PRICELESS, PRAGMATIC FAMILY CUISINE
This time round, it’s all about priceless, pragmatic meals that will warm both the heart and the tummy and put smiles back into the family kitchen
As we are vigorously spiralling towards the end of the year, we are going to stretch out that wallet this week. I’m sure that we have all felt that painful pinch this year and I know that, like me, you are probably tired of paying more for less. We find ourselves not only caught in a price dilemma, but having to deal with quality and portion size issues too these days.
Choosing my retailer or local market has been something of a wake-up call for me as a chef. We all know that prices have increased dramatically, but when you can purchase the same item from different shops with a R10 or R20 price difference, you have to start thinking about where and how you shop and apply some good old commence sense.
Over the past couple of weeks, my experiences in the supermarket and green grocer isles has really thrown me off balance as a shopper. I took time out – for three days – to consciously price the same goods at different stores. Never mind just finding huge differences from store to store, I also found that the price of the same items in the same stores varied radically on a daily basis, suggesting that retailers are not only repricing the same goods from day to day but deliberately playing with our minds.
In the midst of all this grocery mayhem and shopping for the best price, like most others, I also find myself constantly drawn towards those special displays in store. It’s almost becoming a clandestine shopping war where we are not only wrestling with prices but also having to field a constant barrage of seemingly smart special offers that aren’t half as smart as they appear to be once we unpack them.
Along the way, we get completely bamboozled by shockingly bad quality and those sneaky little moves where the
packaging stays the same but the grammage shrinks – so that chocolate slab is smaller, the mince is packed in smaller helpings and even the toothpaste tube has shrunk but the box has not.
But more of that in future posts.
This week, we are shopping cleverly for the month end – and leaving a bit on the side for those Black Friday Specials – wait until you see what I have in store for you for that day…
Whilst I encourage you to shop smartly, I’m also going to try to inspire you to shift those shopping negatives aside. Park your supermarket trolley outside the door and enjoy the cooking process in your own kitchen when you’ve arrived home and unloaded the bags from the boot.
These are what I call my comfort meals, using seasonal ingredients that feed both your mind and your families in less than 30 minutes – or, perhaps, a little less than that.
I have created a dish for each day of the week, so you can comfortably try these at home and have some fun in the kitchen.
VEGGIE MARMITE CHEESE BURGER
Thinking back to my confused youth brings back memories of Marmite on toast. When you were feeling a little sick and didn’t think school was cool, there was nothing like that convenient tummy bug. My mother’s arsenal included that old staple – Marmite on toast. I mean nothing cures a tummy bug quite like that and, as a treat, there’s the addition of some Melrose cheese!
I’ve ramped that up a bit with a homemade veggie burger, adding non-processed cheese in the name of healthier family meals. Marmite is vitamin enriched and plant based which is a bonus. All in all, enough to get one up and running free in the garden.
So moms or dads, join in the fun of making this with your kids and guide them as they assemble this yummy meal. Take it from me, it’s better than homework.
In the back of your school notebook, write down these ingredients:
(The ingredients are for one person, because you don’t want to share this with anyone but yourself …)
A handful of crushed all bran flakes
1 egg / white for binding and yellow for crust
A handful of bread crumbs
50grams strained and mashed chickpeas
20 grams strained and mashed red kidney beans
10 grams corn kernels, mashed
1 onion – half diced and half sliced
2 slices tomato
6 Romanita tomatoes
2 slices cheddar cheese (not processed)
1 fresh gluten free bun
1 Tablespoon Marmite
3 Tablespoons Canola mayo
10 grams butter
10 ml olive oil
Now you can put your cooking skills to the test.
Making your veg patty is a bit hands-on. In a bowl, mix your chickpea, kidney beans, corn diced onion, bread crumbs, bran flakes and your egg white. Form a rounded ball shape that’s compressed. Let it rest in the fridge for 5 minutes.
You can now start heating up your pan with some butter and olive oil to a medium heat. Add your Romanita tomatoes and your sliced onion and sweat them for 2 minutes. Release your veg patty from the fridge and use the egg yolk to give it a last wash. Coat with another layer of bran flakes, add into the pan, and let it crisp for 4 minutes (2 minutes on either side). Remember to keep the temperature on medium heat. Add your cheese slices and cover with a lid to melt the cheese.
After 2 minutes, remove the lid and let it rest for 1 minute while you start your assembling process.
Palace tour sliced bun on your plate, add some crispy lettuce, fresh tomato slices. Then, add your patty and paste your Marmite on top. You can garnish with some Canola mayo, your onion, blistered tomato and season with salt and pepper.
When it comes to good health, it’s certainly time to take your head out of the sand! Ostrich is one of the most, if not the healthiest, of red meats on the planet. It is high in polyunsaturated fats, low in saturated fatty acids, high in iron, vitamin B6 and low in cholesterol.
Grilling your Ostrich fillet just requires some soy sauce marinade. I like my meat medium rare. As this fillet is so tender, I grill mine on a hot skillet for 2 minutes per side. You want to sear the meat and still keep it moist and pink inside.
Then, I deep fry my vermicelli for 2 minutes on 180°C in oil. Use a paper towel to damp the excess oil and shape it into a nest on to which you can then place your fillet. Garnish with some grated cucumber, pickled ginger, sesame seeds and dry fried kefir leaves.
WINGS AND THINGS
Hot chicken wings are apparently the to go to when you have the Monday Blues or you just want some spice in your life. This recipe comes with a warning, though, as ushers in something of a heat wave that might not suit really young kiddies. So, feel free to tone down the spice mix accordingly.
Even at its hottest, this family meal beats the KFC bucket by far. To make sure it stays on my bucket list of healthy food, I’m serving it with some fresh veg sides – steamed broccoli and grilled butternut.
Rub the wings with some olive oil and then coat in my spice mix.
This should cover about 8 wings
FROM YOUR SPICE CABINET:
5 grams dry spice and then equal amounts of:
elachi / cardamom
Mother in law spice
Grill the coated wings until golden brown and serve up with some steamed broccoli and a butternut bake with cinnamon, cloves and salt and pepper.
You’ve heard the adage, drink milk to cool your mouth after hot food – I’m suggesting a spot of almond milk as an alternative after dinner solution.
ROTI AND ALL
Having an extended family doesn’t always fit the (supermarket) bill but, with clever shopping to dodge those soaring red meat prices and the substitution of cheaper proteins such as free range chicken, you’ll still make ends meet.
A traditional Indian curry brings harmony to the family. This time round, I’ve gone for a milder Malaysian curry.
Cut your chicken into cubes and pan fry them in some ghee and grapeseed oil. As this is a fruity, seasonal curry, I have created a tropical sauce with some pineapple.
To prepare this tropical sauce, sweat some diced onions and add some ground turmeric, 031 masala, ginger and mild Malayan spice. Add the chicken, some diced tomato and small pineapple cubes. You can also add some black beans if you desire some more protein. Let this simmer away for a few minutes before adding your 100 ml of coconut milk. Bring to the boil and serve up with your favourite home style – or shop bought – roti. Garnish with some fresh bay leaves and a dash of salt and pepper.
Malaysian cuisine for all!!!
We’re getting a lot of November rain around the country at the moment which got me thinking about the movie “cloudy with a possibility of meatballs”. Let’s face it, meatballs have always been associated with classic Italian family dinners, especially in the movies. An added bonus is that most young families love them just as much.
Mince is usually the best way to reign in the food bill but you need to make sure that you keep on point with your smart shopping. When buying mince, there is always a gamble with quality and price as we are well aware. If you can, make clever and conscious decisions to buy leaner quality mince as the cheaper versions are often needlessly packed with fat which is not doing anyone any good. You are paying for cholesterol!
Lean beef can not only be affordable, but can be prepared in a new age visually appealing way that will make it fun to serve up. I always believe that visual adaptation is the way to eat – and that means that all the fast food fundi’s aka Ronald Mc
Donald and Spur – need to realise that it is possible to colour in the lines, and not outside the lines, especially when it comes to good food choices.
Meatballs are always so much fun to make, especially when you are allowed to play with your food – much like rolling and kneeing your own pasta dough. So, get the family involved. Mince up your mince with some dark soy sauce, a dash of nutmeg and clove to give the meat some dark, earthy aromatics. Add some parsley and some salt and pepper and mix in with you fists. Massage the mixture with either an egg white or, alternatively, some xanthan gum or arrow root as a binder. Once you’ve formed them into perfect balls, you’ll be on a roll …
To make meatballs look a bit more visually interesting, serve them on twirl, gluten free angel hair pasta or give them a whole new look in the form of a gluten free meatloaf, served up with healthy veggies.
TASTY TUNA TREAT
To end off the week during which you’ve experienced some quality, creative family food, we have a classic pasta. This dish is not just tasty but is also a good money saver for the weeks ahead.
Although I’m not generally a fan of processed foods, the truth is that you can choose where to compromise. Tuna, although canned, is still a very nutritious, money saver. There are also often some useful specials where you can get cans of tuna at a reasonable price point if you buy in bulk. Cans of tuna are always a good staple to keep in the pantry cupboard – and this recipe is a good go to when you can think of what to dish up at the end of a busy week.
This is a meal that will make the whole family come back for more It feeds four and can be rustled up in under 30 minutes for less than 100 bucks. I’ll show you what I mean:
FROM THE PANTRY:
500 grams macaroni (R20)
100g cheese (R16)
4 tins of tuna (R55 on a special from Checkers)
50 ml milk (R5).
2 Tablespoons flour
and the rest is only seasoning!
This is actually my favourite “secret recipe” but I will give you a hint of what I did. After preparing the pasta according to the packet directions, I set it aside and made the sauce before combining and stirring in the other ingredients. Then, it was into the oven.
Of course, there are different combinations and variations. This week, I’m challenging you to work out the method and even up the ante by adding a few more price conscious and flavourful ingredients. Then, share the good food. Let us know what you did and post a picture of your tuna creation on our Facebook or Instagram pages. You can even give your tuna pasta a fun name. We promise to try out your suggestions….
Seven price conscious food suggestions later and one thing is for certain – family has been the core of our existence from the very beginning. So, why not start healthy eating habits at home? Enjoy those family treats together. Make special mealtime memories as you not only live the moment, but love the food.