The Kid Stays in the Kitchen: Zhi Ming Caramelizes Ribs!

1Bay Leaves
2Black Pepper
3Brown sugar
5Dried Tangerine Skin
6Ginger, Garlic, and Scallion Stalk
7Hondashi Fish stock
9Raw Pork Ribs
91Sesame Oil
92Soy Sauce
93Spicy Pepper
94Star Anise
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Welcome back to “The Kid Stays in the Kitchen.” Each week throughout the semester, a student is assigned to cook a traditional dish with a friend or family member and document the experience in photos and words.  This post features Zhi Ming who decided to take the reigns from his dad and cook his favorite dish: caramelized ribs.  Here’s Zhi Ming’s take:

“The main ingredient in this dish is the rib, but the method involved in cooking this dish can also be applied to many other forms of meat. My grandmother passed this recipe down using eggs or chicken feet. But it also works extremely well with potatoes and since it really sucks in all the flavors the outcome is phenomenal. This dish originates from southern China, where my family is from, and the tradition of cooking is largely influenced by the variety of spices and herbs that inhabit that part of southern China.

My father cooks this dish often and I love it. Initially, he experimented with the dish and I volunteered to try it, which I enjoyed, so from that my father cooked it almost every day of the week. Luckily I haven’t gotten sick of it and still find it terribly delicious.   In this case, the ribs will have a citrus and burnt sugary taste that permeates the flesh. The flesh can also be easily peeled off the bone if it is cooked for an even longer time. This is exceptionally nice because it takes the work out of having to chew off the meat!”


  • 1.5 teaspoons Hondashi® Fish stock
  • Two pieces of dried tangerine peels
  • Five grams of cinnamon
  • Ten grams sucrose/brown sugar
  • Three bay leaves
  • Two teaspoons of honey
  • Three teaspoons of soy sauce
  • A stalk of scallion
  • Two flat cut pieces of ginger
  • ¼ of a garlic
  • One teaspoon of sesame oil
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • Three pieces of star anise
  • Five pork ribs

1. First add sesame oil to the heat pan set to low then add all of the ingredients listed above, except for the ribs.
2. Place the ribs in a separate pan, fill with water, and boil until the flesh becomes white.
3. Slowly cook the ingredients in the pan until the sucrose, or bar of brown sugar, begins to dissolve into a viscous liquid, as well as all the other ingredients begin to permeate and mix with the dissolved sugar.
4. Once the ingredients meet the criteria in step three, slowly pick the boiled ribs and place it in the pan with all the other ingredients, slowly and individually, each rib one at a time. Then keep adding water into the pan, until the water level is to that of the meat. Do not submerge the ribs!
5. Keep cooking the meat until almost all of the water is evaporated, the meat should turn to a light golden brown color. Once the water in the pan is mostly evaporated, the meat is pretty much ready to go. The bottom of the pan should, if done correctly, have a puddle of liquid sucrose, which can also act as sauce.

Check Vis Out!

Vis Harbor

Hey Kids,

I have a story to tell you.

Two years ago I went to Vis, Croatia, a sleepy, sun-drenched island about thirty miles off the coast of Split. It’s the furthest of the Dalmatian islands and my only regret in going there was that we didn’t stay longer. We slowly scootered around — reaching a blistering 30 km per hour (I have little need for speed) — taking in many of the prerequisites that make this an Adriatic dream: rolling vineyards and olive groves, quiet whitewashed lanes, netfuls of fresh fish, quiet, oh! the quiet! … and lemon marmalade.

My mom always loved marmalade and as a kid, I could never figure out why. I remember the time I snagged a bite of her toast spread thick with the orange variety and blech! the bitter snagged back. And while I have grown up and acquired a taste for bitter, I prefer my mornings with butter and a dose of sweet instead.

But in that summer of 2011, on that very lovely island of Vis, I purchased a small glass pot of lemon sunshine, rolled it in a pair of socks and brought it back to New York where my breakfasts would never be the same. This marmalade was the perfect morning companion: bright, cheerful, even sweet; it coddled me in my first minutes of the day. But it offered tough love, too. It was acidic, tart and yes, bitter. It woke me up with a punch. I either spread too little of it hoping that small pot would last forever, or too much, making up for the other mornings. And on one sad day, it was gone.

I wrote an email to the store’s proprietor hoping to buy a case of this yellow gold and weeks later, I received a message back in Croatian. Google Translate only confused matters more so I resigned myself to the memory of it and set out to find my next great pot of sunshine. I tried some of NYC’s best food groceries and specialty shops. Every time I traveled, I picked up another darling glass jar, rolled it in my socks and dragged it back to the States with great expectations. But they never compared. The back of my refrigerator is a testament to my persistence. Finally I abandoned the cause.

And then this past September, two years after my visit to Vis, I received an email from a friendly traveler:

I am on Vis in Croatia, and they have your email from 2011 posted in their shop. I live in Manhattan, and I thought I could check and see
if you still wanted marmalade and are in NYC. They are open for another hour (til 4pm NY time) if you do. No lemon in stock, but they have lemon orange mix. Let me know, if you get this in time. 🙂

Whaat? It was 3:50pm NY time and my thumbs typed back. Yes! I want marmalade! This lovely traveler instantly became a sensation in my little world and I couldn’t wait to meet her. Two weeks later we sat in a tea shop on University Place exchanging stories of Croatia: of figs, Vis, the long drive down the coast and of course, marmalade.

I waited five days before I opened the jar. I had built up the expectations to such heights I couldn’t bear a letdown. Ridiculous, I know. It was a fruit spread. But I wondered if some of these simple, precious travel memories are best left exalted in our daydreams. After all, I not only had the memory of Vis and that marmelada, but also of the search for its replacement and now, a new friend.

So kids, I never opened the jar.

Nah, I’m just kidding. Of course I opened it! And it was FANTASTIC. Turns out their lemon-orange mix is just as good. Just as punchy and kind. And I practiced no restraint. I polished that puppy off in just three days.

The Kid Stays in the Kitchen: Taieesa Conquers the Sticky Bun!

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Welcome back to “The Kid Stays in the Kitchen.” Each week throughout the semester, a student is assigned to cook a traditional dish with a friend or family member and document the experience in photos and words.  This post features Taieesa who made sticky buns with her mom.

If I had to pick a traditional dish from my family I would have to pick up a shelf of cookbooks because I don’t think that my mom ever cooked anything more than twice. Her cooking expeditions have ranged from sushi to paella and from habichuela con dulce to lobster with coconut. Her comfort food is freshly baked bread.

The rest of the cooks in my family bring in highly contrasting Russian, American, Dominican, and Argentinean cultures that have widened my world, but failed to provide me with a traditional dish that defines me and my family. However, a spontaneous decision on what to eat that night (no matter if the cookbook needs to be translated), as well as cooking side by side with my mother, is something that I can say is my family’s tradition.

Cooking with my mother brings back memories of early childhood when I would put both hands in the flour container or move the electric beater through the batter in spiraling patterns. It also reminds me of how even though one half of my family can not communicate with the other, the food that we’re eating makes us a collective unit.

To cook a traditional dish from my family background I grabbed my mother and we made the impromptu decision to make delicious sticky buns.” – Taieesa

Sticky Buns (Recipe from Rose Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible, 1988)


Brioche Dough:

  • 2.5 tablespoons of water
  • 3 tablespoons of sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 cups of unsifted bread flour
  • 1/2 teaspoons of salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 large cold eggs
  • 10 tablespoons soft unsalted butter

Sticky Bun Filling:

  • 1/2 cup of raisins
  • 2 tablespoons of dark rum
  • ¼ cup of boiling water
  • ¼ cup of light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons melted unsalted butter

Sticky Bun Topping:

  • ¼ cup of soft unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup pecan halves

Sticky Bun Glaze:

  • reserved raisin-soaking liquid
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter


Brioche Dough

1. In a small bowl combine the 2 ½ tbsp of water, ½ tsp of the sugar, and the yeast. Set aside in a draft-free spot for 10 to 20 minutes, or until mixture is full of bubbles.

2. Place 1/3 cup of the flour and 1 egg in the food processor (using dough blade) and process a few seconds until mixed.

3. Add the yeast mixture and stir with a rubber scraper until smooth.

4. Sprinkle the remaining flour over the mixture, but do not mix it in. Cover and let stand for 1 ½ to 2 hours.

5. Add the remaining sugar, salt, and remaining two cold eggs.

6. Process 1 ½ minutes, or until the dough is smooth, shiny, and cleans the bowl.

7. Let rest for 5 minutes with the feed tube open.

8. Add the butter in 2 batches and process for 20 seconds after each addition.

9. Scrape the dough into a lightly buttered bowl. Sprinkle lightly with flour to prevent crust from forming.

10. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and let rise for 2 hours in a warm place. Refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

11. Deflate dough by gently stirring it and refrigerate for another hour.

12. Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface and gently press into a rectangle.

13. Fold the dough into thirds and again press it into a rectangle. Fold it once more into thirds and dust it lightly on all sides.

14. Wrap loosely in plastic wrap and then foil and refrigerate for 6 hours.

 Sticky Buns Filling

15. Place raisins and rum in a small bowl. Add boiling water, cover, and let stand for at least an hour. In another bowl combine the sugars and the cinnamon.

16. Roll out the dough on a well-floured surface into a 14in by 12in rectangle.

17. Brush with 2 tbsp melted butter and sprinkle with sugar mixture and raisins. Roll up from short end.

18. Using a very sharp knife cut the roll into 4 pieces, and then cut each piece into thirds.

 Sticky Buns Topping

19.  In a small bowl stir together the butter and the sugar until well mixed. Spread evenly in the prepared pan. Top with pecan halves, top sides down.

20. Place each dough piece in the prepared pan.

21. Cover with well-buttered plastic wrap and let rise for about two hours.

Sticky Buns Glaze

22. In a small saucepan over high heat reduce the raisin socking liquid to 1 tbsp. Add the butter and stir until melted.

23. Brush the buns with the glaze.

24. Preheat oven to 425°F and bake 10 minutes. Lower heat to 375°F and bake 15 minutes.

25. Let bus cool for 3 minutes and unmold onto a serving plate.

26. Enjoy!!

The Kid Stays in the Kitchen: Mohammed’s Egyptian Gullash

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Welcome back to “The Kid Stays in the Kitchen.” Each week throughout the semester, a student is assigned to cook a traditional dish with a friend or family member and document the experience in photos and words. Our school was named the most diverse school in New York City and this seemed like a great way to show for it. This week features Mohammed who prepares a dish from his Egyptian heritage.

“This dish in Arabic is called “Gul-lash” or in English “Meat pie.” This is a dish from the country where my parents were born and lived most of their lives: Egypt. Usually the dish is eaten during big celebrations or parties because it is very simple to make enough to feed a lot of people. The dish layers beef, chicken or pastrami between sheets of phyllo dough with cheese and peas.

This food means a lot to me because it has been passed down through generations in my family. The main reason that I really care for this dish is because I never got to meet my grandmother and this is one food that she taught my mother. When my mother was around six years old she sat and watched my grandmother cook. (There was no internet at the time so everything had to be observed and experienced.) And when my mom was 12 she made the dish alone for the rest of the family for the first time. Now, I feel a sentimental connection to it. It is a great comfort food and I hope you enjoy it!” – Mohammed

● ½ cup of corn oil
● 1 pound ground meat
● 1 stick of butter
● 1 onion
● 1 box of phyllo pastry sheets
● 1 egg
● ¼ cup of milk
● black pepper
● Adobo spice
● crushed coriander seeds

1. Add corn oil to pan.
2. Chop the onions into small pieces.
3. Add the onions to the pan with the corn oil.
4. Mix over medium high heat for a minute then add the ground meat.
5. Cook the ground meat until it becomes well done. Then add the black pepper, adobo and coriander seeds.
6. After the ground meat becomes well done add the peas and mix it for a minute. Turn off the heat.
7. Put your butter in a different pan and melt it.
8. With a pastry brush, brush the bottom of a tray with butter and add two sheets of phyllo pastry.
9. Brush butter over the sheets.
10. Continue adding two sheets at a time and brush the butter on top of each layer until you use half of the phyllo pastry sheets.
11. Add the ground meat, peas and spread.
12. Now continue adding two sheets and putting butter between each pair of sheets. After putting the last two sheets add the butter on top.
13. Get a small bowl and crack an egg into it and add the milk, a pinch of crushed black pepper and adobo.
14. Cut the pie into squares each about 4×4 inches.
15. Add the egg and milk mixture on top of everything and in between the small lines in the squares.
16. Leave it in the oven from 30 – 45 minutes on 350 degrees or until it becomes a golden color and take it out.
17. Cut the squares fully and eat!

The Kid Stays in the Kitchen: Maggie’s Burek

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Welcome back to “The Kid Stays in the Kitchen.” Each week throughout the semester, a student is assigned to cook a traditional dish with a friend or family member and document the experience in photos and words. Our school was named the most diverse school in New York City and this seemed like a great way to show for it. This week features Maggie who comes from Albania and she has chosen to make burek with her grandmother.

“The dish I made is one of my favorites from Albania. It’s called burek. Burek is a delicious pastry that is popular in many countries such as Albania, Turkey, Bosnia and Serbia. This is a dish that my grandparents, my parents and I have eaten growing up. I remember watching my grandma roll out the dough when I was little and thinking it was fun. Sometimes, she even let me try rolling it out myself. It actually was fun, having the flour on my little hands felt so soft and the rolling pin looked so big. Who’s to say food can’t be fun?

Having a picky family when it comes to food, this dish is special because it is one that EVERYBODY eats. (This explains why I made my burek with two different fillings.) Since everyone in my family loves burek, we make it often. My grandma changes the filling every time she makes it. This is the reason burek is my favorite! I also love this dish because it is the dish that has opened me up to trying the different kinds of food. This is meaningful to me because when I was little I was only committed to spinach burek and after liking all the different kinds I tried, I slowly opened up to trying new foods. I hope you love it as much as I have come to love it.” -Maggie

Ingredients for dough

3 cups of flour
1 cup of water
1 tablespoon of salt
cornstarch (sprinkle as needed)
oil (for spreading)

Ingredients for leek filling

3 leeks
½ a cup of cottage cheese
½ tablespoon of salt
5 tablespoons of oil

Ingredients for Onion and tomato filling

3 medium sized tomatoes
3 medium sized onions
½ tablespoon of salt
5 tablespoons of oil


Leek filling
First, cut the leek leaving only the white bottom. Chop each bottom into small pieces and put them into a pot. Then pour the oil and salt into the pot. Stir them together and cook on a medium flame until soft. Turn off the fire and add the cottage cheese. Mix it all together and let it cool.

Onion and tomato filling
First, chop up all of the onions and tomatoes into small piece and put them into a pot. Then add the oil and salt. Stir them together and cook on a medium flame until soft. Let it cool.

First, pour three cups of flour in a baking pan. Then, use your hand to make a hole in the middle to pour the water and the salt. Knead the ingredients to form a dough. After kneading the dough, cut 12 equal sized balls of dough. Then let them rise for 15 minutes. Next, using a rolling pin, flatten out each ball of dough into equal circles of about 7 inches in diameter. As you finish flattening out each dough, place them on top of each other into piles of 6. Be sure to spread oil between each circle. Once you finish this, take one of the piles of 6 and roll them together into one big circle. Roll each pile to be the size of your tin. One will be the bottom layer of the Burek and the other will be the top layer. After rolling out the bottom layer, rub your baking pan with oil to ensure the dough will not stick to it. Then, place your bottom layer inside your pan with the edges hanging out. Spread your desired filling over the dough. After that, put your top layer of dough. Pinch the edges of both layers to ensure the filling will not come out. Spread some more oil on the top of the Burek and place it in the oven at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. When both layers are finished baking, spread water on the top and bottom of the Burek. Wrap the pan with aluminum foil and let it sit for 30 minutes. Finally, the Burek should be ready to eat. Cut into slices and enjoy!