Cooking with your kids can be one of the most fun and rewarding ways to to spend time together. It is a great way to bond over good food while learning plenty about math, following directions, cooking skills, life skills and so many other wonderful things that your kids will use the rest of their lives. The following recipes come from professional chefs in the Denver area so they are tested and chef approved. Plus, these chefs are also parents, so they are kid approved too.
Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs
2148 Larimer St.
Denver, CO 80205
About Chef Jim Pittenger:
Chef Jim Pittenger, owner of the amazing Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs in downtown Denver, likes to keep things classic and simple when teaching kids to cook. He recalls being taught how to make breakfast foods as one of the first recipes he ever learned. His recipe for perfect french toast is a great one to try with your kids.
Jim Pittenger’s French Toast
Slice a loaf of French bread a little thicker than sandwich size (or have your baker slice it for you). This recipe works best with day-old bread, so if you leave it out that’s great. Break six large eggs in a large bowl and mix with a fork. Add two cups of milk, two teaspoons of cinnamon, one teaspoon of nutmeg and one tablespoon of sugar and blend a bit more. Lay eight slices of bread in a baking pan (or two) and pour enough of the mixture over the bread to come up about half way. This will require about one-fourth cup of egg mixture per slice. Let it soak for a couple of minutes and turn the bread over to soak the other side for another few minutes.
Heat a skillet to medium heat. Melt one tablespoon of butter in the hot pan and then add three to four slices of bread. Keep an eye on them so the bottoms don’t burn. After about two minutes, flip the bread and grill the other side. When both sides are golden brown, put them on a warm plate, add a pat of butter and a bit of syrup to taste.
Related: Top Cooking Classes in Denver
Jim Pittenger’s Macaroni and Cheese
When lunch time comes around, Chef Jim Pittenger also loves the classic homemade macaroni and cheese. This is far better than any boxed mac and cheese mix
reheat your oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Meanwhile, bring four cups of water and a pinch of salt to a boil in a medium-size pot. Add eight ounces of macaroni and stir slightly. Simmer for about six to eight minutes. Drain and set aside in a large bowl. Melt four tablespoons of butter in a medium-size sauce pan under medium heat. Add two tablespoons of flour and stir until it blends together. Keep stirring for a couple of minutes to form a nice rue. Add two cups of milk, stirring until fully blended with the rue. Bring to a boil under medium-high heat, boil for one minute and then remove from heat. Add half a pound each of shredded jack and cheddar cheeses and stir until melted and blended completely. Stir this mixture into the bowl with the cooked macaroni. Then, butter a medium casserole dish and then add the macaroni and cheese mixture. Cover the casserole dish and place it in the oven for 30 minutes. Then remove the cover and sprinkle the top with bread crumbs and return it to the oven uncovered for another 15 minutes or until the bread crumbs are golden brown.
Rocky Mountain Institute of Meat
1174 S. Cherokee St.
Denver, CO 80223
About Chef Mark DeNittis:
Chef Mark DeNittis is a professional chef and instructor with The Rocky Mountain Institute of Meat at Cook Street School of Culinary Arts as well as Disassembly Dinner Series. As a father of two, he also enjoys cooking with his children. “My daughter Vivianna (12) and son Matteo (5) enjoy and love all things food. When my fiancée and I spend time together with them, a good portion of that time is food related. Vivi has always had a special place in her tummy since age three for American (Colorado) lamb. The handwritten recipe/menu description for her Christmas Rack of Lamb at age three read ‘Rack of lamb with olive oil, lemon, garlic and a touch of rosemary.’ The tradition carries on today.”
Mark DeNittis’s Rack of American Lamb
Vivi’s Christmas rack of American lamb will make eight single servings as an appetizer or two to four servings as an entree. Rub a lamb rack, cut into eight individual chops, with olive oil and season liberally with one clove of chopped fresh garlic, one rosemary spring (leaves only) chopped fine, a dash of salt and black pepper. Preheat a grill (Chef DeNittis prefers the old fashioned flavors of charcoal, but the gas type will do just fine) to medium-high heat. Grill each of the chops on one side for two minutes, then turning 90 degrees to achieve “grill mark” diamonds for another two minutes. Turn the chop over to cook through on the other side to your desired taste. The individual chops are thin and will cook quickly. Time may vary based on your own grill and its hot and cool spots.
Mark DeNittis’s Fresh Italian Pork Sausage
Here’s another great recipe from Chef DeNittis, this time from his son. “My son loves to make fresh Italian sausage and eat it simply with butter-tossed rigatoni pasta. So here here is the actual sausage recipe.” This large recipe will make enough fresh sausage to serve eight to 10 people.
Mix together two and a half pounds of fresh ground pork butt, one tablespoon kosher salt, one tablespoon fennel seed, one tablespoon paprika, one teaspoon black pepper, half a teaspoon red chili pepper flakes (more if you like it spicy), half a teaspoon granulated garlic and one-fourth cup red or white wine. Once all ingredients are mixed together, let the marinated meat sit in the refrigerator for at least one hour prior to cooking to allow the flavors to “bloom.” When ready, take the mixture out of the fridge and press or roll the sausage into shapes or skinless (no casing) links. Sausage can be cooked in a pan on the stovetop or in an oven. Be sure to cook to an internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit. You can also substitute chicken or turkey ground thigh meat, just reduce the salt to one tablespoon.
Deborah Flomberg is a theater professional, freelance writer and Denver native. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.