At 12, Kate Melesky already is a pro in the kitchen.
The Mid Valley Secondary Center seventh-grader can do just about it all, from baking birthday cakes for loved ones to making dinner for her family, including parents Selena and Eric Melesky and brother Eric.
One of her tried-and-true recipes is for Breaded Cauliflower, a delicious, surprisingly light dish Local Flavor couldn’t resist trying. That’s why it earned the Throop resident a $50 gift card to Riccardo’s Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore.
Kate first tasted the recipe when her grandmother, Shirley Melesky, whipped it up one day. The tween loved it so much that she asked for the recipe and tried her hand at it. It instantly became one of Kate’s signature dishes.
“When I made it for (my grandma), she said, ‘You do it better than I do it.’” Kate said. “That made me feel good.”
While the recipe is quick and easy, Kate said cooks should be sure to line their pans with parchment paper before baking since the cauliflower tends to stick. This way, cooks won’t lose any of the delicious breadcrumb layer. And when serving, Kate prefers to pair the finger food with a ranch dip, though that’s up to personal preference.
It’s no wonder Kate’s so good at cooking. She started making meals with her grandfather, Bruce Melesky, when she was about 8 and also found inspiration from watching cooking shows, chef and YouTuber Rosanna Pansino’s channel, and cooking class at Vintage Kitchen in Scranton.
Kate hit the ground running from there, and today she often starts dinner for her mom or takes over the meal herself. Kate also makes special birthday cakes for her maternal grandparents, Bob and Chris Ravaioli, as well as for the Meleskys’ neighbor. When she’s not creating special family recipes, Kate finds inspiration on Pinterest as well as Pansino’s YouTube channel. Other dishes include Fried Green Beans, her mom’s favorite, and Ahi Tuna Bowls, her brother’s favorite.
“No matter where I get something from, I always end up adding my own spin to it, too,” Kate said.
Kate’s cooking has earned her some recognition, too, and helped her to give back to others. She cooked for Mid Valley’s virtual talent show last year and made homemade dog treats, which she sold to raise $300 for Griffin Pond Animal Shelter.
No matter what it’s for, Kate lights up when she’s in the kitchen.
“Everyone laughs and says they wish they had a Kate,” her mom laughed. “She is such a big help, but really we’re so proud of her. She’s a great kid and a great cook. She really just loves it, too, and that’s all we want is for her — to enjoy what she does.”
Kate Melesky’s Breaded Cauliflower
- 1 head cauliflower
- 1 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 cups Italian breadcrumbs
- 1/3 cup Parmesan cheese
- Approximately 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Break apart cauliflower into medium-sized florets.
- Fill a pot halfway with water. Let the water boil on high. Steam the cauliflower for 20 minutes or until tender.
- In a medium bowl, combine mayonnaise, milk and 1 tablespoon of black pepper and whisk together until creamy.
- In another bowl, combine bread crumbs and Parmesan and mix.
- Dip each cauliflower floret in mayonnaise mixture, then coat with breadcrumb mixture.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper and place breaded cauliflower on it. Bake for 20 minutes, then flip cauliflower and bake for another 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let sit for 10 minutes.
Gia Mazur is an award-winning staff writer and beauty obsessive who joined The Times-Tribune’s Lifestyles department in 2015. She’s a product enthusiast who can’t live without an eyelash curler. A proud Virgo, Charlotte Tilbury Matte Revolution Lipstick in Pillow Talk is her go-to. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT