The Busy Kitchen: 'Tis the season for cooking, giving
BY CHEF TIFFANY POE The Busy Kitchen
Monday, December 03, 2012
12/03/12 at 3:57 AM
The Busy Kitchen is a Monday column written by two area chefs - Tiffany Poe and Valarie Carter - who also happen to be mothers of young children. They explore nutrition, cooking for kids and more.
The smells of turkey and dressing have vanished. The pumpkins have been roasted or thrown away. The taste of sweet potatoes and giblet gravy are but a faint memory of the past. It's time for Christmas!
For me, getting ready for Christmas starts the day after Thanksgiving and lasts until Christmas day. From decorating the Christmas tree to wrapping garland around my staircase, I love surrounding myself with the colors and images of this joyful season.
Christmas is also a time to engage all the senses.
Maybe for you it's seeing all the beautiful lights that get you in the cheery mood for giving and sharing.
For others it might be tasting the first smooth cup of eggnog or spoonful of peppermint ice cream. Or maybe it's the smells of mulled apple cider or the sound of ringing bells.
I like to get my kids in the spirit of giving by getting them busy in the kitchen.
Making home-made gifts for them to give away is a great way to get their senses fully engaged and teach them about the real reason for the season.
I also like to take my kids through a brief "sensory" tour as we work in the kitchen.
The sounds, smells, tastes, textures and sights of a holiday kitchen can be enough to inspire any young chef. Point out colors, shapes and aromas while you cook. Have kids taste ingredients and ask them questions about what you are doing and why. It can spark a new creative process for them and leave them hungry for more culinary time with you.
And giving home-made culinary treats is a great way for your kids to create amazing holiday memories in the kitchen while experiencing the joy of sharing the fruits of their labor.
My three favorite holiday gift recipes pack all the color, flavor, fun and festivities of the holiday season into an easy to follow and "kid engaging" plan for creating great holiday sensory memories.
All of these recipes are great for making ahead and are gluten and peanut free to keep everyone on your gift list happy and safe.
EASY CREME OF COCONUT TRUFFLES
This tropical treat is a great way to mentally escape the cold weather outside and imagine you are in a hammock on the beach somewhere in Tahiti! It's also a great way to create truffles without dairy.
Note: Some chocolate chips have milk fat in them. Read the labels for dairy-free chocolate chips.
Makes 40-50 small truffles
1 (15-ounce) can creme of coconut
1 (24-ounce) bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
1-2 cups flaked coconut
1 cup cocoa powder
1. Over a double-boiler melt the chocolate and creme of coconut together. Refrigerate for about an hour, until mixture is firm and set.
2. Using a small scoop, portion truffle size balls onto wax or parchment paper. Use your hands to roll the balls into perfect spheres and you want them a little sticky.
3. Roll half the truffles in cocoa powder and half in flaked coconut. Refrigerate again and portion into boxes or bags for giving.
Kid tip: I let my kids do the scooping and rolling. Feel free to select other fun holiday garnishes to roll your truffles in.
My Dried Cherry and Pistachio Bark with Chinese Five Spice is a unique and flavor-filled treat that combines the traditional colors of Christmas with the exotic smells of Asia. It's easy to make and fun to taste the different flavors and textures.
DRIED CHERRY AND PISTACHIO BARK WITH CHINESE FIVE SPICE
Makes 6 3- to 4-ounce portions
1 cup dried cherries, chopped finely
1 cup pistachios, chopped finely
1/2 teaspoon Chinese Five Spice
2 (12-ounce) bags white chocolate chips
2 (12-ounce) bags semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. In a double-boiler melt 2 bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Using a cookie sheet or half sheet pan spread the melted chocolate over the pan and use an off-set spatula to spread the chocolate evenly. Allow to set-up either in refrigerator or at room temperature until firm.
2. In a small bowl, combine chopped cherries, pistachios and five spice together and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
3. In a separate bowl over a double-boiler melt 2 bags of white chocolate chips. Once semi-sweet chocolate has set spread melted white chocolate over the top and use off-set spatula to spread evenly.
4. While white chocolate is still soft, sprinkle the spiced cherries and pistachios over the top evenly.
5. Allow to harden at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours or until set and hard. After bark has cooled, break slab into wedges and wrap in gift bags or boxes.
Kid tip: My kids love using off-set spatulas. I also let them do the sprinkling and packaging.
This colorful and hands-on kid's treat is a crowd-pleaser for adults, as well. It's an all-around snack classic with a colorful candy cane confetti garnish that makes a beautiful gift.
KRISTMAS KONFETTI KRISPY BARS
Makes 3 dozen bars
3 tablespoons organic butter
1 (10-ounce) bag mini marshmallows (about 4 cups)
6 cups Rice Krispies
1 package candy canes (different colors if you like)
1 package Andes mints
1 (12-ounce) bag chocolate chips
1 (12-ounce) bag white chips
1. In a medium pan melt the butter over low heat. Add marshmallows and stir until completely melted. Remove from heat.
2. Add cereal and stir until well coated.
3. Using a buttered spatula and wax paper evenly press mixture into a 13-by-9-by-2 inch pan coated with butter.
4. Cool and cut into 1 by 2 1/2 inch rectangles.
5. Melt some white and dark chocolate separately in double boilers or in the microwave.
6. Using a plastic bag and rolling pin, break up the candy canes and set them aside in a bowl or plate. Unwrap and cut the Andes mints into small pieces and set aside in bowl or plate.
7. Dip half of the sticks into the chocolate and roll in your choice of candy to coat. Allow bars to set-up on a piece of wax or parchment paper.
8. Package in decorative boxes or bags.
Original Print Headline: 'Tis the season for cooking, giving
Chef Tiffany Poe, a graduate of The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, N.Y., owns Tiffany Poe Culinary Services, a consulting, food styling and corporate coaching company. She and her husband have three small children and own The Grandview Inn, a historic bed and breakfast near the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve in Pawhuska. Find more of her recipes and step-by-step instructions for her Tulsa World recipes on her blog, tulsaworld.com/gastronomymommy