If the adult version of MasterChef really roasted your potatoes, then it’s likely (unless you’re the type who doesn’t like working with animals or small children) that Junior MasterChef also inspired you – or perhaps the kids – more than ever before. I loved the series and, other than making me feel completely incompetent in a culinary sense, I must admit I was totally gobsmacked by the gastronomic talent of these tots. By tots, I mean kids aged 8 to 12 – but in the food world I suppose they really are tots.
The creations and the talent showcased in this television series completely blew me away and made it clear that cooking is like many an artistic creation – it takes passion, commitment and a love of food to do it well. Even if you’re 8. In a world where the terms sautée, flambé and julienne are everyday utterings, it truly appears that age doesn’t matter.
In this printed tome representing the tv show – Volume 1: Recipes the whole family will love – wannabe junior chefs will pore over recipes in a compact, beautifully-produced book. Gorgeous styling and superb photos are just as important for kids as for adults, and Junior MasterChef: The Cookbook certainly doesn’t skimp in that area – yet its images, typography and layout are warmly kid-friendly.
I think the chapter breakdown is also very clever – and is totally kid-focused. We start with Mother’s Day Brunch (the most important day of the year!) – and these recipes had me drooling (and longing for the second Sunday in May, close to which I shall be leaving this book perched on a shelf and surreptiously gaping open to page 10). There’s scrambled eggs with roasted mushrooms, tomatoes and prosciutto. There’s French toast with juicy berries. There’s hotcakes with rhubarb and pear compote. There’s toasted muesli with yoghurt and berries. And yes, the recipes are totally approachable and doable.
In Pasta Night, kids can learn to make their very own pasta dough, and with it, create lashings of dishes to tempt the whole family. The chapter is presented as a menu suggestion and includes such options as roast pumpkin lasagne, three-cheese and bacon fusilli and chocolate tiramisu (yes!!). For Cupcake Party, kids can learn to make a variety of delectable little cakes that are about as far from a Betty Crocker packet as you can get. There’s double chocolate, raspberry and hazelnut, sticky date (with caramel icing, excuse me) and even gluten-free orange and almond.
Other chapters include Sunday Roast (Mum will be soooo happy! as will Dad), Footy Night (with a Swans scarf including in the styling; my son will be proud), Afternoon Tea (my favourite – that baked cheesecake is all mine!), Father’s Day Feast (second-most important day of the year), Mum’s Away, Pizza Night, Pool Party, and praise the heavens – Ulimate Chocolate, which features such tempters as choc truffles, mousse, cake, brownies and self-saucing pudding.
I also really love the chapter of Edible Gifts that kids can make for special occasions, for friends, teachers, granny or anyone else fortunate enough to receive some homemade coconut ice, lamingtons, lemon curd or rocky road slice (among other treats).
I was surprised to see no mention of the children from the Junior MasterChef tv show in this book – not sure why this happened, as I’m sure fans of the show would love to see their ‘idols’ page-bound. The recipes in this book are not actually from the show – so perhaps this is a totally different take than the adult version. Nonetheless, the book is a complete and tempting stand-alone creation that will delight children of any age. Yes, even the Big Kid kind.
Title: Junior MasterChef: The Cookbook Volume 1
Publication Date: March 2011