When I was invited to review the recently released Spatulatta Cookbook, my answer was an enthusiastic “Yes!” and I couldn’t wait to see what the girls from Spatulatta had cooked up.
Spatulatta.com is a James Beard award-winning website with video cooking lessons for kids. The hosts are Isabella and Olivia Gerasole, sisters ages 11 and 9, and they do all the video demonstrations. If you have not seen the website, you must go and visit it because the videos are lively and fun. The girls, who are naturals in front of a camera, prepare foods while their mom and other guests help out with things like cutting, assembling the food processor, and working with the stove or oven. Spatulatta has webcasts demonstrating recipes and basic skills, such as separating eggs and chopping an onion.
The full-color cookbook, which was released this month, begins with a basic skills overview for such tasks as chopping, shredding and grating cheese, measuring, and food safety, and also includes information on essential cooking tools and measurements. Recipes are divided into six chapters: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, Vegetarian, and Snacks. Each section presents a variety of dishes including main dishes, sides, breads, and snacks. So far we’ve made the Green Beans with Garlic and End-of-Summer Salad and enjoyed them both. Each recipe starts with a list of ingredients and required equipment, then has step-by-step instructions accompanied by photos and a quote from either Isabella or Olivia stating what they like about the recipe or something they learned when making the dish. Recipes are simple and designed to make cooking healthy foods easy and enjoyable for kids.
Published by Scholastic Inc., the cookbook is a good follow-on for the website and several of the recipes are also demonstrated online, such as the Tuscan Bean Dip, Cheese Boereg, and Harvest Soup. The target age range for this children’s cookbook is ages 9 to 12, and as a teacher I would say that is appropriate. The recipes and overall design are presented in an engaging manner, and children who are interested in cooking will likely enjoy using the book. Younger children will need more assistance from an adult, but even so my preschool-aged boys love looking at the book and trying to read the words they recognize. They also help me measure and weigh ingredients and arrange food for presentation. If you are looking for a cookbook that you can use with your children, The Spatulatta Cookbook is an excellent choice.
My only quibble with the book is the plethora of salads in the Vegetarian section, which accounts for five out of the seven recipes. It would be nice to see a more balanced selection of dishes in a section devoted to vegetarian foods, but quite a few of the recipes in the other sections are vegetarian or can be easily adapted, so vegetarian/vegan families will find plenty of foods appropriate for them.