By: Zayn Mees
Fresh Tomato Soup
1 medium onion
1 small carrot
1 celery stick
3 tbsp tomato puree
2 bay leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
600g hot vegetable stock
Dash of dried basil and oregano
A pinch of salt
Dash of ground black pepper
A good pinch of sugar
1) Cut each tomato into quarters and slice off any hard cores (they don’t soften during cooking and you’d get hard bits in the soup at the end)
2) Chop onion, carrot and celery stick into small pieces.
3) Spoon oil into a large cooking pot and heat it over a low heat.
4) Hold your hand over the pot until you can feel the heat rising from the oil, then tip in the onion and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook it until translucent.
5) Add in carrot and celery and cook the vegetables until they are soft and faintly coloured. This sho uld take about 10 minutes. Stir them 2-3 times so they cook evenly and don’t stick to the bottom of the pot.
6) Add in tomato puree and stir it around so it turns the vegetables red.
7) Add in fresh tomatoes.
8) Add in sugar, dried basil, dried oregano, bay leaves and black pepper. Stir to mix well.
9) Put the lid on the pot and let the tomatoes stew over a low heat for 10mins until they shrunk down in the pot and their juices flow nicely. Stir occasionally to keep everything well mixed.
10) Slowly pour in the stock, stirring at the same time to mix it with the vegetables. Turn up the heat as high as it will go and wait until everything is bubbling, then turn the heat down to low again and put the lid back on the pan. Cook gently for 25 minutes, stirring a couple of times until the tomatoes break down and become slushy looking.
11) Remove the pot from the heat and let it cool down. Discard the bay leaves.
12) Blend the soup until smooth.
13) Pour the puree soup back into the pot and reheat it over medium heat for a few minutes, stirring occasionally until you can see bubbles breaking gently on the surface.
14) Taste the soup and adjust the seasonings (salt, pepper and sugar) if needed.
15) Add more tomato puree if the colour of the soup is not deep enough red.
16) Serve and enjoy!
Spaghetti and Meatballs
For meatballs (24 medium/ 48 mini):
4 sprigs of fresh rosemary
12 cream crackers
2 heaped teaspoons Dijon mustard
500g good-quality minced beef, pork, or a mixture of the two
1 heaped tablespoon dried oregano
1 large egg, preferably free-range or organic
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
olive oil (for cooking)
For pasta and sauce:
a bunch of fresh basil
1 medium onion
2 cloves of garlic
½ a fresh or dried red chilli
2 x 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
400g dried spaghetti or penne
Parmesan cheese, for grating
a) To make your meatballs
- Pick the rosemary leaves off the woody stalks and finely chop them
- Wrap the crackers in a tea towel and smash up until fine, breaking up any big bits up with your hands (note 2)
- Add to the bowl with the mustard, minced meat, chopped rosemary and oregano
- Crack in the egg and add a good pinch of salt and pepper
- With clean hands scrunch and mix up well
- Divide into 4 large balls
- With wet hands, divide each ball into 6 and roll into little meatballs – you should end up with 24
- Drizzle them with olive oil and jiggle them about so they all get coated
- Put them on a plate, cover and place in the fridge until needed
b) To cook your pasta, meatballs and sauce
- Peel and finely chop the onion and the garlic
- Finely slice the chilli
- Put a large pan of salted water on to boil
- Next, heat a large frying pan on a medium heat and add 2 lugs of olive oil
- Add your onion to the frying pan and stir for around 7 minutes or until softened and lightly golden
- Then add your garlic and chilli, and as soon as they start to get some colour add the large basil leaves
- Add the tomatoes and the balsamic vinegar
- Bring to the boil and season to taste
- Meanwhile, heat another large frying pan and add a lug of olive oil and your meatballs
- Stir them around and cook for 8–10 minutes until golden (check they’re cooked by opening one up – there should be no sign of pink)
- Add the meatballs to the sauce and simmer until the pasta is ready, then remove from the heat
- Add the pasta to the boiling water and cook according to the packet instructions
c) To serve your meatballs
- Saving some of the cooking water, drain the pasta in a colander
- Return the pasta to the pan
- Spoon half the tomato sauce into the pasta, adding a little splash of your reserved water to loosen
- Serve on a large platter, or in separate bowls, with the rest of the sauce and meatballs on top
- Sprinkle over the small basil leaves and some grated Parmesan
Chicken and Potato Soup
1 red onion
2 chicken thighs (with or without bone) – marinate with light soya sauce, sugar and cornflour
1 large carrot
1 cup of Peas
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tsp light soya sauce
Dash of dark soya sauce
1 tsp concentrated chicken stock (optional) – mixed with 150 ml water
Dash of sugar and pepper
1 bay leaf (my personal add-on)
Corn flour (for thickening)
2. Add in all the ingredients and seasonings and stir well.
3. Simmer with medium heat until all are cooked.
4. Thicken with cornflour.
Tips on how to get your kids to eat a healthy lunch
- In a large bowl, sift together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Set the bowl aside.
- Melt the margarine in a small saucepan.
- Crack the egg into a medium-size bowl, then add the milk and melted margarine.
- Whisk egg mixture until it is well mixed.
- Add the flour mixture to the egg mixture. Whisk again until both mixtures are blended together.
- Put extra margarine in the saucepan and heat it on the stovetop on medium heat. It is hot enough when the margarine starts to bubble.
- Use a measuring cup or a small ladle to spoon the batter into the pan. Put some blueberries on top of each pancake.
- Cook your pancakes on medium heat until small bubbles appear on the top.
- Use a spatula to see when your pancakes are light brown on the bottom. When they are, flip them over with the spatula.
- Cook for another few minutes until the pancakes are light brown on the other side.
- Remove your pancakes and put them on plates to enjoy!
Cream Cheese Cucumber Sandwiches
- Spread each slice of bread with cream cheese (about 3 tablespoons per sandwich).
- Place about 4 cucumber slices on 4 of the slices of bread and top with remaining bread slices.
- Cut into quarters and serve immediately or wrap sandwiches and save for later.
Fun Fruit Kabobs
- Prepare the fruit by washing the grapes, washing the apples and cutting them into small squares, peeling the bananas and cutting them into chunks, and cutting the pineapple into chunks, if it's fresh. Put the fruit onto a large plate.
- Spread coconut onto another large plate.
- Slide pieces of fruit onto the skewer and design your own kabob by putting as much or as little of whatever fruit you want! Do this until the stick is almost covered from end to end.
- Hold your kabob at the ends and roll it in the yogurt, so the fruit gets covered. Then roll it in the coconut.
- Repeat these steps with another skewer.
- In a blender, combine the banana, strawberries, yogurt, and orange juice.
- Blend until smooth.
Lucky Lettuce Cups
- In a large sauté pan over moderate heat, warm 1 tablespoon oil.
- Add the chicken and sauté, stirring occasionally, until cooked through and brown, 5 to 7 minutes.
- Transfer to a plate and set aside. Do not wash the pan.
- In the same pan, warm the remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat.
- Add the 4 thinly sliced scallions, ginger, and garlic and sauté, stirring occasionally, for 1 minute.
- Add the zucchini, red and yellow bell peppers, peanuts, and rice, and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
- Add the brown sugar and cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes.
- Add the cooked chicken, along with the soy sauce, vinegar, salt, and hot chile sauce, if using.
- Mound the rice and vegetable mixture in the middle of a large serving plate and garnish with diagonally sliced scallions.
- Surround the rice with lettuce cups.
- To serve, let everyone spoon the rice and vegetable mixture into lettuce cups and eat with their fingers, taco-style.
- Pour the water, oats, and salt into a medium-size pot on the stovetop.
- Heat the mixture until it boils, then turn the heat to low.
- Using a wooden spoon, stir in the applesauce and cinnamon.
- Cook on low heat and continue to stir the mixture for 5 minutes.
- Pour the oatmeal into a bowl and sprinkle the brown sugar on top.
- Allow the oatmeal to cool for a minute before digging in.
Roast Beef Wrap
- Place mayonnaise, Greek yogurt, salt, pepper, and horseradish into a food processor.
- Pulse until well combined, about 10 seconds.
- Lay wraps onto a flat surface.
- Top each wrap with a piece of lettuce, some tomato, and 2 slices of roast beef.
- Drizzle some dressing over the veggies and beef.
- Roll each wrap up. Serve immediately or wrap in foil for later.