Tasty Tuesday — Creamy Green Soup

Spring! Spring! Spring! And yet it is still very cold out side. But spring gave me the idea for green, and cold gave me the idea for soup, so we are making this delicious and healthy green soup to cheer you up. Peas are spring vegetables, grown by the Romans for thousands of years.
Did you know that the Princess and the Pea was written in the mid 1800′s by Hans Christian Andersen, that pea leaves are considered a delicacy in China, and that in the 1700′s French people thought that eating raw peas was ‘madness?’

By Isabelle Lapin

Preparation: 20 minGreen-Soup1
Cooking: 25 min
12 adults portions

2 onions diced
2 garlic cloves
4 Tbsp. olive oil
2 ½ liter (10-12 cups) chicken/No-chicken stock
4 cups celery sliced (1 cup= 2-3 stalks)
4 cups fresh spinach (12oz. bag= 5 cups)
4 cups zucchini sliced (1 cup= 1 zucchini)
2 cups fresh green peas (1pd peas in pod= 1 cup)
Salt and pepper
Basil for decoration

In a soup pot, sauté the onions with the olive oil, add the garlic. Let cook a few minutes until the onions look transparent, then add the stock. Put the spinach aside and add all the other vegetables in the pot. Let cook for 20 minutes uncovered and then add the spinach and cook for 5 minutes. Blend the soup with a hand mixer or a blender. Serve decorated with basil leaves.

Tips and info:
You can sift the soup if you don’t like the texture. You can serve it with a sprinkle of feta cheese and/or croutons. You can replace the zucchini with kale (2-3 leaves=1cup) and the peas by asparagus 2 cups= 5-6 spears). You can replace the stock by cubes and water.
The pea is thought to have originated from Middle Asia. The Romans grew over 37 varieties of peas. Best grown in late spring, they grow on vines and farmers use bamboo cane to hold them up. Field peas are used in factories for freezing.
England is the largest producer of peas that are used for freezing in Europe. One serving of peas has more vitamin C than 2 large apples. Hans Christian Andersen wrote the story of The Princess and the Pea in the mid to late 1800’s. Pea leaves are considered a delicacy in China. The pea is only green because it is picked when it is immature. A ripe pea is more yellow in color. Eating peas that are green became in fashion in the 1600’s and 1700’s but was described by the French as “madness.”
Dried peas are used to make mushy peas, which are infamous as a side dish along side fish and chips in England. Peas can be eaten straight out of the pod. It is estimated that over 9000 peas are eaten per person, per year in Britain. The proper etiquette for eating peas is to smash them on the back of your fork.

Tasty Tuesday! — Easter ‘Soft Boil’ Eggs

Last week we already began to celebrate spring using lighter and more summery vegetables. That was to celebrate the awakening of the earth after a long and cold winter. What best to continue celebrating by using eggs in our recipe? As your eyes sparkle when I pronounce the word chocolate, I though it best to make with you this fabulous chocolate mousse. And how convenient that Holidays are coming soon. You will impress your family by making this delicious dessert. Don’t forget, the better the quality of chocolate, the tastier your mousse will be!

Recipe by Isabelle Lapinmoose-eggs

Preparation: 35 min
Cooking: 10 minmoose-eggs2
8 people
refrigeration for 2 hours

8 Empty eggshells
3 large eggs
70g. (2.5 oz.) sugar
4 Tbsp. water
220g. (7.7oz.) dark chocolate (55% cocoa)
370g. (12.95oz.) Heavy cream

Carefully cut the top of the eggs. Separate and keep the yolks and the whites. Rinse the shells and set them aside. Boil the sugar with the water (make a syrup). Pour the syrup slowly against the side of the bowl over the yolks (temper, be careful that the yolks don’t cook). Put the yolk mixture to cook for 5 minutes stirring constantly. The mixture will thicken (napper la cuillere). Whip with a hand mixer or a whisk by hand to cool. Melt the chocolate in the microwave or over a hot bath (double boiler or bain-marie). Whip the heavy cream 2 to 3 minutes. As soon as the cream thicken, stop whipping. In a bowl, mix half the whipped cream with the melted chocolate, then carefully add the egg mixture. Finally, add the rest of the whipped cream. With a pastry bag, pour some mousse in the eggshells and put in the refrigerator for around 2 hours. If you have left-over mousse, serve it in serving bowls.

To avoid little pieces of eggshells breaking into the mousse you can dip the top of the shells into melted chocolate and let it stand to harden before filling them with the mousse. To serve, toast slices of buttered bread, and cut it lengthwise like little sticks.  You can flavor the mousse with zests or extracts or add toasted nuts or seeds for crunch. If you ever have leftover mousse just stick it in the freezer and you will have frozen mousse!
What is mousse?  Mousse is a light yet rich food that is beaten until airy: the word means ‘foam’ in French.  It is made with four components: the base or principal flavoring agent like chocolate or salmon, the binder, egg whites and/or gelatin, the lightening agent (aerator, which gives mousse its light, airy texture), egg whites or whipped cream (or both!), and a flavoring or seasoning like salt and pepper for savory mousse and liquor or extract and spices for sweet ones.
The exact date for the creation of the chocolate mousse in France is unknown. Chocolate arrived in France with the marriage of the Spanish princess Anne of Austria to Louis XIII, in 1615. (It was brought to Spain from Mexico by the conquistador in 1529). But at that point it was known only as a hot beverage. So we don’t know when the French chefs at the palace began to experiment with chocolate. However chocolate mousse was still more than two centuries away. According to FoodTimeline.com, savory mousse dishes were an 18th century French creation. Dessert mousses (generally fruit mousses) began to appear only in the second half of the 19th century. In the US, mousse became known in the 1930s when chocolate pudding mixes were introduced and electric mixers began to be sold and made it a lot easier to whip egg whites to the consistency of the mousse that we know today. Mousse became very popular after WWII. It is only in 1977 that Chef Michel Fitoussi at the Palace (NYC restaurant) created a white chocolate mousse.

April 3rd is National Chocolate Mousse Day!!!

Preschool Prep at Manhattan Youth

Preschool Prep Ceramics

Our early childhood programs provide your child with educational stimulation in a safe environment. This daily drop-off educational playgroup gives children the opportunity to gain self-confidence and independence while developing the skills needed for preschool readiness. This class focuses on lessening separation anxiety, friendship-building, socializing, and the routine of a classroom. Now available 5 days a week. Registration is required, and there are still spots available for 2015!​

The children in class do awesome art projects that not only help with their fine motor skills but also help focus children’s attention on a group project.

Preschool Prep Music

Each day, we sing songs and dance, which, besides being tons of fun, is a great way to get some energy out!

Our experienced staff lead the children in healthy peer socialization with games and positive dialogue. We take a variety of field trips around the Downtown Community Center and allow the children to experience all we have to offer.

Our practice of gentle separation lessens separation anxiety and better prepares children for a future school environment.

Click here to fill out the registration form!
Preschool Prep Science

Spring vegetable quiche

Spring, Spring, Spring! By creating this quiche with spring vegetables, I figured it would help spring to come. And it worked! Did you know that Zucchini and yellow squash are called summer squash. It is because they have a thin skin easy to peel and which does not protect them from the cold like butternut squash. Happy cooking! Happy quiching!

Zucchini, yellow squash and leek quiche
Recipe by Isabelle Lapin

Preparation: 50 min
Cooking: 50 min
6 to 8 adults’ portions


2/3-cup water
2/3-cup vegetable oil
1 tsp. salt
All-purpose flour as much as you need to form tart dough
900g. (2Lb.) zucchini, washed (can replace by mushrooms or half and half)
2 to 4 leeks medium size washed
4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil or as much as needed
½ bunch cilantro washed and chopped
Salt, pepper

Custard for the quiche:  Makes 2 big quiches
7 large eggs
600g. (1Lb.5oz.) heavy cream
100g. (3.5oz) grated cheese (cheddar, Swiss or parmesan)
1 pinch grated nutmeg
Salt, pepper

Preheat the oven at 350F. Mix the water, oil and salt. Add enough flour to form spreadable dough. On a floured surface, roll out the dough and garnish a tart mold with it. Poke holes on the bottom with a fork. Refrigerate until ready to use.
Cut the leeks in half, then in 1” pieces. Cut the zucchinis in half, take off the seeds, cut in 1” pieces. Heat the oil in a frying pan, sauté the vegetables for around 8 minutes, until just crunchy. Add salt and pepper to taste. Drain and cool them, then add the chopped cilantro.
In a bowl whisk the eggs, the heavy cream, salt pepper and nutmeg.
Sprinkle the dough with the cheese. Add the vegetables. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes. Take out the quiche. Lower the oven to 300F. Pour the custard on top of the vegetables, just to cover. Bake for another 15 to 20 minutes, until the cream is no more liquid.  Serve with a green salad, for a light meal or brunch.

Tips and Info: You can use all kind of vegetables, even the frozen mix.  Change the herbs. Add fish (fresh salmon cut in pieces or smoked) or meat (pastrami or bacon, sauté before adding).
Most people think that the French invented quiche, but it originated in Germany, in the medieval kingdom of Lothringen, under the German rule. French later renamed this kingdom Lorraine. The word “quiche” is from the German “Kuchen”, meaning cake.
After World War II, quiche became popular in England and later in the U.S. The original quiche Lorraine includes pieces of smoked lard or bacon, but now you can find a whole variety of vegetables quiches mix with the basic eggs and fresh cream custard.

MY SONYC Filmmaking Intensives

Last February, Manhattan Youth hosted a film camp during the mid-winter recess. We had 12 students, three teachers, and a whole lot of fun! But that was just the beginning of an exciting new chapter for our Middle School After-School Program…

One year later, we are proud to say that this small camp has flourished into an full-blown, citywide program. This year’s February intensive had 76 students from 20 different NYC schools and a roster of 8 professional filmmaking instructors from diverse filmmaking backgrounds. We’re so proud of our growing library of fantastic student films. We are also thrilled to be fostering a partnership with School’s Out New York City (SONYC) and the prestigious TriBeCa Film Festival to create an educational and artistic experience for students that is unparalleled in its quality, care, and professional exposure.

We wanted to take some time to say thank you to the students, instructors, and administrators who have helped make the MY/SONYC Film Intensive such a success. Please take a look at sample of the exciting work students are doing!

Sides of an Oreo from Manhattan Youth on Vimeo.

Be sure to stay tuned for details on how to register your student for our upcoming April Break Film Intensive!

Tasty Tuesday! Falafel: Spicy Chickpea Fritters

Here’s what we’re cookin’ up today!

It is so fun and easy to make this vegan dish that you want to make it every week. It’s a very good alternative to a meat night or to serve at a party for your vegetarian friends. Before the 1970′s, falafel was only found in Middle Eastern and Israeli neighborhoods. Today this dish is a popular street food in many cities throughout North America.

Recipe by Isabelle Lapin

Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 15 minutes
Makes 6 to 8 portionsFalafel

1 medium onion
1 small bunch flat leaves parsley
2 garlic cloves
28 oz. (800g.) canned chickpeas
4 to 8 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. ground coriander
1 tsp. ground cumin
Vegetable oil for frying

Chop the onion and the parsley finely. Peel and crush the garlic.  Rinse and drain the chickpeas.  Mash the chickpeas. Mix in the onion, garlic, flour, parsley, coriander and cumin. With floured hands, roll the mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball, and then flatten to make small patties.  Heat oil and fry for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towel.

Tips and info:

Try to fry one patty and check that it does not fall apart. If it does add 1 or 2 Tbsp. of flour, mix and try again. The parsley contains a lot of water it is why we have to add flour to the mixture.
Serve with an Israeli salad (tomatoes, cucumber, onion and parsley cut very small), hummus and pita.
Falafel can be shaped like a ball with a small ball scooper and dip fried or shaped like a flat burger and sautéed in a frying pan.  It may have a pale or dark color, have a smooth or grainy texture.  It is the second most common dish made of chickpeas, after hummus.  It is eaten in many Arab and Mediterranean countries, each with it’s own special version. Israeli’s were the first to spread falafel to Europe and the US, around the early 1970’s.
A common theory suggests the Egyptian Copts, who brought it with them to the rest of the Middle East to replace meat during Lent, invented falafel some 1000 years ago.  Another theory dates the invention of falafel as a far as the 6th century AD, or even earlier; placing it in India where they make a lot of chickpeas based dishes.

Tasty Tuesdays! Hamanstashen Cookies


This week we are making cookies  called hamantashen.  The fillings used are usually strawberry,raspberry or apricot jam.  The most classic fillings are poppy seeds and prune butter. Because everybody eats these cookies all year round bakeries are offering an array of flavors like rhubarb-strawberry or chocolate-hazelnut. As winter is not gone yet, I chose to create a filling with cranberries and pumpkin seeds.  The one with cream cheese  and chocolate chips was given by Rabbi Olitzky. Enjoy and Bon Appetit!

Recipe by Isabelle Lapin

Preparation: 20 min (rest dough overnight)
Cooking: 12 to 15 min
Makes around 60 cookies

5 cups all-purpose flour
1 Lb. margarine (can be butter)
1 cup pineapple juice
½ cup sugar
1 tsp. salt

Preheat oven at 350F. Mix all ingredients by hand or with the k form of a stand mixer. Knead until it comes together. Wrap into plastic wrap. Refrigerate for a few hour or overnight. Roll out the dough on a floured surface. Cut 3” circles and spoon 1 teaspoon of filling in the center. Pinch the edges to form 3 corners. Brush with egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 Tbsp. milk). Bake until lightly brown, between 12 and 15 minutes.

Chocolate filling:
½ cup brown sugar
6 oz. cream cheese
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips
Mix all ingredients until well combined.

Apricot filling:
2 cups. Dried pitted apricots (can be any dried fruits you like)
Enough water to cover
Cook until the apricots become soft. Add water just to cover until it is cooked. Process in a food processor or with the hand mixer. Do not add too much water while cooking, as it will be too liquid for a filling. If that happens add enough almond powder or crushed pumpkin seeds to make a paste.

Tips and info:
Hamantashen are triangular, filled cookies, which are traditionally served on the Jewish festival of Purim. These filled cookies are supposedly named after the Persian king’s royal adviser Haman. He wore a three cornered hat so these cookies are triangular. Haman took a dislike of the Jews, particularly a Jew named Mordechai, because Mordechai did not want to bow to him. So Haman plotted to destroy the Jewish people. He told the King that the Jews did not follow the King’s laws. The King gave Haman the fate of the Jewish people. But Mordechai had a niece named Esther. The king of Persia, Ahasuerus fell in love with her, married her and made her Queen. Esther told the King about Haman’s plot and saved the Jews.
A good question is: why Jews would want to immortalize their enemy Haman by eating cookies named after him?. These cookies were originally called Mohntashen, which means “poppy-seed pockets” in German. The tradition to eat them on this festival came from Germany where they were very popular. It is said that eating an image of Haman’s hat is a way to symbolically destroy his memory.
Today most are filled with jam or other very creative fillings. But poppy seeds used to be the popular filling.

Tasty Tuesdays! Pizza Week!

Unanimously loved, pizza was brought to America by soldiers coming back from Italy after WWII. It became part of American food culture and is now considered one of the best comfort foods ever!
MY Pizza


Recipe by Isabelle Lapin
Makes around 10 portions
Preparation: 30 minutes
Cooking: 15-20 minutes

2 .1 Lbs. All purpose flour
1 cube of fresh yeast (around 42g, 1.1/2oz.)(14g. active dry yeast or 2 packets of instant dry yeast, depending on the brand the number of packets may vary)
2 cups lukewarm water
2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. olive oil

Tomato sauce, fresh sliced tomatoes, eggplants, zucchinis, mushrooms, hart of palm, artichokes, peppers, onions, olives, fresh herbs (basil, oregano, thyme), cheese (mozzarella, goat cheese, Swiss cheese, cheddar, brie, or a mixture of your choice), you can also put meats (sliced salami or pepperoni) or tuna.

For a desert pizza:
Heat the oven at 405F. Roll out the dough, spread soft Nutella on it, and then spread 2oz. of butter cut up in pieces on top. Bake for 15 minutes. You can slice banana on top and sprinkle with coconut. Check the pizza after the 10 first minutes in the oven. Instead of the Nutella melt 8oz. of chocolate with 2oz. of butter.

In a bowl put the flour, salt, and olive oil, add the yeast dissolved in the water. Knit the dough until soft consistency. Form a ball, cover with a kitchen towel and let it rise in a warm place until it doubles in size. Roll out the dough. Place it on floured oven tray. Put your favorite toppings. Drizzle with olive oil before baking at 405F for around 15 to 20 minutes. Check the top, the cheese should be melted.

Tip and info:
Cut the vegetables in very thin slices or small pieces because the cheese tends to cook faster. If you are using fresh herbs, hide them under the cheese so that they don’t burn.
No, pizza did not originate in Italy but was first baked by the Greeks. It was first round and flat bread topped with various foods like potatoes, spices and olive oil. Tomatoes were not discovered at that time. In the 18th century, the chef of queen Margherita, Rafaelle Esposito made a very special pizza just for her. He baked a pizza topped with tomatoes, Mozarella cheese and fresh basil ( to represent the colors of the Italian flag: red, white and green.) in Naples. The pizza Margharita was born. Variations began to be made in different parts of Italy. In Bologna, for example, meat began to be added. After World War II pizza spreads to America, France, England, and Spain.
Some popular pizza toppings in Japan are squid and Mayo Jaga (mayonnaise, potato and bacon). In the U.S. pepperoni is the most famous topping, before mushroom, extra cheese, sausage, green pepper and onions. Each person (men, women, children) in America eats about 46 slices a year. Seventeen percent of all restaurants in America are pizzerias. Thirty- six percent of Americans considers pizza the perfect breakfast. Women are twice likely as men to order vegetables on their pizza. Finally, ninety-three percent of Americans eat at least one pizza per month.

Tasty Tuesdays! Recipes from the M.Y. After School Kitchen

We are thrilled to bring you a wonderful new weekly feature: Tasty Tuesdays! Each week, our Manhattan Youth After School cooking Instructor Isabelle will treat us to a family-friendly recipe, along with the backstory of that food.

Take a look at this week’s recipe: Bread Pudding!

In 13th century England, bread pudding was known as “poor man’s pudding” as it was a popular dish with the lower classes. Nowadays, it shows up on the dessert menus of upscale restaurants. It has gained a reputation of comfort food and chef uses all kind of fresh bread instead of leftovers. In New Orleans they even use King cake ( a kind of cinnamon roll) and fry it.

Recipe by Isabelle Lapin

Preparation: 20 min
Cooking: 45 to 55 min
Makes 8 to 10 adult portions

½ cup (3 ½ oz.) sugar
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
14 oz. Challah bread cubed (any bread you like is good)
2 to 4 Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced
9 large eggs
2 ½ cups heavy cream or milk
2-½ cups milk
¾ tsp. salt
4 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. cinnamon + ½ tsp.
¼ tsp. nutmeg
¼ tsp. clove
½ tsp. allspice
Zest of 2 oranges
Optional: 1-cup raisins or currants or dried cranberries or any other dried fruits.

Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a 9x13” baking dish or 10 ramequins. In a small bowl, combine 1 Tbsp. of white sugar with brown sugar and ½ tsp. of cinnamon, set aside. Whisk yolks with sugar, spices and salt. Whisk in the cream and milk. Add cubed bread, sliced banana and orange zests. Mix well. Let the bread soak for around 30 minutes. Put the mixture in the dish and sprinkle with the sugar-cinnamon mixture. Bake until custard is set, pressing the center with your finger reveals no runny liquid or dip a knife, the blade should come out clean, around 45 minutes. Let it cool until the pudding is set and just warm.

Orange-caramel sauce:
Preparation: 5 min
Cooking: 10 min
Makes 1 cup

½ cup (3 ½ oz.) brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
2-½ Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. orange juice (can be liquor or extract)
1 tsp. orange zest

Whisk sugar and cream together in a small saucepan. Add the orange zest. Set over medium heat until well combined. Continue to cook whisking frequently, until the mixture comes to a boil. Whisk in the butter and bring back to a boil. Remove from the heat and add the orange juice. Let it cool until warm. Serve with the bread pudding.

Info and tips:
Bread pudding has the most common (plebeian) origins. It appears in the early 11th and 12th centuries in Europe, as cooks look for ways to use stale bread. In 13th century England, bread pudding was know as “poor man’s pudding” as it was a popular dish with the lower classes. Nowadays, it shows up on the dessert menus of upscale restaurants. It has gained a reputation of comfort food and chef uses all kind of fresh bread instead of leftovers.

Basically, the dish is made by soaking bits of stale bread and any add-ins (like dry and fresh fruits, nuts, spices like star anise, nutmeg, cardamom, cinnamon, herbs like basil or mint…) with a custard sauce before baking. You can vary the type of bread and any ingredients you choose to add according to your taste and your inspiration. The custard is a mixture of milk or cream, whole eggs or egg yolks and sugar.

The French word “pouding” certainly comes from the English word “pudding”. And the English word “pudding” is probably derived from the French word “boudin”. Boudin means “small sausage” in latin (botellus) and refers to the Medieval European puddings with encased meats. Puddings were at first savory and were very similar to sausages, often boiled in special pudding bags or casings.

Manhattan Youth on NY1

New York 1′s news crew stopped by the Downtown Community Center last week for a story on “Fit Kids: Finding Free or Affordable Activities for Children.” They interviewed Bob Townley, Executive Director of Manhattan Youth, and used some footage of our swimming pool and tumbling classes for their segment.

The print version of the story quotes Mr. Townley saying, “We give out over a million dollars a year in scholarships.”

Click the image below to read the story and watch the news segment.
Fit Kids - MY on NY1

And click here to see how you can get fit affordably or for free with Manhattan Youth!