Child’s play with homemade takeaways

Homemade hamburgers and crunchy wedges are child’s play to make.

by MICHELLE VOLLEMAERE
Cooking with kids can be fun, but you have to pick your moments. More often than not these days, mothers and fathers are busy and have a short time frame between getting home from work and getting dinner on the table.

Homemade hamburgers and crunchy wedges are child’s play to make.

When everyone is tired and hungry and grouchy, is not the right time to add the stress and mess that comes with kids in the kitchen. Try it and watch just how quickly the fun
factor vanishes.
But teaching children how to cook basic meals is a vital skill that they are never too young to learn — even under- fives can have a go. Menu planning (that is, they tell you what they want to eat), shopping for the ingredients, measuring, mixing, stirring, browning
and even a bit of chopping with a sharp knife (albeit under strict adult supervision)
are all within the scope of young children. You’ll be surprised at how
quickly they will learn knife safety, but keep the sticking plasters handy.
Spending a bit of time teaching them now will pay dividends when they are teens and can be tasked with cooking a meal for you occasionally (bliss), and when they leave home you
will rest easy knowing that they have the wherewithal to feed themselves something nutritious and won’t come home with scurvy.
In our family, we used the weekends to get the kids cooking. With more time to plan and shop and prepare — and clean up afterwards — there was no stress or rush. We’d play some music,
sing, chop, mix, stir, cook, have lots of fun and enjoy a family dinner at the end of it all.
Of course, my kids would always push their luck a bit; when I asked them what they wanted to have for dinner, the answer was always, “McDonald’s please”.
After some … I shall call it “gentle persuasion”, they would agree to homemade takeaways instead — hamburgers and crispy wedges — on the proviso that they could leave the lettuce, tomato and beetroot out of their hamburgers.
Maybe I was a pushover, but it seemed to me that lettuce, etcetera weren’t the vital parts of the cooking experience for them, so I always agreed.
You should make your own decision about your children and knives.

Recipes

Homemade hamburgers
Everything about this recipe is kid-friendly, mixing the mince is as much fun as playdough and they get to eat the finished product. The recipe makes enough for six fat, juicy burgers.
500gm mince
½ onion
oil for frying
I cup crushed Weetbix ‘crumbs’ (or use ½ cup breadcrumbs)
2 generous dollops of tomato sauce
1 dollop sweet chilli sauce (optional)
½ tsp each salt and pepper
burger buns or baps
burger trimmings – lettuce, tomato and beetroot slices, etc

Slice and then dice the onion very finely and fry gently in a small amount of oil until soft but not browned.

Put mince into a large bowl and add crushed Weetbix, tomato sauce, chilli sauce, salt and pepper and cooked onion. Using scrupulously clean hands, mix well until everything is combined.
Divide mix into six even portions and, using your hands, roll each into a ball. Roll each ball between your hands about 10 times until it feels ‘firm’ (this will help it stick together when cooking) and then flatten into patties.
Heat 1 Tbsp oil in a frying pan and cook meat patties on a medium heat, about 5 minutes each side. Do this in two batches so as not to crowd the pan, and keep cooked patties warm in oven.
Cut the buns or baps in half and toast them under the grill for a couple of minutes. Butter lightly.
Build your own burger starting with a meat patty and adding lettuce, tomato, beetroot and anything else you like.

Serve with a portion of crunchy wedges (recipe below).

Crunchy wedges

One potato per person is a good serving size although they are so more-ish you might want to add a couple of extras just in case.

1 large red-skinned potato per person
Master Foods celery salt
Olive oil
Rice flour

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Michael Otto

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