Tasty back to school fare

01:54, Jul 20 2010
Cooks at work: Kariene McArthur, 15, and Sam Halliburton, 16, make creamy mushroom soup.

In Spotswood College's Food and Nutrition classes, Katy Power teaches her students that the key to cooking great-tasting, nutritious meals day after day is to keep it simple. In Kai with Soul, Katy and her students let you in on how easy cooking for a family can be.

The school holidays have been kind to us and we have seen lots of clear blue sky and felt the warmth of the midday winter's sun. Our bodies have been recharged and it's back into the third term of the academic school year.

Tasty hot food is always on the menu and our first recipe is for Creamy Mushroom Soup. The season for picking mushrooms straight from the paddock is over, but mushrooms are a quality vegetable available all year.

Our soup is a rich, creamy one, but without the addition of cream. It has a white sauce or roux base that combines butter, flour and milk to produce a velvety sauce. Lots of mushrooms and a little onion and parsley all contribute to the flavour. We have used brown mushrooms, which have a more earthy flavour and colour, but button mushrooms can also be used - or a combination of both.

Cook the mushrooms and onions separately and add them to the white sauce. Simmer the soup over a low heat and stir regularly to avoid burning on the base of the saucepan, as milk has a low boiling point. Season with a little salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Preheat the milk to shorten the preparation time of making the sauce.

Serve the soup with wholemeal buttered toast fingers, croutons, or any fresh crusty loaf. It can be a main course for lunch or a light dinner, or a starter to the larger evening meal.


Our preserve for the week is Mighty Citrus Marmalade and this is a classic Kiwi winter jam. It is a good way to use up homegrown grapefruit, oranges and lemons. Citrus fruit is full of vitamin C, which supplies extra protection from winter illness. Jam does take a bit of time to make, so be patient and listen to the radio or TV while you regularly stir the mixture boiling away on the stove. Making jam demonstrates the quantity of sugar required to produce the sweet flavour and family members are always surprised by the ratio of sugar to fruit in the mix. This becomes a science lesson, whereby the sugar dissolves into liquid form and the pectin in the fruit helps to set the cooled mixture into a semisolid state. Make sure the jars used have been sterilised, so that the jam stores safely over time without the risk of food spoilage.

Our high-energy healthy snack for the week is Cranberry & Sesame Seed Crunch. It uses a combination of delicious seeds, nuts, dried fruit and flavours. The coconut, almonds, sesame and pumpkin seeds are dry roasted, which intensifies their flavour.

To dry roast, lightly fry without oil and stir until the colour changes and the ingredients smell cooked. Natural oils are released during the dry-roasting process. This takes only a minute or two.

We have added dried cranberries and pumpkin seeds, which create a delightful pink and green contrast to the bar as well as contributing extra flavour. The bar doesn't require baking and cuts well into small or large bars to pack into school lunch boxes.

Enjoy the first week of the new school term and let the children measure and mix the ingredients to make the Cranberry & Sesame Seed Crunch.

Life is great when there are freshly made snacks in the school lunchboxes and the kitchen is filled with the aroma of dry roasting seeds and nuts.

If you enjoy Kai with Soul recipes, the first two years' worth have been collected in a great new book. Published to celebrate the school's jubilee, you can buy it from Benny's Books, Oakura Pharmacy, The Crafty Fox and Down to Earth for $30. All profits go to the school.

Content provided by Katy Power and the Year 13 Food and Nutrition class at Spotswood College.

Cranberry & Sesame Seed Crunch

Makes 10 large or 20 small bars

1/2 cup sesame seeds

1/2 cup pumpkin seeds

1/2 cup coconut

1/2 cup whole almonds - chopped

1/2 cup cranberries

50g butter

1/4 cup brown sugar

2 Tbsp honey

1/ Preheat a small frypan and toast the first 4 ingredients, one ingredient at a time, in the frypan over medium heat. Stir with a wooden spoon and cook each for 1-2 minutes until it changes colour slightly (golden brown). Transfer each ingredient into the same bowl when toasted.

2/ Stir the cranberries into the toasted ingredients.

3/ Measure the butter, brown sugar and honey into a large saucepan and stir with a wooden spoon. Cook for 1 minute until the mixture turns into a thin caramel consistency. Remove from the heat.

4/ Add the toasted ingredients to the saucepan and stir until combined.

5/ Line a 20cm x 20cm baking dish with greaseproof paper or cling film. Spread the mixture into the dish and press down evenly. If lining with cling film, let the mixture cool slightly first.

6/ Cut into bar shapes when semi cooled. When cool, remove from pan, carefully remove the cling film or paper, and store in an airtight container.


Mighty Citrus Marmalade

About 7 x 350g jars

2 grapefruit

2 lemons

2 oranges

2 1/4 litres water

Sugar - 1 cup for each cup of fruit pulp

1/ Wash the fruit and cut into small wedges. Remove any excess pith, blemished parts and the pips.

2/ Place the fruit in a kitchen whizz.

3/ Whizz the wedges until they are chopped into fine pieces.

4/ Place all the pulp into a large saucepan and cover with the water.

5/ Bring to the boil and boil for 45 minutes until the fruit is soft.

6/ Let the fruit pulp cool down slightly.

7/ Measure the pulp in cupfuls and return it to the large saucepan. You may wish to leave the marmalade at this stage and continue making it the following day.

8/ Add 1 cup of sugar for every cup of pulp. Bring the pulp back to the boil and stir until the sugar has dissolved.

9/ Boil briskly and stir regularly until the "setting stage" is reached. This can take up to 50 minutes.

10/ Place 1 tsp of mixture on a saucer and allow to cool.

11/ Run your finger across the top of this cooled marmalade and if a skin forms across the surface, then the setting stage has been reached.

12/ Take the marmalade off the stove and cool for 10 minutes.

13/ Place into sterilised jars using a ladle or small jug and seal firmly with hot rubber-lined lids.

14/ As the jars and marmalade cool, the lids will be sucked down and may even make a popping sound. This indicates a secure sealing of the marmalade. The marmalade can be stored in a cool, dry place and will keep for a number of months.

To sterilise the jars: Wash the jars and lids thoroughly in hot, soapy water. Rinse, then place in an oven preheated to 100[Degree] for 10 minutes. Lids must be free from rust and have a rubber seal.


Creamy Mushroom Soup

Serves 4

500g brown mushrooms

1/2 medium onion

2 tsp oil

50g butter

4 Tbsp flour

3 cups milk

1/4 tsp salt

Freshly ground black pepper (lots)

2 Tbsp parsley - finely chopped

1/ Slice the mushrooms, including stalks, and then cut into small pieces.

2/ Dice the onion.

3/ Preheat a medium-size frypan and saute the onion in the oil until just cooked. Use a wooden spoon to stir.

4/ Add the mushrooms to the frypan and cook for 3-5 minutes until they are just soft. Stir regularly.

5/ Remove the mushrooms from the heat and set aside until required in step 10.

6/ Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Remove from the heat and stir in the flour, salt and pepper.

7/ Return to the heat and, stirring constantly, cook for 1-2 minutes until the flour/butter mixture bubbles. Remove from the heat.

8/ Heat the milk in a large jug or bowl in the microwave for 2 minutes on high.

9/ Pour a quarter of the heated milk into the flour/butter mixture and stir until smooth. Add another quarter and stir until smooth. Add the rest of the milk, stir, then return to the heat and cook on medium until the sauce thickens.

10/ Add the mushrooms, onions and chopped parsley to the sauce and bring to the boil again. Stir constantly to avoid the sauce sticking to the bottom of the saucepan. Turn down the heat and simmer gently for 5 minutes to combine the flavours.

11/ Taste the soup and add more seasoning if required.

12/ Serve hot with wholegrain toast or buns.

Taranaki Daily News