A Shaken World – A Wholesome Meal?

with the Hairy Bikers Aloo Gobi and raita

wholesome brown basmati rice cooked with cinnamon quills and cardamon

Our world has shaken on its axis these last few weeks; many lives have been lost, homes shattered and for some there will be a fight to the death. So, is it important to worry about kids having crisps and red bull for breakfast in these turbulent times? Yes, I do believe that how we eat and where our food comes from will be one of the great issues of our times. Our way of growing food and processing it has changed so radically in the past 2 generations that it is estimated that 40 % of those living in Great Britain will be obese by 2025. France is fast following as are other so-called developed countries. Fast food, over processed, high in sugar, salt and fat are assaulting our senses from every which way. According to David Kessler, author of The End of Over-Eating, the food industry is throwing all of its power at us and is so stimulating that our brains have been literally overruled. Why else would we be buying so many over-sweetened drinks, sweets, crisps etc when we all know deep down that they are no good for any of us? So, what can we do? Simple. Don’t buy into it. Don’t spend your money on fizzy drinks, at fast food joints, and on so called sports drinks. Teach your kids to cook from scratch, shop around the edge of the supermarket – that’s where the fresh food is! Buy a Rainbow of colours. Don’t make different food for your kids (unless they are babies) because ‘Kids food” was invented around 1960 by the marketing lads. Eat more leaves and green veggies. Eat at a table and make it an everyday family ritual. Read Michael Pollan’s “In Defense of Food. Please! And read or borrow David Kessler’s book “The End of Over-Eating. Above all, do eat well, with care, balance and delight!

This week I went to Webster Uni in Leiden to cook simple healthy and cheap food in a student kitchen. We made Friday Night red lentil soup, Black bean salsa, Brown Basmati Rice and served  it with a natural yoghurt Raita and some fresh coriander chutney. It was tasty. Add it to The Hairy Bikers Aloo Gobi and it’s a gorgeous wholesome meal with something for everyone!

Brown Basmati Rice (with Cinnamon quills and Cardamon pods)

2 cups of organic Brown Basmatic Rice

some olive or rice bran oil

one onion finely chopped

1 cinnamon stick

4-5 cardamon pods

half a teaspoon of tumeric

one veggie stock cube (oxo, organic or your favourite sort)

4 and a half cups of water approx

some of your favourite spices, garam masala, cumin or grated ginger, garlic cloves etc.

Fry the onion in a largish heavy bottomed pot in the oil until slighly browned. Add in the 2 cups of brown rice and fry a very scant minute until it changes colour a little. Add the ginger, garlic, garam masala or cumin seeds and fry for a few seconds. Add in 4 and half cups water with a crumbled stock cube and the tumeric, cinnamon and slightly crushed cardamon pods. Place lid on tightly and set the timer for 15 minutes. Leave to simmer, checking every 5 minutes or so to make sure it hasn’t caught on the bottom. After 15 minutes check and see if a tiny bit more water is needed and taste to see it it is done. If it’s still a bit crunchy leave lid on for another 5 minutes and turn off the heat. This rice dish will go perfectly with our black bean salsa – see http://thelunchbox.blog.com. A little yoghurt raita would be a great match.

Yoghurt Raita

1 cup of natural yoghurt (greek will do very nicely)

add in half tsp of black mustard seeds, half tsp of cumin seeds, some ground coriander seed fried in a little rice bran oil until they become fragrant and pop

Can add some chopped seedless cucumber, chopped mint and/or coriander, garlic, pepper and salt to taste. Mix and leave for an hour allowing the flavours to develop.

Lastly, something I love that goes well with both Mexican and Indian style dishes, also my friend Haroon’s favourite of all my dishes. If you detest coriander (yes, you Eva – then try a combination of flat-leafed parsley and mint).

1 washed bunch of fresh coriander and mint, large stems removed

juice of lime or lemon

1 tsp of sweet chilli sauce

1 fresh tomato (optional)

1 small red chillie pepper, seeds removed  (can leave out if “heat” is an issue)

Blend all ingredients and check for a balance of sweet, sour,  and hot. Serve as a condiment.

Rice and all things very, very nice

Coriander chutney - condiment heaven

Lastly, there will be a fundraiser for The  Christchurch Earthquake Appeal on Friday March 25th in Amsterdam – please join us if you can for an evening of raffles, auctions and music http://www.homegrown-events.com/christchurch-earthquake-fund-raising-concert/

Coquo Ergo Sum

I cook, therefore I am

Guest Blog from a Gorgeous Butterfly

French Toast for a Butterfly

I’ve been watching the build up to comic relief on the BBC and was particularly affected by the family of 8 who find all their food and live in a huge rubbish dump. They forage from and eat what most in the so-called developed world consider inedible. There has got to be a better way to live…so please support Comic Relief!

It has made me particularly conscious of what I throw away – too much! So, it was particularly fortuitous that my wonderful fellow blogger The Kitchen Butterfly had sometime ago agreed to do a guest blog for me. Below, she uses stale bread to recreate golden magic for a delicious breakfast. Thanks so much and hope you enjoy!

Easy Breakfast Recipes – French Toast

The French call this recipe Pain Perdu or “lost bread” making reference to the fact that stale bread is given new life. This delightful combination of bread dipped in a milky-eggy mixture is simple to make, requires no chef skills, is prepared in no time and is a universal delight for kids.

As a mother, finding quick and easy breakfast recipes is high on my life priority list, right up there with losing weight and sleeping. Alas, some things are far easier to accomplish than others. I also find that there are simple ways to enrich the nutritional profile of the recipe, using wholegrain or whole-wheat (brown) bread. Going for wholegrain rather than ‘standard white’ actually lends body along with sweet and nutty flavours to the resulting slices.

$-aving tip – this is a perfect way to use up leftover/stale bread – if you want to take it a step further and create wonderful shapes of the bread before frying, then get out your cookie cutter and shape away…..let your princes and princesses eat up crowns and chickens, flowers and stars..without you worrying.

Top Tip: I always serve my kids pieces of fruit with their French Toast – bananas, little chunks of apple, orange segments, and any other fruit in sight. A good way to encourage eating a balanced diet.

French Toast

2 eggs
100 mls milk
half a tsp cinnamon or vanilla extract (to taste)
4-6 slices of bread (optional – cut into triangles or other shapes)
Butter or Vegetable oil to fry

Options to serve – butter, jam, honey, or maple syrup (or fresh strawberry sauce – see this blog)

How to
1. Crack the eggs into a wide, flatbottomed bowl or plate. Add the milk and cinnamon or vanilla extract. Beat with a fork until well combined.
2. Put a pan on to heat on a low-medium heat, then dip the bread into the egg mixture, ensuring both sides are coated. If you like it a bit dry, this recipe is good for 6 slices of bread, and for 4 slices if you like it soft.
3. By now the pan should be hot – add about a tsp of butter and let it lightly brown till it gives off a fantastic toffee aroma – please don’t let it burn. Then add about a tsp of oil.
4. Place the bread in and let it brown on one side then flip over and cook on the other side, till both sides are brown.
5. Remove from the pan and serve with slices of fruit and some syrup.

Other variations

You can make a savoury version, lighting flavouring the mixture with fresh or dried herbs like thyme, oregano, parsely, coriander or spices like curry powder, cardamom and ginger. If using fresh herbs, be sure to chop them finely. Delicious served with ketchup or homemade chutney.

Thanks so much Kitchen Butterfly – do please check her wonderfully visual website and sign up to her blog – you won’t regret it and you will absolutely drool (in a good way) at her gorgeous recipes. See http://www.kitchenbutterfly.com – one of my very favourite foodie websites in the world!

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