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Book review – Cook With Kids

23 September 2011 by
Book review – Cook With Kids

Cook With Kids By Rob Kirby
Absolute Press, £9.99
ISBN 978-1-906-65058-2

Food has the power to inspire. Flavours, textures and scents can create a glorious multi-sensory assault that precisely captures a moment in time; in personal history. It can be your very own time machine - who among us doesn't have a dish that instantly takes them back to days gone by simply in the eating.

Cook With Kids by Rob Kirby, chef director at Lexington Catering, aims to harness that inspirational power and create a new wave of food aficionados.

A child of the 1970s, Kirby was brought up in Greater London surrounded by an abundance of fresh produce. His family lived on an acre of land on which they grew all manner of fruit and vegetables, and home-cooked delights were always on the dining table.

Such experiences no doubt instilled the passion and love for food that shaped Kirby's successful career in cooking and Cook With Kids is another way for this father-of-three to pass on the mantle to the next generation.

As a member of the Academy of Culinary Arts, Kirby is active in its Chefs-Adopt-A-School initiative, in which chefs visit schools not only to teach children how to cook but also how to understand and explore their taste and sensory powers.

There is no shortage of books aimed at encouraging children to cook, but so many of them fail because the recipes don't meet the needs of everyone at the table. Either the kids have no interest in making or eating them, or the adults fail to find the flavour in dishes too simplistic for their palates.

Cook With Kids manages to achieve that tricky balancing act. Every recipe is accompanied by attractive photos - essential if you want to get fussy kids interested in making it. The book is divided into five sections with dynamic names like Snack Attack, Scrummy Yummy Mains and Sweet Emporium.

While the dishes are deliberately simple so that children really can help prepare as well as eat them, they are clearly designed to pack a punch in terms of flavour.

Thai salmon fishcakes follow hot on the heels of New York sliders and all-in-one chicken pie as the book goes on a culinary round the world trip of comfort food.

While there's plenty of fun to be had with Cook With Kids, it also comes with a healthy dose of goodwill. All royalties are being donated to Great Ormond Street Hospital School, which is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year and where Kirby regularly holds cooking sessions.

By Janie Stamford

E-mail your comments to Janie Stamford here.

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