18 Mar עופר איתן Review: Stuck at home? Eight easy recipes to keep your children ent…
I am a chef and the kitchen is the axis of our home. I am happiest in an apron, with the radio on, something to cook and people to feed. Bring my children into the mix and this is where the fun really starts. Grace, Ivy and Dorothy all have their own aprons, slung on the kitchen door next to an assortment of mine.
Each has very different capabilities in the kitchen. Grace, the eldest, likes to be left to her own devices. We have a thin, narrow, terrace house: from two floors up I can hear her industrious clatter as she busies herself with pots and pans downstairs in the kitchen. There is always mess, but what she makes, and the way she will call us into the kitchen when she has finished, makes my heart swell.
Ivy is keen on any kitchen tasks involving gadgets. The pasta machine is her favourite bit of kit. We have a tradition that if it’s your birthday you get to choose what you get to eat on the day. Ravioli made (with a little help) by an eight-year-old is impressive. And she knew it.
Dot is the youngest and is predictably fond of using cutters to punch out biscuits shaped like pigs, stars, bells, or the alphabet.
I want my three girls to grow up with a fearless appreciation of food. When they leave home, I want them all to be able to cook with flair, creativity – and with an eye for budget. Food and cooking are powerful tools for learning, encouraging a sense of “where in the world would we like to eat today”. I want the contents of our kitchen to spark this worldly curiosity. For me, it’s up there with learning your times tables and tying your own shoelaces.
With the potential for school closures and at least a few weekends to be spent largely indoors thanks to the ongoing spread of coronavirus, I have written these recipes for children to cook, with the help of a grown-up if needs be. Some are easy, while others are perfect for letting any more capable children loose in the kitchen with a bit of culinary autonomy.
Lahmacun (aka Turkish pizza)
Not only do they bring welcome respite from the insatiable demand for pizza, these punchy lamb flatbreads are a cinch to make. Cook as many as will fit in your oven at one time; they will be popular.
For the dough
- 500g strong white bread flour, plus extra for dusting
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp dried yeast
- 300ml water
- Olive oil for oiling your hands and surface for initial knead
For the topping
- 1 small onion, peeled and diced
- 1 small fresh tomato, diced
- ½ red pepper, deseeded and finely chopped
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp tomato paste
- ½-1 tsp chilli flakes, or to taste
- 1 tsp ground cumin
- Pinch ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp salt
- 200g lamb mince
- 2-3 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
- 1 bunch parsley, leaves picked and roughly chopped
- 1 lemon, cut into wedges
- To make the dough, put the flour, salt and yeast in a big mixing bowl and mix in the water with a spoon.
- Mix well to form a cohesive dough, place a damp cloth over the bowl and leave for an hour or so somewhere warm until almost doubled in size.
- In a blender, pulse all the topping ingredients (apart from the mince) together to form a coarse paste. Put in a bowl, add the mince and mix well.
- When the dough is ready, preheat the oven to maximum. Turn the dough out on to a lightly floured surface and knead it gently with lightly oiled hands for a minute. Cut the dough into eight pieces.
- Put a pizza stone or baking tray into the oven to get hot.
- On a well-floured surface roll each dough ball into a long, thin oval shape, getting the dough as thin as possible without tearing.
- Carefully remove the pizza stone or baking tray from the oven and place on a heatproof surface.
- Lay the dough on the tray and spread an eighth of the topping all over it, leaving a 2cm border.
- Bake in the hot oven for six to eight minutes, until the dough is crisp and the topping is cooked, repeat with any remaining dough.
- Serve immediately, adding some sliced tomatoes, plenty of parsley and a good squeeze of lemon juice to each lahmacun.
Baked rice with chickpeas, chorizo, rosemary and orange
This thrifty supper will have everyone digging in. It’s an easy one-pot recipe that older children might like to tackle on their own. If you want to make this vegetarian, swap chorizo for some mushrooms fried with the peppers.
- 250g soft cooking chorizo, diced (use diced bacon if you prefer; leftover roast chicken or pork, shredded, would also work)
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 onion, diced small
- 1 pepper (any colour), finely diced
- 5 cloves of garlic, skin on and left whole
- 3 x 400g tins whole plum tomatoes, drained of juice – or use fresh, roughly chopped
- ½-1 tsp smoked paprika (to taste, hot or sweet variety)
- 300g Spanish short paella grain (alternatively, risotto rice will do)
- 600ml boiling water or hot chicken stock
- 1 small bunch rosemary (about 4 small sprigs), leaves removed and finely chopped
- 2 bay leaves
- 1 tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed
- 1 small orange, thinly sliced
- Chilli flakes, to serve (optional)
- Heat oven to 180C/160C fan/Gas 4.
- Fry the chorizo pieces in the olive oil for about three to five minutes in a large casserole pan until crisp and beginning to exude fat.
- Add the onion, pepper and garlic and cook for about 10 minutes until soft.
- Add the tomato, paprika and rice. Mix together until everything is well-coated and the rice is warmed through. This takes about two minutes.
- Add the hot stock or boiling water, bay leaves and rosemary and give the rice a good stir, checking the seasoning. Add a bit more salt or paprika if necessary.
- Add the drained chickpeas and the orange slices to the surface of the rice and cover the pan with a tight fitting lid.
- Bake in the hot oven for about 20 minutes until the rice has taken on all the liquid and the grains are cooked through.
- Rest for five minutes off the heat and with the lid on before serving, encouraging people to add chilli flakes if they like.
My eldest daughter, Grace, is chief granola maker in our house. She will often switch around spices, fruit and nuts to get different combinations. We’ve had Christmas granola (mixed peel and stem ginger), and granola studded with chopped up chocolate buttons (though this is an occasional treat). Cooking the granola very slowly at a low temperature makes the mix crisp up and turn golden without requiring too much oil or processed sugar. Leave the cooked granola to cool completely on the tray before packaging it; this will also help to form the fabled clusters. We like to eat ours with plain yogurt and fresh fruit.
- 4 tbsp vegetable or coconut oil
- 250g rolled oats
- 50g whole nuts, roughly chopped
- 50g sunflower seeds
- 30g sesame seeds, poppy seeds or desiccated coconut
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- ½ tsp ground cardamom
- 50ml runny honey
- 3 tbsp light brown sugar
- 100g dried fruit; raisins, sultanas, cherries, or larger dried fruit such as peach, apricot, apple, mango or dates, chopped (use one or a combination, as you like)
- Preheat the oven to 140C/120C fan/Gas 1 and grease a large baking sheet with a tablespoon of oil.
- Put the oats, nuts, seeds, spices and a pinch of salt in a large bowl and stir to combine.
- Put the honey, sugar and the rest of the oil in a small saucepan over a medium heat and cook, stirring, for two minutes or until the sugar has dissolved.
- Pour the hot syrup over the oat mixture and mix well until all the ingredients are evenly coated. Use your hands to do this if you like.
- Transfer the mix to the baking sheet and spread it out evenly.
- Bake the granola in the oven without stirring for about 25-30 minutes or until the mix is an even golden brown and crisp throughout.
- Remove the granola from the oven and top with the dried fruit.
- Set aside to cool completely. Store in an airtight jar or…