Kai with soul

Spotswood College students Jordan Rust, 17, left, and Corey Bennett, 17, prepare Savory mince bread cases.
Spotswood College students Jordan Rust, 17, left, and Corey Bennett, 17, prepare Savory mince bread cases.

Comfort food has taken on a new meaning over the past fortnight at our school.

The making, receiving, sharing and eating of kai has played a significant part in showing support, aroha and kindness among students, staff, families and the wider community following the Paritutu tragedy.

In the classroom we have had many more practical lessons than we normally would, as the students take comfort in the food- making process. A hands-on approach has been emphasised to produce nutritious finger food. Making food has been therapeutic and has helped to lift their spirits.

The delicious bread cases are a fantastic way to produce a healthy savoury. Slices of bread are pressed into muffin pans and baked into a golden, slightly crisp bread case.

The bread cases are a healthy alternative to pastry and provide a good source of energy, fibre and minerals and are virtually fat free compared with pastry, which is high in fat and low in fibre. Bread cases are a good way of using up bread which is not fresh enough for school lunches, but fresh bread is also suitable.

Choose a wholemeal or wholegrain bread for an even healthier option to add more nutrition, especially fibre, and to provide longer-lasting energy. Each case is filled with a prepared filling and baked for a further 10-12 minutes to heat through.

We developed two fillings - one using lean mince, chilli beans and mixed vegetables and the other has a white sauce base with smoked fish, corn and spring onion. Both have a little grated cheese and chopped parsley sprinkled over the top for extra flavour and garnish, added before baking.

The addition of parsley not only boosts the flavour and adds colour, it is also rich in vitamin C which is essential for our general health and wellbeing. Add more than two tablespoons if you have access to plenty of parsley growing in your vegetable garden. Parsley is a really easy herb to grow.

Another suitable and very simple bread case filling could be to add a spoonful of either spaghetti, baked beans or creamed corn, followed by a sprinkle of grated cheese and chopped parsley.

Any leftover filling could be heated and added to a panini or toasted sandwich or served on a slice or two of toast.

The savoury scone or "quick bread" is another example of a nutritious, high-energy food.

The addition of ham, onion, parsley and cheese boosts the protein, calcium and vitamin content. They are easy and quick to make and bake.

Use tasty cheese as it gives a lot of flavour in baking. Diced red capsicum would also be a suitable vegetable to add.

Eaten hot and straight from the oven with a little margarine or butter spread between the two layers really hits the spot of culinary pleasure. Just the ideal high-energy food for hungry teenage students to make on a blustery winter's day.

If you wish to buy the first two years' worth of Kai with Soul, there are limited stocks still available at Mitre 10 Mega, The Crafty Fox and the Finance Office at Spotswood College. The book would make an ideal Fathers' Day gift and encourage dads to cook in the kitchen.

Ham and Cheese Savoury Scones

Makes 6 large scones

1 cups flour

1 Tbsp baking powder

tsp salt

Pinch of cayenne pepper

25g cold butter

cup milk + 2 Tbsp extra milk

onion, diced

cup tasty cheese, grated

1 slices ham, chopped into small pieces

2 Tbsp parsley, chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C on Fan Bake.

2. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a large bowl.

3. Cut the butter into small pieces, add to the flour and rub into the dry mixture with your fingertips, until the mixture resembles coarse breadcrumbs.

4. Add the diced onion, grated cheese, chopped ham and parsley and stir together with a bread and butter knife.

5. Make a "well" in the centre of the flour mixture and pour in the milk.

6. Mix with the knife to form a soft dough. Cut across the dough instead of using a circular motion. The mixture will be dry to start with but will combine to form a moist dough.

7. Turn the dough on to a lightly floured bench.

8. Lightly handle and press the dough into a rectangle shape about 2cm in thickness. (A thin dough will produce a crusty scone, and a slightly thicker dough a softer product.)

9. Cut the dough into 6 even- sized rectangular pieces with a sharp knife.

10. Place the scones on the oven tray (no greasing or flouring required) about 2cm apart.

11. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until the scones are well risen and slightly golden in colour.

12. Cut each rectangle in half to make 12 small scones.

Bread Cases

Makes 20 cases:

20 slices of sandwich wholemeal bread

Margarine for spreading

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C on Fan Bake.

2. Cut the crusts from the bread slices, using a serrated knife.

3. Spread one side of each slice lightly with margarine.

4. Position each bread slice, margarine side down, in a muffin pan. Ease the sides into the pan. Each slice will take on its own shape.

5. Place the muffin tray in the middle of the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes until the bread cases are crisp and golden.

6. Remove from the oven. The cases are now ready for adding your filling.

Creamy Smoked Fish and Corn Filling

Makes filling for 18-20 bread cases

60g butter

cup flour

tsp salt

Freshly ground black pepper

2 cups milk

1 cups smoked fish, drained and flaked

cup spring onion (green part), chopped

1 cup corn kernels

1 cup grated cheese

1-2 Tbsp chopped parsley

1. Melt the butter in a medium saucepan.

2. Add the flour, salt and pepper. Stir while cooking for 1 minute, until the mixture bubbles.

3. Add the milk and stir gently until the sauce thickens.

4. Add the drained and flaked smoked fish, chopped spring onion and corn. Stir and cook for another 1-2 minutes.

5. Place spoonfuls of the creamed mixture into the baked bread cases. Sprinkle each with a little grated cheese and chopped parsley.

6. Bake at 200 degrees C for 10-15 minutes, until the cheese has melted. Canned or fresh smoked fish work equally well.

Best served hot, straight from the oven.

Savoury Mince and Bean Filling

Makes filling for 20 bread cases

500g mince

1 tsp canola oil

1 small onion, finely chopped

1 Tbsp soy sauce

1 cup frozen mixed veges

1 cup mild chilli beans

1 cup water

2 Tbsp flour

tsp salt and freshly ground black pepper

2 Tbsp chopped parsley

1 cup grated cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees C on Bake.

2. Preheat a non-stick frying pan with 1 tsp canola oil. Add the mince and stir with a wooden spoon, breaking up the lumps until lightly browned.

3. Add the onion, stir and cook for 1-2 minutes.

4. Add the soy sauce, chilli beans, vegetables, parsley and water. Stir together, then simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes with the lid on the pan.

5. Stir in the flour to thicken the mixture. If the mixture is still thin, continue simmering until it is thickened, without the lid.

6. Place spoonfuls of the mince into the prepared bread cases and top each one with a little grated cheese and a sprinkle of extra chopped parsley.

7. Place into the preheated oven and cook for 10-15 minutes or until the cases are golden and the cheese is melted on top.

8. Serve hot from the oven.

Taranaki Daily News