The World in a Week
Spice up your week with a culinary trip around the world, and bring the kids into the kitchen to make it a family affair! Cooking is famous for inspiring togetherness, and family members make the best sous-chefs, so even complex dishes become manageable. Introduce your family to these classic dishes from global cultures, and youâ€™ll turn dinnertime into a fun new experience.
For Monday, tackle something new and a little different; it's a great night for Chinese!
Divide the recipe into tasks. First, have an organized sous-chef portion out the ingredients, herbs and spices. Next, have one or two proficient knife-wielders chop, slice and dice. Then, let the lead cook go over the recipe again before starting to cook. Have someone keep the recipe and a timer on hand to help guide you to the finish.
Family-friendly,Â beginner- to intermediate-level Chinese dishes includeÂ red-cooked short ribs,Â ma-po tofu andÂ gong bao chicken.Â There are eight regional cuisine styles in Chinese cookery â€“ Hunan, Sichuan, Anhui, Shandong, Cantonese, Fujian, Zhejiang and Jiangsu. With such a huge variety to choose from, you wonâ€™t have to worry about any two Mondays turning out the same.
Dedicate your midweek culinary excursions to Latin American cuisine, working your way through the Spanish-speaking countries one Wednesday at a time. Like with Chinese cuisine, focus on a survey of the styles instead of just one region, at least until you get a handle on the fundamentals, then explore the characteristics of regional cookery.
Latin American cuisine relies largely on taste, making cooking sessions an effective way to train your family's collective palate. Of course you'll find an abundance of recipes with quantified ingredient lists, but you must taste and taste again to get the rhythm of the dish.
Latin American cooking is an inherently familial experience, so you'll find no shortage of recipes that get the family involved. For example, while one of your sous chefs makes the tamal dough, another can make the filling. Latin American dishes to tackle at the start includeÂ pastelesÂ (similar to tamales),Â sancochoÂ trifaciso (a rich Puerto Rican stew) andÂ bolinho de cassavaÂ (Brazilian cookies made with carrot-coconut milk dough).
French cuisine can be a little involved, but the reward â€“ a once-a-week luxury meal where you can taste the results of teamwork â€“ makes the effort worthwhile.
Start with mise-en-place, the French culinary term that means "everything in place," which signifies organization and preparation of your cooking areas for the task ahead. Have your team measure and organize every ingredient before you begin.
When it comes to execution, have your best cook lead while the sous-chefs observe and refer to the recipe when needed. Take pride in what youâ€™re doing; most of the world's modern cuisines â€“ Vietnamese, American Southern and some Japanese dishes â€“ have French roots, so if you're proficient in French cookery, you can cook almost anything.
French dishes to tackle with the family includeÂ cassouletÂ (a luxurious stew-casserole packed with duck or chicken, pork skin and cannellini beans),Â coq au vinÂ (wine-braised chicken) andÂ lamb navarinÂ (ragout of lamb). For dessert, makeÂ clafoutisÂ (cherry pie-tart) andÂ Paris-BrestÂ (praline cream-filled cake).