With the UK back in lockdown parents will again need to find and create new ways to keep their children interested and active. Mother of one and Cordon Bleu Chef, Natasha Shamji shares 3 family recipes to make with your kids during lockdown II.
Although school is still in play; after school clubs, weekend activities and organised sports are no longer an option. And with the weather getting chillier outdoor activities might be a bit more limited. So, is there a better way to have a creative and fun-filled time than cooking with your kids? Not only is it an educational and dynamic home activity, but it will hopefully produce something delicious for the whole family to enjoy.
Below are some of Natasha Shamji’s favourite recipes that she prepare with my son and teaches in her classes.
This delicious savoury treat is really fun to make with kids. It is a great snack or breakfast option. It does not require much equipment and allows kids to get their hands stuck in. Once the dough is rolled out you can use shapes and different cookie cutters, which is usually the favourite part for the kids. Cleaning it all up less so.
260g/2 cups of all-purpose/plain flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
15 g of dried herbs (I often use dried sage or thyme but you can choose the herb that you prefer)
170g /3/4 cup of unsalted butter- cold
120ml/½ cup of buttermilk
1 large cold egg
1 cup grated cheese (I like cheddar or parmesan or a combination of the two)
1 egg (beaten)
A drop of milk or water
- Pre heat your oven to 180 degrees Celsius and line a baking tray with some parchment paper.
- Grate all your cheese and combine with your flour, baking powder, salt and herbs into a large bowl.
- Cut your cold butter into small cubes and place that into the flour. Take your hands and using your fingers rub the butter into the flour till you have something that resembles coarse breadcrumbs. The easiest and smoothest way to do this is to position your fingers almost like you are playing the piano- light so that the mixture remains crumbly.
- Whisk the egg and the buttermilk together and add that into the dry mixture and using your hands bring the mixture together till it resembles a soft dough. You do not want to over mix this but just bring it together till it is combined. Once it has come together turn it out onto a well floured surface and knead just a few times.
- Roll out the dough to about 1 inch thick and cut into desired shapes and place them onto the baking tray. If you are using cookie cutters or shapes try and flour them first so that they don’t stick to the batter.
- Mix the egg and milk for the egg wash and lightly brush to top of each biscuit. Bake this for about 15-20 min.
Gooey One Bowl Chocolate Brownies:
A good brownie recipe is always essential when you want a delicious treat and this brownie recipe beats them all. It is gooey, fudgy and chocolatey rich. It also can be made in just one bowl which means less mess for parents. This is a great recipe to make with kids and everyone will be able to enjoy the output!
- 1 cup/230g unsalted butter
- 1 ½ cups/230g of semi-sweet/dark chocolate chips or chocolate bars chopped into small pieces that are easy to melt. Use some extra chocolate chips or nuts as well if you want to mix through the brownie mixture at the end before you bake it.
- 1 cup/200g caster sugar
- ½ cup/100g brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 large eggs
- 1 ¼ cups/155g of all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup/40g dark cocoa powder
- Pre-heat your oven to 170 degrees Celsius and grease a pan with butter and line with parchment paper.
- Put the butter and 175g of chocolate into a heat proof/microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave in 10-15 second bursts. You want to do this so that the chocolate does not burn. You can melt this in a heat proof bowl on a double boiler on the stove. Chocolate can be temperamental and if heated too quickly and on a high heat will seize up and be grainy.
- Allow the chocolate to cool for a couple of minutes. Add the sugars and the vanilla and whisk well to combine. Add in the egg and whisk well till it is smooth and combined.
- Add the eggs in one at a time and whisk till it is combined in nicely.
- Sift in the flour, salt and the cocoa powder into the bowl and carefully mix it in. Be sure to sift the dry ingredients as this will prevent any lumps and clumps. Do not overmix the batter. You just want to make sure you see no clumps of flour. At this point I usually mix through some white chocolate chips or nuts for that extra indulgence, or drizzle some chocolate on top once it is baked.
- Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and bake for 25-30 minutes or till a skewer comes out almost clean. Brownies should still be gooey and not completely cooked.
Homemade Spinach and Basil Pici Pasta:
Pici is a thick hand rolled pasta- fat and spaghetti like. It is from Sienna in Tuscany, Italy and it is typically made using flour (of course) and water instead of egg and/or oil. It is a great first pasta recipe to make with kids as it is easy to roll by hand and can be rolled into fun shapes. It is good if you have a food processor as you will need to process the flour, spinach and basil together. My recipe is adapted from Jamie Oliver’s recipe. It is fun, delicious and nutritious and has become a staple in my house.
- 260 grams/2 cups of all purpose or pasta flour
- 180 grams of spinach
- 20 grams of basil
- 1 tsp salt
- Put the flour, salt, spinach and basil into a food processor and pulse. Do not add any water or be tempted to as the spinach has enough water in it to bring the dough together. Just keep pulsing and have faith. It will come together.
- Once the pasta has come together into a ball take it out and knead it a few times to bring the dough together in a nice ball. If you have time cover it and leave it in the fridge or on the counter for 30 min to relax.
- After the dough has rested dust your table with a little flour. If the dough is sticking to your hands just dust them and the dough with a little more flour but be reserved with the flour. Only use enough to get it to stop sticking.
- Take small pieces of dough and then roll it out on the counter using your fingers into a long thin shape the length and thickness of a green bean. You can roll it thinner if you prefer. Put the rolled pieces onto a plate of tray dusted with flour or semolina.
- Bring a pot of water to a heavy boil and salt well. Cook the pici for a few minutes or until they have floated to the top. Serve with your favourite pasta sauce and enjoy. My favourites are a classic tomato sauce or Cacio e Pepe.
For more recipes and inspiration please have a look at my Instagram @natashashamji and on my website www.thymeinthekitchen.co.uk
Natasha Shamji is a private Chef who trained at Le Cordon Bleu London. Earlier this year she started a culinary business called Thyme in the Kitchen and has been holding regular zoom and face to face cooking classes throughout the pandemic. The company was founded on the idea that everyone can learn to prepare delicious and nutritious meals at home, and Natasha continues to inspire and teach students from all ages and skills. She is particularly passionate about teaching children healthier home cooked recipes and inspiring them to become confident in the kitchen. Additionally she offers small event catering and often caters for birthday and dinner parties. Have a look at her website www.thymeinthekitchen.co.uk and on social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook for more information on her classes, private catering and homemade treats that she sells. Natasha continues to offer zoom cooking classes throughout lockdown.