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!

The Kids Stays in the Kitchen: Sicheng’s Ban Mian


Welcome back to “The Kid Stays in the Kitchen.” Each week a student is assigned to cook a traditional dish with a friend or family member and document the experience in photos and words. This week features Sicheng who prepared Ban Mian, a noodle dish from the Fujian Province.

“Since coming to the United States as a young child, I can hardly remember my first food memories I had back in the Fujian Province in China. Despite this, each time I taste a unique dish my family prepare it nonetheless feels familiar.  This feeling is most exemplified when I taste what I think is the ultimate comfort food from my province: Ban Mian.

Ban Mian literally means “mixed noodles.”  The dish is very simple, consisting of a sauce of peanut butter mixed with soy sauce and sesame oil and then combined with wonton noodles. The wonton noodles are essential in maintaining authenticity; no other type can replicate its distinct taste and texture.

Each Sunday my parents prepare a meal of Ban Mian served with Bian Rou (Fujianese wonton soup) and I’m happy to share this recipe with you.”   — Sicheng

Ban MianRecipe by my dad

  • Peanut Butter (3-4 tablespoons)
  • Sesame Oil to taste
  • Scallion
  • Soy Sauce to taste (Or Kung Pao Sauce whichever is preferred)
  • Wonton Noodles

Start by bringing water to a boil and placing two clumps of wonton noodles, spreading the noodles around the pot. In a separate bowl mix the peanut butter with the soy sauce and the sesame oil thoroughly until a good balance of flavors has been obtained. Make sure the sauce is not too stiff. If it gets stiff add more soy sauce. After about 5 or so minutes boiling in the water, place the wonton noodles on a separate plate. Pour the Ban Mian sauce onto the noodles and use chop sticks to mix the sauce with the noodles thoroughly. Garnish with some scallions.

The Kid Stays in the Kitchen: Sofie’s Witloof


Welcome back to “The Kid Stays in the Kitchen.” Each week a student is assigned to cook a traditional dish with a friend or family member and document the experience in photos and words. This week features Sofie, who has turned to her Belgian roots to cook up witloof, endives wrapped in ham and cooked in cheese sauce. A perfect winter dish! Enjoy!

As a little kid I was fairly open to the food that my parents fed me even if it were Brussels sprouts, broccoli, or endives. So whenever my dad made witloof, a Belgian dish of ham-covered endives cooked in cheese sauce, I always finished it and went back for seconds. It’s a simple dish that can be considered Belgian comfort food. In my family we don’t really have a traditional dish that we always make on holidays or birthdays but there are a few dishes, including this one, that I have enjoyed since I was a little kid. My father grew up eating it and he has made for us for many years. When my dad first came to the US 30 years ago, it was very difficult to find endives, but now they’re easy to find at most grocery stores.

Endives, unlike other leafy vegetables, have white leaves because they are grown underground. Taste-wise, they are unlike other vegetables; they are both bitter and sweet. This particular dish is very different from the usual ways that Americans eat endives, raw and on top of salad. But in Belgium they are almost always cooked.

This dish is quite meaningful to my parents. It is one of my mom’s favorite Belgian dishes and it was the last dish that my dad had with his grandmother. And since my dad has made it for me since I was a little girl, I will continue to eat it throughout my life. — Sofie

Belgian Endive with Ham and Cheese (Witloof)
Recipe by Sofie’s dad, Stefan
Serves 6-8


  • 12 endives

In a pot, boil the endives for 20 minutes. Drain the water. Let them cool and then squeeze any extra water out of each endive.

Cheese Sauce

  • 5 tablespoons butter
  • 4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 pound of grated Gruyere

In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat, making sure not to burn it. When melted add the flour and stir till it is a thick golden paste. Slowly add all of the milk while continuously whisking. Bring the sauce to a low boil. Continue stirring till the sauce thickens. Once it thickens stir in the salt and remove from heat. Immediately add the grated cheese and stir until it is a smooth sauce. To achieve this silky cheese sauce make sure it is no longer on the heat otherwise it will be lumpy.

Putting everything together
  • Cheese sauce
  • Cooked endives
  • 12 slices of cooked ham

Preheat oven to 350. Wrap each endive in a slice of ham and place them next to each other in an ovenproof pan. Pour the cheese sauce over the endives and place them in the oven for 20 minutes. Once 20 minutes has passed you can turn on the broiler to brown the top, be careful not to burn it though.
Serve with mashed potatoes.