Welcome to week 27 of Kitchen Classroom, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a daily schedule of kid-tested and kid-approved recipes, hands-on experiments, and activities paired with suggestions for how to bring learning to life in the kitchen.
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This week, kids can turn family dinner into pizza night with an easy Sheet Pan Pizza, learn all about the cabbage family of vegetables while making Roasted Broccoli, and discover the secret to the perfect slushy texture of our Frozen Raspberry Lime Rickeys. For a sweet treat, kids can bake up a batch of Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies and explore their star ingredient: oats!
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Here’s what’s cooking for the week of September 14th through 20th.
Sheet Pan Pizza
Turn any night into homemade pizza night with this kid-approved recipe. Make your own Pizza Dough (or use store-bought), whip up the no-cook pizza sauce, and then sprinkle on the cheeses (more on them in the Learning Moment, below). You can also add your favorite pizza toppings, from pepperoni to peppers to pineapple and more! Spraying the rimmed baking sheet with vegetable oil spray and brushing it with extra-virgin olive oil makes sure the pizza doesn’t stick to the pan and gives it an extra-crispy crust.
[GET THE RECIPE]
What You’ll Need
Vegetable oil spray
2 tablespoons plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, measured separately
1 pound pizza dough, room temperature (Homemade or store-bought pizza dough both work)
1 (14.5 oz) can whole peeled tomatoes, opened
1 garlic clove, peeled
½ teaspoon red wine vinegar
½ teaspoon dried oregano
¼ teaspoon salt
⅛ teaspoon pepper
2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
In this recipe, kids sprinkle two different cheeses over their Sheet Pan Pizza: mozzarella and Parmesan. Both cheeses have an important role to play—ask kids why they think they’re using both cheeses on their pizza. Explain that they’re going to do a science experiment—and a taste test—to find out!
- Use the large holes of a box grater to shred about 2 tablespoons of mozzarella cheese and 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, keeping the cheeses in separate piles. (Note that for your pizza, you’ll be grating the Parmesan cheese using a rasp-style grater, not shredding it with a box grater.)
- Have kids taste a bit of mozzarella and a bit of Parmesan. How would they describe each cheese’s flavor (how it tastes and smells) and texture (what it feels like)?
- Use a butter knife or chef’s knife to cut a slice of bread in half.
- Sprinkle the remaining shredded mozzarella cheese on one half-slice of bread and place on one side of a microwave-safe plate.
- Sprinkle the remaining shredded Parmesan cheese on second half-slice of bread and place on the other side of the microwave-safe plate.
- Microwave the bread slices until the cheeses are melted, 15 to 30 seconds.
- Remove the plate from the microwave (ask an adult for help).
- Have kids observe the two cheeses: What do they notice about each? Do they look the same or different?
- Have kids take a bite of each slice of bread to taste the two different cheeses. Ask kids: What do they taste like? What is their texture like? Are they the same or different? How so?
Explain to kids that mozzarella is GREAT at melting. It brings gooey, melty, stretchy deliciousness to our pizza. Why is such a stellar melter? Mozzarella is a very moist cheese—it contains a lot of water. All that water keeps proteins in the mozzarella farther apart and makes them loose and flowy and flexible when they heat up. And what makes mozzarella stretchy? As mozzarella is made, the cheese curds are pulled and stretched, over and over again. All that stretching makes mozzarella’s proteins line up in neat rows. Then, when mozzarella heats up, its proteins flow in those neat lines, making it stretch!
Parmesan cheese, on the other hand, brings the flavor to the pizza party. Parmesan is an aged cheese. It sits in carefully controlled conditions for sometimes a year or more before we eat it. As it ages, Parmesan loses water through evaporation, which makes its flavor much more concentrated. The flip side to not have much water? Parmesan isn’t very good at melting—its proteins cling together much more tightly than mozzarella—they’re not as loose and flowy when they heat up. We add Parmesan to pizza purely for its savory, nutty flavor.
Roasting might just be the best way to cook fall vegetables. The intense heat of the oven causes excess moisture to evaporate, leaving veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, winter squash, or carrots with a crispy, browned exterior. The parchment paper in this recipe helps keep the vegetables from sticking to the pan; if you don’t have any, you can use aluminum foil or a silicone baking mat instead.
[GET THE RECIPE]
What You’ll Need
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
6 cups broccoli florets, large florets cut in half
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Before tossing the broccoli with oil in step 2, have kids observe some of the broccoli florets up close. (If you have a magnifying glass, this would be a great time to use it!) Ask kids:
- What do you notice about the broccoli?
- Are there parts of it that look different from other parts?
- What do the different parts look like, feel like, or smell like?
Explain to kids that broccoli grows from a thick, tough stalk. That stalk then grows branches of small green flower buds that grow in clusters, which are the tender florets. Can kids see that the floret tops of their broccoli look like flower buds? Have any started to open into tiny, yellow flowers? (Those are OK to eat!)
Tell kids that broccoli is a member of the cabbage family (also known to plant scientists as the brassica genus). Just like how people have families, plants do, too. Plant scientists group plants into families when they grow in similar ways and have similar characteristics. Other members of the cabbage family that are similar to broccoli are cauliflower and romanesco, as they also have thick stalks and tender flower buds that grow in clusters. Some other members of the cabbage family are kale, collard greens, Brussels sprouts, kohlrabi, and (of course!) cabbage. They’re more like cousins to broccoli than cauliflower or romanesco (which are more like siblings), but all of these vegetables grow in similar ways. If you have any other vegetables that are members of the cabbage family on hand, have kids observe them next to the broccoli to see how they are similar and different.
Take It Further
Broccoli is an example of what plant scientists would call a vegetable, because we eat its stalks and flower buds. You can also eat the leaves of some vegetables, or their roots, which grow underground. Fruit, on the other hand, is the part of a plant that grows from a flower and contains seeds inside. A fruit has a skin on the outside (which may be thick or thin), its insides are usually juicy, and it contains one or more seeds. Have kids test their knowledge of the differences between fruits and vegetables with our Fruit or Vegetable Quiz!
Frozen Raspberry Lime Rickeys
Get a taste of summer with this sweet and tart slush! Kids will learn about the freezing points of different liquids before they blend their fruity beverages. If you don’t have raspberries, kids can get creative and flavor their frozen limeade with a different flavored Simple Syrup (see Food For Thought at the bottom of the Simple Syrup recipe for flavor ideas).
[GET THE RECIPE]
What You’ll Need
1 cup sugar
4½ cups cold water
6 tablespoons Raspberry Simple Syrup
Science (States of Matter)
In this recipe, kids freeze homemade limeade inan ice cube tray. While the cubes are in the freezer in step 6, ask kids: How do you think limeade cubes might be different from ice cubes, which are made with water? Do you think they will look different? Feel different? Taste different?
When the limeade cubes are frozen solid, have kids reserve one on a small plate. Have kids place an ice cube made with water on a second small plate and observe both cubes. What do they notice about their texture? Have kids observe both cubes as they melt. How are they the same or different? Have kids press down on each cube with their finger. Is one softer than the other?
Explain to kids that the temperature at which a liquid becomes a solid is called its freezing point. The freezing point of water is 32 degrees Fahrenheit. When the ice cube made from water got below 32 degrees in the freezer, it became hard. The limeade mixture is mostly water, but it also contains lime juice and sugar. Sugar not only makes the limeade sweet, but also makes the frozen cubes soft and easy to blend instead of hard and icy. As the mixture freezes, the dissolved sugar gets in the way of ice crystals forming in the freezing water. The dissolved sugar lowers the freezing point of the mixture to below 32 degrees, which makes it more difficult for those ice crystals to form. This is why the limeade cubes feel softer coming out of the freezer, even though they are just as cold as those made with water. The slightly softer cubes are perfect for making a slushy drink!
Oatmeal-Chocolate Chip Cookies
Oatmeal isn’t just a tasty breakfast food. It gives these chocolate chip cookies lots of oat flavor and a chewy texture. For this recipe, we had the best luck using Quaker old-fashioned rolled oats. (We found that cookies made with Bob’s Red Mill old-fashioned rolled oats spread out a bit more in the oven.) Don’t use quick, instant, or extra-thick rolled oats in this recipe.
[GET THE RECIPE]
What You’ll Need
½ cup (2½ ounces) all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ cup packed (3½ ounces) light brown sugar
¼ cup vegetable oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled
⅛ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 large egg
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1½ cups (4½ ounces) old-fashioned rolled oats
¼ cup (1½ ounces) chocolate chips
Oats are a kitchen staple—you’ll find them in oatmeal, granola, and, of course, cookies. Ask kids: Where do you think oats come from?
Explain that oats come from plants. Oat plants, a kind of grass with starchy seeds, can grow to be about five feet tall. The oats that we eat are part of the seeds of the oat plant. The oat seeds have a hull, or an outer shell. When the hull is removed, what’s inside is called the groat. Manufacturers use machines to process the groats in different ways, which turn into the different types of oats, such as steel-cut oats (used in this recipe), stone-ground oats, old-fashioned oats, rolled oats, and instant oats.
Have kids gather whatever oats you have in the pantry and observe them up close (use a magnifying glass if you have one). Ask kids to describe what each variety looks like up-close and how they are similar or different. Do they have any guesses about how each type of oats is made?
- Steel-Cut Oats: Groats are sliced into three or four pieces using steel blades, hence the name. They have a coarse, chunky texture.
- Old-Fashioned or Rolled Oats: Groats are steamed and then rolled flat by metal rollers, which gives them their flat, oval shape.
- Quick Oats: Steel-cut oats are first steamed and then rolled flat by metal rollers until they’re even thinner than old-fashioned oats.
- Instant Oats: Groats are first cut into very, very small pieces. Then they’re cooked and rolled flat before they’re dried.
On sale from September 1st through September 30, 2020, the October edition of the Young Chefs’ Club explores the wide world of NOODLES. Make Fresh Pasta, just like in Italy (no pasta machine required) and serve it with Marinara Sauce or Meat Sauce. Move on to rice vermicelli in our Rice Noodle Bowls with Pork and Scallions and fresh lo mein in Sesame Noodles with Snow Peas and Carrots. Explore the salty science of pasta water with a simple (dinner-providing) experiment. And the whole family can play our board game: Noodles and Ladders!
Catching up on Kitchen Classroom? Find previous weeks using the links below:
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 26
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 25
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 24
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 23
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 22
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 21
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 20
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 19
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 18
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 17
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 16
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 15
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 14
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 13
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 12
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 11
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 10
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 9
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 8
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 7
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 6
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 5
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 4
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 3
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 2
- Kitchen Classroom: Week 1