Learning to Cook Week 2 Moroccan Stew

Week two and we finally had our space in CPS’s fully equipped kitchen. Before we started learning to cook this week we went over our Moroccan Stew recipe. The kids had trouble pronouncing the many spices and had never heard of a few. . We passed around the containers of cumin, paprika, coriander, cayenne pepper, cinnamon and ginger – “Like gingerbread cookies!” Their curiosity peaked as they smelled (and insisted on tasting) the spices as we explained a little bit about each one showed them what whole cumin and coriander seeds looked like before they were ground. We also introduced them to parsnips, which we added to the recipe along with a touch of cinnamon.  I also demonstrated how to properly chop an onion so that we wouldn’t have as many tears as we did last week (thankfully from the volatile oils in the onion, not injuries!).

There was plenty to chop and prep this week so for the next 20 minutes Anyia, Jalia and Annette  were occupied peeling and chopping the carrots, parsnips, cilantro and onions. 

learning new skills

chopping away

Learning to chop herbs

Annette skillfully chops the cilantro










 Lucas carefully measured out the spices and got the other ingredients ready, while Nicholas struggled bravely trying to peel the butternut squash. Fortunately I brought a peeler from home and had him try that one.  It worked much better and we learned how important good tools are to make yucky jobs easier.

learning how to measure accurately

Lucas carefully measures the spices


Learning the importance of good tools

Peeling butternut squash is not easy without good tools











Lucas stirs the quinoa while Jalia sautes the onions

​Lucas wanted to do the cooking not the chopping, so he took charge of the quinoa. Annette and Lucas rinsed it in the strainer, and once Annette put her fingers in the South American seeds (not grains as I pointed out) all the kids crowded around to stick a hand in. “Ooo, it feels so weird!” they exclaimed digging their quinoa-speckled hands deeper into the strainer.  It was a good thing there was more in the bag.
They sautéed the onion, then garlic and spices, explaining that the garlic burns way easier than the onion so you shouldn’t add it at the same time and that the spices really open their flavors when you cook them until they are fragrant.


Note how they are pouring away from themselves so they don't get spattered

Note how they are pouring away from themselves so they don’t get spattered

 They then added the vegetables and liquid and stirred, stirred, stirred.  As the stew simmered we cleaned up and set the table. Jalia and Nicholas cut lemon wedges from the leftover half and put them on the sides of the plastic cups as a special touch.





​Lucas served up the vegetable stew and passed the bowls around. Nicolas though it was a bit too spicy and some thought the chunks of vegetables were a bit too big.  We will be going over cutting even pieces again next week. Annette was surprised that she liked the carrots even though she doesn’t like carrots. They all liked the parsnips.


Experimenting with different flavor combinations

We had extra bosc pears from Eatiquette lunch that day, so we passed those out as well. Katherine cut one in half to show them the star that the seeds and core make. I thought that the pear might be good in the stew and balance some of the heat. The kids held up their bowls and I put a few pear chunks in each. “Hmmm, kind of weird but kind of good,” Aniya said.


The time goes so fast. It is a good thing Katherine keeps us on track.  There is so much information I want to impart in their learning to cook adventure, but I hold back a bit so I don’t overwhelm them. Those of you who have taken classes with me understand that, since that is how I teach.  Learning about the ingredients and how to use them properly is way more useful than just showing someone how to make a recipe. It is how you go about learning to cook.

The recipes are published in the food section of the Philadelphia Inquirer every Thursday where you can find out what is happening at the other schools too.  The Vetri Foundation for Children helps support this program. Please donate.  Thanks

As I get more time to spend on the site, you will start to find technique links in the articles I post. Check out the first one in this post, onions.
Adrian Seltzer and Katherine Rapin

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