Much to my delight, social media and food tv shows have inspired more and more kids (including mine) to venture into the kitchen to try everything from TikTok recipes to baking for just themselves. What I love is that spending time in the kitchen teaches more than culinary skills. Parents can weave in some important life lessons too, like reading something all the way through before getting started, asking for help, patience, science, and gratitude.
That’s why I’m so excited about these 3 new cookbooks from America’s Test Kitchen they sent me. Here’s why I’m loving them, and my kids are too.
First of all, if you don’t know America’s Test Kitchen, they’ve been sharing tips and tricks on how to be successful in the kitchen since 1993, with two shows on public television, two flagship magazines (Cook’s Illustrated and Cook’s Country), and websites, videos, and podcasts. And as their name suggests, they have more than 50 test cooks that test recipes over and over until they arrive at the very best version of a recipe before it comes to you.
America’s Test Kitchen Kids is focused on bringing up a new generation of cooks who are not only empowered in the kitchen, and curious about learning more. Because after all, cooking is really the ultimate science experiment. And that’s where these three cookbooks come in: The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs, The Complete Cookbook for Young Scientists, and The Complete Cookbook for Teen Chefs.
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The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs is perfect for younger kids (the reviews say ages 8-11) who are wanting to be a little more independent in the kitchen. The recipes are simple and straightforward, and range from “one hat” beginner recipes like smoothies to “three hat” advanced recipes like Pesto Turkey Meatballs with Marinara Sauce that can feed the whole family. I personally love the “4 Secrets to Success in the Kitchen” that is in the first part of the cookbook that details four secrets to becoming a pro in the kitchen. My favorite secret: mistakes are okay.
If you have a child like mine who is constantly doing science experiments, The Complete Cookbook for Young Scientists is a must-have. The recipes in this cookbook are laid out like science experiments by first asking a question like “what makes things fizzy,” then encouraging kids to make a prediction, observe and understand the result, and finally to eat their experiment! The cookbook is kid-tested and kid-approved, with some of those recipe testers are even featured in photos in the cookbook. Your kids will probably be able to handle most of these “science experiments” on their own, I always suggest being nearby to take advantage of that magic time together in the kitchen.
The Complete Cookbook for Teen Chefs is the newest cookbook from America’s Test Kitchen for budding chefs, but with recipes that are a bit more challenging than the two other cookbooks. They will learn knife skills, how to use a kitchen scale, how to safely handle raw meat, fish and eggs, how to fry safely, and other essential “how-tos.” Plus, they’ll learn other essential skills that can apply outside the kitchen too.
My teens have tried about a dozen recipes from this book and they have all been successful, but this recipe for Pizza Pockets from The Complete Cookbook for Teen Chefs has been on repeat around here as after-school snacks (and are much healthier than the frozen version).
- 3 1/4 cups (16 1/4 ounces) all purpose flour, plus extra for counter
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
- 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces and chilled
- 2 large eggs (1 whole, 1 lightly beaten with a fork)
- 1/2 cup (4 ounces) ice water
- 1/3 cup jarred pizza sauce
- 1/2 cup (2 ounces) mini pepperoni slices
- 4 mozzarella cheese sticks, cut in half crosswise
- Place flour, sugar, and salt in food processor. Lock lid into place. Process mixture for 3 seconds.
- Sprinkle chilled butter pieces over flour mixture. Pulse until mixture looks like coarse crumbs, eight to ten 1-second pulses.
- Add whole egg and ice water. Process until dough comes together into smooth ball, 30-45 seconds.
- Remove lid and carefully remove processor blade. Transfer dough to floured counter area and press together into ball. Use bench scraper or chef’s knife to divide dough in half.
- Form each piece of dough into 5-inch square. Wrap each square tightly in plastic wrap. Refrigerate dough until chilled at least 30 minutes or up to 24 hours.
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 350 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Let chilled dough sit on counter to soften slightly before rolling, about 10 minutes.
- Sprinkle counter lightly with extra flour. Roll, cut, fill, and shape dough to make 8 pizza pockets (see photo below).
- Use pastry brush to paint tops and sides of pizza pockets lightly with beaten egg.
- Bake pizza pockets until edges are just beginning to brown, 20-24 minutes.
- Use oven mitts to transfer baking sheets to cooling rack. Let pizza pockets cool on baking sheet for 20 minutes before serving. (Pizza pockets can be frozen for up to 1 month. Transfer baked and cooled pockets to zipper-lock freezer bag, press out air, and seal bag. To serve, reheat pockets (do not thaw before reheating) in microwave for 1-2 minutes.)
Thanks to the publisher for sending copies of all three cookbooks for my kiddos to try! Recipe reprinted with permission from the publisher.