made a hole in the center of each ball to make the bagel shape.

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The next step was weird but apparently essential: I cooked each bagel in boiling water for 1 minute each side.

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After that, it was time to top them (with sesame or everything bagel mix) and put in the oven to bake.

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20 minutes later, I had fresh NYC bagels!

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Saturday, September 6, 2020: Roast Chicken with Homegrown Mashed Potatoes
Sep 20th, 2020 by Max Koster

Tonight Alex and I wanted to try to recreate one of our favorite meals from Trader Joes: Lemon-Rosemary Marinated Chicken and finally cook the potatoes from our garden (we also harvested rosemary from the garden for the chicken).  Ingredients are simple: for the chicken, you need: melted butter, rosemary and lemon; for the potatoes, add butter and milk (or cream if you have it.)

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First step was to wash the chicken and make sure there was nothing in there (sometimes giblets/livers are in there) so after I got the chicken out of its plastic covering…harder than it looks, I put on my gloves to clean and wash the chicken.  (And there were giblets in there…took those out). Not a fan.

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Then it was time to chop the rosemary, melt the butter, squeeze lemon into the butter and add salt and pepper. Alex helped out with the lemon and finishing up the basting sauce.

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Then it was time to baste the chicken all over with the lemon-rosemary-butter mix.  Alex handled that while I started peeling potatoes.

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We both ended up peeling the potatoes, and then put them in a pot of water to wait to cook.  The chicken had to cook for at least an hour so we didn’t want to start them to early.

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After the chicken had cooked 30 minutes, we started the potatoes and when they were fork tender, I started to mash them, with butter, salt, pepper and cream.

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After about an hour, the chicken was done so we served it up with the mashed potatoes. Mom made a quick arugula tomato salad with tomatoes and avocado to round out the plate.

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Everything was delicious, however, I think we should have marinated the chicken in olive oil, rosemary, and lemon before we cooked it.  Our version tasted good but didn’t have quite the same flavor as Trader Joes.

 

August 24, 2020: Tiramisu!
Sep 9th, 2020 by Alex Koster

Today I (Alex) woke up with a yearning for tiramisu.  I convinced Max that we needed to make it and then convinced my mom to drive to the closest grocery store to get the ingredients.   Tiramisu is a coffee-flavored dessert made up of ladyfingers dipped in coffee with layers of a whipped mixture of cream, vanilla, sugar, and mascarpone cheese, with cocoa powder sprinkled on top.  (Ladyfingers and mascarpone cheese are not something we usually have in our pantry, so that’s why I needed mom’s help.)  Here are the ingredients:

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So the first step was to whip the cream, sugar, and mascarpone cheese together.

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The next step was to soak the ladyfingers in coffee (the recipe called for coffee and coffee liqueur, but my mom nixed the liqueur.)

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Then it was time to layer: first the soaked ladyfingers, then the whipped mix, then ladyfingers, then whipped mix, and then, finally cocoa powder on top.

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Then we had to let it sit for four hours. (Are you kidding me?) we definitely cut that timeline short to try it.

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Delicious!

August 10, 2020: More Homegrown Treats: Simple Bruschetta, Zucchini Taste Test
Aug 21st, 2020 by Max Koster

Welcome to kidscookdinner.com.  We have been focusing on food from our garden–like many of you we have a lot of tomatoes and a lot of zucchini.  Today I am trying to use up some tomatoes: by making a quick batch of bruschetta.  This is easy because you don’t have to chop anything.  You just need tomatoes, olive oil, a clove of garlic, basil and some crusty bread.  The tomatoes and basil came from our garden.   We also grew some very light colored zucchini so we did a taste test against our usual dark green version.

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First step for the bruschetta: grate the tomato using the box grater:

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Once you have a good amount of grated tomato, add a little olive oil and salt and pepper.  Then slice the bread and put it in the toaster.

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Once the bread is toasted, cut the clove of garlic in half and rub the cut side on the toasted bread.

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Then spoon the tomato-olive oil mix over the bread and add some basil leaves

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Finally, time to taste!

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For the zucchini taste test, I decided to slice and roast the two squashes.

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(There was extra room in the pan so I added some tomatoes and mushrooms.) Once everything was roasted, I tasted the squash (and served the other roasted vegetables with cheese ravioli).  Honestly, I didn’t like the light green squash….it was almost tasteless but good to know.

 

 

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