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These recipes from the Food for Your Brood cookbook will inspire you to gather your favourite people together and get cooking.

From roast chicken that even the youngest of cooks can try to spicy rice stuffed peppers, Food for Your Brood is all about cooking food with and for the people you love.

No-brainer pot roast chicken with bacon, leeks and cider

This is a wonderfully friendly pot roast. It’s so easy that everyone from the smallest to the grumpiest in the household can be the chef. Basically, you grab a handful of veggies, some bacon, and a chicken. The you find a glass of cider, wine or chicken stock (if alcohol’s not for you) and stick the lot into a big pot with a few herbs and a tight lid. Bake for a few hours, then eat. If that was too quick, here’s the slow version – feeds a hungry foursome.

  • 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 rashers streaky bacon, snipped into small pieces
  • 2 leeks, sliced into medallions
  • 2kg whole chicken
  • 6 carrots, peeled and quartered
  • 1 x 330ml bottle cider or the same quantity white wine (if you prefer not to use alcohol, you can also use
  • chicken or vegetable stock instead)
  • 5ml (1 tsp) dried thyme or 15ml (1 tbsp) fresh thyme leaves
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 60ml (4 tbsp) double cream
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) wholegrain mustard
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) finely chopped fresh parsley
  • Heat the oven to 180°C.
  • Gently warm the olive oil in a stovetop-to-oven casserole, then add the garlic, onion, bacon and leeks. Cook on a medium heat, stirring continuously until the leeks and onions are cooked but not brown.
  • Place the chicken in the casserole, breast side up, on top of the vegetables. Place the carrots snugly around the bird and pour over the cider or white wine. Then sprinkle with thyme and season with salt and black pepper. Put on a tight-fitting lid and cook in the oven for 1 hour.
  • Remove the lid, baste the chicken with the juices and return to the oven for 20–30 minutes until the breast side is golden brown.
  • Take the casserole out of the oven and check that the chicken is cooked through. Transfer the chicken and vegetables into a warm ovenproof serving dish, but leave the juices in the casserole. Cover the chicken with foil and return to the switched-off oven to keep warm.
  • On the stovetop, bring the juices to the boil in the casserole and reduce a little. Turn the heat down. Next, add the cream and mustard, stirring without boiling until warmed through. Transfer the sauce to a warm jug, scatter the chopped parsley over the chicken and vegetables and serve immediately.

Golden onions baked with cheese and herbs

There are two schools of thought when it comes to baked onions. First, cook them whole and pour sauce and cheese over the top. Second, get fancy, scoop out the middle and fill them up with goodies before baking. Both are good, but the simple version has the added bonus of providing excellent mopping up juices to play with, so make sure you have a loaf of crusty bread handy. Feeds four for lunch or eight as a side dish.

  • 8 medium-sized onions, peeled and the top and bottom sliced off
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) olive oil
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh thyme
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 50g Parmesan cheese, finely grated
  • 2,5ml (½ tsp) smoked paprika
  • 250ml fresh cream
  • 4 slices wholewheat bread, whizzed into breadcrumbs
  • 15ml (1 tbsp) chopped fresh parsley or thyme
  • Heat the oven to 190°C.
  • Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and blanch the onions for 6 minutes. Drain and cut in half horizontally, then fit them, cut side up, into a greased gratin dish or shallow casserole. They should fit snugly and hold each other upright. Drizzle with olive oil, scatter over the chopped thyme and garlic, season with salt and pepper, then bake for 30 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix the Parmesan, paprika, cream and a good grind of salt and pepper in a bowl. Stir in the breadcrumbs.
  • Take the onions out of the oven and pour the cheese, cream and breadcrumb mixture over the top.
  • Return to the oven for another 20 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and golden.
  • Remove from the oven and serve hot sprinkled with fresh parsley or thyme.

Courgette fritters (that don’t taste like old sponges)

You either love or hate courgette fritters. Cooked carelessly, they’re like eating a bath sponge, but on form they are bubbly, summery and utterly delicious. It’s down to selection and timing. Choose your vegetable wisely and don’t be tempted to use up some gnarly marrow that is past its prime. Stick to the fresh young things with firm, bright green skins and barely formed seeds. Like many vegetables with a high water content, you also need to drain your courgettes well otherwise you’ll have a soggy mess. And, don’t hold back on seasoning or friends like onion and garlic because courgettes need help to shine. This isn’t a good one to make ahead, though. Shorten the time from pan to plate and you’ll be rewarded with bouncy, frisky, tasty little fritters. Feeds four to six people.

  • 500g courgettes
  • 5ml (1 tsp) salt
  • 200ml plain Greek yoghurt
  • 1 handful fresh mint leaves, finely chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 40g butter
  • 60g finely chopped onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 30ml (2 tbsp) chopped fresh coriander
  • zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 100g feta cheese, crumbled
  • 50g cake flour
  • 45–60ml (3–4 tbsp) olive oil for frying
  • Grate the courgettes and toss with the salt. Place in a colander to sweat out the excess liquid, turning every now and then for 15 minutes.
  • Make the sauce by mixing the yoghurt and mint together, then season with salt and pepper. Set aside.
  • Melt the butter and fry the onion and garlic until soft. Set aside until cool.
  • Mix the coriander, lemon zest, eggs, feta and flour together. Season well. Stir in the cooled onion and garlic.
  • Squeeze the courgettes to remove excess water, then add to the onion mixture.
  • Heat 15ml (1 tbsp) of oil in a frying pan and check that it’s hot by dropping in a little bread. If it sizzles, it’s ready. Cook the fritters in batches by dropping tablespoons of mixture spaced apart into the frying pan. Flatten each dollop lightly with a spoon and cook for 2–3 minutes on each side until golden brown. Repeat with the rest of the batter, adding more olive oil as necessary. Drain them on kitchen paper.
  • Serve with the yoghurt and mint sauce and eat quickly.

Seventies-style red peppers
stuffed with spicy rice

To guarantee success, use the sweeter red or orange peppers and choose those with a flat base so they sit well rather than lurching drunkenly around the plate. You also need to ensure your filling packs a taste punch so don’t be shy with spices, seasoning and sauce. This super-spicy stuffing was inspired by a trip to Istanbul, but unlike classic Turkish stuffed peppers, these are served hot. It feeds four, and is useful if you have vegans or vegetarians around.

  • 160g basmati rice
  • 100g grated courgettes
  • 5ml (1 tsp) salt
  • 60ml (4 tbsp) olive oil
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 2,5ml (½ tsp) turmeric
  • 5ml (1 tsp) each of ground cumin, garam masala and ground coriander
  • generous pinch of cayenne pepper
  • ½ fresh red chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 small tomatoes, finely diced
  • 60ml (4 tbsp) chopped
  • fresh coriander plus more for sprinkling
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 400ml water
  • 4 big, fat, square red peppers
  • olive oil for drizzling
  • Heat the oven to 180 °C.
  • Wash the rice well, drain and set it aside. Place the grated courgettes in a colander and sprinkle over the salt. Set aside.
  • Heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and sauté the onion and garlic until cooked, but not brown. After that, add the turmeric, cumin, garam masala, ground coriander, cayenne pepper and chilli and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Pour in the rice and cook gently, stirring all the time, for 6–8 minutes so the rice is well coated.
  • Next, add the courgettes and stir. Then add the tomatoes, fresh coriander, a generous grind of pepper and the water. Simmer gently for about 12 minutes, until the rice is nearly cooked. Don’t cook any longer as you are going to be putting it into the oven.
  • Slice the tops off the peppers and scoop out the seeds. Fill with the cooked rice and courgette mixture and put the lids on the top.
  • Place in a casserole dish small enough for the peppers to sit snugly next to each other and drizzle over a little olive oil.
  • Bake for 1 hour, basting with the juices several times during cooking.

About the book

With over 70 ideas for inspirational, delicious dishes – from noisy, outrageous breakfasts to soothingly sweet tea-time delights and amazing one-pot suppers – Food for Your Brood (Struik Lifestyle) by Sam Gates will transform your cooking. For the author, the best meals are those shared with the people we love, when the humblest ingredients, casually gathered, seem to magically turn into fine feasts. So, celebrate food, life and the people you love with this sunny collection of glorious recipes. Food for Your Brood is available at all good bookstores for R275.

Need more inspiration for preparing delicious family meals, click here.