Your next food: Smashing spinach

Smashing spinach

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Spinach is one of the healthiest things you could eat! It’s bursting with green goodness. Now it’s not much to look at really – like a leaf but it tastes much better than we imagine the average leaf from a tree would! And definitely healthier: according to Wikipedia spinach has the following good stuff in it: vitamin A, vitamin C, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium, manganese, folate, betaine, iron, vitamin B2, calcium, potassium, vitamin B6, folic acid, copper, protein, phosphorus, zinc, niacin, selenium and omega-3 fatty acids) it’s practically a multi-vitamin in a leaf!

You can eat spinach raw or cooked and you’ll find both baby spinach and normal spinach in the shops – the difference? Nope, baby spinach isn’t only for babies, it just means the leaves are smaller because they haven’t grown so much yet.

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Spinach is sold in the vegetables section of the supermarket in quite large bags…you might well wonder how you’ll fit such a huge amount into your meal…which brings us to..

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING SPINACH ACT!

There’s a funny thing that happens to spinach when you cook it. It’s a bit like magic really.

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Your pan can end up looking full like this but don’t worry, the leaves do what’s called wilting – they shrivel up and go MUCH SMALLER (huh why have we gone bigger with our words there then!?)

Remember that you will gain another FAB FUN FOOD CLUB point for trying spinach (our fourth food!) Have you got your mum and dad to make you a reward chart for all this yet? If not, you could make one yourself!

What is it used for?

Sometimes spinach is served as a vegetable, pretty much on its own or maybe creamed (with cream added to it) with a main meal. Other times it’s used as an ingredient in all sorts of dishes. It’s very popular in Italian cooking, but also in Asian meals too.

OK ready to try it? Here are your ideas and recipes for food 4: spinach

OUR OWN HOMEMADE SPINACH AND BROCCOLI SOUP (serves three to four)

Ingredients:

1 onion

2 cloves garlic

a splodge of olive oil (about two tablespoons if you want to measure it)

500g of broccoli chopped into chunks/ florets

250g spinach

1.25 litres of veg stock (we use stock cubes)

A dash of cream or creme fraiche for each bowl at the end

Chop the onion into smallish pieces. Add to a large pan and fry over a medium heat for about five minutes until soft but not browned. Add the garlic and fry for another minute, then throw in the chopped up broccoli and pour in the stock.  Simmer all this for about 10 minutes then add the spinach too (it’ll probably fill the pan!). Simmer for a further five to 10 minutes – you want the broccoli to be tender if you prod it with a fork. Then use a blender to smooth it down. We use a stick type blender in the pan as this saves on the washing up and potential spillages with transferring the soup from the pan to a proper blender jug!

Serve in warm bowls adding about a good splodge of cream or creme fraiche to each bowl – diners can stir this in to make their soup creamy.

RICEY SPINACH (AND MUSHROOM) RISOTTO

Risottos are brilliant for mid-week family dinners. Once your grown-ups get used to cooking them, they can start experimenting with what they ‘chuck’ in too. Spinach is a real winner here:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/3245/mushroom-and-spinach-risotto

SUPERBLY SPINACHY (AND CHEESY) LASAGNA

http://www.riverford.co.uk/feed/in:recipes/spinach-mushroom-lasagne/

Remember nothing ventured nothing gained is our motto at FFF. If you don’t like it, you won’t have lost anything.

Grandpancakes pancake batter recipe…our super-easy, no weighing scales needed recipe from Luca’s Grandpa

Luca’s grandpa has the easiest recipe for pancakes in the world…we guarantee (well, almost) that it won’t fail you come Shrove Tuesday (Feb 12th this year).

What you’ll need for enough batter for about six pancakes:

– 1/2 pint of milk

– 1 large egg

– half a mug of flour

What to do:

Add a third of a pint of milk to a mixing jug (we usually use semi-skimmed – I’d avoid skimmed. Full fat would be okay too).

Chuck 1 large egg in too (well, breaking it carefully first – not literally just chucking it in)

Give it a whisk.

Then find a standard size tea or coffee mug. Fill it half full with plain flour.

Add that to the jug where the milk and egg is.

Whisk thoroughly. It should be the consistency of double cream. If it’s slightly too runny, add about a tablespoon of extra flour. Too runny pancake mixture will stick to the pan.

Leave the mixture to settle for maybe ten minutes IF you can wait that long (sometimes we can’t and need our pancakes NOW!)

More photos to follow on Tuesday from us!  pancakes photo

We’d love to know what your favourite pancake topping is…ours are Nutella or Golden Syrup!

Restaurants: no more fish fingers/ chicken nuggets/ burger only kids’ menus please!

Look, we all like these foods occasionally (hey a fish finger sandwich smothered in ketchup and with a slither of melted cheese on top, is hard to beat) BUT if we see another kids’ menu in a restaurant which reads something like the following, we will run off screaming towards the nearest supermarket and just go home and make our own dinner thank you very much.

Here is an example of a kids’ menu that left Luca groaning with culinary boredom:

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Adventurous young eaters clearly not welcome here then.

Now fair enough, it’s great if you’re say, two years old, and we can see the need for a few plainer options for some children but hang on a minute, restauranteurs of the world, it’s a little patronising to assume this is all any kid wants and it’s a lot boring. It makes us do a great big foodie YAWN.

So what do we want instead?

Fine, yes have a few simple meals and some stuff for our tiddly toddler brothers and sisters but please can we have more interesting meals too? If your mum and dad are tucking into fantastic food and enjoying it, not all children want to sit there with a plate of nuggets and chips for company thanks.

So the solution? Go back to the old days when most chefs were happy to knock up a half portion of a selection of more grown-up meals. We know this isn’t going to work with a few things that are probably bought in in set sizes (as in 8oz steaks) but we bet there’s lots of stuff you can do it with. Go on chefs of Britain! Help us be more adventurous!

And by way of example, here’s a perfect half portion dish of haddock, poached egg and mustard that the fabulous Boathouse in Ely knocked up for our seven-year-old diner:

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