During lockdown there was a definite push to use that time at home with your kids wisely and try to teach them some of those lifeskill that you might not normally have time to work on. Many families used that time to cook together and I think it’s vital that we ensure that such skills aren’t forgotten when (or should that be if?) kids return to school. That’s where Chef Junior comes in.
Containing 100 recipes that were all written by children aged 11 to 14, this is the perfect book to appeal to children who want to get busy in the kitchen, making the kind of food that they want to eat.
With the authors all hailing from North America, there is a definite American twist to many of the recipes, as well as standards like Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Burgers. Some of them may sound a little strange to us – Pizza Cauliflower soup has Little Miss C howling with laughter – but actually all of them look delicious in the accompanying photographs.
Recipes in the book are split as follows:
and each recipe is graded from Easy to Advanced so that you can see the skill level required to make it.
Background food and cooking tips
Before launching into the recipes the book has several introductory sections that cover things like Real Food, How to Use the Equipment in this Book, Using Knives Safely and How to Substitute Ingredients to Make Recipes Allergy-Friendly. Whilst the latter three sections make sense wherever in the world you are (possibly with a few names changed) the Real Food section is very North America specific. Rules around food labelling for instance are definitely different here in the UK and some of the advice given (for instance about using Price Look-Up Sticker codes to work out whether something is organic or not) simply doesn’t apply here.
When talking about organic food the book mentions about The Dirty Dozen and The Clean Fifteen as guides for fruit and veg that you should only ever buy organic as they are most likely to be contaminated with large amounts of pesticides, or ones that are most safe to eat when not organic. These aren’t terms I’ve ever come across in the UK before but a bit of research suggests that whilst they are US lists (and our farming methods are different) it is suggested that these fruit and veg are most susceptible to contamination regardless of the methods used.
Clear instructions and easy to follow recipes
The book as a whole features some really good clear instructions for children to follow. There are also extra useful hints like details on how to safely cut, peel, slice or scoop out an avocado. With the book being aimed at children it doesn’t assume loads of cookery knowledge or experience. That’s something I often find can be the stumbling block when you let a child loose with some adult cook books. I also like the really clear way that for each recipe it tells you both the active time and the total time for the recipe. It’s something that I think should be in all cook books.
I’m also pleased to report that the book contains some clear metric conversion charts at the back, which are necessary when you have American recipes measuring things in Cups. There’s also a short section on meal planning which after lockdown has to be one of my most detested jobs. Any book that can help children realise what there parents have been going through for all these years when it comes to meal planning is a wonderful thing.
So far we’ve only had time to try out the pizza recipe in the book, but it was a huge success and I for one am eyeing up the Cheeseburger Casserole and Banana Bread recipes. I’ll let you know how I get on.
Buying Chef Junior
Chef Junior is published in September 2020 by Sterling Epicure. Hardback RRP £16.99 ISBN 9781454933618 It can be purchased online *here.
Disclaimer: We were sent a copy of Chef Junior for the purposes of this review. All opinions remain my own. Any links marked * are affiliate links and if you make a purchase through them I receive a small commission whilst it costs you no more than if you’d gone to the site on your own. Thank you for any purchases you do make.