SIDEBAR
»
S
I
D
E
B
A
R
«
Announcement: Sunday, February 14, 2021: Valentine’s Day Cookies
Feb 17th, 2021 by Alex Koster

Welcome to kidscookdinner.com, a website my brother Max and I started five years ago to share our thoughts about food and cooking and helping hungry people.  It’s also a digital cookbook for our family to make sure we remember the meals we love (as well as the ones that didn’t work out so well…)

To learn more about the website, scroll down a few posts to About KidsCookDinner.  But to see what we are cooking today, stay right here.

Since it’s Valentine’s Day, I decided to make Valentine’s Day cookies as my valentine to my family.  I used a traditional sugar cookie recipe (this one is based on Nigella Lawson’s recipe from her cookbook, Feast) and then go crazy with the frosting.

20210214_163015

Ingredients are as follows:

  • 12 ounces softened butter (unsalted if possible, if not, reduce salt by 1/2 teaspoon)
  • 1  cup sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

The first step is to make sure the butter is soft so it’s easy to cream.  If you want to take a shortcut you can microwave it, but for no more than 15 seconds.  It needs to be soft, not melted.

Then you cream the sugar into the butter and beat it till it is well blended and pale yellow.

20210214_163722

Beat the egg and the vanilla, and add to the butter mix.

20210214_163929  20210214_164036

Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt and stir with a whisk

20210214_164450

Add the dry ingredients to the butter-egg mixture and stir well. The dough will be pretty stiff and crumbly.

20210214_164514  20210214_164640

Form into two balls and flatten into discs.  Wrap in plastic and refrigerate for an hour (the dough needs to rest.)

20210214_165032  20210214_165208

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and then roll out the first ball of dough and cut your cookies out and place on greased tray (or one with a silpat).  I mainly cut out hearts but I threw in a few frogs in the valentine spirit of frogs being kissed and turning into princes.  Put the cut-out cookies in the fridge while you roll out the second disk of dough and cut shapes from that disk.

20210214_173453  20210214_171637

Bake until just light gold around the edges and let cool completely. Watch carefully so you don’t burn them!

20210214_174107

(Now the fun part).  After the cookies are cooled, get your frosting and decorations ready.  I used 2 cans of store-bought white vanilla frosting, mixing red gel color into one.  We also had assorted sprinkles and M&Ms to decorate.

20210214_194205

Max even helped frost, but I think that was mainly so he could eat the ones he over-frosted.

20210214_194651

HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAY!

20210214_202823

January 2, 2021: New Year’s Train Cake
Jan 9th, 2021 by Alex Koster

Happy New Year and welcome to kidscookdinner.com, a website my brother Max and I (Alex) started 5 years ago to post about food, kids’ cooking, and the serious issue of hunger in the world.  Unfortunately, the need for hunger relief has only gotten worse since then, so if you have time, check out Action Against Hunger’s website here.  To see what we cooked today, read on.  As I mentioned a couple of days ago, Max is pretty busy with his college applications so I have been doing most of the holiday baking.

One of our annual traditions is a holiday train cake.  The end result is cute and delicious but this does take all day to make.  Here’s a teaser photo of the end result.

20210101_151331

Here are the ingredients: the most interesting one is sour cream.  I was very skeptical about including it, but it made the cake very light and fluffy.

20201231_134018

Recipe:

  • 2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1-3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 Tbs. vanilla extract

The other key element is a train cake mold.  Mom got our mold from Williams & Sonoma maybe 8 years ago: it’s really cute with 9 cars, including an engine, coal car, and caboose.  When we were younger, we pretended it was the Polar Express.  The recipe is from W&S as well.

20201231_133622   20201231_133613

The first step is to preheat the oven and grease and flour the cake pan (this is tricky because there is so much detail, but super important, otherwise you will lose those details when you flip the cake out.  The second step is to sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and, in a separate bowl, whisk together the butter, sour cream, 4 eggs, and vanilla.

20201231_135951

Then with an electric beater (using flat beater if you have it), gradually add the dry ingredients to the butter mixture and beat on low till the dry stuff is just moistened.

20201231_140455

Scrape down the bowl and increase speed to medium for 30 seconds.  Make sure everything is combined but don’t overbeat.

20201231_140806  20201231_140757

Then per the W&S recipe you are supposed to divide the batter in half and set half of it aside.  (Then after you’ve cooked the first half of the batter, and the mold has cooled and been cleaned and greased and floured, you cook the second half of the batter.  From prior experience, we know that 9 cars are a lot of train cars to decorate so we decided to make cupcakes instead of 9 more cake cars.) Anyway, once the batter is complete, you spread it evenly in each car mold and bake 18-22 minutes (until a toothpick comes out clean).

20201231_141316

Do not, do not fill the molds all the way up as we did. The recipe says to spread the batter so it reaches the top edges of each mold with the batter a little lower in the center of the mold….that is what we tried to do (see photo below) but this is still too much batter.  We found out the hard way.

20201231_142557

As you can see, this resulted in overflowing cake cars.

20201231_145515

Fortunately, I was able to slice off the extra cake with a large bread knife (which left us with good snacks while we waited for the cake to cool).  You should let the cake cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack and then invert and let cool for at least an hour before frosting.

20201231_150634   20201231_151538

When I finally flipped the pan, I was delighted.

20201231_151600

Once the cakes were cooled, I mixed up red, green, and white frosting and got out holiday sprinkles and M&Ms. The M&M are ideal for the train wheels.

20201231_171948

Then it was frosting time.

20201231_183559  20210101_151427

And here’s the final, full train cake — it tasted great.

20201231_204051

PS: the cupcakes turned out nicely as well and were a little easier to decorate. 🙂

.20201231_145523   20201231_195218

 

 

 

December 25, 2020: Merry Christmas! Yuletide Log
Dec 26th, 2020 by Alex Koster

Merry Christmas and welcome to kidscookdinner.com, a website my brother Max and I (Alex) started in 2015 to share our love of cooking and encourage more kids to cook.   To learn more about the website, scroll down a few posts.

To see what we cooked today, stay right here.

Today, I (Alex) am doing the cooking or at least the baking.  Max is busy finishing his college applications and mom is cooking most of the other parts of Christmas dinner, so I took on the fun job of making dessert.  Yuletide Log, or Buche Noel, is our traditional Christmas dessert, and Max’s favorite, so I decided to make it.  The batter is a traditional light sponge cake but the frosting is unusual and delicious (we use a raw egg yolk!).  The first step is to make a sponge cake.

Here are the ingredients for the cake:

20201224_112836

After you butter and flour a 15 inch shallow pan, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees, you need to separate the eggs and mix 1/2 cup flour with 1 teaspoon baking powder.

20201224_114156

Next step is  beat the 4 egg yolks with 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a mixer on high speed for 5 minutes until they are a thick, lemon-colored consistency. Gradually add 1/2 cup sugar and beat till dissolved.

20201224_115623

After thoroughly cleaning the beaters, you then beat the 4 egg whites till soft peaks form.  Then add 1/3 cup sugar and beat till stiff peaks form.

20201224_120458

Gently fold the egg yolk mix into the egg white mix (I first mixed 1/2 cup of the beaten egg whites into the egg yolks to lighten them, and then folded the yolk mix into the whites mix). Once that’s combined, sprinkle the flour mix on top of the batter and again, gently fold in until just combined.

20201224_121129

Spread the batter over your buttered pan and bake for 15 minutes until just light brown and the cake springs back when you touch it.

20201224_121441

Loosen from tray immediately and place on a clean dishtowel sprinkled with powdered sugar.

20201224_123022  20201224_123219

Gently roll up in the towel, and let cool in that position.

20201224_123306

When the cake is cooled unroll from the towel, and prepare to frost!

20201224_161713

I think the frosting is the most unique thing about this cake: it’s certainly the tastiest.  Ingredients are:

  • 12 oz of semi-sweet chocolate
  • 1 cup softened butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2 teaspoons of cognac or rum (optional)
  • 1 egg yolk.

Melt the chocolate and once cooled, cream in the softened butter. Then add the vanilla and, if you choose (and the frosting is not too liquid), add the cognac or rum.  Finally, mix in the raw egg yolk.  I didn’t add the cognac because the frosting seemed liquid enough and I didn’t want to thin it out too much. If you are worried about the raw egg yolk, you can leave it out; the frosting just won’t be as rich or glossy, but it will still taste good.

Then you spread 1/3 of the frosting on the cake and roll it up.

20201224_161638

Then you frost the outside (and the ends).

20201224_162556  20201224_162546

The final step is to take the back of a fork and run lines down the frosting (to make it look like bark).  Then into the fridge the roll goes so the frosting can harden.

20201224_162848

Just before serving, I like to decorate it with holiday figures.  Although the plastic deer on top is out of proportion, it’s an important holiday feature (we have so many deer around our house that we like to include them (symbolically) in our Christmas celebration.)

20201225_195626   20201225_195908

(Here’s our friendly fawn, about 4 feet away from our house this morning, considering whether or not to eat our holly bush…seriously, that can’t taste good!)

December2020Fawn

Finally, in case you’re wondering, here’s the rest of the holiday feast prepared by mom: roast beef, Yorkshire pudding, roasted Brussel sprouts and English peas. Merry, Merry Christmas!

20201225_192355 20201225_192401 20201225_192415 20201225_192420

Saturday, December 19, 2020: Snow Ball Cookies
Dec 25th, 2020 by Alex Koster

Hi, welcome to KidsCookDinner.  To read what we’re cooking today, stay right here.  Or, to learn more about this site and how it started, scroll down.  And happy holidays!

This is Alex.  Today, in honor of the official start of winter coming up (December 21) and the huge snowstorm NYC received on Thursday, I decided to make Snow Ball cookies (also known as Russian Teacakes, Mexican Wedding Cakes or Pecan Balls.) Ingredients are straightforward: butter, powdered sugar, pecans, flour, salt, vanilla, and the recipe is surprisingly simple….just several steps.

20201219_124218

After you preheat the oven to 350 degrees, you need to chop the pecans: I decided to chop them finely because I don’t like big chunks of pecans. But that’s a personal choice.  You can also use walnuts if you prefer.

20201219_125243

You need 1 cup of chopped pecans.

20201219_130108

Next step is to cream 1 cup butter with 1/2 cup powdered sugar; once creamed, add the vanilla.

20201219_124743

The next step is to mix the flour and salt and add, along with the chopped pecans, to the butter/sugar mix.  The dough is very stiff and dry.  I used a spoon to do the final mixing.

20201219_130642   20201219_131115

Then you shape them into small balls and cook for 15 minutes, or until light gold.  You don’t want to over cook as they are pretty fragile.

20201219_131909

As soon as you remove them from the oven you roll them gently in powdered sugar and let cool.  Do be careful rolling, I pressed a little hard and the cookie exploded.  Once they are cool,  you roll them again in powdered sugar.  The recipe said this would take 1/3 cup powdered sugar but I probably used a cup (I do like sugar).  In any event, the end result was delicious.

20201219_133248  20201219_135251

 

Tuesday, December 1, 2020: GIVING DAY
Dec 1st, 2020 by Alex Koster

Today is Giving Day! Don’t forget to give to a worthy charity today, if you can. We are giving to Action Against Hunger.

20201201_102956   20201201_105424

Even loose change helps!

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).

20200918_150353

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.

20200918_151514   20200918_151633  20200918_151511

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

20200918_150942   20200918_151710

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

20200918_152337

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

20200918_172435  20200918_172745

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.

20200918_174015   20200918_175522

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

20200918_180518

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

20200918_181711

20 minutes later, I had fresh NYC bagels!

20200918_184135

 

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:

TiramisuIngredients

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

TiramisuWhipping

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

More Dunking  TiramisuDunking

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.

TiramisuLayer1   TIramisLayer2

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

FINAL FINAL Tiramsu

 

Delicious!

Saturday, July 18, 2020: Sous Vide Steaks with Chimichurri and Chopped Salad
Aug 3rd, 2020 by Alex Koster

Welcome to kidscookdinner.com! Today I (Alex) wanted to experiment with Sous Vide.  I took an online class with the Institute of Culinary Education at noon that demonstrated how to make a variety of dishes using Sous Vide and decided to try their strip steak recipe.

The first step was to cook a head of garlic (to be used in flavoring the steak).  Apparently, if you use raw garlic as a flavor element in Sous Vide, it can taste a little bitter but cooked garlic is fine and pretty easy to do: cut off the tops of the cloves in a head, wrap in foil and cook in 340-degree oven for 30 minutes.  Then you squeeze the soft cloves out of the head.

20200718_134520   20200718_142035

Next step was to sear the steaks (after salt and peppering them well). ICE recommends searing both before and after the sous vide cooking process because if you only do it after, by the time you have gotten the steaks appropriately brown, you will have overcooked them.

20200718_161914  20200718_162010  20200718_162200

Meanwhile, the water is heating up to precisely 57 degrees Celsius.

20200718_163348

Then the steaks go into plastic bags to be vacuumed sealed and placed into the water.  Per the ICE recipe I put one clove of cooked garlic and 1 sprig of thyme in with the steak.  They recommend that the flavor elements not touch the steak because they may get embedded into it.

20200718_164019 20200718_171256

Meanwhile, while the steaks cooked, I made a quick chimichurri sauce: chopped garlic, parsley, basil, and olive oil; prepped potatoes for baking; and chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, and avocado for a simple salad.

20200718_155452  20200718_161113 20200718_161232

After 2 hours, I removed the steaks from the water bath, one by one, patted them dry, and seared them briefly one more time to remove any moisture.

20200718_195446   20200718_200419

Then everything went on the table and I plated up dinner. The steaks were perfectly, evenly, cooked inside. Yum.

20200718_200553  20200718_200557

20200718_201159

Saturday July 4, 2020: Homemade Hostess Cupcakes
Jul 19th, 2020 by Alex Koster

Welcome to kidscookdinner.com.  To learn more about how this website started, scroll down a few posts.  Otherwise, just to read about what my brother and I are cooking, stay right here. To celebrate the 4th of July, I (Alex) decided to make an All-American favorite: Hostess Cupcakes.  The recipe is pretty easy, but there are a lot of steps so it takes some time because you have to: (1) make the cupcakes; (2) make the filling; and (3) finally make the frosting.  The most important ingredient that you might not have on hand is marshmallow fluff and the most important tool is a cake decorating kit.  We didn’t have any of our cake decorating tips (or piping bags) so we had to improvise a bit, as you will see.

The Cupcakes: the first step is to make the chocolate cupcakes.  You combine flour, cocoa powder, sugar, baking powder and then separate two eggs and then whip them.

20200706_135425

20200706_140419

Then it’s time to combine the egg yolks and the dry ingredients.

20200706_140556

Meanwhile, you beat the egg whites and gently fold them into the chocolate batter.

20200706_142153

Then it’s time to divide into 12 cupcakes.  Max gave me an assist on this.

20200706_142828

Then into a preheated 350 degree oven for about 15 minutes.

.20200706_143509

20200706_145734

The Filling: while the cupcakes are cooling (they need to cool completely), you make the filling: this is easy: just combine marshmallow fluff, powdered sugar, butter and a little cream.  Then you are supposed to use a cake decorating tip and piping bag to in pipe the filling directly into the cupcakes.  We didn’t have a good cake decorating tip (just a very small one) and no piping bags, so this was kind of a disaster.  We couldn’t get the filling to go into the cupcakes (and the plastic bags we tried to use kept bursting).  Ultimate we sliced the cupcakes horizontally and filled them that way. (It was so messy, we couldn’t take photos)

The Frosting: for the frosting you combine heavy cream, chopped bitter sweet chocolate and butter to make a ganache.  (Frankly, I think it was a little to bitter so next time I am going to do 1/2 bitter sweet and 1/2 semi-sweet.)

20200706_175233

20200706_175848

Then you are supposed to dip the cupcakes in the bowl of frosting, but we really couldn’t do that because we had split them in half so we just frosted them normally.

20200706_203646  20200706_203651

The final touch is the fine, squiggly line across the top.  That was impossible without cake decorating tools so we improvised again by putting a circle of white frosting (the filling) on top.  Slightly unorthodox, but still delicious!

20200706_203601

 

Monday, June 15, 2020: Sweet Cream Ice Cream (to go with Strawberry Pie)
Jun 21st, 2020 by Alex Koster

Welcome to kidscookdinner.com.  Scroll down a few posts to learn more about the website my brother and I started in 2015, or, to see what we’re cooking right now, just keep reading Today Max was focusing on making fresh strawberry pie so I decided to make Sweet Cream Ice Cream to go along with it.  Sweet Cream Ice Cream is vanilla ice cream without vanilla….tastes like frozen whipped cream, but with a better consistency.  Ingredients are very simple: egg yolks, sugar, cream and milk.

SweetCreamIngredients

First step is to separate the yolks from the whites and whisk them.

SweetCreamEggs  SweetCreamWhisking

Then combine the yolks with sugar:

SweetCreamEggs.Sugar

Meanwhile heat whole milk and cream until almost boiling (little bubbles should be forming around the edges):

SweetCreamCream

Then you have to combine the yolk/sugar mix with the hot cream/milk mix.

SweetCreamTempering

You do this by adding about a cup of the hot cream to the yolk mix while whisking.  This brings the temperature of the egg yolks up without scrambling them.  Then you add the yolk mix to the hot cream, again whisking all the time.  After that you let it cool for a couple of hours.

SweetCreambatter

Fast forward several hours, and we’re ready to make the ice cream.  Pour it in the mixer, put the lid on and wait about 25 minutes.

20200615_195708  20200615_195719

When it starts to firm, test it, and if a good consistency…ENJOY.  I think it’s better eaten with something (like strawberry pie, oreos….to add more flavor.)

20200615_201435

20200615_203516

I

 

»  Substance:WordPress   »  Style:Ahren Ahimsa