While international travel is still pretty much off the cards for most families, one way you can take a fun trip with your kids is to create delicious food together and use it as a discussion point to learn about a different culture. We’ve got four simple ideas to get you started. As always, when cooking with kids, exercise care when it comes to dealing with knives and hot pans.
The Great British Afternoon Tea
For the uninitiated, afternoon tea is a quintessentially British experience involving, yes, drinking tea but also nibbling on finger sandwiches, fancy cakes and homemade scones served with cream and jam. What started out as a light meal to get the upper classes through lunch to a late dinner has now become a ceremony in its own right, usually enjoyed as a celebration and on a very empty stomach. If you want to keep it simple, scones are super easy and fun to make with the kids. Just don’t forget the clotted cream!
Ingredients (makes 10 scones)
225g self-raising flour
Pinch of salt
25g caster sugar
Step 1: Mix the flour and salt together and then rub in the butter to make a breadcrumb texture. Add the sugar.
Step 2: Add the milk and form a dough. If it’s too sticky add a little more flour.
Step 3: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead lightly before rolling out to 2cm thickness.
Step 4: Use a cutter to create around 10-12 scones. Glaze them with a little milk or egg.
Step 5: Bake the scones immediately for 12-15 minutes at 200C. They are ready when they are risen, golden and light to touch.
A mild and delicious Indian curry
While the word itself is now ubiquitous, cooking a ‘curry’ with your kids not only introduces them to Indian culture but is also a chance to talk about how words develop and become part of our language (curry is the Anglicised form of the Tamil word ‘kari’ afterall). Once you’ve finished your brief history lesson on the impact of British colonialism on India, move onto the science. Cooking a curry is an excellent example of how combining certain flavours and textures creates a sensation for your tastebuds.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 tbsp sunflower oil
2 tsp mild curry paste (or make your own with whatever spices you have)
2 chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
4 tbsp red lentils
300ml chicken stock
400ml can coconut milk
Step 1: Heat the oil and fry the curry paste.
Step 2: Add the chicken, sweet potatoes and lentils and stir until coated.
Step 3: Add the stock and coconut milk and bring to the boil.
Step 4: Simmer for 15 minutes. Check the sweet potato and lentils are soft.
Step 5: Serve with rice, bread (naan, roti or chapati) and relishes.
The ultimate Italian comfort food
Kids the world over love the simplicity and security of a bowl of pasta so using it as a base to expand their culinary horizons is a good place to start. Carbonara is thought to originate from the period when American forces distributed eggs and bacon to starving Italians after they secured Rome from the Germans in World War Two. It’s a very easy dish to cook with children and a good one for them to have in their repertoire as they get older and start to fend for themselves (and others).
Ingredients (serves 4)
100g lardons or 3 rashes of bacon (chopped)
2 cloves garlic
100g hard cheese
Step 1: Crush the garlic clove and fry it for 2 minutes in oil before adding the bacon. Fry until crisp.
Step 2: Cook the spaghetti as to instructions on the packet. Remember al dente is what most Italians would choose.
Step 3: Beat the eggs and grate in the cheese.
Step 4: Drain the spaghetti, reserving some of the water. Add the spaghetti to the frying pan, with a little of the cooking water. Stir and then remove the pan from the heat before adding the egg mixture.
Step 5: Keep stirring while the egg cooks, adding a little more water to keep it smooth and glossy if you need to. Season.
Step 6: Serve with garlic bread, a crisp green salad and an Italian welcome.
A taste of beef and tortillas from Mexico
With a history dating back to the Aztecs and Mayans and a fair bit of corruption from the invading Spanish and neighbouring American influences, enchiladas are one of Mexico’s biggest culinary exports to the gastronomic world. As well as being a great starting point for a historical and cultural discussion, they are super easy to make with kids and delicious to boot. Just dial the spices up or down depending on those developing taste buds. For a vegetarian version substitute more peppers and beans.
Ingredients (serves 4)
1 garlic clove
1 red pepper
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp oregano
400g tinned tomatoes or passata
400g tin black beans
250g beef mince
8 small tortillas
100g cheddar cheese (grated)
Step 1: Chop the onion, crush the garlic and fry both in oil.
Step 2: Add the red pepper, tomatoes and spices and let the sauce cook through until thick.
Step 3: In a separate pan, brown the mince (using a little oil to stop it sticking).
Step 4: Add half the tomato mixture to the mince, along with the beans, 100ml of water and a generous pinch of sugar, salt and pepper. Let the mixture simmer into a chilli consistency.
Step 5: When ready, make the enchiladas by spooning mixture into the tortillas and wrapping them up. You may need to soften the tortillas by heating them gently before.
Step 6: Once you have all the tortillas in your dish, spoon the rest of the sauce over them and top with grated cheese.
Step 7: Bake for 20 minutes at 180C. Serve with sour cream.
Lockdowns are easing globally as the planet adjusts to a new normal. Find out how COVID-19 is changing travel.