The centre around which family life orbits on a daily basis, the kitchen has always been the heart of the home. And during this lockdown, we’ve found that this space has taken on even greater meaning. Whether it’s through cooking, conversation or company, time spent in the kitchen can provide us with the comfort we’re all seeking during these troubling times.
For this week’s Life in Lockdown piece, we’re bringing you five recipe ideas that combine homely comfort with curious wanderlust in equal measure. Let’s use some of this free time on our hands to get stuck into the art of cuisine, taking cues from cultures around the world to satisfy our ever-growing hunger for travel.
Slow-Cooked Goodness: Spaghetti Bolognese
An Italian classic that never fails to bring back cherished childhood memories, Spaghetti Bolognese is the culinary equivalent of a big hug. Being such a popular dish around the world, the original recipe from the region of Emilia-Romagna has been interpreted in so many different ways that every family seems to have their own little twists and tricks for making the perfect sauce.
Here’s one of our favourite ways to prepare this comfort classic:
Ingredients (for two large portions)
- Olive oil
- 1 medium onion: finely chopped
- 1 medium carrot (or two small ones): finely chopped
- 2 ribs of celery: finely chopped
- 500g minced beef
- 400ml dry white wine (or if you don’t like cooking with wine, use apple juice! But note that this will make the taste sweeter)
- 200ml full-fat milk
- Roughly 1/4 teaspoon of grated nutmeg
- 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
- Spaghetti (or if you want to be really authentic about the recipe, do as the Bolognese do and use tagliatelle which catches the sauce better)
- Parmesan cheese (optional)
- Put a good glug of olive and roughly 50g of butter into a large, heavy-bottomed pan on medium-high heat.
- Add the onions and saute until they are a translucent, golden colour.
- Add the carrot and celery and saute until they turn pale in colour.
- Add the minced beef, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as you stir. Sprinkle some salt over the beef, then continue to cook and stir as you need until the meat has completely browned.
- Pour in the wine (or apple juice) and cook, stirring occasionally until the wine has more or less completely evaporated (the flavours will be in the beef!)
- Pour in the milk, add the nutmeg, and continue to cook, stirring occasionally until most of the milk has evaporated.
- Add the chopped tomatoes and mix them through.
- Once the sauce comes to a good bubble, turn the heat down to the simmer and leave, uncovered for at least 3 hours. Be sure to check in on it every now and again and stir once in a while.
- Serve with freshly cooked pasta and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
Southeast Asian Flavours: Chicken Adobo
If you’ve ever travelled to the Philippines, chances are that you’ve tried Chicken Adobo and have been craving it ever since you left. We spoke to our friends from the Philippines to find out how to make this salty, tangy taste sensation at home. An easy dish to prepare, this recipe only takes 40 minutes in total and unlike some of the more complicated Asian dishes that we love, it uses ingredients that you probably already have in your fridge and pantry.
Ingredients (for 4 servings):
- 2 lbs chicken: cut into medium-sized pieces
- 3 dried bay leaves
- 4 cloves of garlic: crushed
- 1 tsp whole peppercorn
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 ½ cups of water
- 8 tbsp soy sauce (preferably dark)
- 4 tbsp white vinegar
- 3tbsp cooking oil
- Mix garlic with the soy sauce to create a marinade.
- Marinate the chicken pieces in the marinade. Make sure that this is for at least one hour but preferably, marinate overnight for extra flavour. (Keep your remaining marinade – you will need this later).
- Heat a cooking pot to medium-high heat and add the cooking oil.
- Pan-fry the marinated chicken until cooked on both sides.
- Add the remaining marinade and water and bring to boil.
- Once boiling, add the peppercorns and bay leaves and bring down to a simmer. Simmer for around 30 minutes until the chicken is tender.
- Stir in the vinegar and continue simmering for another 10 minutes.
- Stir in the sugar and salt.
- Serve over freshly boiled white rice
The Ultimate Comfort Food: Chicken Soup
Is there anything better than a hearty bowl of chicken soup to cheer you up when you’re feeling low? We would argue not. Chicken soup is medicine for the soul. Whether there’s a scientific reason that this dish never fails to make us feel better or it’s all just in our heads is by the by. All we know is that when you’re not feeling your best self, a batch of this traditional Jewish chicken soup can sometimes be the remedy.
Ingredients (for 8 servings):
- Whole chicken
- 1 white onion: chopped
- 8 carrots: peeled and sliced
- 1 parsnip: chopped
- 3 garlic cloves: crushed
- 2 ribs of celery: chopped
- 1 bunch fresh dill weed: chopped
- 2 cups of matzo meal
- 6 eggs
- 6 tbsp vegetable oil
- 2 tsp salt
- salt and pepper to taste
- Place whole chicken in a pot, breast side down.
- Fill the pot with cold water up to 3 inches from the top
- Add parsnip, carrot, onion, celery and dill and bring to simmer on medium heat.
- Cook partially covered for 2 hours. Check often to ensure the soup does not come to a boil.
- Skim fat from the top of the broth and add crushed garlic cloves.
- Partially cover again and simmer for a further 2 hours
- In a bowl, mix together matzo meal with eggs, oil, salt and ¼ cup of chicken broth from the soup and place in the fridge to set for 20 minutes
- Fill a separate pot with water and bring to boil.
- Take the matzo ball mixture from the fridge and roll 16 balls. Tip: To avoid the mixture sticking to your hands, do this with wet hands.
- Drop balls into the boiling water, cover then cook for 35 minutes.
- As the matzo balls are cooking, strain the broth from the chick soup then return the broth to the pot.
- Remove the bones and skin from the chicken, cut the meat into pieces and return to the broth.
- Remove the matzo balls and add them to the broth
Handmade Heaven: Chinese Potsticker Dumplings
Preparing dishes that require a bit of careful handcrafting can be a meditative distraction from daily anxieties and stresses. This recipe for delicious Chinese dumplings that can be filled with whatever you wish (we’ve gone with pork and spinach!) invites you to get a bit tactile with your food as you make these little flavour-filled pockets of joy. And if you’ve got little ones to entertain during this lockdown, this is a great one to get them engaged in the kitchen.
Ingredients (for 18 dumplings):
- 140g plain flour (and a bit extra for dusting)
- 125ml hot water
- 110g pork mince
- 75g spinach: finely chopped
- 1 tsp ginger: finely chopped
- ½ tbsp dry sherry (or if possible, Shaoxing rice wine)
- ½ tbsp dark soy sauce
- ½ tbsp light soy sauce
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ tsp ground black pepper
- 1 ½ tbsp spring onions: finely chopped
- 1 tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp chicken stock (cold)
- 1 tbsp groundnut oil
- 75ml water
For dipping combine below ingredients in a small ramekin or bowl:
- 3 tbsp soy sauce
- 1 tbsp white rice vinegar
- 2 tsp chilli oil
- Put the plain flour in a large mixing bowl and stir in the hot water gradually until the water and flour have completely mixed.
- On a clean surface, place your dough mixture and knead it with your hands. If stick, dust the dough with a bit of flour. Continue kneading until smooth.
- Place the dough back in the bowl and cover with a damp towel to rest for 20 minutes.
- While the dough is resting, start on your stuffing by combining the pork mince, spinach, ginger, sherry (or rice wine), soy sauce (dark and light), salt, black pepper, spring onion, sesame oil, sugar and chicken stock into a large bowl. Ensure that everything is mixed thoroughly then set aside.
- Take the dough out of the bowl and knead for a further five minutes.
- Shape the dough into a roll about 23cm long and 2.5 cm in diameter.
- Using a knife, slice your roll into 16 pieces.
- Take each piece and use your hands to roll into a small ball then roll out into a flat disk using a rolling pin. These should be about 9cm in diameter.
- Lightly flour a tray and arrange your disks then cover again with a damp towel.
- Take your bowl of stuffing and use a teaspoon to place two teaspoons of filling in the centre of each ‘disk’.
- Moisten the edges of the ‘disk’ with water
- Fold the ‘disk’ in half then pinch together around the joined edges
- Pleat and pinch the edges to seal well.
- As each ‘disk’ is filled and sealed, place back under the damp cloth to keep moist until all are finished and ready to cook.
- Heat a large frying pan (non-stick) until very hot. Then add groundnut oil.
- Place the dumplings in the pan then reduce the heat and cook for two minutes until they are all lightly browned.
- Add the water then cover the pan completely with the lid and simmer for 12 minutes until most liquid is absorbed.
- Take off the cover and cook for two minutes further
- Remove the dumplings from the pan with a slotted spoon and serve with dipping sauce.
A Light Delight: Arugula, Pear and Goat Cheese Salad
A salad might not sound like the most comforting meal but trust us on this one – this is a dish that will lift your spirits with its vibrant colours and crisp flavours. We came across this recipe in Food52 last summer and have been waiting for warmer weather to prepare it again. If you’re lucky enough to have some outside space in your isolation location, we highly recommend enjoying this on a spring afternoon out in the sunshine.
Ingredients (serves 6):
- 1 large shallot or red onion: halved then thinly sliced
- 1 tbsp pomegranate molasses
- 2 tbsp sherry or apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp salt
- ¼ ts black pepper
- ⅓ cup extra virgin olive oil
- 4 cups arugula
- 4 cups romaine lettuce: torn into bite-sized pieces
- 2 pears: cored and cut into ½” pieces
- ⅓ cup pomegranate seeds
- 3 ounces goats cheese: crumbled
- ¼ cup pistachios
For the full recipe click here.