Our collection of cookbooks is vast. Some of them are in use more than others, and some of them are in rough shape from too much use. I’m always on the lookout for good cookbooks that will encourage young people to cook and to read about cooking, just as I did with the gift of my first, Betty Crocker’s Cookbook for Boys and Girls. I started making family meals when I was 11, and that cookbook, still on my shelves today, is well used.
Today’s children have a good deal of inspiration: Food Network challenges designed for ages 9 to 14; utensils, cookware, and aprons made just for them; being at home all day for distance learning; and some terrific cookbooks.
With selections ranging from breakfast to snacks to meals for one and meals for the family, each recipe includes a list of ingredients and needed cooking equipment. The instructions are clear to follow (America’s Test Kitchen has been at this for a long time). When a technique called for in the instructions might be unfamiliar, there’s a picture and advice about how to accomplish what’s needed.
The instructions and how-tos and tidbits of essential knowledge are written in a lively, captivating voice that keeps the reader moving on to the next topic. Shhh! There’s some fun reading to be done in this book.
Distinct boxes with differently colored backgrounds and differentiating title fonts make it easy to follow even though there’s a lot of information on every page.
A recipe for Kale Chips includes photos of the way to prep kale to make squares for chips. There are suggestions for flavorings and encouragement to experiment with your own flavors.
Perhaps best of all are the explanatory sections. What is parchment paper? How do you remove husks and silk from fresh corn? What herbs can be grown or purchased to enhance food flavors? How do you flip a grilled sandwich? What are the best knives to own and how are they safely used?
Preparatory pages at the beginning of the book show distinct photos of kitchen tools and cookware (what on earth is a Dutch oven?). There are instructions for measuring, grating, and garnishing.
In the back matter, you’ll find conversions, tips for healthy eating, and a nutrition chart for each recipe (so important for kids on specific diets).
Disclosure: There are no children in our house and this recipe book has already been deployed several times. It’s a keeper.
The Complete Cookbook for Young Chefs
written by America’s Test Kitchen
Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, 2018