Welcome to Kitchen Classroom, where America’s Test Kitchen Kids is sharing a weekly set of kid-tested and kid-approved recipes, hands-on experiments, and activities paired with suggestions for how to bring learning to life in the kitchen. Visit americastestkitchen.com for additional recipes.

This week, kids can make vegetarian Rice and Bean Bowls with Corn and Avocado Crema for a family dinner, explore some cheesy science while preparing Crispy Frico Caesar Salad as a lunch or side dish, and tackle two different baking recipes: buttery Berry Scones make breakfast special while citrusy Key Lime Bars are best enjoyed on a hot summer’s day.

Rice and Bean Bowls with Corn and Avocado Crema

This one-pot vegetarian dinner takes the guesswork out of cooking rice and also infuses it with flavor, as the rice cooks in vegetable broth along with black beans, sauteed onions, and other seasonings. The finished bowls are topped with sauteed corn, salsa, and avocado crema, but kids can get creative by adding their favorite toppings, such as cheese, chopped herbs, and pepitas. As they’re enjoying their bowls, kids can learn more about the most popular grain in the world (rice!).

2 (15-ounce) cans black beans

1 cup long-grain white rice

1 tablespoon plus 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, measured separately

Use butter knife to cut avocado in half lengthwise around pit. With your hands, twist both halves in opposite directions to separate. Use soupspoon to remove pit. Scoop avocado from skin into food processor; discard pit and skin.

Add water, cilantro, lime juice, sour cream, and ¼ teaspoon salt to food processor and lock lid into place. Process mixture until completely smooth, about 1 minute. Stop food processor. Carefully remove food processor blade (ask an adult for help). Use rubber spatula to transfer avocado crema to small bowl.

Set colander in sink. Pour beans into colander and rinse with cold water. Shake colander to drain well. Pour rice into fine-mesh strainer and rinse with cold water until water is no longer cloudy. Shake strainer to drain well. Set aside.

In 12-inch nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat for 1 minute (oil should be hot but not smoking). Add corn to skillet and use rubber spatula to spread it in even layer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until corn is lightly browned, about 5 minutes. Turn off heat. Use spatula to transfer corn to medium bowl. Cover bowl with aluminum foil.Add onion, cumin, ½ teaspoon salt, and remaining 1 tablespoon oil to skillet and return to medium heat. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion has softened, about 5 minutes.

Carefully stir in beans, rice, and broth and bring to simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low, and cook for 10 minutes.Use oven mitts to remove lid. Stir rice mixture and put lid back on skillet. Continue cooking until liquid is absorbed, 5 to 10 minutes.

Turn off heat. Divide rice mixture evenly among serving bowls. Top each bowl with corn and pico de gallo. Use soupspoon to drizzle bowls with avocado crema. Serve.

Before kids begin cooking, ask them what they already know about rice. Explain that rice is a grain that was originally cultivated in China thousands of years ago. Today, rice is eaten by people all over the world, every single day. There are about 40,000 varieties of rice, though only a handful typically make it onto supermarket shelves in the United States, including white rice (used in this recipe), brown rice, sushi rice, basmati rice, jasmine rice, arborio rice, black (or forbidden) rice, and wild rice. Some, like white and brown rice, come in long-grain and short-grain varieties. This recipe uses long-grain white rice.

Have kids go on a mini pantry scavenger hunt to find any varieties of rice you have on hand. Have kids observe a few grains of each type of rice (this is a great place to employ a magnifying glass, if you have one). What do they notice? You might ask kids:

How are the different rice varieties similar? Do they have the same shape and size? Are they the same color? How are they different?

How does cooking rice change its color and texture?

Explain to kids that rice is actually the edible seed of a grass plant. Each grain of rice is made of an outer layer called the bran, which is rich in fiber, surrounding the germ, which is the beginning of a new rice plant, and the starchy endosperm, which is what we eat as white rice. When rice is harvested from the plant, each individual grain is covered with a protective husk. Once the husk is removed, you’re left with brown rice. Brown rice still has the brown-colored bran layer attached. White rice is milled to remove the bran and the germ. Because brown rice still has the bran layer, it has more nutrients than white rice. It takes longer to cook and has a chewier texture.

The next time kids are with you in the supermarket, encourage them to explore the different varieties of rice. How many different types of rice can they count?

Social Studies (World Cultures):

We top our rice and bean bowls with tangy, creamy avocado crema made with avocados, sour cream, lime juice, and cilantro. This simple sauce is inspired by a Mexican dairy product called crema. Crema is thinner than sour cream, less sour, and has slightly more fat. It is traditionally used as a condiment to top a wide variety of dishes, and it helps balance the heat of spicy foods. Many grocery stores and supermarkets stock crema—if you find it, you can substitute it for the sour cream in this recipe (your sauce will be slightly thinner).

Crispy Frico Caesar Salad

Frico is a cheesy, crispy one-ingredient wonder that just happens to make a perfect (edible) plate for a crunchy Caesar salad. Kids will practice identifying and measuring the diameter of a circle as they prep circles of shredded Asiago cheese for baking.

2 cups shredded Asiago cheese (6 ounces)

1 tablespoon lemon juice, squeezed from ½ lemon

1½ teaspoons Dijon mustard

1½ teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

1–2 anchovy fillets, rinsed, patted dry, and minced (optional)

1 small garlic clove, peeled and minced

2 romaine lettuce hearts (12 ounces), cut into bite-size pieces

Adjust oven racks to upper-middle and lower-middle positions and heat oven to 350 degrees.

Trace bowl or plate on parchment paper and shape 4 frico. Place bowl upside-down on left side of 1 sheet of parchment paper. Trace around edge of bowl to create circle with 7-inch diameter. Repeat on right side of parchment. Repeat again on second sheet of parchment.

Flip each sheet of parchment marked side down and place 1 in each rimmed baking sheet. Spray both sheets of parchment paper with vegetable oil spray.

Place ½ cup cheese in center of each circle. Spread cheese to edge of circle in thin, even layer.

Place baking sheets in oven. Bake until cheese turns light golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

Use oven mitts to remove baking sheets from oven (ask an adult for help). Place baking sheets on cooling racks and let cool for 10 minutes.

Use thin metal spatula to carefully lift frico off parchment paper and transfer each frico to serving plate.

In large bowl, whisk together mayonnaise, lemon juice, mustard, oil, Worcestershire, anchovies (if using), garlic, pepper, and salt.

Add lettuce to bowl with dressing and use tongs to toss until lettuce is coated with dressing.

Use tongs to divide salad evenly among frico “plates,” piling salad in center of each frico. Serve.

To help shape their frico, kids will need to identify a bowl or plate with a 7-inch diameter. (They will eventually trace its outline and fill the circle with a thin layer of shredded cheese.) Ask kids if they know what “diameter” means in the context of geometry. (Answer: A straight line that runs from the edge of a circle through its center.)

Have kids practice using a ruler to measure the diameter of different plates and bowls in your kitchen until they find one with a diameter as close to 7 inches as possible.

While the Frico are baking, challenge kids to find other circles in the kitchen and measure their diameters. (Examples: mixing bowls, pie plate, aluminum cans, spice jars, oatmeal containers, the cap on a container of milk)

In “Food for Thought” at the bottom of the recipe page, kids will learn that you can’t use just any cheese to make crispy frico—it has to be a hard, dry, aged cheese, such as Asiago or Parmesan. To see what happens when you try to make frico with young, moist cheese, have kids make a few smaller frico on a second rimmed baking sheet that’s lined with parchment paper and sprayed with vegetable oil spray. Use whatever cheeses you have in your refrigerator, such as cheddar, Swiss, Monterey Jack, mozzarella, Gruyère, or Parmesan (be sure to shred them first). You can bake the mini frico at the same temperature, but start checking them after 5 to 7 minutes.

Kids will likely observe that younger cheeses, like mozzarella, mild cheddar, and Monterey Jack turn soft and gooey in the oven, while aged cheeses, like Parmesan, Gruyère, and sharp cheddar turn crisp and golden brown.

Berry Scones

Buttery, flaky scones studded with berries make a special breakfast or afternoon snack. A food processor helps quickly cut chilled butter into the dough before kids stir in the liquid ingredients—and those berries—by hand.

1 cup (5 ounces) frozen mixed berries

1 tablespoon confectioners’ (powdered) sugar

1½ cups (7½ ounces) all-purpose flour, plus extra for counter

6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled

1½ teaspoons baking powder

½ cup (4 ounces) whole milk

Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

In medium bowl, combine berries and confectioners’ sugar. Use rubber spatula to stir to coat berries with confectioners’ sugar. Place bowl in freezer until needed.

Place flour, chilled butter, sugar, baking powder, and salt in food processor. Lock lid in place. Hold down pulse button for 1 second, then release. Repeat until butter forms pea-size pieces, six to eight 1-second pulses.

In second medium bowl, whisk milk and egg yolk until well combined. Add milk mixture to flour mixture and use rubber spatula to stir until just combined into shaggy dough. Do not overmix.

Sprinkle clean counter lightly with extra flour and coat your hands with flour. Transfer dough to floured counter and shape dough into 8 scones. Use bench scraper (or spatula) to transfer scones to parchment-lined baking sheet.

Sprinkle clean counter lightly with extra flour and coat your hands with flour. Transfer dough to floured counter and shape dough into 8 scones. Use bench scraper (or spatula) to transfer scones to parchment-lined baking sheet.

Use your hands to pat dough into 8-inch circle, about ¾ inch thick.

Use bench scraper (or butter knife) to cut circle into 8 wedges.

Place baking sheet in oven. Bake until scones are golden brown on top, about 14 minutes.Use oven mitts to remove baking sheet from oven (ask an adult for help). Place baking sheet on cooling rack and let scones cool on baking sheet for 15 minutes.

Transfer scones directly to cooling rack. Let cool for 30 minutes before serving.

Math (Parts of a whole, fractions):

In step 6 of this recipe, kids shape their scones into eight equal wedges. After shaping the dough into an 8-inch circle, ask your young chef to think about equal parts and unequal parts, using the questions below to help guide them.

How do you cut a circle into equal parts?

If you cut a circle into 8 strips all in one direction, will the parts of the whole be equal, or unequal?

Challenge kids to think of how they can turn a circle into eight equal triangles. If they need help, you can guide them by asking if they can first cut it into two equal parts? Then, can they make those two equal parts into four equal parts (cut crosswise). This video and this related website might help more visual learners understand what cutting a shape into equal parts means.

For older kids, have them call out the fractions they create as they cut the scones. The uncut circle is a whole, so it is 1.

After making the first cut and separating the dough into two pieces, each piece is ½ of the whole. After the second cut leaves your young chef with four pieces, each piece is ¼ of the whole. After making the final two cuts, each piece is ⅛ of the whole. For more guidance on how to turn parts of a whole into fractions,visit the webite.

Kitchen Classroom: Rice Bowls And Frico | Living

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