The kitchen is a great learning environment for children and it’s easy to sprinkle in some Latin culture for fun as well! Cooking teaches real-life math skills as children count out ingredients, compare different sized measuring cups, or notice that three teaspoons equal one tablespoon. From a scientific angle, kids can observe property changes like solid chocolate becoming liquid when melted, or see how baking powder and yeast make foods rise. Patience can be learned from following instructions, waiting for food to cook, and cleaning up the mess!
Recipes are also a great way to introduce new vocabulary. To spice things up, try using Spanish cooking terms whenever possible:
- cocinar (to cook)
- amasar (to knead)
- mezclar (to mix)
- batir (to beat)
- el horno (the oven)
- la licuadora (blender)
We’ve gathered a few easy recipes from Spanish speaking countries that we think you’ll enjoy trying with your kids. They’re easy enough for family participation, and young chefs will be proud of their culinary creations!
Let’s start off with a Spanish Schoolhouse staff favorite from Mexico…
Jicama Chili Sticks (pronounced HIC-a-ma)
In Mexico you’ll see these for sale on just about every street corner. They’re low-calorie, refreshing snacks that are easy to make at home. When making your own, be sure to select very firm jicama with white flesh.
- Peel 1 1⁄2 lbs jicama and cut into sticks about 3” long and 1/2 thick
- Arrange on a paper towel and sprinkle with the juice of one lime
- Top with 1 teaspoon chili powder (more if you like it hot!)
- Serve ice cold
From Spain, you can make a traditional pastry called Hojaldres de Astorga (pronounced o-HAL-drays). Cafés and bakeries serve these sweet, flaky pastries at breakfast or as an afternoon snack. Here’s an easy recipe that has just a few ingredients. Older kids can use a pizza wheel to cut puff pastry sheets into cuadrados (squares) or rectángulos (rectangles), and younger kids can punch círculos (circles) in the middle with an apple corer or wooden spoon.
Many South American desserts include Dulce de Leche. Here’s a recipe for this delicious treat that has only one ingredient and is easy to make in a crockpot!
Finally, here’s a recipe from Colombia for a light, puffy cheese bread called Pandebono. It’s commonly served with coffee or hot chocolate. This recipe requires some unique ingredients but it’s worth the effort. Kids can help by rolling the dough into balls. ¡Buen provecho! (Bon Appétit!)
Do you have any Spanish or Latin recipes you’d like to share? Feel free to post links in the comments section below!