As summer approaches and teens head off to college for the first time, parents may be wondering what kitchen skills their kids should have before they pack their bags and head off to a more mature experience.
When a college-aged teen moves into their dorm, should they know more than how to heat up a frozen dinner in the microwave or heat up a budget package of ramen? George Miliotis, master sommelier and owner of George’s Bar Wine in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, says yes.
Miliotes, whose children are between the ages of 17 and 25, has held various roles in the restaurant industry over the course of his career. While his 17-year-old daughter is still in high school, he and his wife, Leanne, have successfully taught two college grads how to cook simple, tastefully meals.
To get kids ready to cook with confidence during their college years, Miliotis says it’s worth investing “time and effort” into teaching them to cook. Miliotes shares with Yahoo Life the eight things teens should know how to do in the kitchen before starting college.
How to cut an avocado
Avocados are perfect for keeping, Miliotes says, because it’s easy to make avocado toast or toss guacamole together for a snack. “Knowing how to peel an avocado quickly and efficiently is like, to a child, the coolest and easiest thing ever,” he tells Yahoo Life.
But what is the simplest way to break up an avocado?
“Put the avocado in one hand and the kitchen knife in the other,” Miliotis says. “If you cut an avocado in half lengthwise, it breaks apart easily. Then, if you stick the knife into the nut, you can twist the knife and the nut comes out right. After that, you pass the spoon under each avocado half. Within 15 seconds I can completely pull the avocado out of the peel and it won’t My hands are in a mess.”
Once a baby removes a delicious avocado from its skin, Miliotis says the possibilities are endless. With a little lemon juice, salt, pepper, and hot sauce, they can make a simple guacamole. Sliced avocado can be added to salads, and chopped or mashed avocado can be added to toast.
“My kids also know if you’re going to make an avocado dish that’s going to have to sit a bit, acidify it with a little lemon juice so it doesn’t turn brown,” he adds.
Proper Knife Skills
“We’ve taught our kids knife skills: how to cut, how to hold a knife, and how to properly use the claw when slicing so you don’t cut yourself,” Miliotes shares. “At a young age, they learned to respect a knife and how to use a knife, and while that may not seem very important, almost any recipe involves some kind of chopping.”
Miliotes also says it’s important to show kids the correct way to cut with the knife, using a pushing motion while slicing for maximum effect.
How to grill a steak
To teach teens how to grill steaks, Miliotis says it’s a good idea to pick a few specific cuts of meat your family loves and stick with them. “We make filet or fillet or rib or skirt,” he says, explaining that this makes it easier for kids to pick their own meat at the grocery store. “First, you have to get your grill really, really hot, and for a younger person, I think the idea of heat is always a scary thing and you have to be respectful.”
For gas grills, Miliotes encourages working on a grill with two different heat zones. For charcoal, it is preferable to stack and light charcoal on one side of the grill, to create a temperature difference between the two sides of the grill.
“When you put a steak on a really hot grill, whether it’s gas or charcoal, you can get a very attractive straw mark if you’re patient,” he says. “When the grill marks reach the point where they are, you should be able to lift the steak off the grill without it sticking. If it’s still sticking, that means you need to leave it on the grill longer.”
The key to getting a good steak, says Miliotes, is to keep things simple: There’s no need to add oil to the meat before grilling, and salt and pepper should be added only after it comes off the grill. Once removed from the grill, the steak needs to rest for five to 10 minutes in a warm oven or in the microwave.
“The mistake most first-time steak cooks make is that they’re going to cook steaks and say, ‘Hey, they’re heating off the grill, let’s eat it,'” Miliotis says. Too dry meat.”
How to cook simple pasta dishes
“Pasta is simmering something down,” Miliotis says. “It’s not that hard. If you take five minutes with your kids, anyone can make pasta.”
Favorite pasta dishes he taught his kids to make? Carbonara, fettuccine alfredo, penne alla vodka.
“Spaghetti carbonara is really a quick and easy thing to do because all it really is is get good bacon or prosciutto or any type of ham and chop it up and saute it until almost done,” he says. “Then we set that aside and make a mixture of egg yolk and cheese. Boil the pasta and then when it’s done, put it in a bowl and dump the egg, cheese, and bacon mixture in it and throw it in.”
“We will [the dish] With peas too — frozen peas that we’ve fried or left at room temperature to defrost,” he adds. It’s very simple, and because it’s “spaghetti carbonara” it looks like you’re doing something uniquely Italian. “
Miliotes also recommends teaching children to make a simple Alfredo sauce, which can be changed into a vodka sauce by adding tomato paste and a drizzle of vodka.
How to buy seafood
Choosing a piece of fish at the grocery store can be overwhelming for any adult, but Miliotes says with a few simple tips, teens can pick out the perfect filet.
“We taught our children how to examine fish,” he says. “When buying fish, there are three things our children know. First, the eyes should be clear. Then, the gills should be nice and red. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong with asking someone to take it out of the can in a piece of deli paper and let you smell it because your nose will tell you.” If it smells good or not.”
“Trust your nose,” he adds. “If you don’t think it smells good, buy something else.”
How to make juice
In a world where mini-machines expertly blend smoothies abound, Miliotes says the beverage is the perfect meal for college kids on the go.
“The youngest of them is the queen of smoothies,” he says. “She prepares them for breakfast, lunch, or after any kind of sporting activity. We always keep the protein powder because if she cheers up or tracks—after any workout—she’ll come home and make a smoothie with a little bit of frozen fruit and full-fat coconut milk.”
“She always adds a protein powder that gives her body that protein that helps her build and rebuild muscle after a workout,” he adds.
How to cook eggs
“Teach your kids the very simple idea of putting butter in a frying pan and how to beat eggs and add a bit of dairy—whether it’s half and half or whole milk,” Miliotis says. “Beat it well and the pan should be very hot: put the butter in the pan, and when the butter becomes foamy, you know the pan is hot enough.”
Once your teen understands the basics, you can show him how to make both scrambled eggs and omelets. Miliotis says that you should consider teaching children how to make devil eggs.
“It’s very easy for kids to make up,” he says. “If you pass by them once or twice, their friends will think, ‘Wonderful.’ Fried eggs as an appetizer and then steak and salad? That’s a great meal.”
How to Order a Great (But Inexpensive) Bottle of Wine
As a master bartender, Miliotis says his children grew up around wine. However, he maintains that the skill of wine selection should be reserved for those 21 or older.
For Miliotes, it’s about giving young people the right buzzword for choosing a great bottle of vermouth.
“My daughter knows to ask about Beaujolais because right now, Beaujolais has more than a moment,” he says. “You go in and ask what Beaujolais they have or what Nebbiolo. Don’t say Barbaresco or Barolo because you’ll pay $200 a bottle, but if you say Nebbiolo, they might have something good in your price range.”
He adds, “My son will ask about their Tempranillo or Garnacha from Spain which is under $20 a bottle. He knows he’s looking for Paso Robles Cabernet at the grocery store because he knows he can get good wine at a good price.”
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