Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Cooking up a storm

For someone who hasn't opened a cookbook in over six weeks, nor cooked from a recipe, I seem to be making up for it this last week.

Over the last few days, I have made Bavelas (Hungarian Bean Soup), Erwtensoep (Dutch Green Pea Soup), two batches of this yummy Broccoli Soup and a Red Lentil and Vegetable Soup. Beetroot and Walnut Hommus and Pumpkin and Raisin Tea Bread, have both been made from the "River Cottage Veg" Book. I have made Julie's Grandma's Never Fail Cake (yum) from this beautiful book. I have made two batches of hommus. I have Mititei in the fridge, ready for tonight's dinner. And this morning instead of doing the housework, I have been in the kitchen making large pots of Leek and Sorrel Soup and Greek Pork and Leek Stew.

I am so happy to be cooking again, I am feeling so inspired to try new things. In order to get away with feeding my children with so much soup (soup deserves a whole other post - I love it, they don't so much) I want to try fun alternatives for dinner a couple of times a week. I want my kids to get into the kitchen to help cook our meals, not just be around to lick the cake bowl!

For as long as I can remember I have been I one pot cook. This will not change. I love this type of cooking for so many reason's. Stews, soups, casseroles and curries are easy to make, they are filled with flavour and can be made ahead of time. Just reheat them with simple sides of vegetables, rice, pasta, polenta or cous cous. They can be made with cheaper cuts of meat, and are a great way to get your kids to eat beans or vegetables that they might not normally like.

Hearty warming fare is: the ultimate comfort food.

But sometimes there is a groan at the dinner table.

Not again, I hate casserole."

Soup usually gets the same response. So in order to get through the casserole-loving winter months without little whiny dinners, I plan to try things like empanadas, mini meat pies, spring rolls, mini meatballs, burgers, calzone, fritters. That kind of thing. Not every night, just some nights.

If you have any other suggestions to make mealtimes more fun, I'd love to hear them.

Last night we cooked one of Manu Feidel's recipes from his cookbook "Manu's French Kitchen". You could hardly call it a recipe. I showed the picture to the kids and there was excitement!

This recipe had been a favourite of Manu's when he was a child and now it is a favourite of his son's. It is also now a favourite of ours. We loved it. So simple and very yummy. I'm used to pureeing and grating vegetables into meat patties (to hide them) that this was a nice alternative. We served our meat patties instead, with a rainbow salad filled with vegetables and a plate of oven baked chips: potato, sweet potato, beetroot, carrots and parsnips. Next time I think that we will double this recipe, as my son was begging for more.

In French the recipe is called: "Steak hache a cheval"

In English and in the book the recipe is called: "Pan-fried beef rissole with an egg sunny-side up"

My son asked, what do we call this? His suggestion was:  "Egg and meat yum yum"

I'm going to call it French Meat Patties, just because I can. Here is the recipe from the book.

French Meat Patties

• 600 grams minced beef
• 1 eschallot (finely chopped)
• 2 tablespoons chopped chives
• salt and pepper
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 tablespoon butter
• 4 eggs

to serve

• extra chopped chives

In a large bowl, combine the beef mince, eschallot and chives. Season to taste. Mix well and divide the mixture into quarters. Shape each quarter into a 10 cm round pattie. Heat the oil in a large frying pan and cook the patties for about 3 minutes on each side or until cooked to your liking. In another large frying pan melt the butter and fry the four eggs to your liking. Once cooked, Place each pattie on a serving plate and gently top with an egg. Season to taste with salt and pepper and sprinkle over the extra chives. Serve immediately.

* Next time I make this I will definitely be doubling the meat patties that I make. Perfect for leftovers.

* Manu writes in his book that when he was a child, his mother served these with sauteed potatoes.

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Thanks for stopping by. I'd love to hear what's happening in your kitchen. If you've tried one of my recipes, I'd like to know what you thought? Do you have some advice to make it better? Did you find a mistake? Perhaps it is a new favourite in your home?

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