Second helpings: Hix's dinners for kids

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

A holiday with choosy children reminded Mark Hix that even leftovers can be transformed into delicious dishes. Photographs by Jason Lowe

I took my children on holiday recently to Lanzarote in the Canary Islands with my mate Robin Hancock from Wright Brothers Oyster House in Borough Market. He brought his kids along too. We had a great time, but one recurring problem was the fact that the kids kept turning their noses up at the dishes that I had made from local Spanish products; so I got very accustomed to using up the leftovers and creating interesting dishes for our next breakfast, lunch or supper.

Why don't most kids like simple things like a cucumber and parsley salad or a tomato and onion salad? They didn't even like the gazpacho that it became the next day. The one dish I thought would go down a storm was the spaghetti with sardines and tomato I knocked up from the half dozen or so grilled sardines that had been left over from the night before – but oh no, the children spotted those little flecks of sardines and, sadly, rejected the pasta.

I guess one of the reasons for the fussiness of the children is that they perhaps get rather spoilt with all the fast food they consume, as well as the fact that they're not disciplined as strictly at meal times as we were when we were kids. I wouldn't have dreamt of disappearing from the table until my plate was clean – whether I liked the food or not.

Cleverly using up leftovers, however, doesn't need to revolve around children; we grown-ups have become a bit lazy too, and would often rather buy a packet of chicken breasts than the whole bird, and neat little fillets than the entire fish. Both, however, can yield several meals if they are dealt with correctly and with the current economic climate, it's well worth getting the most out of your food.

You may or may not have heard of the Love Food Hate Waste campaign – visit their website (lovefoodhatewaste.com) for lots of practical advice on the subject.



Fried eggs with chorizo

Serves 4

This dish is rather like the Mexican dish huevos rancheros. I could have easily thrown away a couple of portions of broad beans and chorizo, as well as the half a dozen mini chorizo that were sitting around with a few padron peppers, but I wanted the kids to think twice about what they ate and respect the cost and importance of food.

Writing a recipe like this can be tricky because I can't expect you to have the same leftovers as me – so I'm going to give you the recipe from scratch.

100-150g cooking chorizo, chopped into small pieces
2 shallots, peeled, halved and finely chopped
4 tomatoes, finely chopped
100-120g podded weight of broad beans
4 free range duck or goose eggs
A little olive oil for frying

Heat a heavy-based saucepan on a medium heat and fry the pieces of chorizo and shallots for 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often. Add the tomatoes and a couple of cups of water and simmer gently for 20-25 minutes until the tomatoes break down and the sauce thickens.

Meanwhile, cook the broad beans in boiling, salted water until tender and drain. You can remove the outer skin from any large ones if you wish. Stir them into the sauce and cover with a lid. Fry the eggs in the olive oil and transfer to warmed serving plates and spoon the sauce and broad beans around.



Spaghetti with sardines, chilli and tomatoes

Serves 4

I managed to get three dishes out of the dozen sardines we bought from the market and although sardines are dead cheap, it seemed a shame to throw them away. I gave you a similar recipe a few weeks back with red mullet and this is an even simpler, poor man's version. When the kids clocked that I had refashioned the previous night's sardines I knew I was fighting a lost cause – and the next day, when I threw beaten eggs into the pasta and made it into a kind of frittata, they really did think that I was a tight old git.

4 servings of spaghetti
1 small onion, peeled, halved and finely chopped
4 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
1-2 medium chillis, halved, seeded and finely chopped
4tbsp olive oil plus more if required
450g can of good-quality chopped tomatoes
8 fresh sardine fillets, cut into small pieces or 8 cooked and broken into pieces
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
A few leaves of basil or bush basil, torn

Gently cook the onion, garlic and chilli in the olive oil for 3-4 minutes, without colouring, until soft. Add the tomatoes, season and simmer gently for 20 minutes. Add the pieces of cooked sardines and simmer for another 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the manufacturer's instructions, then drain in a colander, reserving a little of the water to adjust the sauce if necessary. To serve, toss the pasta with the sauce, adding some cooking water and more olive oil to get a good coating consistency, then serve in warmed bowls scattered with basil.



Deep-fried smoked salmon skin

Serves 4-6

It may seem a bit desperate to start deep frying salmon skin, but if you're a smoked salmon lover and buy it unsliced on the side – which is by far the best way – what's the point in throwing away the skins after slicing up all the salmon? These are rather like fishy pork scratchings and you can even rescue the rest of the trimmings like the belly and tail, which can be a bit salty, by chopping them up and simply mixing them with sour cream and chives for an easy, cheap snack.

The skin from 1 side of smoked salmon
Vegetable or corn oil for deep frying

Cut your salmon skin into rough 3-4cm shapes, squares, strips, triangles etc. Preheat about 8cm of oil to 160-180C in a large thick-bottomed saucepan or electric deep-fat fryer. Fry the salmon skin a few pieces at a time, stirring with a slotted spoon, for 3-4 minutes until crisp, then remove and drain on some kitchen paper. Serve as suggested above or just on their own.



Grouse and pearl barley broth

Serves 4

At this time of year, I hate to see the carcasses of game birds being scraped off the plates into the bin; you'd be surprised how much meat you can retrieve from a supposedly finished carcass, especially if your guests haven't got their hands dirty and picked the birds.

The carcasses from 4 grouse, chopped into 4 or 5 pieces
1 small onion, peeled, halved and roughly chopped
1 medium carrot, peeled and roughly chopped
2 cloves of garlic, peeled and crushed
A couple of sprigs of thyme
4 juniper berries
1 tbsp vegetable oil
A good knob of butter
1tbsp flour
1tsp tomato purée
2 litres chicken stock
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
50g pearl barley, soaked for a couple hours in cold water
1 small leek, trimmed, cut into rough 1cm squares and washed
60-80g seasonal wild mushrooms, cleaned and sliced or halved

Heat the vegetable oil in a large, heavy-based saucepan and fry the grouse carcasses, onion, carrot and garlic on a high heat for 3-4 minutes, stirring every so often until lightly coloured. Add the thyme, juniper, butter and flour and stir well for a minute or so; then add the tomato purée. Slowly stir in the chicken stock, bring to the boil, season and simmer gently for an hour.

Strain the soup through a fine-meshed sieve into a clean saucepan, reserving the bits of carcass. Add the pearl barley and leeks and simmer for about 20 minutes or until the barley is tender. Remove as many bits of meat from the grouse carcass as possible and add to the soup with the mushrooms. Simmer for a few minutes, re-season if necessary and serve.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Guru Careers: .NET Developers / Software Developers

    Competitive (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: our .NET Developers / Software Dev...

    Sheridan Maine: Accounts Assistant

    £25,000 - £30,000: Sheridan Maine: Are you looking for a fantastic opportunity...

    Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester

    £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Management Accountant - Manchester...

    Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-Qualified Accountant) - Manchester

    £23000 - £25000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Project Accountant (Part-...

    Day In a Page

    General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

    The masterminds behind the election

    How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
    Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

    Machine Gun America

    The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
    The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

    The ethics of pet food

    Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
    How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

    Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
    11 best bedside tables

    11 best bedside tables

    It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
    Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

    Italy vs England player ratings

    Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
    Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    An underdog's tale of making the most of it

    Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

    Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

    Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
    No postcode? No vote

    Floating voters

    How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

    By Reason of Insanity

    Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
    Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

    Power dressing is back

    But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
    Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

    Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

    Caves were re-opened to the public
    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

    Vince Cable interview

    'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
    Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

    Promises, promises

    But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
    The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

    The death of a Gaza fisherman

    He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat