Zee loves to watch cooking shows with me. Our current favourites are Masterchef and Great British Bake Off, however, occasionally we will also tune in to Come Dine With Me if we see that it is on.
When he was a bit younger, Zee would concoct elaborate ‘dishes’ made out of Lego bricks, books, cars and Star Wars figures, which I would pretend to taste and then provide constructive feedback based on skill, taste, and presentation. Now that he is 8 years old, he actually expects to get in the kitchen and use real food. This is great if we are following a recipe and he is my sous chef, but one time we left him in charge and poor Auntie BB was served a dry satsuma and cheese sandwich with a dollop of yogurt on top!
We were much luckier in Crete this summer when Zee went into the restaurant business with our very own Greek master chef, Yiayia. He devised a menu based on the ingredients that Yiayia had in her fridge and the Special of the Day changed daily depending on what Yiayia was making Papou for lunch.
We all sat around the table and placed our order, which Zee would take back to the kitchen and Yiayia would let him add ingredients, stir sauces and help to plate up. Then, he would call for ‘Service’ and I would carry the plates to the table.
After the meal, we were presented with a bill for the food we had eaten and when I dared to suggest he pay his staff out of the takings, he fired me! He hired me back again every day, but at €7 for an Aperol Spritz, I was definitely out-of-pocket.
Anyway, to encourage his love of cooking – or perhaps to avoid another fruit and dairy sarnie – BB bought Zee a Children’s cookbook for his birthday.
Inspired by the movie Julie and Julia where Julie (Amy Adams) vows to prepare all 524 recipes in Julia Childs’ (Meryl Streep) landmark cookbook “Mastering the Art of French Cooking”, I promised Zee that we would cook all 50 recipes in the Children’s Cookbook and I would write about his efforts on this blog.
The first recipe from the book that Zee attempted with BB was a cheese and ham melt, which he had for lunch. We skipped the poached egg on top because he wanted it without, but we will go back to the recipe and – just like Julie in the film – he will learn to poach an egg!
Yesterday, as BB and Yiayia were visiting, we decided to bake this delicious looking chocolate cake!
We read through the list of ingredients together and found most of them in the cupboard, so I only had to send the Greek God(zilla) out for a couple of items. Funnily enough, he did not complain about being asked to buy 3 different kinds of chocolate, but a courgette is a big deal…
When he returned with the chocolate, I was at first concerned it would not make it onto the cake as both the Greek God(zilla) and Zee eyed it up longingly, however, this was not the biggest challenge we were to encounter. For it would seem that Zee – very much like his father – does not like to be told what to do!
Follow a recipe? Grease the tin? Sieve the flour? Nope, he wanted to do it his way and without any help from me.
When the Greek God(zilla) is in the kitchen, I know to stay well away while he experiments with every pot, pan, utensil, herb and spice on the rack, but Zee is only 8 and has never operated a hand whisk before.
After a bit of a debate, we reached an agreement and I was eventually allowed back in the kitchen on the condition that I let him have a go at everything.
With peace restored, we followed the steps and it was all pretty straightforward. Zee loved cracking the eggs and whisking them, but quickly grew bored with sieving flour. He also enjoyed breaking the chocolate into chunks but wanted to eat more chocolate than he wanted to melt.
After 20-minutes in the oven, the cake was ready so we just had to let it cool down before icing it. This was the fun part, although we made a huge mess with the melted chocolate and our presentation could have been much better!
Taste-wise, there were no complaints. BB was delighted that Zee had baked a cake from the cookbook she gave him while Yiayia was just happy to see him! So much so, she would have probably even devoured a satsuma and cheese sandwich with a dollop of yoghurt on top had it been made by Zee’s fair hands.
Next week in Zee’s Kitchen, tuna fishcakes!