Good Food Blog
How to cook with kids - the barbecuePosted at 4:20PM, 10 August 2011 by Nick Coffer - Food writer
It may seem odd to talk about barbecues in the context of cooking with kids but I absolutely love doing barbecues with Archie. Don't get me wrong, he is not with me, slaving over hot (and dangerous) coals. He can barely see over the top of the barbecue for starters. But barbecue preparation is the perfect time to have fun in the kitchen with kids.
My finest marinades are made with Archie throwing whatever liquid ingredients he can find into a bowl.
It involves no hob or oven heat and there is endless scope for mixing, splashing and "shmooshing" (Archie's word). In fact, many of my finest marinades are made with Archie throwing whatever liquid ingredients he can find into a bowl. Try it; you will be surprised how it always works!
I am an erratic barbecuer - World Champion one week, Burn Master the next. That's why I love foolproof barbecue recipes - easy to make, even easier to cook. These lovely stuffed peppers are quick and simple to put together and, as the cooking involves nothing more complicated than laying them on the barbecue until the cheese melts, as failsafe as a barbecue recipe can be.
Basic knife skills
First the cheese needed to be sliced and the olives finely chopped. Here are two ingredients ideal for teaching kids basic knife skills. Mozzarella is solid but soft, so it's easy for a child to slice safely with a simple knife. The same goes for olives. Archie loved hacking away at them (while eating them at the same time), although I did have to finish off chopping them to avoid big chunks making it into our finished peppers.
Build the boat
Recipes that involve fun assembly are perfect for cooking with kids. Archie convinced himself the red pepper halves were boat hulls, which needed to be filled and built. I like to think of cooking as arts and crafts in the kitchen (with added mess factor) and this recipe fits perfectly into that category.
Archie loves using pastry brushes and diligently brushed the peppers with olive oil, before carefully "building the boats". Most of the olives and garlic went into the first pepper half, necessitating a slight reorganisation for the remaining three halves. We got there in the end, although my stuffed pepper did taste disproportionately garlicky (blame the sous chef!).
Well, I didn't burn them so that clearly ranks as a successful recipe for me. In all seriousness, they were delicious. The addition of the olives, garlic and oregano really lifted the mozzarella and worked beautifully with the sweetness of the red peppers. They made a refreshing change from the usual barbecue accompaniment fare, such as vegetable skewers or potato salads. I am going to make these again, in the oven next time, and sprinkle some finely chopped streaky bacon on top too.
This was one of those lucky recipes which contained lots of things Archie really likes in their own right. He loved assembling the peppers and clearly enjoyed eating them too. "It's like pizza, but not quite like pizza Daddy," he said. I couldn't have put it better myself...