May 19th – the first ever International Food Revolution Day!
Good on ya Mr Oliver, you certainly don’t do things by halves. You take the bull by the horn (or in this case the school by the board) and you run with it. We are so, so with you, you and all the other sung and unsung food heroes, such as David Kessler (The End of Overeating), Michael Pollan (In Defense of Food), Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall (Fish Fight, River Cottage), Chef Anne Cooper (lunch lady extraordinaire), Annabel Langbein (The Free Range Cook), Stepanie Alexander (School Gardens program), Heidi Swanson (101cookbooks.com), Yotam Ottolenghi (Plenty) SAF (Raw Food Restaurant in London and Istanbul), and so many, many more.
Add in a few slightly less famous names such as the head at my son’s school who allowed us to go in and try out our successful “Eat a Rainbow” cooking lessons, my friends like Jo, Antonio, Janet, Eva, Lisa and Bintou who like me love, love, love food cooked from scratch with tastes and flavours that sizzle and spring with joy in the mouth.
So, May 19th is the first ever International Food Revolution Day – see http://www.jamieoliver.com – and we support it from the bottom of our stomachs! Jamie suggests a number of things to celebrate the day – organzie a local food event, host a dinner party, find an event near you. This year May 19th falls on a Saturday so we won’t be doing a school event but what we will do is bring some really healthy gorgeous snacks to our usual hockey and rugby matches. How about fruit kebabs, morning glory muffins, blueberry and apricot scones and some mini club sandwiches? This will put those crisps and hotdogs to shame (virtually the only food offered at our Dutch Clubrooms) or so we can but hope! And yes as the weather begins to clear (fingers and toes crossed) my thoughts are turning to picnics, picnics on beaches, picnics in gardens, picnics under woodland leaves and under stars. So, if the rains hold back we will be having a family picnic either on the edge of a sports ground or beside the blustery North sea, watching the surfies.
A few BIG, BIG wishes for local Food Revolutions (they are quite Large!)
One is that our kids demand healthy, gorgeous food from our senior school canteen with no compromise (and that they begin to understand that although good food doesn’t have to be really expensive, it shouldn’t be cheap) and school vending machines with healthy alternatives!
Two, that our school runs a summer fair that is a Good Ethical Food Fair with no candy floss or cheap hotdogs and spongey white bread!
Three, that sports & party centres stop stocking food like this stuff below- overprocessed, overcheap and over -yellow really!
So, here’s one of my favourite picnic pie recipes to share with friends, relations and those who may become friends.
Spinach and a bit of Everything Filo Pastry Pie (top pic, not the one above!)
1 packet of filo pastry – thawed overnight in the fridge (I like the really long packs of filo not the small squares)
3 large organic eggs
300 grams of feta, crumbled or can use of mixture of feta parmesan, hard and soft cheeses such as mozzeralla
One box of EKO frozen spinach, thawed, and squeezed dry of excess water or a large bag of fresh spinach wilted and squeezed dry.
A quarter of a cup of pinenuts, gently fried in a heavy based pan with a tiny spray of olive oil
A handful of blanched almonds if you fancy
Sprigs of mint, washed, dried and torn (or coriander)
Some basil or fresh thyme
One large onion, chopped finely and fried until translucent
Pepper, freshly milled and a pinch of nutmeg
( and if you have some crusty bread past its best but not mouldy, pop in the food processor and whizz until it becomes crumbs)
A teaspoon of melted butter for brushing
Preheat the oven to 185 fan-bake. Lightly oil a baking tray or shallow pie dish.
This is a really simple recipe and will work as long as your frozen spinach has been squeezed dry of excess water. If you are using fresh spinach, wash carefully as it is often sandy then steam it in a little water and drain in a colander. Basically, you want a moist cheesy spinach mixture to place in the pastry, but if you think it’s too runny then add some breadcrumbs or some more herbs and nuts, if you think it too dry, add another egg or some crème fraiche.
If you haven’t used filo pastry before, the thing is not to let it dry out, so don’t open the packet until the egg mixture is absolutely ready.
Beat your eggs in a largish bowl, add in the spinach, feta and any other cheeses, nuts, herbs, and mix well. Give it a generous shake of pepper and if you like some lemon zest. Mix well – it should be quite thick and not too runny.
Melt the butter and have a pastry brush ready.
Open the filo packet and spread 3-4 sheets on the bottom of the baking tray or in the pie dish. Arrange your egg mixture on the sheets, leaving a good edge for folding up around the edges. Tuck the pastry around the mixture and now lay 2-sheets on the top of your mixture and tuck under the bottom. Brush gently with melted butter and add in a few more layers of filo and tuck around to form a rectangular pie. Brush butter on top. Bake in the centre of the oven until golden brown, some 25-30 minutes. Remove, allow to cool and wrap up in foil or place in a cake tin, ready for the picnic.
I like to serve this pie with a minted yoghurt dip, some onion chutney or a fresh coriander chutney and a really good salad. Here’s an easy yoghurt sauce
Half a cup of Greek yoghurt
Half a cucumber, peeled, deed seeded and grated and set in a colander to drain excess water.
A sprinkling of black onion seeds, some torn mint, basil and/or coriander leaves or my new favourite spice – sumac (comes from a berry from a wild bushy shrub which grows wild in the med and the middle east – sort of soury, salty, sweet and hard to describe really!)
Black pepper and salt to taste
Mix all the ingredients together and taste to adjust seasonings. Chill in jar to serve with pie.
And a few of our favourite things for picnics…… are retro 70’s stuffed devilled eggs, sun ripened tomatoes, homemade mini pizzas, morning glory muffins, ANZAC cookies, coleslaws and mini ham/veggie burgers served with salad and tapenade, carrot and ginger dip, braeburn or cox’s orange apples and melty camenbert, scones with strawberry jam and cream etc, oh, it’s just endless…..
Extra fancy special picnics may require a visit to The Cheesecake Company for a really gorgeous birthday cake or to Baklust, Phillip Garlenes for a messy but delicious chocolate pie, Brood for a brownie or olive bread -great with all the afore mentioned dips – lastly, don’t let the weather put you off. If it is truly yukky outside try a picnic at home on a rug in the middle of the floor – enjoy!
Below a pic of Rebecca’s devilishly good classic “made with her own hands” cheesecake decorated (by us) with mango, peach and mandarin! A super special birthday cake for every once in a while! See http://www.cheesecakecompany.nl!
But do remember, we can all cook and cook we must for life is delicious!