Fonio Coconut Pudding with Fresh Berries, by Pierre Thiam. Photo courtesy of the chef

Cooking for Your Kids: Guilt-Free Treats

Satisfy the kids' demands for something sweet (and your desire to keep it nutritious) with these dishes from our new book

For many families, food is both a source of delight, and a wellspring of arguments and frustrations. For every fun morning making pancakes with the kids, there’s often a frustrating mealtime spent coaxing nutritious vegetables or challenging new dishes into reluctant mouths.

Our book, Cooking for Your Kids: At Home with the World's Greatest Chefs, helps at both ends of this family-culinary spectrum. Overseen by the home cook, father and long-standing Phaidon cookbook author, Joshua David Stein, it features 100 dishes that famous chefs such as Virgilio Martínez  Sean Brock and Ben Shewry feed their children.

Sure, they might be familiar names within culinary circles, though once they’re back home, they’re just an ordinary parent (though perhaps ones with sharper culinary skills), trying to satisfy their offspring’s wants and needs. Take Danny Bowien of Mission Chinese Food. He might be known for East-Asian cuisine, but his go-to treat for his son, Mino, is sweet potatoes with milk, peanuts, and maraschino cherries.

“Mino loves ‘sweet treats,’” the chef explains in the book, “but I try to limit the amount of sugar he eats. This purple sweet potato ‘sundae’ satisfies his craving for something sweet but doesn’t leave me feeling guilty as a parent.” Bowien roasts the sweet potato for about 35 minutes at 375°F (190°C), then splits it open lengthwise, garnishes each half with condensed milk, peanuts, salt, and cherries.


Arroz con Leche, by Pía León and Virgilio Martínez. Photo courtesy of the chefs
Arroz con Leche, by Pía León and Virgilio Martínez. Photo courtesy of the chefs

Peruvian power couple chefs  Pía León and Virgilio Martínez treat their son Cristobal, to equally easy comfort food, in the form of arroz con leche, or rice pudding. “Both of us grew up enjoying this recipe when we were kids,” they explain. “It’s common in South America, but we’ve seen it in Germany where it’s called Milchreis, and in France, where it’s called riz au lait. It’s a simple, easy-to-make, and quick dessert that relies on the quality of the ingredients.”

The chefs first boil the rice, then add orange zest, salt, cinnamon, and cloves to the pot, before lowering the heat and cooking for 20 minutes. Add evaporated milk and simmer for 10 more minutes. This is followed by some condensed milk and egg yolks, which they cook with rice for a further two minutes. Once off the heat, they add orange zest and even a dash of pisco or Peruvian brandy (though maybe hold off on the hard liquor if you’re cooking for young kids!). The rice is then poured into a square dish and refrigerated prior to serving, when it is sprinkled with cinnamon.

And, instead of sugary cereals, the Senegalese-born, New York-based chef Pierre Thiam gives his kids fonio coconut pudding with fresh berries (top) for breakfast. “In Kédougou, in southern Senegal, we serve fonio to children because of its nutritional properties and because it’s easy to digest,” he explains. “Fonio is an ancient grain from West Africa that is gluten-free and particularly rich in two amino acids that are very important for human growth and are deficient in most major grains.”


Cooking for Your Kids
Cooking for Your Kids

To make it for your kids, simmer some coconut milk, add some vanilla extract, take it off the heat, and put about one cup of the milk into a bowl. Put the rest in a blender, add dates and sea salt and blend until creamy. Transfer to a large bowl. Fold in half of the reserved coconut milk. Add fonio and fold until combined. Add the remaining coconut milk, then fold in Gently fold cocoa nibs or chopped dark chocolate. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes, then serve chilled with fresh berries, a sprinkle of cacao powder, or toasted coconut. You can get full recipes for all these dishes, as well as much more besides in by ordering a copy of Cooking for Your Kids here.