Helpful helpings: A new charity cookbook of nostalgic recipes by top UK chefs aims to help children at risk of hunger
Rachel Khoo’s wontons in a smoky-bacon broth
On my first trip to visit relatives in Malaysia, I remember an old Chinese man with a bike-turned-mobile kitchen. He would ring his bell to let everyone know ‘The wonton man is here’.
People would come out with empty bowls and return with steaming soup and savoury dumplings. This was the first time I’d had noodle soup for breakfast – very different from the cereal I was used to growing up in the UK.
The older I get, the more I crave savoury soups, pickles and fermented foods for breakfast.
After eight years in Paris, where the scent of freshly baked croissants wafts on to every neighbourhood rue, I would still rather have a bowl of steaming wonton soup any day.
It’s a classic Cantonese dish that found its way to Malaysia with the Chinese from Hong Kong and other parts of southern China.
Traditionally it’s made with chicken or vegetable stock, but my version uses a smoky-bacon broth. The dumplings will freeze for up to two months in an airtight container – boil for 5 minutes before serving.
- 20-25 wonton skins (from Asian supermarkets or online)
For the filling
- 125g raw prawns, shelled and deveined
- 4 tbsp finely chopped bamboo shoots
- 1 tsp spring onion, finely chopped (white part only; save the rest for the soup)
- 1 tsp cornflour
- ½ tsp fine salt
- ½ tsp sugar
- ½ tsp sesame oil
- ½ tsp dry sherry
- pinch of white pepper
For the broth
- 200g smoky bacon
- 1 tsp fine salt
- pinch of sugar
- 1 litre cold water
For the garnish
- 1 spring onion, finely sliced
- 2-4 tsp light soy sauce
- pickled or fresh chillies, thinly sliced (optional), pak choi or green leafy vegetables (optional)
1 Mince the prawns and mix with the rest of the filling ingredients. This can be done up to a day in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. Moisten the edges of a wonton skin with a little water and place a teaspoonful of filling into the centre. Twist to seal the edges. The wonton should resemble a money bag. Repeat until all the filling is used.
2 Put the smoky bacon, salt, sugar and cold water in a saucepan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes. Pour through a fine sieve to remove the bacon.
3 Bring the strained broth to a simmer again and add the wontons. Cook for 5 minutes.
4 Divide the soup and dumplings between the bowls. Garnish with finely sliced spring onion and a drizzle of soy sauce.
5 For a spicy kick, serve with some sliced chillies.
If serving this as a light lunch, add some roughly sliced pak choi or other green leafy vegetables at the same time as cooking the wontons.
Rachel Khoo is a cook, broadcaster and the author of six cookbooks, among them The Little Paris Kitchen
Yotam Ottolenghi’s hoppel poppel
This is a dish from Berlin, where my mother’s father is from. She used to prepare it when I was growing up, using day-old potatoes and bits of cooked meat. Frankfurters are probably best.
Pork sausages aren’t normally found in Jewish homes, but my mother would go out of her way to get some. I guess the German in her was slightly stronger than the Jew.
We kids loved the naughtiness of it, but were under strict instructions not to make too much noise about it to friends, so as not to offend.
- 8 large eggs
- 2 tbsp double cream
- 5g chives, cut into 1cm lengths, plus 1 tbsp extra to garnish
- 40g unsalted butter
- 2 tbsp olive oil
- 1 large onion, halved and sliced 3mm thick
- 250g cooked waxy potatoes, peeled and cut into roughly 2cm cubes
- 200g frankfurters, sliced thinly at a slight angle
- 1 green pepper, cut into roughly 1.5cm cubes
- 80g mozzarella block (low-moisture), roughly grated
- salt and black pepper
1 Beat together the eggs, cream, chives, half a teaspoon of salt and plenty of pepper and set aside.
2 Heat 30g of the butter and the oil in a nonstick sauté pan over a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for about 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly browned.
3 Add the potato and frankfurters, half a teaspoon of salt and a grind of pepper. Fry, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, until starting to brown and crisp. Stir in the green pepper and cook, shaking the pan often, for about 7 minutes, or until softened and nicely coloured.
4 Turn the heat to medium and swirl in the last 10g of butter. Pour over the egg mixture and sprinkle on the cheese. Cook for about 3 minutes, using a spatula to fold the mixture gently. Sprinkle over the extra chives and serve from the pan.
Yotam Ottolenghi is a chef, restaurateur and food writer. His books include Plenty and the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen series
Stanley Tucci’s potato croquettes
When I was 12, we lived in Italy for a year. At one point I had stomach flu and was laid up in bed for a few days. Obviously, I ate very little, because I had no interest in food.
But as I started to feel better and became more and more hungry, I craved only one thing – these potato croquettes.
I don’t know why, but I couldn’t stop thinking about them. When I was finally healthy enough to get to the kitchen, I asked my mother if she would make some for me – and, being a great mother, she did. I devoured them.
These little savoury treats are still one of my favourite recipes and, whether you are recovering from stomach flu or in perfect health, I promise you will find them delicious.
They are also very simple to make and can be served as an appetiser, a side dish or just something to snack on. They are a moreish comfort food for me and will be for you as well. Enjoy.
- 4 medium-sized floury potatoes, peeled and quartered
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 50g plain dried breadcrumbs
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 3 tbsp finely grated pecorino romano cheese
- 1 tbsp chopped flat-leaf parsley
- sea salt
- 60ml olive oil, plus more as needed
1 Put the potatoes in a large saucepan and fill with enough water to cover. Bring to a boil and cook until they are tender when pierced with a fork, about 15-20 minutes.
2 Drain the potatoes and mash them in a bowl with a potato masher. Add the eggs, breadcrumbs, flour, cheese, parsley and salt to taste. Mix them with your hands to make a firm, dry mixture, adding more breadcrumbs or flour as necessary.
3 Heat the olive oil in a small frying pan (about 20cm in diameter) set over a medium heat. Roll tablespoons of the dough between the palms of your hands to form logs 4cm-5cm long. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add a few croquettes to the pan and fry until lightly browned on all sides, about 6 minutes.
4 Transfer the cooked croquettes to a plate lined with paper towels to drain before serving. Continue to cook the croquettes in small batches. Add more oil to the pan if necessary, being sure to allow it to heat up before adding the croquettes. These are best served immediately, but can be made ahead of time and reheated in the oven if necessary.
Stanley Tucci is an actor, filmmaker and author of books including Taste: My Life Through Food
Andi Oliver’s honey-baked chicken wings and sweetcorn pudding
Oh my, sweetcorn pudding… A dish of dreams. The first time I encountered it was about 20 years ago at a party in West London.
The brilliantly talented American chef Ashbell McElveen was cooking a vast universe of delicious dishes for his then new London restaurant. I was with my darling friend Neneh Cherry and neither of us had ever tasted anything like it. It was instant enchantment.
We have since discovered it’s a US Southern soul-food classic. Sweetcorn pudding and fried chicken, anyone? Yes, yes, Lord!
Ashbell was kind enough to give us his recipe on the night. It was love at first bite – creamy, soothing and delectable. It went straight into the family repertoire.
We make this every Christmas, birthday, barbecue, summer picnic – any excuse, basically. I always remember that first time.
For the sweetcorn pudding
- 300ml double cream
- 3 eggs
- 90g unsalted butter, melted
- 15g caster sugar
- good pinch of sea salt
- 340g tinned sweetcorn
- handful of flat-leaf parsley
- 3 fat cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
For the chicken wings
- 1 medium onion, peeled and roughly chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, peeled
- 10ml olive oil
- 1kg-1.5kg chicken wings
- juice of half a lemon
- 1 tbsp garam masala
- 1 tsp smoked paprika
- 2 bird’s eye chillies, finely chopped
- 300ml honey
1 To make the sweetcorn pudding, preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/gas 4, and blitz the cream, eggs, melted butter, sugar and salt in a food processor.
2 Throw 3 tablespoons of the sweetcorn, as well as the parsley and garlic, into the mix and give it one more blitz so that it’s all thoroughly combined.
3 Tip the remaining sweetcorn into a deep oven-proof casserole dish (1.5 litre to 2 litre capacity) and pour over the mixture. Give it a little stir to combine. Put the casserole into the oven for about 1 hour or until the pudding is set.
4 Serve with anything you like, including these delicious, easy-to-make chicken wings.
5 To prepare the wings, put the onion and garlic in a food processor or blender with 10ml olive oil and blitz to a purée. Wash the wings in cold water, drain well and put in a large bowl. Squeeze over the lemon juice, then add the spices, onion, garlic purée and chopped chillies and rub in thoroughly, making sure everything is fully coated.
6 Lay the wings in an even layer in a deep baking tray and put in the oven for 65 minutes, turning halfway through. When the time is up, drizzle the honey all over the chicken wings and return to the oven for 15 minutes or until sticky.
Andi Oliver is a chef, broadcaster, singer and co-founder of restaurants Wadadli Kitchen and Wadadli Roadside in East London
José Pizarro’s churros
Churros are world-famous – I haven’t met a single person who doesn’t love them.
They bring so many fond memories to mind. As a child in Cáceres in Extremadura, I usually had churros for breakfast and still remember waking up to the smell of the dough being fried by my mum.
Even now, whenever I smell them, I hear my mother saying, ‘José, time to wake up! José, time for school!’ It was such a delicious way to start the day.
Churros are also a celebratory treat, served at the ferias [local Spanish festivals] or on New Year’s Eve. Chocolate and churros are traditionally served as the last treat before guests head home.
Churros have always been part of my life and I’m so happy to be able to share my recipe. I hope it helps make many good memories for you, too.
- 250g plain flour
- 1 tsp baking powder
- pinch of sea salt
- 50ml extra virgin olive oil
- 320ml-350ml water
- 1 litre olive oil or sunflower oil, for frying
- 50g caster sugar
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a mixing bowl. Put the extra virgin olive oil and water into a saucepan and bring to the boil. Pour over the flour mixture and beat until you have a thick but pipeable batter. Cover with clingfilm and chill for 20 minutes.
2 Heat the oil in a deep saucepan to 180C or until a cube of bread browns in 20 seconds. Fit a star nozzle to a large disposable piping bag and spoon in the mixture. Once the oil is hot enough, pipe the mixture into the pan in long lines, using scissors to cut the batter when each churro is about 12cm long. Fry three or four at a time for 3 minutes, until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper.
3 Mix the sugar and cinnamon together in a shallow bowl and scatter over the top of the churros, or use to dip the ends in.
4 Serve with a nice thick dipping chocolate. There are lots of brands – just be sure it’s really dense, almost like a chocolate pot.
José Pizarro is a chef with several restaurants in London, including Pizarro and José Pizarro at the RA. His books include The Spanish Home Kitchen and Andalusia: Recipes from Seville and Beyond
Now buy the book
Our recipes are from These Delicious Things by Jane Hodson with Lucas Hollweg and Clerkenwell Boy; photographs by Tara Fisher and Patricia Niven, published by Pavilion, £25*
This charity cookbook brings together nostalgic food memories and recipes from more than 100 of the UK’s top chefs and food writers.
It is published in support of Magic Breakfast, which helps children living in food poverty, working with schools across the country to deliver free breakfasts every day.
For more information and to donate go to magicbreakfast.com.
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