Revisit old childhood favourite recipes as an adult as Jennifer from Study at Home Mama takes us on a tour of some gourmet recipes and dishes inspired by kids!
Inspiration can often come from some unlikely sources.
I love hearing about the inspiration behind gourmet food — from Grant Aschatz's theatrical dishes to more humble but still delicious offerings such as Chuck Hughes' lobster poutine smothered in a butter bernaise sauce.
It seems a universal form of culinary inspiration can be drawn from the flavours of childhood, with childhood favourites constantly being re-imagined to suit a more grown-up palate and find their place on some of the top restaurants' menus.
Here are some of our favourites.
Ten Favourite Gourmet Foods Inspired by Kids
1. The Milkshake
A mainstay at 50's-style diners, milkshakes are not often considered gourmet fare, but with a coffee base or spiked with alcohol ... well, that's a different story. (And what is the Starbucks Frappuccino if not a glorified milkshake?)
2. Macaroni and Cheese
Whether from a blue box or made from scratch, mac'n cheese was a mainstay for most of us throughout childhood, and there's no reason it has to go away now that we're grown.
Take a cue from Emeril and add some lobster, or be like Aschatz and add a generous heaping of paprika. To take it completely over the top, add some toasted and buttered bread crumbs before serving.
- Grant's Mac and Cheese
- Emeril's Seafood Mac and Cheese
- And my personal favourite, Jamie Oliver's Macaroni Cheese (I sub out half of the pasta with cauliflower because I'm a mom)
3. Bubble Gum
Speaking of Grant Aschatz of Chicago's Alinea restaurant, one can't help but think that green apple bubblegum had something to do with his Edible Balloon.
Made of green taffy and filled with helium, you can't help but be filled with childhood delight when presented with one of these — and just try to contain yourself when your fellow diners start sounding like The Chipmunks!
Sliders are most definitely children's burgers co-opted by grown-ups, but there are plenty of bad sliders out there ruining the reputation of the more delicious and decadent sliders.
Thankfully, there are sliders like this Pork Belly version with pickled cabbage & maple mustard which remind us that sliders can be gourmet.
5. Hot Dogs
I'm still crying that Hot Doug's closed before I could eat my way through the menu, but others have taken up the torch, committed to elevating the humble hot dog into gourmet status.
Or you can try FBC's 20 minute recipe for Turkey Dogs with Corn Relish and Mexican Street Corn.
There are those who prefer $3.50 toast, and those who prefer their gourmet breakfast treats to be inspired by cereal.
The hipster Cereal Killer cafe in London, UK has over 120 varieties of cereal, 30 varieties of milk, and 20 other toppings from which it concocts its "cereal cocktails" (i.e., $5 bowl of cereal).
Or, if you're looking for a cereal fix for dessert, check out Momofuku's Cereal Milk ice cream or mix-in. (The most expensive ice cream I've ever thrown out.)
7. Grilled Cheese
Unless your mom was a gourmet, chances are your childhood grilled cheese sandwiches were like mine: Kraft Singles, white bread and a generous spread of margarine. But, when using more quality breads, cheeses, and of course, butter, grilled cheese sees a rebirth as a decadent grown-up indulgence.
(The grilled cheese even had its own international contest, the Grilled Cheese Invitational.)
- Mario Batali's Grilled Cheese recipe
- Thomas Keller's Gruyere Grilled Cheese + 2 more
- Slightly more downscale, we loved our bacon cheese sandwich from Le Cheese food truck in Montreal
8. Peanut Butter and Jelly
No list of childhood classic foods would be complete without referencing the PB&J and, of course, it has inspired its own share of gourmet spins.
From a nitrogen-treated strawberry ice cream with peanut garnish from the now-closed Auberge du Petit Prince in London, Ontario, to the Fried PB&J at Concrete NYC, there are countless ways to re-imagine that peanut butter and jelly goodness.
- Exo PB&J energy bars with cricket flour designed by 3-Michelin starred chef, Kyle Connaughton
- Portland's PB&J Grilled exclusively focuses on grilled peanut butter and jam sandwiches
- PB&J Rum Cocktail
9. Chocolate Chip Cookies
I was surprised that I didn't find a lot of chefs playing around with the classic chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I guess there are some things that are sacred.
Even though I love my Brown Butter Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies and Vegan Tofu Chocolate Chip Cookies, I plan to spend a day in the kitchen experimenting to see if my recipes have any competition in these chocolate chip cookie recipes.
- Thomas Keller's chocolate chip cookie recipe
- Thierry Laborde's chocolate chip cookie recipe
- Jacques Torre's chocolate chip cookie recipe
- Levain Bakery's chocolate chip cookie recipe
- Tate's Bakeshop chocolate chip cookie recipe (we had these in Chicago and they are pretty amazing)
- Miro Uskokovic's gluten-free ($8) chocolate chip cookie recipe
No childhood summer was complete without a campfire, and no campfire felt right without s'mores. With three simple components and the theatrical element of fire, how could chefs resist playing with this summer treat?
- Market St. Helena provides the flame and fixings, and lets you make your own s'mores at the table
- Per Se's stunning s'mores dish features a dark chocolate torte, vanilla marshmallow, candied Virginia peanuts, & caramel ice cream
- The s'mores dessert at Las Vegas Cosmopolitan comes served in a flaming martini glass, at once being the s'more and the campfire
- Recette has deconstructed the s'more into a graham cracker ice cream, toasted marshmallow, and chocolate ganache
- Jeremy Choo's Vanilla Marshmallow S'mores are a showstopper (and he shares the recipe!)
- The Four Season's Chinese Inspired S'mores features ginger marshmallows & steamed sugar cane sponge
Check out some of Jennifer's other kid inspired posts on FBC
Jennifer is the blogger behind Study at Home Mama, a parenting inspiration, hands-on learning, and family foodie site. Trained as a psychologist, she currently runs Child’s Garden Montessori daycare and can’t wait until her next vacation.