Monday 26 February 2018

Little kitchen helpers: get the children into the kitchen

Food should be fun, and Annabel Karmel has easy, yet delicious, dishes that kids will love making and eating — even the veggies!


Annabel Karmel

As the school holidays begin, it's a perfect opportunity to get the children into the kitchen and have some fun preparing simple yet nutritious meals.

It's rare for parents not to encounter a hostility to vegetables, but when they are wrapped up in a funny-face, mini-sized pizza, kids don't seem to notice that they are eating peppers and olives, cherry tomatoes and sweetcorn.

Many children look across longingly at their parents' curry, but find it too spicy for their young palates. This week, we feature a delicious recipe for a child-friendly curry made in a wok. For an extra touch, you can shape the jasmine rice into stars using cookie moulds. There's nothing like developing a children's culinary palate at an early age.

Our final recipe is for rice arancini, tasty little balls of fluffy rice filled with cheese. All the recipes come from a new book by Annabel Karmel, a bestselling author on cooking for children. She is an expert in devising tasty and nutritious meals for children and was awarded an MBE for her work in the field of child nutrition.

The foldover book features step-by-step photographs, which children can easily follow and parents should enjoy the end results too.

'My Favourite Recipes' by Annabel Karmel is published by Dorling Kindersley, €11.85


This mildly spicy curry is made with ingredients you can buy at your local supermarket. The apple adds a lovely sweetness to the dish. Decorate with lime slices and coriander. Serves two to four.


1 onion

1 clove of garlic

3 spring onions

1 medium apple

1 tbsp vegetable oil

1-2 tsps mild curry paste

1 tsp soy sauce

150ml/5fl oz coconut milk

1 chicken stock cube, dissolved in

150ml/5fl oz boiling water

5cm/2in piece lemongrass

2 chicken breasts, cubed

110g/4oz frozen peas

Salt and pepper

Boiled jasmine rice, sliced lime (2-3

slices) and coriander (about 4-5 leaves),

to serve


First, prepare the vegetables and fruit: peel and chop the onion and crush the garlic. Thinly slice the spring onions and the apple. Then fry the onion in oil for five to six minutes until soft.

Add the garlic and curry paste. Cook for one minute. Stir in the soy sauce, coconut milk and stock. Now add the lemongrass, chicken and apple. Bring the curry to a boil, then simmer for six to eight minutes until the chicken is cooked through.

Add the peas and spring onions and cook for one to two minutes. Season to taste with salt and pepper (the soy sauce is salty too, so be careful). To shape the jasmine rice into stars, spoon the cooked rice into moulds greased with sunflower oil. Press down the rice, then slip off the moulds.


These rice balls with melted-cheese centres are delicious. Serve with a ready-made tomato sauce or make your own (see below). Makes five balls.


1 tsp olive oil

1 tbsp diced onion

60g/2oz risotto rice

250ml/8½fl oz chicken or vegetable


3 tbsps grated Parmesan

Salt and pepper

150g/5½oz mozzarella, cut into 5 x

1½cm/¾in pieces

2 tbsps dried breadcrumbs

1 egg, beaten with a pinch of salt

Oil, for frying


Heat the oil and cook the onion for five minutes. Add the rice and stock. Simmer for 25 minutes, stirring often. Add two tablespoons of Parmesan, salt and pepper. Spread the rice on a plate to cool, then refrigerate for three hours or until firm. Then break up the rice, divide into five portions and squash into balls. Make a hole in each ball and push in a piece of mozzarella. Squidge the rice around the cheese to close up the ball. Mix the breadcrumbs with the remaining Parmesan. Dip the rice balls in the egg, then roll them in the breadcrumb mix.

When the balls are completely coated, fry them in oil for five minutes or until golden brown. For the tomato sauce Heat one tablespoon of olive oil and add one diced shallot and one crushed clove of garlic. Add 400g/14oz tin tomatoes, a teaspoon of brown sugar and one tablespoon of tomato ketchup. Cook for 15 minutes.


Everyone loves pizza, so why not have a party where the guests can design their own pizza faces. Makes four mini pizzas.


1 small or ½ medium red onion

1 tbsp olive oil

1 small clove of garlic, crushed

1 tbsp tomato purée

2 tsps tomato ketchup

2 small round pittas or 1 large pitta

60g/2oz Cheddar cheese, grated

Toppings of your choice, such as cherry

tomatoes, ham, sweetcorn, peppers


For the tomato base, chop and fry the onion in oil for five minutes. Add the garlic and cook for one minute. Then, stir in the tomato purée, ketchup and one tablespoon of hot water.

Split the pittas in half and toast lightly until crisp. Then spoon on the tomato base — spread it evenly across the pittas. Next, scatter the grated Cheddar cheese over the tomato base. Choose your favourite toppings and place on top of the cheese. Try making a pattern or a face with them.

Grill the pittas for one to two minutes, or until the cheese has melted.

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