Less Meat, More Veg’

My daughter, Imi, is about to leave primary school, it’s the end of an era (breaks my heart if I’m honest), she’s had the most amazing time. So, a couple of days ago Peter and I donned our aprons and performed a ” Fanny and Johnny” cooking demo’ ( I do tend to boss the poor chap around a bit in the kitchen), as a school fundraiser.

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We eat less and less meat at home, it just seems a no brainer to me – as a result we eat far more veg’ (including lots of pulses, well of course) which means more nutrients, more fibre and I believe a far more varied and interesting diet. There’s the sustainability side of things too, with meat requiring vast quantities of our valuable resources to produce: we eat just a little meat, see it as an absolute treat and make sure that it is produced ethically.

So back to the evening – all performed in truly unprofessional style on a table that just about reached our knees, with a 2 hob Baby Belling to cook on. I promised the parents that I’d post the recipes, so for the rest of you here are a few bonus dishes. Too busy to take pictures of the food I’m afraid, but here are a couple of snaps of the two of us in action (Peter in full Johnny-mode and me looking like I’ve swallowed my teeth as I gonged my pan to get the show on the road – what an attractive couple we are!)

 

Zucchini fritters  ( makes about 10)

You could make these with grated carrot, parsnip, beetroot, squash. How about adding some spices?  you could even just add a ready made spice mix such as a bit of garam masala/ ras al hangout/ baharat and keep the herbs to parsley aand chives (maybe throw in coriander too). This is a truly versatile recipe and a great way to get your kids eating more veg’.

1 onion, diced
1 tbsp olive oil oil
3 cloves garlic, crushed
3 medium courgettes, grated
125 g green pea flour or chickpea flour
1 tsp salt
3 tbsp mixed fresh herbs  eg thyme, oregano, parsley, chives, rosemary
1 tbsp  pine kernels, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds,  sesame seeds,
3  tbsp olive oil

Fry the onion until soft in the oil and then add the garlic for a moment or 2.
Now mix all the ingredients together well.

Heat up the oil in a large frying pan and place spoonfuls of the mixture into the hot oil.
Fry in 2 batches. Turning the fritters once golden and set.

Drain on paper towel and keep warm in the oven for a few minutes if not serving straight away.

 

Romesco Sauce  (enough for 12 servings)

A short cut recipe for Romesco, not authentic at all ( if you’re after the real thing then here’s a recipe ) This works beautifully with the fritters, with roasted veg’ (or with a bit of lamb or fish – you see I’m not anti animal protein, its just about eating less of it).

1 red pepper
2 tomatoes
5 cloves of garlic
1 heaped tbsp sweet paprika
1 small dried red chilli pepper
100g hazelnuts, roasted ( or a mix of almonds and hazelnuts)
1 -2 tbsp red wine vinegar
5 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
salt
a handful of parsley, chopped

Pre-heat the oven to 200 C

Roast the pepper in the oven for about 30 minutes adding the  tomato and garlic for last 10 minutes.

Place everything in a blender together ( bar the parsley that you can stir in later – otherwise the sauce will turn a murky browny – green), balancing the vinegar, salt and olive oil at the end.

Add the parsley and serve.

 

Chickpea flat bread  – Farinata

Italian farinata, cecina, torta di ceci (depending on where you’re from), or socca from just over the French border in Nice, is a simply baked flatbread made from chickpea flour. The locals love it. Trattorias and bakeries the length of the Riviera draw regular lunchtime queues and back in my Italian yachting days I became a fan too.

The bakery in Chiavari had a sign scrawled up in the window announcing the time the hot farinata was on sale, straight from the wood-fired oven. I remember zipping back to the boatyard on my moped with a meticulously tied greaseproof parcel of steaming farinata for the crew.

A wood-fired oven is obviously not on the cards for most of us but you can create something approximating farinata in a very hot domestic oven. It’s usually just served with plenty of black pepper but I love to pile some delicious cheese or cured meat on the top.

Serves 4

200 g chickpea flour (gram flour, besan)
1/2 tbsp finely chopped rosemary (optional)
1 tsp salt
400 ml  water
3 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
plenty of freshly ground black pepper.

Tip the chickpea flour, salt and rosemary into a large bowl and slowly whisk in the water until you have a loose, lump-free batter. Rest the batter for at least an hour and up to 12

Preheat the oven to 220 C/425 F/Gas mark 7

Take a large flat tin or oven-proof frying pan ( the professionals have a huge round pan specifically for the purpose) and heat it up in the oven or on the hob.

Skim off any froth from the top of the batter and then stir in most of the olive oil.

Add the remaining oil to the hot pan, swirling it to create a non stick surface. Now tip in the batter to a depth of about 1 cm/just under 1/2 an inch and place in the oven.

Bake for about 15 to 20 minutes  or until the surface of the farinata is crisp and bubbling. I sometimes give mine a quick blast under the grill for some extra colour.

Give it a few turns of the pepper mill, slice up with a pizza cutter and serve right away.

To make unorthodox individual servings:

Fry off the batter (still about a centimetre thick) in a small omelette pan, turning it, just as you would a pancake ( make sure that it is non-stick ….ahem). Once the farinata is set slip it onto a greased oven tray. Repeat the process with the remaining batter, layering greaseproof between each flatbread and then place the tray in the oven for about 5 minutes before serving.

Serve with piles of tomato salad or anything else that takes your fancy.

 

Syrian-style lentils   Serves  6

4 tbsp olive oil
3 brown onions, sliced finely
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted and then ground
pinch of chilli flakes or better still 2 tsp sweet Aleppo chilli flakes
300 g  brown or green lentils
salt and pepper
juice of 1 lemon
bunch of coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil in a large saucepan and add the onions. Keep the temperature fairly low and allow the onions to soften, sweeten and turn golden; this may take about 30- 40 minutes. Be patient.

Take out half of the onions from the pan and set aside. Turn up the heat and throw in the garlic, cumin and chilli. Stir and, as soon as you can really smell the garlic, add the lentils and enough water to cover them by about 5 cm/2 inches.

Bring to the boil and then turn down to a simmer. Cover the pan and cook until the lentils soften and begin to break down. You may have to add a little extra water from time to time if they are getting dry but go carefully, remember that you don’t want to drain away any delicious juices later. Once the lentils are really soft, and this can take over an hour, taste and adjust the seasoning with salt, pepper and enough lemon juice to freshen the dish up. Stir in the coriander leaves and garnish with the remaining fried onions.

Roasted carrots –

Preheat oven to 200 ºc

Roast carrots ( smaller carrots that can be served whole or cut lengthways do look good)

Peel carrots if you feel the need , cut into chunks or leave whole if little ones, toss in olive oil and roast for about 30 mins depending on size until tender and browning a little.

Throw in some sesame seeds, cracked coriander seeds for the last 5 minutes.

Serve carrots on top of the lentils with a good splash of pomegranate molasses , maybe some pomegranate seeds, sprouted radishes or herbs – whatever you have.

 

Labneh recipe coming soon …….. I’ve run out of time!

I’m off to Sicily later tonight, have yet to do my packing and am taking part in the fabulous Bristol Food Connections this afternoon making falafel and minestrone and talking all things British Pules related with the fabulous Nick Saltmarsh of Hodmedods 

Thank yous

Massive thanks to Max from Bar Buvette who sorted the magnificent bar.
Anna Byass  a Hotwells PTA powerhouse who does soon much behind the scenes and basically made our event happen.
To Kirsty, Kate and all the other fab’ Year 6 parents who cooked, helped and supported the event.

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The team.. ..all looking rather shiney faced and hot, we’d been working hard!

Also huge thanks to Leigh Court Farm, Reg The Veg, Chandos Deli, Isle of Wight Tomatoes and the Co-Op for being so generous donating ingredients.

HOORAH – we made lots of money for the fabulous Hotwell’s Primary School , where so many of our children have been given just the best start in life.

 

The Magic of Dal

Next week we’re holding the first British Dal Festival here, in my home city of Bristol, and so at last I’ve been kicked back into action on my blog.

British Dal FestivalAs many of you know I am fairly obsessed with pulses;  just had flat bread, Beluga lentils, tomatoes and  z’atar for lunch so I really do practice what I preach. Perhaps my favourite dish of all is dal, by which I mean the soupy, creamy pulse dish topped with its own tailor-made, zippy mix of herbs or spices.

For millions of Southern Asians dal is part of their heritage, a dish that appears on every table, rich or poor, fast day or feast day, come rain or shine. Dal tastes of home, of nurture and nourishment, eaten from the cradle to the grave. Now I can’t begin to pretend that I have this deep connection with dal, I probably hadn’t even tasted it until I was in my twenties but I can assure you that my love affair with this magical comfort food is no dalliance, I could happily eat it every day.

Digging back through my blog posts you’ll find a good few dal recipes: Tarka dal ,
Sambar  and rather bizarre sounding , but delicious, I promise you Lentil and rhubarb curry – read dal

My main role with the festival has been putting together a school pack that includes a recipe, an equipment list, a risk assessment form and plenty of cross-curriculum facts. The idea is that Key Stage 2, primary school teachers can download the info’ and set up a fabulous interactive dal class with the minimum of fuss. It may be too late to get on the timetable before the Easter holidays but why not point any teachers in the right direction for next term – all the info is here on the British Dal Festival website It’s never too late to learn about dal.

So, next week, in between all the fabulous Dal Festival events happening around the city of Bristol, I will be giving dal workshops at Hotwell’s Primary School Year 4, Compass Point Year 6  and also with students at The Bristol Hospital Education Service.

Last month I worked with Hotwell’s Primary School’s Year 6, who not only got fully involved with designing their own tadkas ( the herby/spicy dal topping) and scoffed all the dal but also put together a great info’ display for their school.

So many of our school children never get a chance to cook at home and here’s an opportunity to get them excited about making something really healthy and tasty. With childhood obesity on the rise we just have to get food onto the school curriculum somehow – so here’s a one small step in the right direction.

SO, what is dal?

The word dal can refer to a split pulse OR a soupy or stew-like dish made from pulses.

Why teach kids ( or anyone for that matter) about dal?

  • It’s simple to cook.
  • Super-economical.
  • Highly nutritious.
  • Filling and delicious
  • Pulses are one of the most sustainable sources of protein on the planet.

What’s with the “British” dal Festival? 

It’s not just that the celebration is being held here, it’s the opportunity to find out about the pulses we produce in Britain too – the great variety of dried peas, the fava beans, haricots and lentils.

THE FINALE 

Is happening at Paintworks in Bristol, on Sunday 25th March.

There will be street food, cooking demo’s (I’m on at 11 am – so please come an say hello), talks, kid’s activities and a chance to stock up on some great British pulses.

All the info, tickets etc Here

 

 

Cheesy Pumpkin Muffins

Halloween is fast approaching and hundreds of thousands of pumpkins will be carved over the next few days – we have two downstairs awaiting the Jack O’ Lantern treatment (this is actually one of the bits of Halloween that I love).

I don’t mind the “Trick or Treat”-ing around a few neighbours and friends, but loath all the plastic tat in the shops, ridiculous quantities of sugary crap the kids collect and all the commercialised hype ….of course, like most 11 year olds, Imi loves it all.

My one condition for buying our carving pumpkins is that we do eat the pumpkin flesh  inside (seems pretty obvious but apparently most people chuck it out). You can find the recipe for my favourite pumpkin soup  (from my book Pulse) on the fabulous food and wine writer Fiona Beckett’s website . Pumpkin flesh can also wind up in a risotto , or why not give my risotto cake on The Borough Market Website a whirl (any stock will work well, not just ham stock – this recipe was originally in an article about cooking ham!)

Last week I gave a kids demo at The Dartmouth Food Festival and we made some savoury muffins (baking doesn’t always have to be about lashings of sugar and they are about to gather a year’s worth of Haribos from your neighbours) This recipe is adapted from a courgette muffin recipe in my book Cool Kids Cook. I’ll attempt to track down some of the wonderful pic’s take at the festival ( I was to busy cooking and talking to take any) but at least you have the recipe to set you on your way!

Pumpkin, cheese and thyme muffins

Makes 12 ( or 24 tiny ones as we did at The Dartmouth Food Festival)

100 g olive, rapeseed or sunflower oil
2 medium eggs
4 tbsp natural yoghurt
200 g self-raising flour
200 g pumpkin or squash flesh
100g mature cheddar cheese, or a mix of cheddar and parmesan
100 g  sweet corn, frozen or tinned – drained
About 1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 tbsp pumpkin or sunflower seeds

Pre heat the oven to 180 ºC

Grease a 12 hole muffin tray, use paper cases if you prefer, or press small squares of baking parchment into greased moulds so that the paper corners poke up above the top of each cavity (easy for pulling the muffins out once baked) .

Put the oil, eggs and the yoghurt into a large bowl and mix well with a fork.

Keep the flour in a separate bowl.

Grate the pumpkin and cheese on the coarse side of your grater. No fingers thank you !!

Tip the flour, pumpkin, cheese, sweetcorn and thyme into the bowl with the egg mixture and give it a quick  stir. Spoon the mixture into the muffin moulds straightaway and sprinkle with seeds.

Bake for 25-30 minutes until the muffins are ready. Give them the skewer test. (Miniature muffins will only take about 15 minutes)

Other ways for other days

  • Swap cheeses – any hard cheese will work it’s a good way to use up bits from the fridge
  • Try using grated courgette, carrot or beetroot instead of the pumpkin. 
  • Add nuts instead of the sweetcorn. 
  • A teaspoon of finely chopped  rosemary would be good here too.
  • Sprinkle with rolled oats instead of the seeds
  • For super healthy muffins use self raising wholemeal flour instead of white. 

 

I’ll update with some pictures from the wonderful Dartmouth Food Festival as soon as I have some ( I’m writing this at 10pm on a Friday night- no social life! No, actually just a sauce class to teach tomorrow) The Festival really is one of the best,  get it in your diary for next year –  fabulous programme, some amazing chefs and writers and a stunning setting too.

So there you have it – no excuse not to eat up every last bit of that pumpkin.

Happy Halloween!

 

 

My Larder and Lentil Heroes

Tonight I cooked a pot of green lentils, an especially good pot of green lentils if I’m honest. The recipe came from a fabulously inspiring new cookbook “The Art Of The Larder”, written by fellow Bristolian Claire Thomson. Claire has full cheffy credentials; she worked for Bristol legend Barney Haughton back in the Rocinantes days (for the  benefit of non-locals I’ll just say that it was, and still lives on in my memory as, one of my top restaurants of all time). More recently, after all sorts of culinary adventures, Claire ran Flinty Red (another sorely missed classic) with über-talented hubby Matt Williamson. Claire now has three daughters, co-founded the bonkersley brilliant Table of Delights , writes cook books and newspaper columns, pops up on the telly-box and basically makes the rest of us look like right slackers!

These “lentils with green olives, mint and orange’ were so very, very moreish.
I’ll not give you the recipe – suffice to say that it was a cracker –  simple, easily accessible ingredients, a great combination and, sadly, there are no left overs. The entire book is filled with “everyday meal solutions, all with store cupboard basics at their heart” and I can’t wait to cook my way through them.

And, on the subject of lentils, there’s some very exciting news from Hodmedod’s ( my British pulse heroes – come on, get with it, I’m always talking about them)…… Not only are they finalists in the producer category at the BBC Food and Farming Awards 2017 (winner to be announced next week), but have also just harvested their first commercial crop of British-grown lentils. I love the fact that more and more British pulses are available, reducing food miles and giving our farmers the chance to diversify into niche crops that will hopefully make them a decent living. Hodmedod’s have a great website where you can read more about their lentils (and stock up your larder too).

I’m hoping to have a taste of the new-harvest lentils at The Abergavenny Food Festival this weekend. You’ll find Hodmedod’s amongst all the other amazing producers, talks, feasts, classes, and demos. Should you be interested in getting your kids in the kitchen, enjoying cooking and eating some pulses, do join me at midday on Sunday at The Castle.

 

 

Jenny Chandler

July 10, 2017

Home Turf & a Cooling Watermelon Salad

I’ve had an Ibiza post in my head for weeks (make that months) but now that I’m finally at my desk all I want to do is shout about Bristol; sometimes you really don’t need to travel to have the most glorious weekend.

 

The rugby (Lions v All Blacks – get with it), was all too much on Saturday morning. Pete said that I sounded as if I was being murdered, it felt pretty excruciating too, so I slipped into my new “skins”, (purchased in a moment of extreme angst over an expanding mid-life waistline), to get a bit of exercise. I have to do this more often, I should quickly add that I don’t run (clicky knees), just do that “power walking”  thing that I’ve always thought looked so ridiculous. Any way, an hour and a half later, after taking in the Suspension Bridge, The Downs and lying on the ground looking at the leaf canopy (before being rudely awakened from my reverie by a slobbering labrador), I felt like a new woman.

 

If you’re not acquainted with Bristol, Clifton’s a very beautiful neighbourhood built on the steep hills alongside the Avon Gorge. We’re lucky to live in a skinny mews house, that served the very grand Georgian Royal York Crescent behind; you can still see the carriage tracks in our flagstone floor, our kitchen’s a converted stable and we have a postage stamp of a garden behind.

This weekend was Clifton Fest’; I have to confess that I’d managed to miss any of the build up/advertising which made it even more of a fabulous surprise. Music and food out on the streets, a great vibe helped along by the sunshine; it’s hopefully to become an annual fixture, in fact one of the excited organisers announced that he was working on the idea of a week-long festival next year with a “Rio de Janeiro style finale” – nothing like aiming high! May have to work on the midriff a little harder before I slip into one of those obligatory Brazilian, barely -there, sequinned numbers.

 

Sunday evening rounded off a glorious weekend with a really relaxed BBQ, just around the corner in our friends’ garden, that tumbles down the side of the gorge in a series of lush terraces. We all took a few bits, gathered lots of salad leaves from their vegetable patch, pulled some dishes together in the kitchen and soaked up the balmy evening. I’ll leave it to the pictures – they say it all.

 

It’s not often that I feel like eating watermelon in Britain, it never seems quite hot enough – this weekend was an exception. So I threw together a quick salad to take with us. This works fabulously well with a bit of lamb (I’d marinated some with cumin, coriander, thyme, sherry vinegar and olive oil). Here be the very loose recipe….

Watermelon & Feta Salad (4-6)

About 1/2 a watermelon (depending on size)
1/2 a cucumber
3 spring onions
200 g feta cheese
Plenty of fresh mint
Extra virgin olive oil
Black pepper

Chop up the water melon and cucumber (no melon baller required – what was that all about?). Remove any seeds from the watermelon, mine had very few. Slice up the spring onion. Place it all on a big platter/bowl.

Crumble over the feta into smallish pieces, I never understand why people cut it into lego bricks and I now see that they sell crumbled feta! What is wrong with people? Crumble it yourself – it’s hardly rocket science. (Sorry for a mini-rant, but really?)  Don’t stir otherwise the feta will collapse and make everything look milky.

Rip over plenty of mint leaves, splash on some olive oil and then sprinkle with lots and lots of freshly ground black pepper (your feta should be salty and sour enough to do the rest).

Toasted black sesame seeds make a great addition, as do kalamata olives, if you happen to have some.

This is one of the very few salads that I love to eat chilled from the fridge – so very, very refreshing.
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Little note:
Jo, of the magical garden (and house – you’ve seen nothing yet!), and I are thinking of running some courses together in the future. Just plotting but I’ll keep you posted.

My Roman Affair- Pizza and Gelato Top Spots

I’ve become disastrously negligent with my blog of late, so I’m going to attempt something a bit quicker in the hopes that it will happen more often. Here you have it: more pictures, more info’, less fluff.

When it comes to second homes Spain, and Catalonia in particular, has been my great love for years….. but right now I feel rather like I’m having an affair, I just can’t get enough of Rome. It all kicked off with a couple of visits, in my Queen of Beans role, to the United Nations FAO last year, although what really ignited the passion was Rachel Roddy’s cookbook, (and it’s so much more than a cookbook), Five Quarters: Recipes and Notes from a Kitchen in Rome. If you’re planning a trip to Rome or just want to bring a bit of Rome into your home you just have to own this book or, at the very least, read Rachel’s weekly column in the Guardian Cook. I spent a morning making pizza bianca with Rachel and fabulous son Luca and if you’d like to spend some time cooking with her she’s one of an inspiring trio who run the fabulous ” Market to Table” classes in Trastevere.

Testaccio is where you’ll most likely end up if you’ve become as obsessed with Rachel’s writing as I have (I’d like to point out that this post will be as much of a surprise to R as it may be to you – it’s just that I’ve become her number-one fan/bordering on stalker). The rather hazy picture below, snapped from an EasyJet window shows Testaccio in the bottom left corner. You can actually see our fab’ Airbnb (familiar washing-line view from the door) situated between the triangular and square piazzas in Testaccio. I’m sure that I’d be able to do an “X” marks the spot if I was more techy. It’s a perfect neighbourhood; walking distance from all the top spots yet a million miles away from all the touristy tat stalls and over priced gelato.

Testaccio market is a proper, buzzy, local business with luscious piles of fruit and veg’, butchers with plenty of offal, fishmongers, cheesemongers, hardware stalls, shoe shops and a seemingly limitless array of underwear and aprons on offer too. Don’t miss one of   Sergio Esposito‘s famous allesso (boiled beef) and cicoria sandwiches.

I’m not much of a fine diner (can’t afford to be either, if I’m honest) and holidaying with our daughter Imi made it a perfect excuse to focus predominantly on vast quantities of pizza and gelato. I can’t claim to have discovered any of these great establishments (with just 4 days in a place you haven’t t got time to make the wrong choices)  I turned to info’ from Rachel ( Roddy of course), Katie Parla, A Diana Henry piece for The Telegraph  and gleaned valuable snap shots from Dan Vaux-Nobes’ Instagram (@essexeating).

So, in short, Pizza we loved:
Bonci Pizzarium, Via della Meloria, 43, ( walking distance from The Vatican or Cipro Metro station) This is pizza al taglio (pizza by the slice) which is fab’ as you can taste so many different types – favourite was probably broccoli, hazelnut, potato and mozzarella or perhaps the n’duja with burrata

Pizzeria Remo, Piazza di Santa Maria Liberatrice, 44, Testaccio. Real favourite with the locals + tourists in the know. Often a queue outside, great classic pizza, wonderful fried suppli di riso and also the best beans imaginable (and I know my beans)

Trappizino, Via Giovanni Branca, 88, Testaccio. Can barely be termed a pizza at all, more like pizza corners stuffed with traditional Roman dishes such as aubergine parmigiana, chicken cacciatora or beef tongue with salsa verde. Heaven, really heaven and fantastic local craft beers on offer in their little bar next door.

Tavernaccia Da Bruno Via Giovanni da Castel Bolognese, 63, Much more than a pizzeria  –  had the most spectacularly good wood-roast porchetta and pigeon, sautéed cicoria to die for, and Imi declared that her Pizza Margherita was the best in Rome.

Favourite Gelato (the difference in price between the historic centre and less touristy areas was HUGE)

Gelateria La Romana, Via Ostiense 48, Testaccio (quite a big chain but extremely good nevertheless, you’ll find other branches) Panna cotta with fruti di bosco and toasted pine kernels was sublime. Love the fact that we had to queue at 10pm on a chilly night in April.

Panna & Co, Marmorata 115, Testaccio. Our “local”, we had a few! Imi The Gelato Queen’s favourite gelateria of the trip with pistachio meringue coming in as the top flavour.

One to strike off: I marched Mims and Peter half way across Rome for the famed Carapina gelato – it’s closed down! May be about to spring up elsewhere but do check. Otherwise Come il Latte gets great reviews but we never quite made it.

Top Coffee:

Pasticceria Barberini, Via Marmorata, 41,TestaccioMorning coffee and pastries here became the daily ritual. Love the way the locals down their espressos in a matter of moments and then get on with their day. Spectacular range of cakes- everything we tasted was ridiculously good.

Caffe Sant’ Eustachio, Piazza di S. Eustachio, 82 ( near the Pantheon) The BEST coffee ever. Reputedly down to own roast beans and water from an ancient aqueduct. Be sure to stand at the bar, its what all the locals do and they’ll sting you if you sit down outside.

We ate in plenty of other places but these were the faves. Also, for me, one of the joys of renting a flat is being able to cook/cobble together something yourself. Testaccio market and then the very exclusive but amazing Volpetti (a delicatessen like you’ve never experienced before – also in Testaccio) are great places to stock up. We had a picnic too but that’s another story and another blog post, along with a crostata recipe and news of Rachel Roddy’s next book.

Thanks to “With Mustard” for requesting this little list (I’d not have got around to it otherwise)

 

Kids, Cups and Head Recipes

Getting children into the kitchen is something I’m absolutely passionate about. There’s no doubt about it, cooking works on so many levels……… knife skills are perfect for developing fine motor skills, adapting quantities and weighing ingredients can be used to test mathematical proficiency whilst keeping on top of the mess and the timings calls for good organisation. Then, most importantly, there’s the opportunity to develop a love for,  and an understanding of, good ingredients and real food that will set up good eating habits for a lifetime.

Sometimes it’s great to have a recipe that really challenges, whilst at others a familiar and extraordinarily simple combination is wonderful for building confidence and creativity. There’s something really empowering about making something without even turning to a book. An omelette is a perfect example; once they’ve mastered the egg cracking a kid can decide between herbs, grated cheese, sliced spring onion, sweetcorn and a multitude of other bits that you find in the fridge. You will probably want to stand by as they fry depending on their age and ability but it really can be a meal in minutes.

American-style pancakes (Scotch pancakes or drop scones) are a fabulous “head recipe”  especially when you use measuring cups – most people use these in the U.S. and Down Under although I have to admit that I’d rather weigh if I’m looking for precision. However the beauty of cup measuring for simpler combinations such as the pancake batter is the speed and ease with which you can work and, even better, how easy it is to remember the recipe. There are plenty of cutesy cup measures around the shops nowadays or you can just stick with the basics.

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So, assuming that the child can remember the   1+1+1 recipe, they can head into the kitchen, have a cupboard/fridge forage (with your permission) and make any number of different combinations.

American- style Pancakes
– Serves 4  (about 12-16 pancakes)

The basic recipe

1 cup self raising white flour/ self raising wholemeal flour or a mixture of both.
pinch of salt
1 medium egg
1 cup milk
For the Frying: 2 tsp butter + 2 tsp vegetable oil

Put the flour and salt in a large bowl and make a well in the middle.

Add the egg and milk and whisk everything together until just combined Don’t worry about a few lumps, over whisking will make your pancakes tough.

Add 1/2 a teaspoon of butter and 1/2 tsp oil to a large frying pan and set the pan over a high heat. !!!!! Once the butter has melted, carefully add dessert spoonfuls of pancake batter to the pan. You can cook them 4 or 5 at a time.

If the pan begins to smoke turn down the heat.

Once the top of the pancakes are bubbly and the sides begin to firm it’s time to turn them over using a fish slice drawing or metal palette knife drawing

Cook for another minute or two, until golden and then place on a warm plate.

These are scrumptious eaten straight away but you can cover them with foil to keep warm until you have used all the mixture.

Add another teaspoon of butter to the pan, wait for it to melt and spoon in your next batch of pancakes.

Serve with bacon and maple syrup or a fruit salad with honey and yoghurt.

Jenny Chandler Cool Kids CookFruity Pancakes
Add 1 grated apple or pear (peel and all) to the pancake batter when you stir it all together. Great with sugar and a squeeze of lemon juice.
Or
Stir 1 mashed banana and the zest of 1 lime into the pancake mix and serve sprinkled with toasted coconut chips,  a pinch of brown sugar and lime juice.
Or
Add blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or blackberries to the pancakes as soon as you have spooned the mixture into the pan. About 3 0r 4 fruits per pancake will be plenty. Serve with honey.

 

Go Savoury
Stir 50 g grated cheddar cheese into the batter with a tablespoon of chopped chives.
Or
Stir 100 g sweetcorn kernels and 2 chopped spring onions into the batter. So, so good served with a dollop of guacamole!
Or
Make the pancake batter with wholemeal flour, a tablespoon of chives and chopped dill. Serve with smoked salmon and a blob of sour cream.

 

& the good news ……….I gave a presentation to Year 5 at Bristol Grammar School last week and we played around with some variations on these pancakes. When it came to tasting, more of the kids plumped for the savoury than sweet options……. RESULT!

Images are by Deirdre Rooney from my book Cool Kids Cook ( Pavilion 2016)