Kids Cook 1-2-3At our local library the other day, I flipped through Kids Cook 1-2-3: Recipes for Young Chefs Using Only 3 Ingredients, but didn’t expect much. I assumed it told how to mix chocolate chips and raisins into a pre-made cake mix and the like. Instead, I was surprised to find recipes from fresh ingredients and an approach that neither patronizes nor omits a certain sense of fun. Author Rozanne Gold, three-time winner of the prestigious James Beard Cookbook Award, has written several volumes using her simple 1-2-3 approach, for adults as well as children. She’s not dumbing down recipes for kids, but rather stripping foods down to a few essential ingredients and flavors, an approach that should please time-strapped adults and kids alike. Buttermilk biscuits or mac and cheese with only three ingredients each? Even pre-packaged foods don’t get much simpler than that—and never taste as good.

The recipes cover every meal and in between. There are plenty of desserts, like “Chocolate-Pecan Fudge” and “Simple Butter Cookies,” but also main course dishes like ‘A Simple Roast Chicken” and “Fillet of Flounder with Lemon Butter,” plus sides like “Green Beans Almondine” and “Steamed Broccoli with Stir-Fried Pecans.” The few pre-made ingredients are ones even serious home cooks would not scorn, such as frozen puff pastry. Gold also tries to instill a sense of culinary experimentation, by offering variations such as “Carrots, Three Ways” and “A Can of Tuna Fish . . . Four Things to Do with It,” the last of which involves using the can as a mold or cutter for other foods.

Gold’s panel of recipe testers were mostly in the 10-12-year-old range. With a little supervision and reading help, however, the recipes would work for the younger set, too—or even for busy parents. Check it out from the library or buy it with a set of measuring spoons as a birthday present for an aspiring chef!