Like other enterprises across the planet, my Tiny Kitchen cooking school for children and teens was shuttered for most of 2020. The exceptions were early-bird, home-schooled kids, one of whom managed to have a cooking birthday party right before the lockdown.
Hair Aid, an Aussie-based group of hairdressers that regularly comes over to teach Filipinos in the slums to cut hair, and whose only R&R is a night of cooking Filipino food at Tiny Kitchen, also made it just in time.
The only other year my school closed for the summer was when I was on the way with my youngest, Tatin, who is now one of my teachers. In fact, my then future children were the reason I started Tiny Kitchen in the first place.
Writing is my one true love, with teaching and cooking secondary passions. Newly married, wanting to augment my meager writing fees while working completely from home led naturally to Tiny Kitchen.
My mom, Malu Veloso, gave cooking classes the summer I was 11 and I handled the kids’ class. I’d already been cooking since age 7, an interest piqued since my mom made sugar roses for her wedding cake business in front of my impressionable eyes.
Along with my three children, my school grew from nine students in the first year to 200 the summer before the pandemic. I teach kids ages 3 to 19 and I accept special children. I found that children with autism and ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) thrive in cooking class, and I became an accidental expert in handling them.
No group work
My teaching style is the opposite of other schools, the reason I suspect my culinary colleagues think I’m nuts. I don’t do group work, where an aggressive child might end up doing more and a shy one doing less.
It’s completely hands-on and each student gets their own space, ingredients and equipment. When in-person classes are allowed again, there may be fewer than the 12 to 20 kids we were getting in a session, but the setup will be the same.
I don’t teach “kiddie” versions, either, no shortcuts. They make yeast dough and pie crust from scratch in addition to pastas, steamed food like siopao and siomai, and the requisite cupcakes with buttercream icing. They cook every kind of dish, and my Around the World course is now up to Part 37.
There are so many courses because kids come back year after year, or enroll multiple times in a summer. Some started at age 3 and are now teenagers!
To my surprise, there are inquiries for online classes and so I am offering them.
Oh, and because I had no classes, I completed Book 5 of my “Sign of the Rabbit” series (“The Secret Rebellion”) and I am almost done with Book 6 (“The Troubled Mountains”).
This simple shrimp with salted egg sauce matched with tinapa rice has parents raving and saying they scraped their plates!
Shrimp with Salted Egg Sauce
Peel but leave the heads and tails of 12 large shrimp.
Dip the shrimp in beaten egg then coat well with tapioca starch or cornstarch. Fry in ½ inch of cooking oil until golden brown.
For the salted egg sauce mash:
Yolks of 3 salted eggs
Melt in a saucepan:
½ c unsalted butter.
Add the mashed egg yolks plus ⅛ tsp pepper.
Serve on the side with the shrimp.
‘Tinapa’ Fried RiceHeat in a nonstick pan:
3 Tbsp cooking oil
Add 4 cloves garlic, crushed.
Cook till lightly browned then add ½ tinapang bangus, flaked.
Add 3 c cold cooked rice and ¼ tsp each salt and pepper.
Mix well and top with chopped green onions or sliced leeks.
Red Velvet Cheesecake Brownies
Combine in a bowl:
½ c melted butter
1 c sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp red food coloring
⅔ c flour
3 Tbsp cocoa
½ tsp baking powder
¼ tsp salt
Pour into an 8-inch square baking pan.
In another bowl, blend together well:
½ c cream cheese, softened
3 Tbsp sugar
¼ tsp vanilla
Drop the cream cheese mixture by dollops on top of the brownie mixture and carefully swirl but don’t overmix.
Bake at 350ºF for 30 minutes or until set in the sides but still wet-looking in the middle. —CONTRIBUTED
The author has written nine cookbooks (including two with National Book Awards) and over 40 children’s books. In her adventure series for kids, “The Sign of the Rabbit,” each book comes with a recipe section. Tel. 0917-5393940; email [email protected]; Tiny Kitchen on Facebook.
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