It is half-term craziness around here, so I’m taking things pretty easy. Mostly, I just love an excuse to get some Pieminster pies for dinner (not and ad!). They aren’t super healthy, but they are super delicious indeed and fine for a treat now and then. (They’re also on sale via Ocado right now! Whoop!) I’m also pumped for miso soup night. Every time I make it I kick myself for not making it more often. It is so comforting and yummy, and easy peasy to make! Recipe to come!
Sweet Potato and Black Bean Tacos
Out to Dinner
Salmon with Sweet Potato
(I can’t believe I haven’t posted this yet as it is a meal we often have!)
Forgive me for not posting many of my own recipes recently. I have so many other things going on right now, and the first thing to go on the back burner is all the stuff I do for fun, like the blog! But have no fear, I have a massive backlog of recipes for you as well as some fun Friends with Recipes posts. This one comes from the lovely Lara who is another American in London. She blogs for Babyccino Kids and can be found Instagramming her gorgeous family here.
Apple Sharlotka – by Lara Curry
I love apples. I love Autumn. And I love apples so much that I even used to have my own little after school business making apple pies when I was a younger school girl. But Apple Sharlotka is a recipe I had never tried before, and so I decided to break away from my typical ‘all American’ apple pie, apple cake, and applesauce making and baking this Autumn and try a Sharlotka. It even sounds more exotic, doesn’t it? Sharlotka is a Russian favourite, an Autumn staple in many homes.
And it is oh so lovely. And easy! And I want kids to enjoy spending time baking with me, stress free and full of fun. This recipe consists of a few simple ingredients, and it is fool proof. We made it three times in 1 week, with my three year old as my assistant chef and a baby in the carrier on me, so distraction was, well, inevitable. By the third time we were able to bake it without reading the recipe it is that easy. But it is also delicious and looks lovely too.
This recipe is adapted from Smitten Kitchen, (one of my all time favourites) and then from Alex’s mother, who adapted it from her mother, and so on… so now you can continue the tradition in your own home.
-Butter for greasing a springform pan
-6 large, tart apples, Bramley Apples (which we used) or Granny Smith
-3 large eggs, room temperature
-1 cup (200 grams) granulated sugar (unbleached if possible)
-1 teaspoon vanilla extract
-1 cup (125 grams) all-purpose flour
-1 Tablespoon ground cinnamon, to finish
-1 Tablespoon powdered sugar, also to finish
-Preheat oven to 175C degrees (350F degrees). Line the bottom of a 9-inch springform pan with parchment paper. Butter the paper and the sides of the pan.
-We used an apple peeler and corer (UK) or (US) and if you don’t have one, you must get one because it saves so much time for all apple baking and is fun for the kids to do. (Be very careful and only allow them to turn the handle. Please supervise at all times!).
-Pile the cut apples directly in the prepared pan. The task of ‘separating’ the apple slices was one my daughter really enjoyed. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, using an electric mixer or whisk, beat eggs with sugar until thick and ribbons form on the surface of the beaten eggs. Beat in vanilla, then stir in flour with a spoon until just combined. The batter will be very thick.
-Pour over apples in pan, using a spatula to spread the batter so that it covers all exposed apples. Spread the batter and press it down into the apple pile. The top of the batter should end up level with the top of the apples. Bake in preheated oven for 55 to 60 minutes. I even put it under the grill setting for the last 3 minutes to ‘brown’ the top a bit more, I didn’t want an anaemic looking sharlotka, but please don’t burn it!
-Cool in the pan for 10 minutes on a rack, then flip out onto another rack, peel off the parchment paper, and flip it back onto a serving platter. Immediately before serving mix the ground cinnamon with the powdered sugar, and thru a small sieve, dust it on the top. If you dust it before serving it, it will taste good but won’t look as ‘dusted’ and pretty!
-Serve warm or cooled. We have tried it with vanilla ice cream (my daughter’s favourite topping), but it is equally delicious with custard, greek yoghurt (the healthier option, add a drizzle of honey), pouring creme, or with sour cream (which is more Russian). In case you couldn’t tell, we like our accessories. But however you eat yours, and whenever you eat yours (yes even for breakfast), I am sure it will make you smile!
Thank you, Lara! Your pictures look absolutely incredible. I can’t wait to give this a try! – Bxx
Brussels Sprouts with Preserved Lemon – by Kate Davies
Recently my stepson Luc was asked about his favorite food, and he gleefully replied ‘brussels sprouts!!’. The inquiring adult assumed he was joking, but the boy does love some sprouts. We all do, and in fall they are a staple. This recipe calls for bacon, but it can be made vegetarian and it’s still delicious. Brussels sprouts are often overcooked for my taste; to avoid mushy sprouts crank up the heat and don’t overcrowd your pan. Resist the urge to stir frequently; they will caramelize nicely if left alone. The stock allows you to manage the color on the bacon and the aromatics, so if they are getting too dark add a dash of stock to keep them from burning. If you are unfamiliar with preserved lemon, it can be found in middle eastern and mediterranean grocery stores. Only use the peel, keeping in mind it is quite salty.
-2 lb/900g brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
-4 oz/115g bacon, medium diced
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 medium shallot, minced
-1/2 preserved lemon, minced
-1 cup/235ml chicken or vegetable stock
-salt and pepper to taste
-pomegranate molasses to taste
-Rinse the brussels sprouts. Trim the ends off, and cut sprouts in half.
-Heat a large cast iron or stainless (oven safe) pan to medium
-Preheat the oven to 425F/218C
-Add bacon, and once the fat melts and becomes liquid add the shallots.
-Once the shallots are translucent, add the garlic and preserved lemon.
-Add the sprouts, and add a little chicken stock to bring up the brown bits on the bottom of the pan if they look like they’re getting too dark.
-Season with salt and pepper
-Cook the sprouts on the stove for about 5 minutes, stirring once or twice
-Add another splash of stock, and finish the sprouts in the oven. They should be turning brown at the edges, but still bright green in the center. Don’t be afraid to deploy the broiler.
-Finish with a drizz of pomegranate molasses (available from Mediterranean markets, or reduced balsamic vinegar is a good sub). It’s pretty flavorful, so be conservative.
I am so happy for the cooler weather. Summer is great fun, but I adore the cosiness of big wool jumpers, extra blankets on the bed, and comfort foods. Jason and the kids made all sorts of cosy goodies this weekend including some ginger cake that made the entire house smell incredible. He also made a big batch of tartiflette last night that was absolutely amazing (though my lactose intolerant tummy is still paying for it this morning!). I don’t have anything quite that decadent planned for this week, but I am definitely looking forward to some shrimp tacos and this miso sweet potato broccoli bowl that completely caught my eye on IG last week!
Miso Sweet Potato and Broccoli Bowl
Vegetarian Lasagna Rolls
Homemade Pizza for the kids
(adults are going out!)
We have another beautiful meal from my lovely friend Nomi today! Her baked gnocchi recipe was super popular, and I have no doubt this one will be as well. Everything Nomi cooks, bakes, sews, etc. is so utterly wholesome and charming; I hope she keeps sending us posts to share!
(PS: Check out this mermaid outfit she threw together for her daughter last minute. So flipping cute!!)
Baked Enchiladas – by Nomi Olsthoorn
This recipe is a favourite of ours for dinner parties. It’s deep and rich in flavour and fills the house with anticipation while cooking. But it is a bit more laborious to make than say my gnocchi. Nevertheless, if you happen to have an afternoon to spare I promise it’s worth your while.
for four persons
-500 g chicken fillet
-1 can tomatoes
-1 red or orange pepper
-1 large tomato
-3 cloves garlic
-2 teaspoons cumin powder
-2 teaspoons sugar
-1 teaspoon salt
-chili powder to taste
-1 teaspoon sunflower oil
-150g grated mature cheddar
-pack of 8 (wholemeal) wraps
-Chop the onion, carrot and pepper and fry in the oil with the salt in a cast iron skillet until soft.
-Add the minced garlic and cumin and fry briefly until fragrant.
-Add all the tomatoes (can and chopped fresh), add a can full of water and bring to the boil.
-Cook for five minutes before gently placing the chicken fillets in the tomato mixture.
-Continue to cook until the chicken is nearly falling apart, at least 20 mins. Feel free to let it all simmer well: it just adds to the depth of the sauce.
-Take the chicken out onto a chopping board and shred into pieces with two forks.
-Strain the tomato mixture through a sieve (making sure to save the liquid!).
-Combine the tomato solids with the shredded chicken, half the cheese, and as much chili powder and fresh coriander as takes your fancy. This is your filling.
Divide the filling over the wraps and roll them up before lining them up into an oiled oven dish.
I like to put the dry, filled enchiladas under a hot grill until slightly browned for a few minutes before adding the liquid on top of them and sprinkling with the rest of the cheese and more coriander. Cover with kitchen foil and cook for 20 minutes (or until hot through) in a preheated oven at 200 C. Then remove the foil and cook for an additional five minutes to brown the tops.
Serve with a tomato salsa, guacamole and greek yoghurt.
While my niece and I spent the weekend running around London, Jason and the kids were cooking up a storm! We woke up to fresh scones Saturday morning and finished the day with homemade apple pie. Sunday morning they mad fresh loaves of bread, and dinner was a hearty fish pie. Our kitchen is still a bit of a mess because of all the action it got, but it was worth every dirty dish!
In other news, my first batch of apple butter burned in the slow cooker (grr). It was my own fault for leaving it unattended for half the day, but I also think my slow cooker cooks at too high a temperature. Bummer. Anyway, if the next batch turns out I will try to post the recipe this week!
We all know them: the Picky Eaters, kids who only eat white foods. I’ve often told my kids that I will never force-feed them anything weird or gross, so if I put it on the table the odds are good that the food is both edible and nutritious. Somehow, even when faced with such wisdom, I get complaints.
We are quite lucky, as our dinners can literally be quite colorful (see Lettuce Wraps). One evening I served a meal everyone loved, and after we tucked in we realized that I had inadvertently served every kid’s dream dinner: all white. Here it is, I hope your kids like it as much as mine do!
-1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
-zest of 1/2 lemon
-2 TB extra virgin olive oil
salt & pepper to taste (don’t be shy)
-Combine all ingredients in a bowl and mix well with your hands. Kids can do this part.
-Spread the cauliflower out on a baking sheet lined with parchment or foil, and bake at 425 F (220 C) for about 20 minutes
-I like orecchiette because the ‘ear’ shape holds lots of tasty sauce.
-1 small shallot, minced
-1 clove garlic, minced
-5 oz (150g) bacon or pancetta, diced
-1-2 leeks, chopped
-chicken stock or white wine, for deglazing
-10 oz (300ml) cream
-3 oz (85g) shredded parmesan
-salt, pepper, nutmeg to taste
-Prepare the garlic, shallot, bacon, and leeks and set aside.
-Heat a large sauce pan to medium, and add the bacon.
-Once the bacon has melted and you have some liquid fat in the pan (about 5 minutes), add the shallots, garlic, and leeks.
-Saute until the ingredients turn translucent, stirring only occasionally. If the mixture looks dry, deglaze with chicken stock, white wine, or a bit of water.
-Add the cream and turn the heat to low.
-Simmer the sauce until it has thickened and reduced at a low bubble, about 10 minutes.
-Taste the sauce and add the seasonings, keeping in mind that the parmesan will add a bit of salt at the end. I like to add just a tiny pinch of nutmeg.
-Stir the cheese in right before you serve the sauce.
-Add the cooked pasta to the sauce, stir well, and serve.
Take care when reheating, because the sauce likes to break. It will still taste delicious, but it can come as a surprise.
My girl Kate and I had a ten-day powwow about the blog here in London. Now that she is back in Seattle is working away on posts for us all! I am particularly excited for her to start her new series on cooking techniques. I feel like I’m always winging it in the kitchen, but Kate always seems to know what she is doing. We also have another “Friends with Recipes” post for you this week, so keep an eye out!
Tortilla Espanola, Gazpacho, etc.
(recipe for the tortilla should be up this week!)
I lived in Washington, DC for eight years and have now been in London for nearly six, yet when I think of “home” I always think of the Skagit Valley. The beautiful, green oasis filled with farmland and the winding Skagit River, and surrounded by snow topped mountains. Where tourists flock to from all over the world to view the hundreds of acres of tulip fields. Where strangers smile and wave when they pass on the street, and you can’t go to the grocery store without seeing at least three people you know. The Skagit Valley is a very wholesome, small community to grow up in; it is certainly not the kind of place where you would expect someone would walk into a department store and kill five people with a rifle.
With Seattle over an hour’s drive away, residents of the valley tend to stay local. My friends and I used to go to our local mall–The Cascade Mall–for anything we needed to buy: clothes, gifts, etc. I flirted with boys in that mall, I bought my prom dresses in that mall, I even worked in that mall (as did my sister and my nephew). As an adult, I have taken my kids to the mall, had family pictures taken at the mall, and spent many hours shopping at the mall with my mom. The Cascade Mall is a fixture of life in the valley and this horrific act of violence came as an absolute shock to this small community.
In retrospect, however, it was really just a matter of time before a mass shooting came to my lovely valley; gun violence in America has become unavoidable. It doesn’t matter how close knit your community is, or how friendly the people are, or how beautiful your surroundings are. Gun violence in America is no longer something that only happens to other people.
I want to shower you with statistics on gun violence, and explain how it is completely avoidable, but I won’t. Surely you have seen it already. I want to discuss how more Americans have died from gun-toting toddlers this year than from terrorists, but surely you already know this as well. What I do what to tell you is that if a mass shooting can happen in the Skagit Valley, it can also happen in your community (if it hasn’t already). You are no longer safe to go to church. Your kids are no longer safe to go to school. You are not safe to go to the movie theatre. Very soon, if it hasn’t happened already, you or someone you know will be personally affected by gun violence. It has become an inevitable part of life in America.
Should your skin have more pigmentation than mine, you are at even greater risk. You are not able to drive a car, help someone who is having a mental break down, or even go for a walk in your own neighbourhood. (PS: #blacklivesmatter) But what most Americans don’t seem to realise, is that though this is a reality in the US, this isn’t the case in other comparable countries.
After one mass school shooting in the UK in 1996, the government decided they wouldn’t allow it to happen again. The UK has had one mass shooting since the one in 1996. By comparison, the US currently clocks one mass shooting every single day. Every. Single. Day. It’s not that we have fewer instances of mental illness here in the UK, or fewer radicals, it is simply that people do not have access to guns here. Even most police officers in the UK don’t carry guns (yes, really). It is a basic fact that restricted access to guns in the UK has resulted in less gun violence. Yet many people in America continue to argue that more guns will result in less gun violence. So far the opposite has been true.
My friends here in the UK are shocked when I tell them that I have to ask my parents to hide the guns in the house before I bring my kids to visit. They are even more shocked when I tell them that my dad is licensed to carry a concealed weapon. Is he a police officer? No. Does he live in a particularly dangerous neighbourhood? Nope. Is he just a bad ass? Not really. In fact, my dad is one of the nicest guys you’ll ever meet, but he is a typical American in this way: he loves his guns, and believes it is his right to carry one; I will never convince him otherwise. This is completely normal behaviour in America, but absolutely bizarre to much of the rest of the world. America always been “extraordinary”, in good ways and bad, but the balance is heading in the wrong direction. (PS: when I called my dad to ask him if it was okay that I write about this, my mom got on the phone and wanted me to make a note of the fact that she is going to get a gun as well.)
After the Sandy Hook shooting I was certain that America would make a change. The deaths of those 20 children and 7 adults were so horrific and the nation was so outraged that I was certain we had finally reached the tipping point . . . but nothing happened. Then the next day there was another mass shooting and the next day another. Soon, to add insult to injury, instead of discussing gun control, politicians discussed the need for even more guns. More guns to prevent gun deaths is such poor logic. Guns will not make America safer. More guns will only mean more gun deaths. Just as fire won’t put put out a fire, and alcohol won’t cure an alcoholic, more guns won’t solve the gun problem in America. That isn’t a political statement. It is just basic logic.
My hometown is now forever changed, and for those of you in America, soon yours will be as well. Soon you won’t look on an article like this in an abstract way. You will look on an article like this and you will tear up because you will finally relate to it. You will think about the senselessness of the deaths that occurred in your community. You will remember those who died and think of the families they left behind. You’ll be frustrated and angry that this sort of nonsense has been allowed to spiral out of control with absolutely no real efforts made to stop it.
This week it was my home town, but next week it could be yours. Until Americans decide that the lives of its citizens are more important than their desire to bear arms, this is the future of our great county.
Kate and I have been friends for nearly 25 years. For nearly a quarter of a century, we have laughed together, cried together, traveled together, and even lived together. I more or less think of her as a sister.
When I started to think that I could use some help keeping up with the blog, Kate was an obvious choice. Not only is she one of the best cooks I know (she studied at the Culinary Institute of America), but she is also one of my most favourite people on the planet. Though she has never blogged before, she is a much better writer than I am, and I know she is going to be awesome. You guys will totally love her.
Kate has two biological children (one is nine and the other is four months) and two step-children aged seven and ten. She has been married for two blissful years to the doctor husband of her dreams, and they live in a big beautiful house in Seattle.
I am so pleased to announce that Kate has joined the Hungermama bandwagon and will be a regular weekly poster from here on out! Given her classical training, Kate’s cooking style is quite a bit different from mine: she will be able to share tips and tricks with us that we don’t even know exist. But don’t be intimidated! At the end of the day, Kate is just another mama trying to feed a family of six (!) with limited time and patience (and she’s totally rocking it). Please give a warm welcome to my girl, Kate!
Lettuce Wraps-by Kate Davies
At least once a week we try to have a ‘make your own’ style dinner. The ingredients are displayed on the table in separate dishes (a drawback when it comes time to do dishes, but well worth it), and the kids are allowed to assemble their own meals. It’s incredible how much more appealing a taco, a salad, a panini, or a lettuce wrap can be when they make it for themselves.
It’s quite difficult to make an objectionable lettuce wrap at our table. I make sure that even if someone goes overboard on one or two ingredients, they will still end up well-fed and reasonably well-nourished. If you can find living lettuce (Boston or Butter Lettuce), it is the most flexible and forgiving for little hands. Romaine or green leaf work well, too. Tofu and chicken are my go-to proteins; Chinese sausage, ground pork, and white fish are also delicious. Have fun with the sauces. We like soy sauce, fish sauce, sweet chili sauce, and teriyaki for our wraps, but you can find your own favorite dressings or dips to keep on hand.
ingredients: -4 boneless, skinless thighs
-120 ml (1/2 cup) soy sauce
-2 cloves garlic, minced
-1 tsp sesame oil
-1 head lettuce (Butter Lettuce, Green Leaf, Red Leaf), or 3 heads Romaine
-400g (2 cups) brown rice, cooked
-1 sliced bell pepper
-2 medium carrots, grated
-1 large handful (1 cup) bean sprouts
-2 scallions, chopped
-1/2 English cucumber, sliced
-chopped toasted peanuts
-fresh herbs (such as mint, cilantro, and/or Thai basil)
-Wash the lettuce, and set aside to dry on a clean dish towel.
-Add the chicken thighs to the combined ingredients for the marinade, and store in the refrigerator for at least 20 minutes.
-While the chicken hangs and the rice cooks, arrange the garnishes on plates or in separate bowls.
-Heat a skillet to medium high, and add 1/4 tsp vegetable oil. Immediately add the chicken thighs, allowing them to sear (without stirring or moving them) for about 2 minutes, or until a dark crust begins to form around the edges*.
-Flip the chicken pieces, add a splash of water or chicken stock, and finish in the oven for about 8 minutes, or until the internal temperature of the thickest piece reaches 165° F, or 74° C.
-Chop the chicken into manageable chunks, throw everything on the table, and call your peeps to dinner.
*if you use tofu, flip it once and stop there.
Store bought or homemade Nuoc Cham (Vietnamese dipping sauce) is delicious with lettuce wraps, but if fish sauce isn’t your favorite you can use sesame vinaigrette, soy sauce, teriyaki sauce, or sweet chili sauce from the supermarket.