Monday, October 12, 2009

Food for Sickies

Every nation will have certain foods that they give to the sick and hungover; within every nation, there will of course, be variations and from city to city, it changes once again. Within those cities and towns, each family will tweak and add to each recipe, adding a little nutmeg here, some spring onions there.

In the west, a version of chicken soup tends to be favoured or at least some kind of broth. It's tasty, full of nutrients and hydrates the body and soul. It's the first thing I crave when ill, knowing that a little will go a long way to making me feel better.

When the main cook is ill, though, does she get her soup? What does she or he get fed in her time of need? Over the years, I've only been floored with illness a few times and I tend to lose my appetite. After a few days however, I need to eat and have been content in the past with a chippy fish and chips or similar, Chinese food, curry or scrambled eggs. Since the kids came along, all that changed as they too need to eat proper food regardless so, thanks to a well stocked freezer, we usually manage fine.

This week, I croaked out instructions to Brian; he made some classic dishes for the weak and bed ridden including vegetable and lentil soup, homemade bread and scrambled eggs which he was rather proud off: it was very good. His face at first when I suggested he make some bread though..... It was a meal fit for a king, very simple yet wonderful and I felt instantly better.

Other traditional dishes for the Glaswegian sick include Scotch Broth, which I'm making today, chicken noodle soup for the kids, mince and tatties for those in recovery, steak pie for the first day well and curry, a new tradition and a great one because of the ginger, the garlic...both super foods for getting you better and the spices give you that buzz; taste buds aren't always great when you've had the flu or similar so this is one dish you can be sure of getting a kick from.

Do you remember that huge vegetable curry I made just as I fell ill no connection, I promise! Well, that was my first proper meal with a little rice and paratha which Brian made, checking in with me every now and then to make sure it was being done right. It was and it was great.

When I started to feel a little better, I helped Brian make the bread for the Lahmacun, having already had the lightly spiced lamb mince in the freezer from the last batch I'd made. I don't think the photograph does it too much justice, what with looking bits but believe me, it tasted wonderful; this is so easy, tasty and simple. Perfect in fact, for this week. See recipe below.

Yesterday, on feeling a little better, Brian took the kids to the park and I prepared a simple meal of what we call American Mac n' Cheese, because we add a mix of breadcrumbs and grated cheddar to the top of the homemade cheese sauce and bake it in the oven. I have no idea if this is accurate to how it is made in the US or not, I think we saw it in an American film once and the kids wanted to try it, hence the name.

Brian's bread, garlic'd

We'll be living off leftovers and making do for a few more days yet as the flu which has moved to my chest consumes me with coughing; I was so exhausted after making the mac and cheese last night that I had to lie down for an hour; how pathetic is that....but then I painted a wall afterwards and spent the rest of the night hyperventilating with no way to hide what I'd done when Brian came back from Aikido to find me comatose on the couch but it looks great today.

For the dough:
150g bread flour
100g plain flour
1 teaspoon easy blend yeast
Half teaspoon salt
125ml warm water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Combine the flour yeast and salt and add water and oil- mix and form a dough. Knead for 5-10 minutes and place in an oiled bowl, turn over once and cover with clingfilm. Leave it somewhere warm to rise, approx. 1 hour.

Once it has approx. doubled in size, punch the air out of it and divide into 8 pieces. Roll into circles of approx. 12 cm each and leave them on an oiled baking sheet (I put down parchment paper first) with tea towels over them to stop them drying out, for about 20 minutes.

Lamb Topping:
1 medium onion, very finely chopped
1 fat garlic clove, very finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
250g lamb or minced lamb, very finely chopped in food processor
pinch of cayenne pepper, ground allspice
Half teaspoon cumin
*optional-half chilli pepper, seeds removed
3 tablespoons tomato puree
2 tablespoons flat leaf parsley, finely chopped plus more for serving
lemon juice
Melted butter

Fry onion and garlic together in the oil until soft but not coloured; sprinkle in some salt to help keep it from browning. Add the minced lamb along with the spices and then stir in tomato puree. Stir well and cook for 10-15 minutes until the lamb is browned and cooked through. Add the lemon juice (about half to 1 whole lemon) and season with salt and pepper.

Use the melted butter to coat the bread rounds, making sure you completely get the edges (so they stay quite soft). Place a large tablespoon or so of mince onto the bread and spread out with the back of a spoon. When complete, place in oven at 220 degrees Celsius/gas mark 7 for approx. 10 minutes. Keep your eye on it so that the mince doesn't burn although the top will catch slightly. Turn the baking tray(s) if need be.

If it is going to be a few minutes before they are taken to the table, drape them with a tea towel to stop the crusts getting hard. These are delicious as is but I like to sprinkle with some extra parsley and another squeeze of lemon juice and either serve alongside a green salad with a good goats cheese or with goats cheese dotted on top of the lahmacun. You can add this a minute or so before taking out of oven so that the goats cheese melts if you like. Really, really delicious.

I have to say, I wouldn't waste my time making this paltry amount of lamb topping as it freezes beautifully; I'd usually make 4 times the amount and freeze it in 250g batches. You could do the same with the bread, freezing it at the point you'd place it in the oven or make the entire lahmacun as normal and freeze from cooked; I can vouch for them defrosting beautifully and warming up splendidly in a hot oven for 5 minutes. Apply to face.


Ginger said...

Hope you're feeling much, much better!

The mac-n-cheese looks great! For me comfort mac-n-cheese comes from a box. But homemade is definitely a Southern dish that goes with turip greens and fried chicken. I put bread crumbs in my green bean casserole.

Ahh. Toddler Jack is approaching. Must go before he
[pkgn;oi touches any keys.. s'

Anonymous said...

It's Homemade Chicken Soup in our home, when someone is sick.
"It has a LatinMomof4Punks twist" though.

(I start with a basic Homemade Chicken breast and Veggie Soup)

I add fresh ground Cumin, pepper and minced Garlic cloves, I also add a splash of tomato sauce, and squeeze some lime or lemon juice on top before serving. "My Family Loves it" and it makes them feel better. ("or so they claim")

"Although when I'm sick I have to make my own, or eat the stuff that comes out of a can". Yuck!!

Your Mac & Cheese is an American Favorite!

Hope you feel better Amiga.

~Amor, Familia Y Cultura~

Helen McGinn said...

Ginger, *LOL*! He beat you to it! So, my mac n'cheese has it's roots in America by the sounds of it? Is it fair to keep calling it American mac n'cheese? The kids do a cute accent when they ask for it... ;O)

latinmomof4punks, oh my gosh, that sounds wonderful; I absolutely adore cumin and I'm going to try it! Good, re: mac n' cheese, we're sticking to that title. :O)

Little Ms Blogger said...

My mom always put bread crumbs on top of the Mac & Cheese. I hated and still pretty much dislike mac & cheese.

I loved "I was so exhausted after making the mac and cheese last night that I had to lie down for an hour; how pathetic is that....but then I painted a wall afterwards" --- hello? What were you thinking? You must have a very high fever.

Carolyn @ My Backyard Eden said...

Feel better soon!

I have a bag of lentils in my cupboard just waiting for a recipe. I'm going to make Vegetable and Lentil soup tonight - and we're not even sick. Knock wood!

mise said...

You're in Glasgow! And my gripe with frugal cooking is that it is often very carbohydrate-based, but I make an exception for when the carbohydrate element is homemade. The bread looks great, and I hope you feel better soon.

Helen McGinn said...

LMB, I know, I just felt I should get something done; it was only a small wall, but still...idiotic. *L*

Carolyn, make sure you give me any secret recipe ingredients!

mise, I am indeed. You're right, with regards to frugal cooking although I try and forego the carb element completely from time to time or at least make it something like couscous. Lovely to see you! x

I Wonder Wye said...

When I am recovering from surgery, I like simple fare -- chicken pot pie, soups of all kinds, frittatas and egg dishes -- fruit especially, since the fruit one gets in hospitals is horrid. When I have a cold, it's chicken soup. I generally lose my appetite when in recovery though. Your pictures are great, and your food looks wonderful! I am stopping by from SITS. I spent out Honeymoon in London in a flat on Sloane Square, and we enjoyed the stay so much we came back the following year.....

Farmgirl Paints said...

Yummy! Hope you feel better soon.

koralee said...

Thank you for your lovely comments and your thankful items you left on my blog. You made me so happy when I read about your sweet children....we do have so much to be thankful for.
What lucky children to be blessed with a mom like you!!!! Looks like you are always making yummy meals for that is a blessing indeed.

One of my family favourites is homemade Mac. and Cheese. We call it comfort food or Soul Food because it feeds your soul and makes you all cozy inside! xoxoxo

Unknown Mami said...

Yup, I like homemade soup when I'm sick, but it has to have a squeeze of lemon or lime. I think just about any soup taste better with a little lemon or lime.

gaelikaa said...

Oh, what a wonderful post, food glorious food. I remember visiting my aunt in Carluke (Lanarkshire) years ago and I loved the tatties and mince. In fact, we ate that in Ireland too, we just didn't call it that. I'm fed up with the veggie diet (and what with living in Lucknow, practically the home of the kabab!. I'll have to get a bit of meat soon or I'm gone! Back with you soon, Helen!

Mrs. Fish aka Two Fish said...

Oh lawsie I have to stop coming here so late to read....I LOVE your recipes. Can I come visit for a month, soak up all your recipes in me brain and go home? I will bring my famous pecan pie recipe and whatever else I can muster. Oh, and for your lamb, a bit of coriander really brings our the smoky flavor of the cumin. I love coriander, not used enough.

I also have a LOVELY something for you on my blog.

Helen McGinn said...

I Wonder Wye, it's lovely to meet you, thanks for dropping by; I forgot about frittatas; I'm a big fan! Sloane Square sure brings back some memories for me too....

Farm girl Paints, thank you, woke up feeling better this morn. :O)

koralee, thank you hon! Any food that's good for the soul must be good for you, don't you think? ;O)

Unknown Mami, you know, this is a new discovery for me. I haven't yet tried it in soups but I've been using citrus more and more in cooking, like that extra squeeze of lemon juice in the lahmacun just made it wonderul. I'm going to use it in my soup next time.

gaelikka, you've been to Carluke? That's great! I've never been there but it's not that far, about 30 minutes from here. Mince n' tatties are wonderful, aren't they? I'm craving some now even though it is only 8.20am here.

Mrs Fish, any time, lass any time! I love pecan! And I'm a big fan of coriander; I used to dislike it intensely until I started cooking and then I realised it's magic power...*L*

Design it Chic said...

I like how the American Mac 'n Cheese looks.. maybe i can take a bite.. just one i promise:D
Stopping by from SITS!
Happy Tuesday!

* stop by for the dose of random today! lots of updates.. and more random:)

Protege said...

When I was ill as a child, my mother used to make me a soup she called "For the gravely ill". Of course a joke, but nevertheless, that soup was heavenly. I am not sure what it contained but it soothed and made me feel stronger. There is nothing like cooking a soup from the scratch with fresh ingredients.
I swear every time I visit your blog my mouth waters.;)

Momma G.Love said...

I am so glad you posted this. I have a house of sickies (myself included) and I think a little comfort food is in order.

...stopping by from SITS...

Steph @ Stick It in the Fridge

confused homemaker said...

Hope you feel better soon! Your mac & cheese reminds me of my husband's version. He is a wonderful cook.

The Blonde Duck said...

It all looks wonderful to me! Yum!

I actually can't eat chicken noodle soup. The broth makes me sick. Ben LOVES it though...