As a crumb snatcher coming up during the early 70s, chicken pot pie, cheese and onion pasties and (my personal favourite) codfish patties were weekly staples round my yard. These quick snacks, warming in the oven, created a comforting aroma that met you at the door after school. Cheap, delicious and loaded with fat and preservatives but nonetheless spot on when nothing else was ready to hand.
Nowadays when time is limited and funds are short, my daughter and I pop round the shops for fresh ingredients to make quesadillas. Well balanced and nutritious, they’re the perfect meal for a family of any size. Start by heating a dry, non-stick pan over medium-heat, place a multigrain or spinach tortilla in the pan and sprinkle on a large handful of grated, low-sodium cheddar. Spoon 3 tablespoons of the following vegetable mixture over half of the tortilla:
Scallions 3, chopped
Fresh coriander 1 small handful, chopped
Scotch bonnet chili 1 small, seeds removed and finely chopped
Tinned black beans 1 handful, rinsed and drained
Finish it off with tinned tuna (drained and flaked), cooked chicken strips, cooked shrimp or thinly sliced, medium rare skirt steak. When the cheese starts to melt, fold the quesadilla in half and toast both sides until golden brown. Remove the quesadilla from the pan and cut in half. Serve with a side of salsa or guacamole and enjoy.
The good thing is they’re as wholesome as they are fun and effortless to make. So round up the lil’ ones, get cooking and eat well without breaking the bank.
Summertime in the city! And everywhere else for that matter. Absolutely nothing beats getting out in the fresh air, whether a back garden, rooftop, stoop or in a kiddie pool with a water hose over your head. Wherever you decide to take in the lovely weather be sure to bring along a bit of sustenance. I can honestly say, without question, one of my favourite ways to relax with the family is hanging out down at the beach dining alfresco.
The thing is, knocking up a picnic lunch doesn’t require much planning or effort. Throw a few salad leaves together with grilled peach halves, blackberries, prosciutto, crumble over a bit of blue cheese and lightly drizzle on both olive oil and honey. Salt and pepper to taste, done. Or whisk up a quick Thai sauce of peanut butter, soy, toasted sesame oil, red wine vinegar, chopped garlic and ginger and dried chili flakes. Then pour over cold soba noodles with cooked chicken pieces and blanched broccoli florets, season to taste and garnish with thinly sliced spring onions and sesame seeds for a perfect meal in the park under the stars.
Short on time? Pop round the shops for ready made sandwiches, fresh cut vegetables, sparkling wine and a seasonal berry tart. We caught an outdoor movie recently where takeaway sushi, homemade popcorn and a few bottles of bucks fizz was the order of the day. Alternatively, you can’t go wrong with a crusty baguette, cheese, fruit, chocolate and a libation of choice (juice boxes for the young’uns of course). And by all means, use what you have to hand. So shut down the computer, put away the video games, pack up the kids, sunblock, the dog and some sport equipment….nature is calling. Above all else these simple pleasures give our children an abundance of lasting memories and a love of the great outdoors for the ages. Isn’t that what matters most?
Lance Nitahara rang up a while back with word the producers of Chopped contacted him about returning to compete on a redemption episode. Interestingly he declined, sighting concerns our depth of interaction and subsequent challenge could not be duplicated. Along with the possibility of failing.
To put it plainly, that’s complete bollocks. I believe he would easily dispatch all competitors should his sole focus be to produce honest food with a level of respect no matter the ingredients. One reason for my victory was Lance’s extraordinary talent and fierce yet gracious competitiveness required my very best. It was an extreme pleasure to compete against such a formidable opponent and to now call him friend. As a result of much thought and meditation (plus a few choice words from his lovely wife), I’m honoured to share that Lance will indeed fire up the cooker again on Tuesday, July 26th at 10pm EST on Food Network.
Personally I feel he’s obligated, if only to dispel the notion reality TV is somehow maniacally driven. Crunch Time effectively disproved that. Furthermore, our collaboration showed that benevolence trumps perception and honouring oneself renders manipulative editing practices useless. Not to mention our daughters learnt first-hand that doing your best matters most (leading by example sort of thing). So I encourage you to tune in and show your support as Lance has at it again. Although the moment of absolute certainty doesn’t exist, I’m confident he’ll prove to be un-choppable.
So many of you have responded in helping with relief efforts to Japan. Every bit helps but Japan still needs us. For every Chef Madison T-shirt, mug or baseball cap purchased I’m donating $1 to the American Red Cross in support of all those affected by the recent earthquake, tsunami and nuclear plant explosions. Do help if you can or please donate through several other organizations of choice. On behalf of my daughter’s family and all those in need, your assistance is greatly appreciated.