Chefs in Schools is a food education charity, training kitchen teams to serve better school lunches. Its mission is to inspire children to love real food and learn to cook it. These are some favourite recipes.
In Turkish culture, kisir is made with cracked wheat and served as a meze or appetiser. Pre-Covid, we used to make huge pyramids of it and put them in the centre of the table for children to serve themselves, but it’s still an excellent dish to serve from the service counter. As for the stock, we use miso because it’s a great source of umami, which is the fifth taste element (the other four are salty, sweet, bitter and sour). It doesn’t really have an English word to describe it, so we think of it as lip-smacking savouriness. We use it in combination with a vegetable stock cube to add depth and flavour.
Prep 10 min
Cook 30 min
For the stock (makes 500ml)
1 vegetable stock cube
1 tbsp white miso paste
For the kisir
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red onion, peeled and finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
2 tsp ground cumin
1 red chilli, halved, pith and seeds removed, flesh finely diced
20g tomato puree
250g couscous (plain or wholegrain)
500ml stock, boiling hot (see above and method)
Salt and black pepper
Juice of 1 lemon
4 plum tomatoes, finely diced
First, make the stock: put the stock cube and miso in a heatproof bowl or jug, pour over 500ml boiling water and stir to dissolve – that’s it.
Now for the kisir. Heat the oil in a saucepan for which you have a lid, then saute the onion to take off the raw edge. Add the garlic, and cook, stirring gently, for a few seconds, then add the cumin and chilli, and cook for another minute. Stir in the tomato puree, then add the couscous and hot stock, and take off the heat.
Season, stir with a fork, then cover the pan and leave to sit for about 15 minutes, by which time all the liquid should have been absorbed. Fork the grains to separate them, add the lemon juice and chopped tomatoes, and serve.
The sweet-sour flavours of the dressing transform this store-cupboard staple and bring the corn to life.
Prep 5 min
Cook 12 min
Rest 30 min+
50g unsalted butter
500g corn kernels, canned and drained (ie, from 3 x 198g tins), or frozen and defrosted
½ lime, squeezed to get 1 tbsp juice
1 tbsp honey
1 garlic clove, peeled and grated
¼ tsp salt
⅛ tsp cayenne pepper
1 small bunch coriander, leaves picked, to serve
Melt the butter in a large frying pan over a medium heat. When it’s foaming, add the corn kernels and cook, stirring, for about 10 minutes, until they just start to bronze.
Meanwhile, put all the remaining ingredients apart from the coriander in a large heatproof bowl and stir to mix. When the corn is cooked, tip it into the bowl and stir to coat it in the dressing.
Leave to rest and absorb the flavours for at least 30 minutes before serving topped with the coriander leaves.
Sousou’s Moroccan chicken
We make this dish at Gayhurst school week after week, and the children love it. Every time I make it at another school, it reminds of me of our sous chef Sousou and her amazing cooking.
Prep 10 min
Cook 1 hr
Rest 20 min
3 tbsp olive oil
2 red onions, peeled and sliced
2 cinnamon sticks
1 tbsp ground cumin
1 tbsp ground turmeric
12 pieces skin-on, bone-in chicken (ie, legs and thighs)
30g preserved lemon, flesh and pulp discarded, skin finely sliced
2 star anise
500ml chicken stock
200g green olives, pitted
½ tsp salt
1 handful fresh herbs (parsley, coriander; optional)
Couscous, to serve
Heat the oven to 170C (150C fan)/325F/gas 3. Put a casserole dish on a medium heat, add the oil and, once it’s hot, fry the onion with the cinnamon, cumin and turmeric, stirring often, for two to three minutes, until the spices smell fragrant. Add the chicken pieces and fry, turning occasionally, until they take on a good golden colour. Stir in the preserved lemon, star anise and stock, bring to a boil, then cover and transfer to the oven for 45 minutes. After this time, switch off the oven, stir the green olives into the pot, cover again and return to the turned-off oven to rest for 20 minutes.
Season with a little salt to taste, sprinkle over the fresh herbs, if using, and serve with couscous.
Recipes extracted from Feed your Family: Exciting Recipes from Chefs in Schools, by Nicole Pisani and Joanna Weinberg, published by Pavilion Books at £14.99. To order a copy for £13.04, go to guardianbookshop.com