Flavours of family life

Family, Food and Feelings, by Kate Berry, published by Plum, RRP $39.99.
Family, Food and Feelings, by Kate Berry, published by Plum, RRP $39.99.
Part fun parenting guide, part cookbook, Family Food and Feelings is a unique take on everyday family life.

Australian Kate Berry is the woman behind family-focused blog ''Lunch Lady'', which has been turned into a magazine and sold worldwide.

This is her first book and one aimed at being ''your friend on the shelf when times are tough, a little boring or just when you need a yummy recipe''.

Basically, she has taken her life with her two daughters and shared it with readers and interspersed it with recipes.

As her children are school-aged, she has divided the book into chapters based on term times.

''It's a little guide to how my family makes our way through each one of them. How we break the boredom of long winters, and how we make the most of the magical days of summer and autumn.''

To complement this, she has included simple food to ''cook for and with'' family as well as stuff to do with children - and she is not talking about crafts.

''I'm useless at craft, and I also struggle with mess, so I tend to stick to what I'm good at ... adventure.''

Adventure to Berry is not expensive holidays, but doing something they do not usually do, from fried banana sundaes to road trips.

She talks about becoming a mother, having the ''big talks'' with her children, birthday party dilemmas and dramas, book-week costumes, dealing with Santa and much more.

The recipes included range from making take-outs, eat-ins, after-school snacks, snacks for road trips, tray bakes and basics such as frittata, pancakes and pizza.


Photos: Ellie Bullen
Photos: Ellie Bullen
Corn chip chicken nuggets with sriracha mayo

There are certain meals you can't admit to liking without a judgy side glance, and nuggets are definitely up there as one of the biggies.

I get it; they're fried, they usually come from a fast-food joint, and they're more than likely made from factory-farmed chooks. But if you take care of business yourself, it can be a totally different story.

Serves 6

Recipes
150g plain corn chips
2 free-range eggs
40g (⅓ cup) tapioca flour
800g chicken thigh fillets, cut into bite-sized nuggets
vegetable oil, for pan-frying
coriander leaves, to serve

For the sriracha mayo
125g (½ cup) mayonnaise
2 Tbsp sriracha
juice of 1 lime or small lemon
chopped coriander leaves, to taste (optional)
salt

Method
For the sriracha mayo, combine all the ingredients in a small bowl until smooth. Set aside.

Pop the corn chips in a food processor and pulse until they are finely crushed.

Pour the crushed chips into a bowl, lightly beat the eggs in another bowl, and tip the flour into a third bowl.

Dip the chicken nuggets into the flour to lightly coat, shaking off any excess, then dip into the beaten egg and finally into the corn chips.

Heat a large frying pan over medium heat and add enough oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Add the chicken nuggets and cook for about 4 minutes on each side or until golden and cooked through. Remove and drain on paper towel.

Serve the nuggets with the sriracha.


Bibimbap

I still remember the first time the girls and I ate this Korean hotpot of crispy rice bits and sesame garlicky veg. We were chatting and being idiots at the table and when the three bowls were placed in front of us, we just looked at each other with big stupid grins.

What followed was silent food shovelling, until it was all gone. We all wanted more, but we've learned the hard way that a second helping is never what's needed.

Too much of a good thing - we all walked out wishing we'd worn elastic waistbands.

Now we make it ourselves whenever we want. It's not as fun as eating it from the hotpots, but it's still pretty bloody good.

Serves 4

Ingredients
330g (1½ cups) white or brown long-grain rice
300g baby spinach leaves
salt
sesame oil, for sprinkling
1 carrot, peeled into ribbons
vegetable oil, for pan-frying
150g shiitake mushrooms, thinly sliced

4 free-range eggs (optional)
bibimbap sauce (or any yummy sauce really, see tip)

To serve
sesame seeds, for sprinkling

For the beef
300g beef mince
2 Tbsp soy sauce
1½ Tbsp sesame oil
1½ tsp brown sugar
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped

Method
For the beef, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, then cover and pop in the fridge for about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to the packet instructions.

While the rice is cooking, blanch the spinach in a large saucepan of salted boiling water for 30 seconds, then drain and run under cold water to stop the cooking process.

Squeeze the spinach to remove any excess water, then place in a bowl and season with salt and a sprinkling of sesame oil.

Set aside.

Heat a splash of vegetable oil in a small frying pan over medium-high heat, add a pinch of salt and the carrot and cook for 2-3 minutes or until just tender. Remove and set aside.

Add a little more oil and salt to the pan and cook the shiitake mushroom for 2-3 minutes. Remove and set aside.

Take the beef mixture out of the fridge. Heat a little more oil in the pan and cook the mince for 3-5 minutes, breaking up any large clumps as you go. Remove and set aside.

Crack the eggs (if using) into the pan and fry them the way you like them. Remove and set aside.

Spoon some rice into the bottom of each bowl, then add the beef, veggies and bibimbap sauce and top each serve with a fried egg, if you like. Sprinkle with some sesame seeds and serve.


Orange and chocolate cookies

Third term is a bit of a bore when it comes to fruit. Oranges and mandarins lose their a-peel after a while. Come on, that's a good one.

But even though they do get a bit boring in the fruit bowl, they are found in some of my favourite baked treats, and these cookies are no exception.

Makes 24

Ingredients
255g (2½ cups) almond meal
285g (1¼ cups) caster sugar
2 Tbsp runny honey
3 free-range egg whites
finely grated zest of 1 orange
½ teaspoon baking powder
150g (1 cup) well-smashed dark chocolate
pure icing sugar, to coat

Method
Place the almond meal, sugar, honey, egg whites, orange zest and baking powder in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix until well combined.

Tip in the chocolate and mix through on low speed.

Cover with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for about 1 hour.

Preheat the oven to 160degC (fan-forced). Line a baking tray with baking paper.

Roll the mixture into 24 even balls, then coat each ball in icing sugar. Place on the prepared baking tray, at least 2cm apart, and bake for 10-15 minutes or until golden.

Cool on the tray for a few minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

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