There are a number of exciting developments here at Allergic: upcoming partnerships with Sustainable Table and Kids Cook Mondays; cooking classes for folks, aged two through adult, funded through your tax-deductible donations and support from ioby; tween cooking classes at Institute of Culinary Education; ESOL seasonal cooking and health classes for adults; and more —  But class continues on, cooking through the holidays, seriously anxious for spring eating and increased greens on our table (who knew?!).

A 2nd grader mixes up our beet batter.

For Valentine’s Day we enjoyed fudged up, bite-size Chocolate Beet Cakes. No doubt, this dish was a serious winner for student and parent alike, and filled with fascination (except from those who don’t like chocolate– sacrilegious!):

“Wait, beets? A vegetable? With Chocolate? Please tell me you are joking?”
I’m seriously not joking– which is great because it got us thinking of other vegetables we could mix into chocolate (with some suggestions more appealing than others, you can imagine.).We used our pureed beets to dye our frosting a neon pink which we all thought was pretty much the coolest thing. We learned that beets can dye more than frosting pink, and will turn our urine a shade towards red should we eat enough. Totally fascinating, but the kids feign disgust (and giggles)– Yet it remains an interesting way to get kids to eat their colors.

We bypassed Purim, jumping to India for a Holi celebration. Holi, a Hindu celebration of spring, involves throwing colored powders and perfumes at fellow revelers (see some amazing pics of this year’s celebration here).

This was a hard-to-find favorite snack for me in India (samosa being most prevalent). I was excited to share it with my classes once home, but started second guessing myself. I started the week tepid: Lentils? With raisins? And turmeric? We’re getting into sketchy territory here. In the end, we find dough to be pure ecstasy. Turmeric, low and behold, is pretty cool– especially when we rub it on our face a la Holi. And even those lentils and raisins we put inside that dough and bake (rather than the usual fry) receive thumbs up and excitement that leftovers will be saved for our end of semester party. Holi is a hit.

To bring us full circle in holidays that highlight color is St. Patrick’s Day. I have never been able to figure out why this holiday relies so heavily on the world turning green (Irish folk: any input?). I grew up in the Chicagoland area, with four-leaf clover headbands glittering on every child, rivers turning green, mint milkshake sale spiking, and a must to arrive to school head-to-toe in green donning “Kiss Me I’m Irish!” pins. My students are no exception with mention of hair dying, breakfasts of green eggs, queries to which vegetable will turn our pee green, and more.

While we were hoping for an Irish treat laced with sugar, we’ve instead been cooking up mini Shepherd’s Pie this week. Unfortunately, adding parsley to our potatoes didn’t turn it green enough and food coloring was brought in– To the rescue? You decide. We like our Shepherd’s Pie because, well, it looks like a cupcake with mint frosting (that’s almost a check for Irish treat laced with sugar), but tastes like meat and potatoes. In the end, it’s not turning our pee green, but it’s pretty darn good.

Mini Shepherd’s Pie
Serves 6 (Makes about 30 mini pies)
1-1/2 – 2 lbs potatoes (about 3), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/4 cup cream
2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, fine chop
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 drops green food coloring (optional)
1/2 pound grass-fed ground beef
1 egg
1 small red onion, chopped
1/2 cup green peas
1/4 cup instant oats
1/4 cup plain yogurt
1/2 teaspoon salt

Begin heating the oven to 400 degrees F.

On the stove top, bring an 8-quart stock pot of salted water to boil. Add potatoes and cook about 15 minutes, until soft when poked with a fork. Drain water, add butter, cream, parsley, salt and food coloring (if using). With a potato masher, smash potatoes to a uniform mash.

In a mixing bowl, add beef, egg, onion, peas, oats, yogurt and salt. Mix until combined.

Use a 1 tablespoon ice cream scoop and fill a silicone mini muffin tray with one scoop of ground beef mixture. Top with one scoop of potato mixture. Bake 15 minutes, until lightly crisp on top. Let cool 5 minutes before removing from mini muffin tray.

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