PANAMA CITY — On Saturday, Hannelore Holland worked with a group of up-and-coming chefs whose combined energy and skills were just the right ingredients for an afternoon of fun.
The Just for Kids classes at Somethin’s Cookin’ are interactive demonstrations for ages 7 to 13, “but there are some 5- and 6-year-olds who come if the interest is there,” she said. “Once they are 14, they can be in the adult class.”
For this grandmother of two, little helping hands are just the right size for molding.
“Scott is our chef,” said Hannelore, whose grandsons call her “Omi,” a German version of grandmother. “When he comes to visit, he makes the chocolate soufflé, and they look better than mine.”
Her grandsons, Alan, 15, and Scott, 11, of Orlando have grown up cooking in the kitchen during their visits.
“I always gave them dough and they made their own bread. It’s better than play dough, they love to cook with it,” Hannelore said. “If you teach them at an early age, later there are benefits.”
Her children’s cooking classes combine her specialties, making gourmet food easy and working with children, both of which require a lot of love and experience.
“I enjoy the children,” said Hannelore, who shows an extraordinary amount of patience and often laughs at their antics. “It’s very important to treat them like an equal; don’t treat them like a child. I have children that are better than adults at cooking.”
Though most in Saturday’s class were novice chefs, Ariane Corks was attending her ninth class.
“She made desserts for her parents’ supper club,” said Hannelore, who showed off a gift Ariane had made for her — a small pizza model.
Some parents leave their children during the cooking class, though Hannelore welcomes them to stay and observe, even try a bite themselves.
And though some of the skill levels were apparent in the raw creations of the Ham and Cheese Feuillete, “a French pizza,” all of the pastries looked beautiful coming out of the oven.
With today’s conveniences, crust doesn’t have to be made from scratch. Each child delighted in taking their piece of puff pastry and patting it on flour, then folding, or scrunching the sides, and painting the edges with eggwash. Hannelore passed around a bowl of champagne mustard, squares of ham, provolone and Swiss to give the children a chance to taste, then choose their toppings. Vegetables also can be incorporated.
“I have introduced broccoli,” Hannelore said. “They can make a face with it.”
When it came to the famous Rice Krispies Treats recipe, once readily available on the cereal box, Hannelore let the children get behind the counter. Each took a turn stirring the wooden spoon in the pan, as the three tablespoons of butter melted over low heat. She then added the 10-ounce package of marshmallows and the six cups of Rice Krispies cereal. The children were eager to give it their best effort when stirring the marshmallows. All were careful to watch out for the hot pan, with older children helping steer the younger students.
Hannelore gave the pan one last final stir to make sure all was coated well, then she poured the mixture onto wax paper. Each child was able to pull some off and shape it into their own creation.
“Because we like to make our own,” Hannelore said, as she encouraged creativity. She went for a heart shape, then passed out bowls of water for the children to dip their hands in to keep it from sticking to them.
“Always let them do it, even if it’s a little messy,” Hannelore said. “You need to let them express themselves and be creative.”
Though the recipe says to eat after the treats have cooled, the children decided to skip the waiting step. Licking fingers was encouraged, and the children already were asking when they could come to the next class.
Other classes have included soups, noodles with spaghetti sauce “with finely chopped onions for flavor, mainly to get vegetables in,” pizzas, tacos, enchiladas, holiday cookies, French toast, bread and crepes.
“We have made pasta from scratch,” she said. “They all line up rolling it out.”
But cooking with children is about more than what’s on the menu.
“It’s good for the family; it’s togetherness, especially in the working world,” Hannelore said. “Also, it’s good as they grow up and value more healthy food. … Some kids would not eat vegetables, but if you let them do it themeselves, they would eat it. It’s good to introduce different food.”
Ham and Cheese Feuillete
¼ piece puff pastry
Thinly sliced ham
Thinly sliced Swiss cheese
Champagne mustard, optional
Eggwash for glaze
Roll puff pastry into a rectangle, then brush with mustard, if desired. Top with ham and cheese, then fold sides over a little bit, brush with eggwash and bake in a 450 degree oven for 10 to 15 minutes until pastry is nice and brown.
JUST FOR KIDS COOKING CLASSES
What: Hannelore Holland teaches groups of about six children
When: 1:30-3 p.m. March 30 and April 20
Menu: Healthy Fun Chicken Fingers; special dessert: marshmallows dipped in chocolate, wrapped in puff pastry
Where: Somethin’s Cookin’, 93 E. 11th St., Panama City
Reservations required: (850) 769-8979