Summer has started, the kids are out of school, and you may be looking for fun and enriching ways to pass the time. In our last post, we shared tips for finding Spanish language experiences for your children outside the classroom such as visiting Latin restaurants to put their Spanish to the test. We also challenge you to create your own “cultural kitchen” at home now and then by cooking with your kids!

Cooking Together Feeds the Appetite… and the Mind!

Culinary experiences can provide many learning opportunities at home too! Cooking with kids gives them hands-on exposure to all kinds of educational concepts. There’s the math that’s involved in weights and measurements, the science demonstrated by chemical reactions such as yeast rising, and language expression through describing smells, tastes, and textures.

It’s easy to add a cultural element to cooking as well!  You’ll find lots of Spanish and Latin recipes online that are kid-friendly.  When cooking ethnic dishes with your kids, see if you can find out about the origins of the dishes or their ingredients. Here are a few recipes to get you started, along with a little background. Simply click on the titles to access the recipes!

Sweet and Easy Pineapple Empanadas

Empanadas are pastry turnovers that are filled and either baked or fried. The word empanada comes from the verb empanar meaning “to coat with bread,” and refers to the pastry shell that is wrapped around the filling.  

These little pocket pastries can be found in many variations throughout Latin America and Spain. Spaniards say they originated in the northern coastal area of Galicia, where an annual Empanada Festival is held each year. The variety of fillings (meat, vegetables, fruit, cheese) is endless, with many regional versions even in the same country.

Magdalenas (Spanish Lemon Cupcakes)

Magdalenas are Spain’s version of the French pastries known as “madeleines.”  They’re made with olive oil and are light and fluffy with a sweet, lemon flavor.  The version in the link above is for muffins, but magdalenas are typically baked in a shell-shape mold, or are paper-wrapped squares in the Basque Country region of Spain. Spaniards often eat magdalenas for breakfast with hot coffee and milk (café con leche).   

Arroz con Leche (Rice Pudding)

Arroz con leche (literally, rice with milk) is a classic comfort food enjoyed throughout Spain, Latin America, Asia and beyond.  It’s so popular in Latin culture that it’s even featured in a favorite children’s nursery rhyme/song! Different regions put their own twists on the flavors – you can find rice pudding flavored with lemon zest, rose water, raisins, pistachios, cardamom, cinnamon, and other spices. This recipe is easy to make. Try it served warm or cold, as a dessert or snack!  

Fried Cassava Sticks

Cassava is a root vegetable that is native to South America, but is also found parts of Asia and Africa.  In South America It’s known by many names – yuca,  manioc, macaxeira, mandioca, and aipimhas.  When fried, this vegetable is fluffy on the inside, but crispy on the outside, making it a fresh twist on the french fry!  It’s important to note that cassava should never be eaten raw.

Expand Your Vocabulary

While you’re in the kitchen, take advantage of the chance for both you and your children to increase your Spanish vocabulary!  Here’s a list of common cooking terms you can practice as a family:

El horno – oven

La microondas – microwave oven

La nevera, el refrigerador – refrigerator

La congelador – freezer

El lavaplatos – dishwasher

La tostadora – toaster

La  licuadora – blender

La batidora – beater

La olla – pot

El recipiente – bowl

La cuchara – spoon

El tenedor – fork

La espátula – spatula

Medir – to measure

Calentar – to heat

Cocinar – to cook

Congelar – to freeze

Amasar – to knead

Aplanar – to roll out

Batir – to beat/to whisk

Preparar – to prepare

Rallar – to grate

Pelar – to peel

Picar –  to chop

Hornear – to bake

Cocinar – to cook

Mezclar – to mix/blend

Añadir – to add

Derretir – to melt

Servir – to serve

¡Está listo! – It is ready!

Dishes from the World Await!

Whether you’re drawn to Latin dishes, Asian, North American, or European, it’s easy to find recipes that bring the flavors of the world into your own kitchen. Make the process educational and fun by having your little ones shop with you, measure out ingredients, and be your taste-testers!  If you have a favorite Spanish or Latin recipe you’d like to share, please add a link in the comments below!