Every once in a while a cookbook comes along that ticks all of the boxes – simple, delicious, clearly written recipes, a comprehensive list of required pantry items, tools, and equipment, charming tips and information in the sidebars, and gorgeous photography. To that mix, add a book that is written with the intent to involve children in the kitchen and you have In The French Kitchen With Kids by Mardi Michels.
Mardi Michels is a food writer, blogger, and elementary school French teacher. Born and raised in Australia, Michels, who now lives in Toronto, lived in France for a few years while in her late 20s: She currently owns a rental property in the South of France. I think it’s safe to say she knows French food.
In The French Kitchen With Kids is laid out in a very straightforward manner – an introduction, top 5 tips when planning to cook with children, French pantry staples and required equipment (all of which I own except heart shaped porcelain molds and a blowtorch), breakfast, lunch, after-school snacks, dinner, and special occasion recipes.
While reading the foreword, written by Dorie Greenspan, followed by Michels’ own introduction, I had chills. As the mother of a toddler, the entire philosophy of teaching and preparing children to cook for themselves struck close to home for me.
I baked Michel’s Mini Jam Tarts (pictured above) and they were terrific. A base of Michel’s sweet shortcrust pastry filled with jam of choice, the crust turned golden and crisp in exactly 20 minutes, as stated in the recipe. The crust wasn’t too sweet, as some shortcrust can be, which left room for the strawberry jam to shine. The mini jam tarts came together quickly and were oh so pretty! I’ll be making them with my daughter for sure.
My partner Chris, who has little to no experience in the kitchen, made Michel’s recipe for Mr. Neil’s Roasted Chicken with zero help from me. He pulled that crispy golden bird out of the oven, after an hour spent basting with butter, garlic, and herbs, with a look of unforgettable pride on his face. Based on that experience I’d say In The French Kitchen With Kids could also a great book for inexperienced adults keen to try cooking and baking.
Though my daughter is only two years old, we made Michel’s recipe for financiers (below) together with relative ease. She added the dry ingredients I’d measured to our mixing bowl, whisked them by hand, then poked raspberry halves into the batter before the tray went in the oven. She and I loved the financiers and I’d make them again in a heartbeat.
I know it can be hard to trust cookbook reviews, especially when the person writing the review has been sent a complimentary copy of the book from the publisher, however, I really, truly mean it when I say – In The French Kitchen With Kids is a charming, well-written book, and most importantly, the three recipes we tried worked perfectly! I can’t wait to try more recipes from this book!
- Unsalted butter, for greasing the pan
- ½ cup (113 g) unsalted butter
- 4 large egg whites
- ¾ cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (50 g) almond meal
- ⅓ cup (50 g) all-purpose flour
- ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
- Icing sugar, for sprinkling
- Preheat the oven to 400˚F (200˚C). If you are using a nonstick mini muffin pan you may not need to butter them, but otherwise generously butter the cups of the pan.
- Melt the butter either in a small pot on the stovetop over medium
- heat or in a microwave-safe bowl in the microwave for about 1 minute. Set aside to cool.
- Beat the egg whites until frothy with handheld electric beaters on
- high speed, 1 to 2 minutes.
- In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, almond meal, flour and salt.
- Add the dry ingredients to the wet and fold them in gently with a rubber spatula until just combined.
- Add the cooled, melted butter to the batter and use a rubber spatula
- to gently mix until the butter is completely incorporated.
- Divide the batter between the cups of the muffin pan. You can do this with a 11/2-tablespoon cookie scoop or a small spoon. Fill each cup almost to the top.
- Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the center is slightly puffed and the edges are golden and slightly crispy and coming away from the pan. There may be cracks in the tops. That’s totally okay!
- Remove the financiers from the muffin pan immediately and allow to
- cool on wire racks.
- Once they have cooled completely, sprinkle them with icing sugar to serve. These are best eaten the day they are made, although they can keep for a couple of days in an airtight container at room temperature
- Option: Just before you bake the financiers, cut 12 raspberries in half and place one half, cut side down, on top of each financier. Press down gently.
We’re giving one lucky Canadian reader the chance to win a copy of In The French Kitchen With Kids. For your chance to win, head over to @baked_theblog on Instagram and tag as many friends as you want in separate comments – each tagged comment is one entry for you! Contest closes at 11:59pm AST Wednesday August 9, 2018. Winner will be chosen at random on Thursday August 10, 2018. Open to Canadian residents only.
*Recipe shared with permission from Penguin Random House.