Monday, February 23, 2009

The 4-Year-Old Chef

I've been fascinated by the kitchen tales in the Sunday NYT magazine called "Cooking With Dexter." Dexter is a preternaturally accomplished 4-year-old cook. He has opinions. He is curious. He wants to heat, and stir, and chop. His dad supervises.
Are we being played for fools? Could a kid this young really devise his own vegetable pie, and bake it?
Maybe we are being played for fools. After all, what kind of parent names his son Dexter? Surely Dexter is a fiction, albeit an enjoyable read.
According to papa, Dexter wanted to fry kale. Dad said, no, that would be icky. But he did it anyway, because Dexter has him wrapped around his fictitious pinkie.
This led to a recipe for soup, for which the fried greens would be no more than a crunchy garnish. Take that, Dexter. Your dad's making up the soup, not you.
The soup sounded interesting, and we had to try it.
It's made with sauteed onions and garlic, to which are added half a chopped Spanish chorizo sausage, some peeled potatoes, and water. Simmer, simmer. Then puree with an immersion blender. I had never thought about blending — blending! — meat with potatoes for soup. It turns an intriguing orange color.
The other half of the chorizo (cubed and sizzled in the onion-frying pan) goes into the bottom of soup bowls. You pour the blended soup over it, and top with the frizzled kale.
We had some red chard growing in the yard, so that's what we used for the crispy garnish. The color was just right, we thought.
The soup was really good. It's creamy, without a single drop of dairy. We punched it up with a few sprinkles of salt and a couple of dashes of hot, smoky paprika.
It's really filling. Ohgod, I am so full.
Dexter, could you come over and clean up the kitchen?


jimmycrackedcorn said...

That could all definitely be true. My son has been cooking with his own recipes since before he turned 4. Here's just one example...

onlinepastrychef said...

Well, Dubious Dexter or not, the soup does sound pretty good. I often use an immersion blender to smooth out the texture of a really chunky meat sauce. Once I got over the idea of actually liquefying meat, I realized that the texture and the flavor was much more integrated. So, go Dubious Dexter's Daddy!

kudzu said...

Dexter is preternaturally accomplished and obviously a smart cookie, so I'll betcha Dexter doesn't do dishes.

peter said...

Milo has lots of ideas, some of which are pretty good. He loves to help me do everything- especially make ice cream.

My point is that he's cuter than this "Dexter" is all. Plus, they don't ever mention his twin brother Sinister who tortures small animals and voted against the stimulus package.

cookiecrumb said...

Jimmy: I'm impressed. Cool kid.

OPC: Yeah, I'm beginning to understand the smoothing out of meat. Thanks for that example.

Kudzu: He did not respond to my request, the wily little devil.

Peter: I actually do acknowledge the input of kids. I was a curious cook myself, as a child. I was never a Republican. OK, only once, to vote against W. in the primary (we don't have open primaries in CA).
Will Milo come over and clean my kitchen?

Zoomie said...

My two Fairy Godchildren loved to help and were fascinated by cooking at an early age. I can see a young child making suggestions but the idea of them wielding a sharp knife or handling hot pans... better to wait a bit. They don't even give them those blunt end scissors 'til kindergarten!

pea said...

even if i am being played for a fool, it still warms the cockles of my heart. and i want it to be true. children are capable of amazing feats.

dancingmorganmouse said...

O, for a minute there I thought you meant Dexter the fictional serial killer!
I'm adding the soup to my to-try-one-sunday list.

cookiecrumb said...

Zoomie: Dexter's dad says he tries to keep the kid safe, but he gets distracted sometimes. Dexter uses a "knife not sharp."

Pea: The kid is very willful. You sort of have to LET him cook! It is charming.

Morgan: This Dexter is not yet a serial murderer. Maybe after he graduates to "knife not dull."

bb said...

I had my suspicions about that "Dexter" kid, too. Sounded pretty suspicious, even though most parents are deluded into thinking their kids really are that talented.

But the soup sounds delicious, just right for a cold evening. Easy to prep, too. I would love to see Dexter chopping away with my razor sharp Shun santoku, though, just to see what MIGHT happen!!

Sam said...

I think Dexter's DAD should clean the kitchen.

Ps my word verification today is 'spinseti' - is that a type of pasta?

cook eat FRET said...

sounds heavenly
i'm on a soup kick
but i keep making the same lentil stuff... it's the best for high protein and fiber and low fat... i know - shut up claudia.... geeshk.

chorizo and potatoes blended = totally dreamy

Bethny said...

Wow, a 4 year old can do that, I feel slitly under accomplished. But that is still cool, malby I can get him t write a few recipes for me.