Project Food Blog

Quick Kedgeree

It's great now that the kids have started showing an interest in food and making things themselves. I was faced with the question tonight of 'what's easy, tasty and healthy. Oh, and fishy?' from our youngest. 'Kedgeree', I replied decisively. 'Keja what?'
Kedgeree, it's easy, tasty, healthy AND fishy. Now it's not often that happens, is it.?.. So we seized the moment! 
I had some saffron infused basmati rice in the freezer, left over from the paellas I made a few weeks ago.
 All the other ingredients luckily we had in the fridge!
My daughter chopped the shallots, wilted the spinach, poached the haddock, boiled the eggs, steamed the beans, .. and in less than twenty minutes we had before us an easy, tasty, healthy AND fishy dinner.

In praise of the skinny

Skinny asparagus, that is. I always love this time of year when the super skinny asparagus hits the market stalls and green grocers. Even my butcher, Bob Dove, always has a few bundles for sale. Compared to these sleek delights, the fat stuff pales into comparison and don't even talk to me about the tinned, or the white, they have no place on my table! But the skinny stuff, served as a starter, a between meal snack, a welcoming nibble with drinks, now we're talking.

It's set to be a scorcher this weekend, so we're planning to make the most of what may only be a short glimpse of summertime to roll out all of our favourites. So drinks wise, we're opting for campari served with freshly squeezed oranges, and some ice cubes. And for soft drinks, we like to make cucumber and lemon water, enjoying a bit of a revival at the moment thanks to the efforts of Kate at Stealth PR. She has got this onto the menu at Giant Robot, and also at our friend Sonya Winner's home boutique sale this week, where she displayed her amazing graphic rugs, and we sampled the delights of London Edible Gardens. We also met – and sampled the wares of – a Jewish pig and cow farmer who lives in Hampstead Garden Suburb – but this fascinating lady deserved a blog post all of her own, so watch this space…

And for food, well this weekend, it has to be lots of bundles of this skinny asparagus, steamed for a couple of minutes, then grilled or barbecued, then left to cool slightly and served with balsamic dressing and shavings of pecorino or Parmesan.

Heading up our barbecue this weekend will be some sirloin from the aforementioned farmer, and some fresh tuna steaks, marinated in lime and chilli. I'll be serving these with cold udon noodles tossed in sesame oil and tamari dressing, garnished with fresh coriander and sesame seeds.

Enjoy the sunshine, enjoy your cooking, and do share your weekend recipes with us!

A foodie upside to the cold snap

'Cast ne'er a clout till May be out' – whichever smart Alec said that seems to have hit the nail on the head. I have been absolutely freezing the past couple of weeks (not helped by the fact that I'm refusing to budge from my wardrobe stance of sandals and summer jackets, because it's meant to be warm).

So we may not be lingering in the garden over a glass or two of rosé, and we may not be planning another barbecue weekend – we are, in fact, blogging with a hot water bottle in lap and a cup of herbal tea in hand…

But as always, food provides the upside. Any trip to the butcher at the moment always ends with my swerving the summery cuts, and buying a large joint or bird for roasting, and I can hardly use the excuse that the kitchen's too hot to boil up stock, so homemade stock it is.

Here's how I like to make mine:

• Take off the excess skin, break the chicken carcass down slightly and place in a large stock pot so that the joint is just covered with cold water
• Add 1 stick celery, 2 chopped carrots and 1 chopped onion
• Add one bay leaf, small handful of peppercorns and small handful fresh herbs
• Bring to boil then summer, uncovered, for up to two hours
• Leave to cool then strain and pick the remaining flesh from the chicken.

Our family favourite is chicken noodle soup – we simply reheat the chicken stock with thin noodles, handful of peas and sweetcorn, 1/2 tsp five spice and a good shake of soy sauce. Serve with freshly chopped coriander and chilli if desired.

Quesadillas Al Fresco

Just been round to see my gorgeous South African friends for an impromptu christening of their hot tub. Jeanine is the sort of  host who is big on hospitality and making you feel so welcome, and we stayed well past our bed time... and on a school night! While I chatted to her husband Johann, Jeanine rustled up a delicious Red Onion and Goats Cheese Tart, and some really tasty Spicy Chicken Quesadillas, seemingly in the blink of an eye... oh, and a couple of refreshing spritzers... well, you have to don't you, when poolside!

The kids were still in the water well after dusk, and had pulled over the tarp to keep the heat in! They had certainly worked up an appetite, as there was very little food left after they had got out.
I have never tried sandwiching a filling between 2 tortillas, which is what a Quesadilla is. Jeanine then baked them in the oven (rather than frying) before finally serving cut into quarters. I shall certainly be preparing these in the near future.

Now I wonder,.how long can I  leave it before inviting myself round again... Do you think tomorrow is too soon?

Because we're worth it!

 The days of ready meals may well be numbered. Maybe it's due to the impending election, and all the depressing talk of National Debt, but the topic of 'getting back to basics' (NOT I hasten to add à la Maggie Thatcher) seems to be high on people's agendas at present.
My kids have begun really asking about food and food choices since we began this blog, and they appreciate the effort that goes into making an edible meal. Quite often now I will return home after some meeting or other to a kitchen looking like a bomb has exploded... but I really don't mind. So far they have made (YES, together, without arguing either!!) simple pasta dishes, cakes (a lot of cake come to think of it!) stuffed baked potatoes, simple salads and rice dishes, and it is with great joy that we sit to eat these meals. Sometimes they don't use a recipe, but there has been nothing that has been consigned to the bin as yet.
As mentioned last week, food can also produce great changes in people's habits in the wider arena of their lives, and to that end we have begun a cookery club at school, part funded by a Government Grant for disadvantaged children. A few years ago I ran a cookery club that included one lad who really struggled, and it really did make an impact on his self esteem... Look what I made, for you, for my Mum, for us..... I think that when cooking and creating a meal to share, it brings out that very basic human instinct of the desire to nurture others, and in so doing, is also self nurturing. So take a bit of extra time, don't buy something full of salt and additives, reward yourself with the satisfaction of producing a meal from scratch. Because we're worth it....