So, as you perhaps have noticed, I have about a million dogs rather than children. I would therefore hesitate to say anything like: Recipes your kids will love, because how would I know? But if you happen to have children who like to mess around in the kitchen, then I recently made two completely different things that struck me as extremely kid friendly to both make and eat, at least in some stages.
The first is also parent friendly, because healthy! vegetables! I mean, yes, breaded and deep fried, but that’s the part that ought to appeal to kids if they share the (obviously correct) opinion that one of the four food groups is Crispy Brown Things.
This recipe could be called: Eggplant Everyone Will Eat, because due to the magic of crispy brownness and gooey cheese, I’m pretty sure anybody would in fact like these, even if they generally hate eggplant. Of course its official name is:
Crispy Eggplant Fritters with Smoked Mozzarella
Which also sounds pretty tasty and gives you a much better idea what he recipe is like.
This is a recipe I found on Epicurious.com. Of course I did not follow the recipe exactly, but closer than usual. I didn’t have smoked mozzarella, for one thing. So far I have made this recipe with smoked provolone, Munster, and pepper jack. The Munster was okay, but perhaps too mild. The other two were both just fine. I also strongly suggest some sort of tomato-y dipping sauce, but hey, if everyone in your family hates tomatoes, ymmv. Tomorrow for a change I think I may try a dipping sauce made with pomegranate molasses, which tends to work well with various eggplant dishes. Anyway, the recipe:
2 large normal purple eggplants, about 2 lbs total, or I presume an equivalent amount of smaller eggplants.
2 eggs, divided
¾ C grated Parmesan, and let me just mention that recently all the pre-grated canned types were found to be adulterated with sawdust, so, you know, really, you ought to consider grating your own if you don’t already. I suggest a microplane grater for the purpose. I find my grater also invaluable for zesting lemons.
1½ C dry bread crumbs, divided. Or more. You know how it is when you’re breading stuff, it always takes more than the recipe says and it is SO ANNOYING to run out of crumbs. I used panko once and regular dried out bread the next time and both worked fine.
¼ C minced parsley. I didn’t have any handy because all the parsley has bolted to seed, so I left it out. I mean, it’s just parsley.
1 Tbsp minced thyme. I do have some growing, but I’d have to walk over the herb garden to get it, so I used dried. It was fine.
¼ tsp pepper
1½ Tbsp flour
4 oz smoked mozzarella or whatever kind of cheese you have handy, cubed, and I didn’t measure it, either. I used pretty big cubes because you really can’t have too much molten cheese in the center of a fritter, right? I bet I used significantly more than 4 oz.
Some kind of dipping sauce. I think this sounds like basically an Italianesque kind of recipe, so I have been using Marcella Hazan’s famous tomato sauce, only with jalapenos added because I have a lot of jalapenos right now.
Okay, you need to start this ahead of time. Slice the eggplants into thick slices. The recipe says ½ inch and I think that is definitely not too thick. Lay out on paper towels in a single layer and sprinkle with plenty of salt for half an hour or so, turning once or twice. Most of the salt will get left behind, so if anything I’ve found the eggplant mixture needs more salt later even though I was pretty generous with salting the eggplant.
Brush baking sheets with olive oil, lay the eggplant slices on the baking sheets, and bake at 350 degrees for about an hour. Cool and chop. You can just keep the eggplant chilled for a couple days at this point if that’s convenient, because I did and it was fine.
Now is the time I suggest your kids might like to get involved. Combine one egg, the Parmesan, ¼ C breadcrumbs, the herbs and seasonings. I bet you could combine all this in a food processor, but I didn’t try it.Stir in the eggplant. This will make a sort of squishy, gooey dough type of thing that you (or your kids) can form into balls without too much trouble
Whisk the other egg together with the flour.
Heat oil for deep frying to 350 degrees, or if you would prefer to shallow fry the fritters, pour ¼ inch oil into a large skillet. I haven’t tried the latter method, which is what the recipe suggests, but deep frying worked really well and was very easy.
Now, form the eggplant mixture into large balls, about the size of golf balls, around the cubes of cheese. The recipe says 1¼ inch. I probably made mine a little bigger than that. Dip the balls into the egg/flour mixture and then roll them into the breadcrumbs. Deep fry or shallow fry, until deeply browned, turning occasionally. I presume you would need to supervise smaller children pretty carefully with the hot oil, but these fritters are particularly easy and quick to deep fry and do not spatter at all. Remove the fritters to a paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Try to wait at least five minutes so that the molten cheese doesn’t burn your mouth, but I warn you, these are going to look really tempting.
Now, I swear, ANYBODY will like these, especially with a dipping sauce. My dad, who really does not care for eggplant, liked them fine. They do not scream EGGPLANT unless you know what they’re made of. And you can sure go through a lot of eggplant in a hurry with this recipe, which is nice if you happen to have a couple productive plants on the back deck, as I do this year.
If by some chance your family is too opposed to the mere idea of eggplant to even consider the above recipe, or the mere thought of deep frying anything gives you hives, this second recipe is for you! I made this because it looked pretty and easy and because I found an old jar of marshmallow fluff in the pantry that I was afraid was going to melt or spoil or something unless I used it up.
Marshmallow Fluff Cookies
1 package Carr’s Wheatmeal Biscuits
1 jar marshmallow fluff
8 oz semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips – I used Ghirardelli bittersweet, but I’m a chocolate snob, so hey, use whatever kind of chocolate you have handy.
2 Tbsp vegetable oil
I bet you can see this recipe coming merely from perusing the above ingredients. But, if you want actual directions, here:
Make sure you have room in your freezer for a baking sheet. Lay out the cookies in a single layer on the baking sheet. Top each with a (scant) tablespoon of marshmallow fluff, until you run out of either cookies or marshmallow fluff (I had cookies left over). Obviously everybody who participates in this little project is going to get sticky, so I imagine smaller children ought to be supervised unless you want marshmallow fluff getting everywhere. Anyway, when all the cookies are topped with marshmallow fluff, put the baking sheet in the freezer for ten minutes or until the chocolate is prepared.
Melt the chocolate with the vegetable oil. You can do this in a pan on the stove, I guess, but the microwave is by far the easiest method. Stir after a minute; by then the chocolate may be about melted. Cool the melted chocolate until it isn’t too hot. A little warm is okay.
Now take the cookies out of the freezer, pick up each one, and swish the top of the cookie through the chocolate, covering the entire top of the cookie and all the marshmallow fluff with chocolate. Let the excess drip off, lay the cookies back on the baking sheet, and pop them back in the freezer for a few minutes to set the chocolate. Naturally this is also messy, but smears of chocolate are not a terrible kind of mess to clean up.
There you go, doesn’t that sound like the kind of thing kids might like to help with? And eat? Mmm, chocolate marshmallow cookies! I stored mine in the freezer, but I would imagine if you made them for a family, they wouldn’t last long enough to need storage.