Some friends of mine came over to play in the kitchen yesterday afternoon. They are 10 and 8 years old and both demon cooks. Their favourite foods are French onion soup or sushi, they can bake a mean cake totally unaided and last time I went to their house they served a pre-dinner juice in passionfruit casings with umbrellas…. So now you can understand the proficiency of palette I’m dealing with. Frozen pizza and a Walls ice-cream would not cut it with these ladies.
We spent the afternoon preparing a lavish supper for ourselves. The idea being that, having prepared a simple-yet-everso-slightly-chefy 3 course menu (below… we made a mess as you can see) with my occasional interventions and, I’d like to think, sage advice, they could go home and recreate it by themselves whenever they next hosted a dinner party (you’d be amazed what the under-10s get up to these days).
We began, in proper chefy tradition, with a prep list:
After School Mis en Place
Make pasta dough and chill
Make pasta filling
Make pasta shapes
Make herby butter
And here are the recipes the girls were following:
Asparagus Wrapped in Parma Ham
You will need:
- 16 spears of fresh asparagus
- 8 sheets of parma ham
- Olive oil
- Salt and pepper
Pre-heat the oven to 200oC. Break the woody ends off the asparagus and check for bugs. Tear the parma ham sheets in half. Wrap ½ a sheet of parma ham around each asparagus spear. Lay the asparagus on a well-oiled baking tray. Drizzle the asparagus with a little olive oil and season. Roast in the oven for approximately 15 minutes or until the asparagus is just soft and the ham crispy.
Pasta Hats Stuffed with Spinach and Pecorino Served with Herby Butter
We used my pasta recipe and shaping process from this previous post, but altered the filling.
For the filling:
- 3 shallots, finely chopped
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 500g frozen spinach, thawed
- 3-4 little girl’s handfuls of grated pecorino
- a large glug of double cream
Chop the shallots finely and sweat in a little oil until soft but not brown. Add the garlic and cook gently for 2-3 minutes.
Grate the pecorino. Squeeze all the water out of the spinach and chop finely. Mix everything together, season and add a dollop of double cream to help the mix bind.
When you’re ready to serve the pasta, melt roughly 100g of butter in a pan, mix in a handful of herbs (whatever you have, but parsley, chervil and chives worked for us) and season. Drizzle the butter over the cooked pasta and tuck in immediately.
The River Cottage Canteen in Axminster invented this I believe. I tried it there last week and it’s delish’ as, I believe, the youngsters say. It’s a glorious Frankenstein of a pudding that joins a fool with a crumble. I doubt this vague imitation is made with the delicacy and care of River Cottage, but it’s a tasty approximation nonetheless.
You will need:
- 1 jar of the best lemon curd you can find (if not your Mother’s, then Stokes do a good one)
- 600ml double cream
- Several handfuls of granola (one without fruit is best, I favour the Dorset Cereals one)
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
Whip the cream into soft peaks. In small glasses, spoon in the lemon curd, cream and granola in layers like a lasagna. Finish with a layer of crumble, sprinkle with the lemon zest and serve.
Enjoy the starter and main course at the table, with napkins and civilised conversation about the likely outcome of sports day. Then don PJs and de-camp to the sofa with the pudding to watch Star Wars til bedtime (that last bits, very important).