Tapas Are on Tap
The fun thing about cooking – and something I try to do in all my classes – is to incorporate lessons related to a theme. Recently, in a theme about the history of Spain, I was able to teach young kids about one of my favorite types of dishes, tapas.
Tapas were traditionally free pieces of sliced ham that were served on top of someone’s drink at Spanish gathering places. These snacks kept people from getting too hungry while conversing and waiting for their meals to be served.
Now tapas means small-plate foods, and they are fun, educational and delicious. They are also often very healthy, so you’ll feel good about the food you’re serving your family.
Here is one of my favorites. Moms and dads can do the chopping, but let the kids do as much of the rest of the preparation as they can.
Tropical Spaniard Chicken and Cheese Bites
- 1 chicken breast grilled, cut into large cubes
- 2 cups ripe, firm cubed seasonal fruits
- Quince paste – 1 or more tsp. per serving (available at markets including Molly Stone’s, Whole Foods and Draeger’s)
- 1 or 2 large cubes Spanish cheese, such as Manchego
- Dash of cumin
- The juice of 1 orange
- 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
- 1 tsp. of honey
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Plastic drinking straws to use as skewers
Cut straws in half. Thread a few cubes of chicken and fruit slices, cheese and quince paste on each straw. In a small microwavable container, have your little chef mix the fresh citrus juice with olive oil, honey, salt and pepper and a dash of cumin. Warm dressing in microwave until honey is melted and warm to the touch – about 45 seconds. Have the kids paint the dressing onto skewered food using a new clean paintbrush.
Gigi Gaggero, a mother of two, is a former dean of students at the California Culinary Academy and the founder of Kids Culinary Adventures, which offers cooking classes and summer culinary camps. For more information, visit kidsculinaryadventures.com.