Food blogger, chef, and mum of three, Claire Thomson, suggests a fabulous menu for a Mother’s Day lunch with recipes taken from her cookbook The Five O’Clock Apron. As well as being deeply flavoursome, these recipes are great for getting the kids in the kitchen. Over to Claire . . .
Cooking with children can be a wonder. It can also be a nightmare. A chef and a mother, I am keen (and also cautious!) to have my kids help me in the kitchen. I am sure to give them tasks they will enjoy, with well-honed hours of Play-Dough rolling; they are surprisingly dexterous when it comes to knocking out a batch of Grissini.
There will be mess. The flour will spill and their clothes, faces, and also the floor will take a dusting. This is controllable chaos and your kids will relish this time spent in the kitchen. Likewise, peeling carrots is a job my 7-year-old particularly loves. Long and precise ribbons of carrot piled high in a strangled heap on the chopping board. The 4-year-old likes nothing better than giving the electric whisk a good thrashing. She is very good at beating things. Just don’t let her anywhere near the double cream. Believe it or not, the 2-year-old seems to enjoy washing up. That is to say, standing on a chair with her hands (and sleeves) in the sink swishing spoons, cups, and such in and out of the soapy suds.
Making your children feel empowered by culinary enterprise is important, I’m all for it. But there are times when the heat of the kitchen, sharp knives, and wanting to listen to the radio in peace mean the children are better off with their colouring-in books, spelling tests, and even, uh hum, a spot of television. Divide kitchen prep into jobs that might merit their help and tasks that can be executed quicker and with more satisfaction when their backs are turned.
For Mother’s Day Lunch, the children will want to help. Make the ice cream the day before with the kids. Help them to strain and hang the labneh the day before and on Mother’s Day morning get the children to roll this thick strained yogurt into walnut-sized balls to steep in olive oil, garlic, herbs, and lemon (they’ll love this gunky task, they’ll also love the labneh… think classy Boursin). Next up, get them rolling the grissini ready for baking. This leaves you with the beets to boil and whizz with yogurt and the chicken and rice to roast. Make a great big green salad to serve alongside the chicken and dress it simply and sharply with red wine vinegar, a little salt, and some olive oil. For the ice cream, be sure to remove it from the freezer half an hour before serving, and serve with some pomegranate seeds and molasses (halve the fruit with a sharp knife and get the children to beat the back of the fruit with a wooden spoon knocking the seeds clean out and into a bowl).
This is an easy menu to prepare, with just enough participation from the children and the prep easily truncated into manageable time slots. Enjoy. And be sure to get them to help with the washing up!
Starter: Sesame Breadsticks with Labneh Balls and a Beetroot and Yogurt Dip.
Main: Whole Chicken Roasted over Rice with Cinnamon
Dessert: Easy Peasy Rose Ice Cream