Weekend Bites: Delicious meals the whole family can look forward to
Claire Thomson is my new chef crush. Co-owner of a restaurant in Bristol, the mum of three young girls finds feeding hungry children more challenging than cooking for paying customers.
“Feeding children food they don’t want to eat is one of life’s most frustrating, time consuming and head-bangingly awful tasks,” she admits.
“To navigate this troublesome teatime landscape, I think the best solution is to feed kids food that they will like and want to eat.”
While her kids love the ‘nursery stalwarts of spaghetti bolognese, the odd sausage and a cottage pie’ they also love more adventurous dishes.
“Nothing could excite me less than a lifetime of suppers where mince is the mainstay and a fork the only necessary tool.”
Claire can’t imagine anything more dull than serving kids the same meal every week (Shepherd’s Pie Thursdays, anyone?) and her desire to introduce her kids to interesting flavours saw her begin to tweet her kids’ tea at 5pm every day, hoping to inspire parents stuck in a tea-time rut.
From these tweets her blog, ‘5 o-clock apron’ was born and a popular newspaper column followed. Her new book goes beyond the usual and draws on delicious flavours and textures from around the world. Sichaun oxtail stew, New Zealand courgette loaf, Nepalese Ghurka mackerel curry and Egyptian Kusahri rice are some of the more unusual fare featured.
SYRIAN LENTIL SOUP
300g lentils (green or brown)
3 medium onions, finely sliced
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to serve
4 cloves of garlic, finely sliced
3 heaped tsp cumin seeds, toasted and ground
a large bunch of fresh coriander (stalks and leaves separated)
1.75 litres cold water
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
a clove of garlic, crushed salt, juice of a lemon
1. Soak the lentils in a bowl of cold water.
2. Over a moderate heat, cook the onions in the oil for a good 10 minutes. You want them soft.
3. Add the garlic and toasted cumin.
4. Add the coriander stalks and the water, or enough to more than cover the lentil mix. Turn up the heat and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth that surfaces. Turn the temperature down and continue to cook at a moderate bubble for about 30 minutes, watching the water level.
5. While the lentils are cooking, mix the yoghurt with the crushed garlic and a pinch of salt.
6. When the lentils are ready, take them off the heat. You want the individual lentils to be completely squishable between two fingers.
7. Taste the lentils and add salt as needed. Add the lemon juice.
8. Serve the lentils in bowls and to each add a spoonful of seasoned yoghurt, some coriander leaves, a sprinkle of chilli flakes and a spoonful of olive oil.
Apple and cinnamon flapjacks
Makes 12 flapjacks
400g Bramley apples, peeled, cored and chopped
200ml cold water
2 cinnamon sticks
200g rolled oats
60g soft light brown sugar (or as you like, for sweetness) or honey
1 tsp baking powder
sunflower oil for greasing
1. Cook the apples to a pulp with the water and cinnamon over a moderate heat with a lid on the pan for about 8–10 minutes. Leave to cool.
2. Preheat the oven to 180°C/gas mark 4.
3. Mix the oats, sugar, raisins and baking powder in a bowl.
4. Add the apple pulp to the oats, removing the cinnamon sticks, and mix well.
5. Spoon into a greased 20 x 28cm baking tin, 5cm deep, and smooth out even and flat. Try not to have too many raisins poking out from the surface of the flapjack, as these tend to catch in the oven – poke them down with your forefinger.
6. Bake for 30–35 minutes, until nicely coloured and firm on top.
7. Leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before cutting into squares.
Cool on a wire rack.
Ask the Expert: Scandin-Asian Dining: What can customers expect?
with Kwanghi-Chan executive chef SODER+KO
SÖDER+KO is inspired by two very different but complementary cultures – a unique ‘Scandin-Asian’ food and drink experience.
Diners can enjoy drinks with strong Scandinavian influences, including beertails – beer-based cocktails, a first for Dublin – and drinks featuring exclusive cordials and ingredients. We’ve matched this Nordic vibe with authentic Asian-influenced cuisine using quality, fresh ingredients.
Look out for fillet of beef with sticky rice, broccoli puree and quail egg yolk, also the raw tuna marinated in Japanese mirin and fresh kombo seaweed, with wasabi and pickles.
I like using interesting ingredients like bonito flakes on baked cod with shiitake mushroom duxelle. We’re using modern cooking techniques in the kitchen - no cream or butter – just natural seasonings like soy and fermented sauces to intensify the flavour of dishes.
SÖDER+KO, is now open at 64 South Great George’s St. Dublin 2 serving breakfast, coffee, lunch and dinner. www.soderandko.ie