This month, The Sylvia Center had the privilege to work with PS21 and Perfect Ten in creating a community experience full of dance, music, and of course -- healthy eating. We had the privilege of cooking with a group of fourteen girls, ages ten to sixteen, from Perfect Ten’s programs last week. Each day, we had two, 1.5 hour rotations, spending meaningful time with both the younger and older students. In this program, we made a wide variety of healthy meals including: Mafé, Fresh Pasta with Ratatouille, Hand Pies, Triple Berry Cobbler, and much more. The variety of dishes we prepared allowed us to be inclusive of the many different preferences of our students. Some students enjoyed using seasonal fruits in baked desserts, while other students loved preparing savory dishes like pasta dough or making Mafé.
At The Sylvia Center, we take pride in giving our students the opportunity to have choices in the kitchen classroom. When the girls from Perfect Ten requested to make garlic bread, we were more than excited to help them learn to make one of their favorite foods. Together, both students and staff brainstormed ways to make a healthier version of garlic bread, putting our critical thinking skills and creativity to the test. At the end of the brainstorming session, the students came up with many innovative ways to make garlic bread healthy, while still retaining the bread’s deliciousness. The students decided to replace the bread with a whole grain bread, use olive oil instead of butter, and add a fresh tomato bruschetta on top. The end result was both healthy and delicious.
As the week progressed, the students challenged themselves in many different ways by learning to bake, roast, fry and cut with new ingredients. Many ingredients were items that some of the students had never tried before. Each meal provided this group of girls with the energy they needed to dance and drum for the rest of the day with Jamal and Company. Most importantly, sharing the meals allowed the group a time to build community and relish in their own successes after a day of growth, challenges, and hard work. One of their first challenges was creating a Triple Berry Cobber, making it the perfect meal to try with new young cooks:
Triple Berry Cobbler
2 cups blueberries
2 cups strawberries
2 cups raspberries
3/4 cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar, divided
3/4 cup all purpose flour, divided
½ cup whole-wheat flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¼ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into ½ inch cubes
2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
2 teaspoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease a 13x9 inch baking dish.
Combine berries with ¼ cup all purpose flour and ½ cup sugar. Toss to combine. Spread evenly in the baking dish.
Combine remaining flour, ¼ cup sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix in the butter using fingertips or pastry blender, and mix until it resembles coarse cornmeal.
Add buttermilk, mix until moist. Combine dough into eight equal balls, and place evenly over berries. Sprinkle with sugar.
Bake for 35 minutes, allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.