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Kitchen Notebook: Our Family Meal

Students demonstrate their new cooking skills for family, teachers, and friends.

Bayard Taylor chef Gyliani Ortiz (center) was proud to serve golden brown chicken thighs to teacher Nicole Molino and her sister Syliani Ortiz. Ms. Molino organizes the Bayard Taylor cooking class and
Syliani was a chef in it last year.
Bayard Taylor chef Gyliani Ortiz (center) was proud to serve golden brown chicken thighs to teacher Nicole Molino and her sister Syliani Ortiz. Ms. Molino organizes the Bayard Taylor cooking class and Syliani was a chef in it last year.Read morePeter Landry (custom credit)

Community Partnership School

CPS chose to serve turkey and mushroom tacos to their guests with both hard and soft shells. They did not care for the muffins from week 7 so they decided on serving a fruit salad instead. The fruit salad consisted of blueberries, strawberries and pineapple. The students learned how to choose a pineapple at the store and how to carve. In addition to the tacos the students wanted to make the homemade guacamole and chips again from week 6. Caden mentioned he does not like tomatoes but was willing to try them in the guacamole and was surprised he liked them! The students also commented that they were surprised by mixing vegetables with the turkey how it added flavor.

When receiving their certificates we discussed their two biggest takeaways were that they were now comfortable with using large knives and working around the stove. Also that even if they thought they didn’t like a food they were willing to try and found when prepared in different ways the food can be enjoyable.

When eating the meal Joseph Hale III asked his dad if he tried the homemade guacamole. His dad said he doesn’t usually eat guacamole but since the students made it he would try it! Even the parents were open to new things!

— Denette Stetler

Chester Eastside

As our cooking semester drew to a close, our student chefs chose Turkey and Mushroom tacos as the main course to serve to their guests, along with Jelly Muffin Donuts for dessert. Chopping the onion continued to be the least popular task in making this recipe. “The onion fights me like a villain,” noted Nalia Diaz, who reluctantly agreed to take on this activity. But of the finished tacos she said, “I can eat 500,000 of them, both the tacos and the muffins.” Chef Juliana Deedon also gave the tacos a thumbs up. “I’ve had tacos before but this was my first time trying them with turkey and mushrooms, and they were delicious,” she said. Guests enjoying our final meal together also gave a thumbs up to the menu items and a big round of applause to our talented chefs.

Submitted by Sallie Anderson, Pat Kelly, and Lauren McKinney, volunteers at Chester Eastside

Visitation B.V.M. School

In two hours, the class had lots to do to meet the 5:30 pm deadline for the Fall 2019 My Daughter’s Kitchen (MDK) graduation dinner. Each student had invited two guests for a dinner of Turkey and Mushroom Tacos and Jelly Donut Muffins so extra prep and cooking was required. Also, tables had to be set and a festive arrangement of fruit was put together which guests were invited to take from and bring home.

Once guests arrived, the program kicked off the awarding of certificates of completion. Parents in attendance showed pride in their child’s achievement of graduating with enthusiastic applause. Guests then ate heartily, finishing off all the tacos and leaving only a few muffins to take home. Before they left, several parents noted how they look forward to having a new chef in the family to cook delicious dishes like the evening’s menu. The graduation dinner, by all measures, was a great success!

Barbara and Maria Brown, Volunteer Partners

Lewis Elkin School

While the backdrop of our last dinner might have been soda and junk food/candy vending machines, the Lewis Elkins students happily cooked and devoured a healthy meal of Chicken Tortilla soup, guacamole and chips, and muffins. It was gratifying to see how beautifully this group worked together, preparing three dishes in short order. The students shared the skills they had learned - chopping, baking, cooking AND cleaning up - and expressed their wish that the class could meet all year long. It’s been a great semester with truly terrific kids!

– Amy Steinberg & Bette Begleiter

Wiggins School

After a series of unfortunate events, we were left with only two chefs at our final dinner. But, did those two put on a culinary show! Arturo Valente and Jaymian Sepulveda chose spaghetti with turkey sausage for our family dinner, along with the jelly-donut muffins for dessert. They also prepared a mixed greens salad from a previous MDK recipe book. Arturo's proud mother, Marina Torres, said, "The meal was delicious!" Jaymian's cousin, Niyalee Santiago, told the guests, "Jaymian now cooks at home and gets excited when everyone tries his food." Principal Lana Murray and Lead Educator Dr. Michael Coleman congratulated the chefs for a job well-done. Dr. Coleman added, "I am so happy to see these two young male chefs become so proficient and excited about cooking." Good job!

– Susan Lore, Edith Bobb

Bayard Taylor

We were 10 days early, but our final family dinner felt like a big, beautiful Thanksgiving gathering. It attr cted young and old, mothers and grandmothers, older sisters and younger brothers, friends and classmates, former chefs from our My Daughter’s Kitchen classes, and future chefs who couldn’t wait until fifth grade and jumped in to help with the cooking RIGHT NOW!

When all was said and done, there were 19 of us sitting down to eat beautifully browned platters of Buttermilk Chicken, bowls of golden Sweet Potato Fries and sweet and crunchy Oatmeal, Raisin and Banana Muffins.

Guests came early to see our chefs in action, and some joined the fun of putting the meal together. Gyliani Ortiz’s older sister Syliani, who had been in our class last year, plunged right in to marinate the chicken with her hands, and the little sisters of Nathaniel Trawick and Luis Asencio helped get the sweet potatoes from the pan to the serving bowls.

“I can do this!” exclaimed Luis’s sister Mia Caraballo, who’s in third grade. “I want to be in this class!”

Our fall chefs more than matched that enthusiasm. Asked how excited they were for their showcase meal when they arrived, Dairis Berge responded “10 out of 10,” and Luis Asencio said simply, “Really!”

With more people in the kitchen than usual, and even more helping out in the cafeteria to set up two tables end to end for our crowd, the event really felt like a big family gathering.

Our chefs had made these recipes before, but it was fun to see them share what they had learned with guests and family members. Dairis and Luis took charge of mixing the spices into the buttermilk and maple syrup marinade and got an assist from Dairis’s best friend Miley, her guest for the day. Syliani Ortiz joined in to coat the chicken thighs with the mix (“It’s slimy,” she declared with a laugh, but was happy to work to the finish.)

Meanwhile Jaden Harvey and Nathaniel “Nate Dog” Trawick made sure the sweet potato fries were properly coated with paprika and got them lined up on sheet pans for baking.

And in another part of the kitchen, guests and students teamed up to get the batter ready for the muffins.

As always at the final meal, the big moment came when the students marched their beautiful foods out from the kitchen to serve their guests. Nate Dog and Dairis led the way with two golden platters of chicken, followed by Jaden and guest Mia Asencio with colorful bowls of fries.

Our chefs were proud to go around the long table serving their guests, especially teacher Nicole Molino, organizes the cooking club. There were lots of happy sounds, as people shared the feast.

Everyone agreed with what Dairis had said earlier, that the meal was a “10 out of 10.”

They also agreed with something she had said at an earlier class. Whatever the recipe, Dairis enthused, “I like eating together like we do.”

— Peter Landry