It’s been a little quiet on Tout Simple of late. I have effectively taken a much needed two month holiday but September has crept up on us and here we are again at la rentrée. Tout Simple is officially one year old and to mark this occasion, I’m here to tell you about how it’s changing!
For over a year now I’ve been working on my business Nourish Paris. In the quiet, still moments in between naps, after bed times, stolen moments from life as a mum; Nourish Paris has grown from the tiniest seed of an idea to something that I have taken on full time. I never thought I would be someone who ran her own business, let alone this business, and yet here it is – all mine and I’d like to take a moment to tell you about it.
Nourish Paris home cooks and delivers Real Family Food in Paris 75 (and close suburbs for now.) with a focus on food for post-partum mothers.
There was a time that a new mother would be cared for by her family and community for the first three months of her child’s life. With the rise of people leaving their home communities to come and live and work in big cities, this tradition is massively on the decline. People live away from their families and their villages and mothers are finding themselves increasingly isolated and alone in a time where they should be surrounded by support. Nourish Paris aims to support new parents in a time when their lives are being turned upside down by their new arrival, not just through the practicalities of a home cooked meal, but also through thoughtful, supportive nutrition for breastfeeding, energy and good sleep.
We believe that families have a pressure on them now that has not been felt in previous generations. Most of the families we know have two parents who work full time, have children in full time childcare and yet have less money and less time available to them than previous generations. The cost of living has gone up, not just financially, but on our time as well. We have less time to spend in the kitchen and however much we might like to be making every meal from scratch for our families – it’s just not the reality of modern family life. Nourish Paris believes that families run on their stomachs and our veggie packed, balanced family meals help to ease the chaos of dinner time.
Basically we have a heart for families and what keeps them running. We want to support the support bases, fuel the fuel tanks and keep your family running at its absolute best. We believe that meal times are a perfect place to start and can’t wait to get serving you!
If you’re anything like our family, you get to the end of a week and the vegetable tray of the fridge is left with some sad looking strays. A bunch of coriander you only needed a couple of stems from, an ambitious aubergine not yet used, some slightly wilty spinach, an extra avocado, you get my drift. For us it varies from week to week but there’ll generally always be some spare veg lying around.
For this exact situation, I always keep various things in my freezer and cupboards to transform sad, wilty leftover veg into sexy, healthy bowls of goodness. It obviously depends on your taste, but I like to keep around:
Beef, Chicken and mushroom broth, frozen in portioned baggies
Seven veg tomato sauce, frozen in portioned baggies
Pesto, chilled, rolled into sausages and frozen in parchment paper
Herbs, diced, frozen on a baking sheet & then put into paper bags or boxes
Olive oil & balsamic vinegar
Herbs and spices (Turmeric, coriander, fennel seeds, paprika, chilli flakes, cumin, masala etc)
Buckwheat noodles, egg noodles, rice noodles etc
Couscous (so quick!)
Brown Rice and risotto rice
With a decent stock of flavourful ingredients on hand, it’s possible to make a delicious; healthy meal out of the very dregs of the veg drawer – no meat needed! The bowl pictured above was a sweet potato, spinach, coriander and a slightly over ripe avocado that got roasted, sliced and sautéed in sesame oil, turmeric and chilli flakes and popped in a bowl of mushroom broth miso and buckwheat noodles. Today’s bowl is going to involve some kind of roasted turmeric cauliflower, sweet potato, red and yellow peppers and whatever else I can find! Cooking like this turns me into a braver cook, trying more varied flavours and combinations of ingredients that I would normally overlook. Give it a go & see what you come up with!
PS. For the Parisian cook; I get all of my soy, tahini, sesame, miso & seaweed at the Japanese supermarket on Rue Levis 75017. xx
It’s February! I’ve been reading everywhere that people have found this January to have really dragged on and on, particularly in Paris where it has rained every. single. day. Honestly I’ve not found it so bad, but I’ve been in a slight new born haze cosied up inside!
Anyway February is here and with it, the hope of Spring in the air. If you had good healthy eating resolutions for January but actually just ate the Christmas season leftovers all month long, you are not alone! February is an excellent point to really commit to nourishing your body with excellent, wholesome food. The celebrations tins are empty, the Bailey’s is finally finished and the promise of warmer days are just around the corner.
Here’s a gorgeous and SUCH an easy lunch recipe to keep you excited for fresh produce and leafy greens; Spinach & sweet potato soup with a side of grilled salmon. Enjoy!
For Two Servings You’ll Need:
One medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped into cubes
500ml good quality, low sodium chicken, beef, or vegetable stock
Three big hand-fulls of baby spinach leaves
Slivered almonds or mixed seeds (optional to serve)
Pesto (optional to serve)
Two salmon filets
Olive oil, salt & pepper
Boil your sweet potato in your stock until soft. Add your spinach, cook for a further two minutes and remove from the heat. Blend until smooth with a stick blender.
Meanwhile, heat up a little oil in a pan and fry your salmon over a medium heat for about four minutes on each side, or to your desired cuisson. I like mine still pretty rare in the middle!
Serve your salmon with a tablespoon of pesto (I used some spinach & walnut pesto I made earlier this week) and your soup with a sprinkling of slivered almonds or mixed seeds.
This whole lunch takes 20-30 minutes to make and is really so filling and delicious. There’s so much scope for playing around with it too. Change up the veg depending on what’s in season, throw some fresh ginger in there to spice things up a little, experiment with different fish.
When I was about twenty-five weeks pregnant with Fred, my friend Jenni and I got together to cook. She had her six month old daughter playing nearby and we managed to shop for and cook twenty eight portions of food (four different recipes!) in an afternoon. I have always batched cooked, but we currently have a tiny freezer in the top of our fridge so I’ve felt a bit limited with it. As far as space goes, I really shouldn’t feel limited – I have the scope to do so much when it comes to preparing meals in advance, as do you and here’s how:
Why batch cook?
Batch cooking for me ensures that I always have a healthy meal on hand and ready to go. I can host toddlers for tea or a friend for dinner at a moment’s notice. I rarely ever have to make a dash for the shops in the rain, with a baby strapped to my chest and a wilful toddler asking constantly for chocolate cake. Making things like sauces and pesto means that my cooking time during the evening is drastically reduced and I have more time to play cars on the kitchen floor. It means that my husband (or the person who doesn’t normally stock or run the family kitchen) can serve my kids healthy food that they enjoy without having to think about it and the whole thing reduces kitchen induced stress dramatically!
Gather your team Maybe it’s because I’ve always cooked in big family kitchens or restaurant kitchens but I like cooking in a team. Find some other like-minded friends, or mums who have kids the same age as yours (similar portion sizes) and cook together! This is especially great in Paris because we don’t all have fully equipped or big enough kitchens. Choose the friend with the biggest and most equipped kitchen and get together.
Menu plan I never batch cook for the whole week ahead as we dont have the space, but make things that I use a lot of (the seven veg tomato sauce – recipe below), meals that I know are always a hit when I do them (the fish pie – recipe to come next week), or things to bring out in a no food in the house crises (meatballs, fish fingers, crackers, pesto, soup etc). Be sensible about what you’re actually going to use or you’ll end up with a freezer full of bone broth because you’ve read about how awesome it is for you but you’ll realistically never use.
Shop To save time when I batch cook I make sure to shop somewhere that will definitely have everything I need, which is not as easy as it sounds in Paris. When I do our weekly shop I go to the market/cheese-monger/butcher/baker etc. but for batch cooking I head straight to the supermarket. The list is split into the ingredients for each meal and whatever containers I’m going to need to store them.
Storage Generally I try to eliminate plastic and disposable containers as much as possible using mason jars and IKEA glass storage boxes. However, we do use ziplock freezer bags for the soups and sauces as they freeze flat and save us so much space. I’ve also just found some excellent toddler portioned size foil ramekins.
Some general advice to consider:
Rather than cooking one recipe at a time, I like to wash, chop and cook all the veggies first. Especially if I’m doing seven veg tomato sauce or a vegetable soup. That way I can get the sauce on the go quickly while the onions and leeks are sweating in olive oil for the fish pie.
This doesn’t have to be your technique. Once you’ve done it a couple of times you’ll find your own rhythm and flow for the process.
I like to clean as I go, it keeps me calm as I cook and means that you don’t extend your cooking time with clean up.
Seven Vegetable Tomato Sauce
We use this sauce as a base for practically everything. I keep it un-seasoned in portioned bags so that it can be transformed easily into soup, pizza base, pasta sauce, curry, tomato base for chilli and spaghetti bolognese or anything else that calls for a can of tomatoes.
Two 400g cans of chopped tomatoes
2 cloves of garlic
2 large carrots
1 red pepper
1 small sweet potato
Roughly chop all the veg into cubes. Fry the leek, onion, garlic and carrots in a glug of olive oil over a medium heat until they start to soften. Add the rest of the veg and cook for a further 10 minutes. Add the cans of tomatoes. Fill each can up 3/4 of the way with water, swish around and add to the pot too. Bring to the boil and then cover and simmer for an hour or until the vegetables are soft. Blend the sauce with a stick blender, divide into portions, let cool and freeze for up to three months.
The fish pie, meatballs, pesto and crackers are all recipes I’ll be putting up on the blog in the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes peeled on instagram and Facebook!
Stan’s love language is not gift giving. He doesn’t see things and think that I’ll like them, it’s just not in his nature – so generally I’m pleasantly surprised when he gets a gift so spectacularly right , it’s as if he was in my head. Obviously my favourite gift this Christmas was the Harry Potter wand that controls the TV (all my Witching dreams come true!) but my runner up was the absurdly lovely book « Feeding a family: A real life plan for making dinner work » by Sarah Waldman.
Christmas day was just a week ago and I’ve already made three dinner recipes and three desserts from this book. They’re all healthy, packed with nutrients and what’s more, Arthur has devoured all of them. As I might have mentioned, we’ve been going through a bit of a vegetable dry patch with Arthur. I’ve tried to remain calm about it, tried to remember that it’s just a phase but, as a cook it’s been really disheartening and my passion for cooking family meals has suffered as a result.
Well, long story short, I think Arthur’s eaten more vegetables this week than he has in the whole of the rest of December. Basically this book is the inspiration I’ve been searching for and I encourage you, if you want to up your kitchen game with ease, to get this book and follow Sarah Waldman’s blog too. You won’t regret it.
I’ve included in this post her recipe for quick chocolate citrus cake. This dense, delicious cake has been a massive hit in our house (particularly with Terry’s Chocolate Orange loving me and Arthur!). Just to clarify – this ISN’T my recipe and I want to give full credit where credit is due.
200g dark 70% chocolate
200g unsalted butter
1 cup coconut sugar
5 large eggs
1 tablespoon all purpose unbleached flour
3 tablespoons orange juice
Whipped cream & sliced orange for the top
Pre-heat the oven to 210° Celsius and grease an 8 inch cake pan. Line the cake pan with greaseproof paper.
Slowly melt the chocolate and butter in a saucepan over low heat until smooth. Add the coconut sugar to the chocolate mixture, stir well, and set aside to cool for a couple of minutes.
Add the eggs one by one to the chocolate mixture, whisking well after adding each egg. Add the flour and the orange juice and stir to combine. Pour the batter into the prepared cake tin and bake for around 25 minutes or until the center of the cake looks just set.
Once removed from the oven allow the cake to cool for ten minutes or so still in the cake pan on a wire cooling rack, then carefully invert the cake onto the rack and peel away the greaseproof paper. Allow the cake to cool completely before topping with the whipped cream and oranges.
This cake is decadent enough to be served as dessert at your next dinner party, but equally just as easy to whip up for your kid’s gouter or evening dessert. It was such a treat to have chocolate cake mid-week that Arthur thoroughly enjoyed it, as did I!
There are two ways to make risotto: quick and easy, or slow and long. I’ve always been a fan of the quick and easy version (adding all the stock at once and letting it reduce) but now Arthur can play independently at my feet in the kitchen while I cook, I love the magic of taking a long hour to cook something properly, pair flavours and watch a delicious meal come together.
What you’ll need
While risotto can seem intimidating, it’s actually very easy, just quite labour intensive. For this one you will need:
One medium butternut squash, peeled and diced into small cubes
One onion, diced
400g risotto rice
75ml dry white wine (or cooking wine)
1.5 litres chicken stock
Knob of salted butter
Big handful of parmesan
Fresh Rosemary – to garnish
Pop your butternut squash into a roasting tray and roast at 180°c for 25-30 minutes. While it’s roasting, start softening your onions in a large pan on a low heat and heat up your chicken stock in a saucepan
Add the rice to the softened onions and give a good stir and add the wine. Stir until the liquid has been absorbed
Start adding the stock to the rice and onions two ladles at a time, still on a low/medium heat. Stir each time until the liquid has been absorbed
Continue adding and letting the stock absorb until you have only two ladles left in your saucepan. Add the roasted butternut squash. It should disintegrate a bit and turn your risotto orange. Add the last two ladles of stock
When the last of the stock has nearly been absorbed, stir through your butter and parmesan
Allow the liquid to absorb to your preference. Season and serve with more parmesan and the rosemary
This recipe serves around six or you can freeze it into twelve toddler portions! Sometimes I like to serve it as a side to breaded chicken or sausages, or with a side of sautéed kale or green beans.
Around this time of year cooking a meal like this really does feel like a bit of magic – putting warmth and nourishment back at the centre of our kitchen while the world gets slowly darker and colder outside is important. Using seasonal vegetables keeps us connected to the earth and the cycle of the year and taking the time to prepare something delicious has something restorative about it…Enjoy!
As some of you know, with a husband who works nights, I’m often alone for dinner and the evening. Over spring and summer it was easy to eat early with Arthur and I still try to do that as often as possible – it’s good for you to eat early in the evening and I think it helps Arthur eat better when we’re at the table eating the same thing! However, as autumn’s darker evenings draw in, its getting chillier and the candles are being lit I found myself craving this absolute gem of a solo dinner.
I love all types of squash. They have the perfect sweet and savoury balance that make pairing them up with different flavours so easy, not to mention they are choc full of immune boosting vitamin A and vitamin C – vital at this time of year, especially if you have a child in school! This easy recipe teams butternut squash with that other autumn and winter superhero, Kale, crunchy red pepper, button mushrooms and creamy cottage cheese. You’ll need:
Half a butternut squash (that’s been halved lengthways and de-seeded) A tablespoon of olive oil Half a red pepper (diced) Five or six button mushrooms (diced) A handful of kale (diced) Two big heaped teaspoons of cottage cheese A sprinkling of parmesan to finish
Pre-heat your oven to 180°c and once it’s hot, rub your half butternut with olive oil and salt and bake for 30 minutes. Meanwhile sautée your kale, red pepper and mushrooms in a little olive oil until cooked, add the cottage cheese and take off the heat. Once a knife goes easily into the flesh of your squash, take it from the oven and scoop out a little flesh along the length of it, so you have a channel that extends from the cavity where the seeds were. Fill up the empty space with your kale, pepper and mushroom mixture & pop it back into the oven for 10-15 minutes.
Remove from the oven, sprinkle with parmesan, season and enjoy! If you have any of the kale, pepper and mushroom mix left over, its delicious heated up and mixed with a bit of quinoa or pasta the next day, or on its own with a poached egg popped on top.
Time is just flying by around here at the moment. I can’t believe we’re already half way through September. Time definitely ran away with me last week, resulting in zero posts (sorry!) but I’m back with a vengeance this week with some kitchen focussed posts (can you tell I’m missing work already?!) and next week some thoughts on blooming where you’re planted.
For tonight I’m writing about week night dinners. I am the proud owner of a two year old. As any other mother of any other two year old will tell you, meal times can be…interesting. Week night dinners in particular for most families tend to be somewhere in between mayhem and bedlam. Between getting in from work and school, getting housework and homework done, getting ready for the following day and everyone in to bed at a decent hour – we can all agree that quick week night dinners are the way forward.
Unfortunately quick doesn’t always equate to healthy, filling meals but with a little bit of research & meal planning – it definitely can. With that, I give you my list of healthy week night dinners that can be cooked within 45 minutes and enjoyed by everyone, including picky toddlers and husbands.
Fishcakes are a huge favourite. We make them ahead for the week on a Sunday and pop them straight from the freezer into the oven. With a side of whatever veg you have on hand, they are usually demolished pretty quickly.
Baked breaded chicken strips and sweet potatoes. This recipe is from the amazing book « Lizzie loves healthy family food. » by Lizzie King and is totally gluten free, but you can bread your chicken using whatever kind of coating you have to hand.
Tuscan baked beans on toast. This is another Lizzie King recipe that we’ve adapted slightly. We make a tomato sauce packed with veggies, mix in white beans and serve it on toast. It’s baked beans on toast….without all the sugar and guilt. And it’s bloody delicious. Who says dinner has to be fancy?
Pasta pesto will forever be our go-to pasta dish. Quick & easy, pesto is fantastic to make ahead of time, roll up like a sausage and pop in the freezer. The great thing about this dish is how easy it is to chop up masses of green veg and « hide » it in the already deliciously green pesto. Camouflage veg is always a good idea!
Left over stir fry or curry. When you’re a family of three, you always end up buying a bit too much veg. Generally at the end of the week I have a look to see what’s left; half a butternut squash, a sweet potato, some sugar snap peas, green beans and a couple of tomatoes..maybe some already grated carrot. Depending on what we have in our cupboards it all gets thrown into either a stir fry (with garlic, ginger, soy sauce and buckwheat noodles) or a quick curry (spices, garlic, coconut milk/tomato sauce and basmati rice) Sometimes a risotto can be scraped together from trailing veg and parmesan too!
Often there’s so much worry associated with family meals and meal times. It’s totally reasonable to crack out store bought pizza sometimes or serve scrambled eggs on toast twice in a week for dinner because you just can’t. be. bothered. to cook again. Most of the mums I talk to just want reasonably priced, quick to make meal ideas that their kids will eat and that will be good for them.
If you’re looking for great resources for healthy family eating, I absolutely love Jamie Oliver’s book « Superfood Family Classics » – it’s the most battered and stained book in my kitchen and Lizzie King’s book « Lizzie loves healthy family food. » is fantastic – every single recipe I’ve made from it has been a hit.
None of my five meal suggestions above are groundbreaking or even very exciting (and it’s nowhere near my full list, but rather my crisis meals that I know get eaten every time!) but sometimes we need to look at other people’s go-to meals to get inspired for our own. Share some of yours with me?
Fresh juicy nectarines with Chévre, pain campagne and drizzled honey and the absolute number one staple in our home, soft poached egg on hot buttery toast.
Late summer is bliss for the lazy cook. The abundance of fruit and veg that you can eat with no cooking required makes lunches in particular quick, easy affairs – even in bustling city centres. While dinners are becoming a little more hearty around here – back to curries, pasta dishes and soups – lunches are still light and similar each day.
Taking Arthur to our local market can be stressful, he’s two and a tornado, but often it’s worth it as firstly he can see the fruit & veg and choose some for himself which often makes him more inclined to eat it. Secondly, he’s a total flirt and we often come away with a free banana or a handful of blueberries thanks to his blue eyed smile and (mostly prompted) Bonjour Madame.
Our August shopping lists are fruit heavy, the last of the apricots, nectarines and peaches, gorgeously sweet melon and any type of plum are top of our list. All kinds of salad are in season but our favourite is Batavia, so are courgettes, tomatoes and green beans. So what to do with them?
Classic but fantastic melon with parma ham. I love it plain and ungarnished but it’s also delicious with balsamic reduction
Caprese salad – grab your favourite tomato, layer it up with some delicious fresh mozzarella & basil and drizzle with olive oil
Anything on toast! We love goats cheese with nectarines and honey (as above) but other great toppings are cream cheese, ham and fig, avocado and tomato, pesto and medium boiled egg, grilled summer veg…I could go on and on!
Homemade pizza – ok so this option isn’t so light but it is quick! We batch mix pizza dough, freeze it in portions and bring it out when we fancy it. My favourite topping at the moment is baby spinach, goat cheese and figs.
One of the biggest advantages for me of these meals is that I can get Arthur involved in preparing them. He loves chopping soft fruit or vegetables, sprinkling cheese on top of pizza, being the person in charge of the ham etc, and I reckon it makes it about 50% more likely that he’ll eat whatever is put in front of him!
Enjoying this season of plenty before we hit full on Autumn brings me immense pleasure, I feel greedy for all the tastes of summer and love how easy it all is to bring together. Enjoy this last month of lazy lunching!