Beef and Basil Stir Fry

Here’s a simple Thai-inspired stir fry dish that can be thrown together in less than 30 minutes. Need I say more?

You’ll need:

  • 1 top sirloin or rib eye steak, fat trimmed (but not in the Amelia Badelia fashion).
  • 2 spring onions or leeks, cut into strips
  • 1 large bunch of fresh basil, washed
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons of fresh ginger, thinly chopped
  • 2 large tomatoes, skin removed and diced
  • 1/2 cup of mushrooms
  • 2 cups of Thai Jasmine rice
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • soy sauce

First, wash the rice in cold water, rinsing five times until you’ve removed most of the starch. Cook in a rice cooker with an equal amount of water (2 cups). While the rice is cooking, cut the steak into very thin strips and reserve.

Take half of the basil and saute in a skillet with a touch of vegetable oil until it becomes crunchy. Set aside.

When the rice is almost done, saute the leeks or onions in a wok or large skillet along with the mushrooms in the oil with garlic, ginger for two minutes. Then add the steak and quickly sear before adding the remaining uncooked basil. Cook for another minute until the basil has wilted then add the tomatoes and a few dashes of soy sauce.

Serve with the rice and garnish with the reserved crunchy basil.

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Quick Fish Jambalaya

We’ve all been there. You get the kids home from school and there’s about one hour tops before they are due back out at some activity or other. Today it was cub scouts but luckily I’d had the forethought (for once in my life) to defrost some fish ahead of time.

When time isn’t on your side nothing beats a quick jambalaya. The rice meat or fish combo cooks in just 30 mins and there’s just 20 mins prep beforehand.

You’ll need:

2 fillets of smoked haddock
1 cod loin
1 medium onion, chopped
3 cloves of garlic thinly sliced
1/2 cup of lardons
1 pinch of cayenne pepper
1 small leek, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper chopped
1/2 cup of chickpeas
1 cup of arborio rice
3 cups of boiling water
1/2 cup of dry white vermouth
Handful of parsley to taste

First, shred the fish fillets and reserve. Next, saute over a medium heat the lardons, onion, leek, pepper and garlic in a little olive oil until onions and pepper are soft,  about 10 mins.

Add the chickpeas, fish and rice and stir altogether. Add the water and the vermouth and cook, uncovered until the liquid has evaporated. When the rice is fully cooked through, garnish with parsley and serve.

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Global Glossary: Nutmeg

Pungent, powerful, nutmeg is one of the world’s most sought-after spices but did you realise how important a role it played in shaping American history?

First let’s understand a little about where this magical fruit comes from.
Continue reading

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Pork Shoulder with Sage and Garlic Marinade

There’s nothing better than a pork shoulder roast for a Sunday family meal. (Okay well sometimes a pork collar roast is even better.)

My favorite way of cooking really succulent pork is to slow, and I mean slow, roast the joint for at least five hours on a low heat (150 C/300 F). This week I played with sage and garlic, that tried and test pork complement.

Here’s the simple recipe:

First mix in a food processor a handful of fresh sage and four cloves of garlic with a dribble of olive oil. Next rub the mixture all over one boneless pork shoulder before placing it, crackling side up, in a deep roasting pan. Add half a cup of white wine and enough water so that it half covers the meat.

Loosely cover the pan with aluminum foil and roast, basting every hour.

Serve with a medley of roasted potatoes and vegetables along with leeks or zucchini.



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Kedgeree for Kids

Here’s a dish that is well-known in the UK but maybe a new discovery for US readers. It’s a classic Anglo-Indian recipe dating back either to 13th century India or to the days of the Raj – the British colonisation in the 19th century – depending who you talk to.

Traditionally a hearty breakfast dish, Kedgeree is great anytime. Despite the hint of curry powder my kids wolfed it down.

For four people you’ll need:

  • Three boneless Haddock fillets smoked but undyed
  • One large Spanish onion
  • 1 pint of milk
  • 1.5 cups of basmati or long-grain rice
  • 1 cup of frozen peas
  • 1 tablespoon of mild curry powder
  • 1/2 cup of fresh parsley, roughly chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • large knob of butter
  • vegetable oil

First, rinse the rice in bowls of cold water till the starch is removed. Then drain in a sieve and set aside.

Next place the haddock in a large skillet. Add the milk and enough water to cover all the fish on a medium high heat until it comes to the boil. Reduce the heat to low for four minutes then turn off the heat and cover for a further 10 minutes. Remove fish and transfer to a plate. Reserve the liquid. Peel off the skin and flake the fish, taking care to remove any bones.

Sautee the onion in In a large non-stick skillet after heating the oil and butter. When the onion is soft add the curry powder and mix together. Then add the rice and the peas and stir all the ingredients together. Then pour the reserved milk/water over the rice and spread evenly. Bring to a boil then simmer for 15 mins over a low-medium heat.

While the rice is cooking, boil three eggs in water for five minutes – no longer. Remove the eggs and plunge in a bowl of cold water for two minutes. Then peel the shells and chop the eggs.

Add the eggs and fish to the cooked rice and mix well together. Garnish with roughly chopped parsley.

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An Ethiopian Feast – Gastrokid Global Feature

When I lived in New York I loved eating at Ethiopian restaurants. That love of the spicy comfort food served ingeniously on an edible bread tablecloth only increased when I visited Ethiopia and ate great food in the ancient town of Lalibela.

So what could be difficult about trying to replicate an Ethiopian feast now I live in Wales, right?

Most of the food eaten in Ethiopia is very similar to what our family eats every day – beef, lamb, chicken, potatoes, carrots, lentils, e.t.c. but there are few differences. Firstly Ethiopian food features a super-spice mix called Berbere. And to make the spongy Injera bread that is the foundation of the meal, you need a special flour made from Teff, only found in, you guessed it, the highlands of Northern Ethiopia.

I’d already committed to cooking this feast for a group of friends – the kids would sit this one out – so I started sourcing my ingredients. Let’s just say it was a challenge but, after a mercy mission from my friend in Rome who arrived for a visit with a package of Berbere, and an online delivery of Teff I was ready to start.

Here’s the menu I put together for six people.

Doro Wat – the national dish
Shiro Wat – a spicy split pea stew
Yetakelt W’et ( spicy mixed vegetable stew)
Kitfo – Ethiopian steak tartare
IAB cheese
A simple tomato and onion salad
Injera – Ethiopian teff pancake bread

The preparation started 24 hours before with making the Injera batter.

I needed:

3 cups of Teff flour
3 cups of plain flour
1 tablespoon of brewers yeast
5 cups of warm water

I mixed the flour and yeast together in a large bowl then slowly stirred in the water. It should have a smooth but not too runny consistency. I covered it with a towel and stored in a warm room (70 degrees F) for 24 hours.

Fast forward to the next day…

It was an all-afternoon preparation that started with making one core ingredient – Niter Kebbeh, a spiced clarified butter that provides the base for most dishes.

You’ll need:

  • 2 lb. unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 4 teaspoons finely chopped fresh ginger
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 cinnamon stick (approximately 1″ long)
  • 1 whole clove
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg

Here’s how I made it:

I melted the butter slowly over medium heat in a large saucepa, bringing it to a boil before adding the onion, garlic, ginger, turmeric, cardamom, cinnamon, clove, and nutmeg. I reduced the heat and simmered uncovered and undisturbed for 45 minutes. With the milk solids on the bottom of the pan I poured the clear liquid into a heatproof container.

This clarified butter would be the base for most of the other dishes.

Shiro Wat

I made this split pea stew at the same time as the Yetakelt W’et (below). Ingredients I needed for six people:

  • 2 Onions, chopped
    3 Garlic cloves  crushed
  • 1 inch of Ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup Niter kibbeh (see above)
  • 1 teaspoon  Turmeric
  • 2 tablespoons Paprika
  • 1 teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
  • 1 lb Split Peas
  • 4 c Water or Stock 
Salt & Pepper to taste

First I pureed onion, garlic, and ginger in a food processor. Then I added the turmeric, paprika and cayenne pepper to the Niter Kibbeh over a medium heat and stirred rapidly to color oil and cook spices through. Then I added the onion puree and sautéd on medium heat untilonion loses its raw aroma, about 5-10 minutes. Next came the split peas and the water.  I brought it to a boil then simmered the stew over a low-medium heat for 1 hour, adding water periodically to keep it from drying out.

Yetakelt W’et ( spicy mixed vegetable stew)

Ingredients for 6


  • 2 Onions, chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves  crushed
  • 1/4 cup Niter kibbeh (see above)
  • 2 teaspoons of Berbere
  • 2 teaspoons of  paprika or pimenton
  • 1 cup of Green beans; cut into thirds
  • 8 Carrots; chopped 
6 Potatoes; cubed
  • 4 turnips, cubed
  • 1 can of Tomatoes; chopped
  • 1/4 cup Tomato paste
  • 2 cups of water
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup Parsley; fresh, chopped

I sautéd the onions, garlic, berbere, and paprika in the Niter Kebbeh for 2 minutes. Then I added the beans, carrots, potatoes and turnips and sautéd for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Next came the chopped tomatoes, tomato paste, and the vegetable stock. I brought all to a boil then simmered for 15 minutes until all of the vegetables were tender.

I put this dish aside to heat up later just before serving when I would add salt and pepper to taste and mix in the parsley.

Now I was ready to make the signature dish, Doro Wat. For six people I needed:


  • 8 Chicken legs and thighs, skinless — 2 pounds
  • 1 Lemon, juice only
  • 2 Onions, chopped
  • 3 Garlic cloves  crushed
  • 1 inch of Ginger, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup Niter kibbeh (see above)
  • 2 tablespoon – Paprika
  • 3 tablespoon of Berberé (if this is too strong you can add more water and tomatoes to dilute)
  • 1 cup of Water
  • 1/4 cup of Red wine
  • 1 teaspoon of Cayenne pepper
  • Salt and pepper to to taste
  • 6 Hard-boiled eggs

How to make it:

First I marinated the chicken in the lemon juice for 30 mins in the fridge. I thinly chopped the onion, ginger and garlic and sauteed the mixture in the Niter Kibbeh clarified butter. When the onions were soft and brown I added the spices and then the water and the wine. I brought the mixture to the boil before reducing the heat so the sauce could simmer. When the chicken had marinated for 30 mins I added it to the sauce and cooked over a medium heat for 40 mins or until the meat is close to falling off the bone. Then I added the hard boiled eggs and cooked for a few more minutes.

That was the end of the long-prep dishes. Next came the salad and the Iab cheese (a crucial accompaniment to help navigate the spice of the other dishes). The salad is simple, just chop tomatoes and onions (but rinse the onion in cold water after chopping to take some of the tang out of it).

For the IAB cheese, I had to approximate and followed a recipe I found at this site:

  • Cottage cheese, small curd — 2 cups
  • Plain yogurt — 1/2 cup
  • Lemon juice — 2 tablespoons
  • Salt and pepper — to taste

I mixed the  cottage cheese, yogurt, lemon juice, salt and pepper into a large bowl and used a wooden spoon to stir together and lightly mash the cheese curds. Then I refrigerated until I was ready to serve.


The Ethiopian steak tartare is simple but needs to be prepared just before serving.

You’ll need:

  • 3/4 pound of fillet tail (it’s half the price of fillet mignon and just as good)
  • A healthy dribble of Niter Kibbeh
  • 1 tablespoon of Mitmita spice

Aha, I hear you say. What is this Mitmita? Essentially its ground hot red chile mixed with cloves, cardomon and salt.

I made it earlier in the day this way:

  • 15 hot red chiles,
  • 3 cloves
  • 1 teaspoon of cardomon powder
  • pinch of salt

The chiles need to be dried and ground into a powder (consider co-opting a coffee grinder for this arduous task) then combined with the other ingredients.

To prepare kitfo: chop or grind the steak into tiny pieces. Add the Mitmita and the Niter Kibbeh. Stir together and serve with the IAB as an accompaniment.

Finally it was time to make the injera.

I rescued my fermenting batter mixture and gave it a good stir. It should have the consistency of buttermilk pancake mix so if it is too thick add a little more water.

I heated a large non-stick skillet and added a drop of vegetable oil. Then, with the help of some of my more adventurous dinner guests, I added a thin layer of the pancake mixture to the pan. Disaster: the injera just stuck to the pan.

So we experimented and got the pan smoking hot before trying the next one. It was much better, getting the little air bubbles that make well-made injera so soft and spongey.

When I’d made 10 good injeras (having thrown out six disasters!) we were ready to eat.

I served all the dishes on top of four large injeras with the other six used as “cutlery” to eat the food, before we polished off the sauce-soaked injera on the serving plates.

I was exhausted but happy……

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The Gastrokid Story So Far

Back in 2006 Hugh Garvey and Matthew Yeomans launched Gastrokid a food blog dedicated to healthy, tasty meals for all the family. In 2009 that blog became a book, The Gastrokid Cookbook, published by Wiley and now in its second printing.

Along with the blog we have a dedicated Facebook group and a Twitter feed. Take a moment to learn more about the book and search our recipe archive for the finest in family friendly and slightly foodie recipes.


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Peruvian-Theme Final Chapter: Arroz Chaufa

Here’s another Peruvian dish that draws inspiration from the Chinese immigrant community who adapted their cooking for a South American palette in the way only Chinese expats cooks can. 

Essentially it’s fried rice with whatever else you want to throw into the mix – normally egg, pork and sometimes chicken. However, because I was serving this along with lots of other dishes I took a minimalist approach, choosing to add just seafood. When it came to the mussels I cheated this time and used ready-cooked ones out of the shell.

You’ll need:

2 cups of Spanish/arborio rice
1 red onion, chopped
pinch of saffron
2 tablespoons of olive oil
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons sesame oil
dash of cumin
dash of cayenne pepper
2 garlic cloves sliced
1lb medium-sized raw prawns (peeled)
1/2 fresh squid, cleaned and sliced into hoops, tentacles included
1/2lb cooked mussels
One bunch of scallions, topped and tailed and sliced longways
2 handfuls of cilantro, roughly chopped or torn

Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan then add the rice and onion. Fully coat with the oil for one minute then add 4 cups of boiling water. Add saffron, salt and pepper, reduce the heat and cover. Cook for 15 minutes until rice is fluffy.

Reserve and set aside to cool.

Have an aperitif (kids that means it’s lemonade time).

When cool….

In a wok or large saute pan, heat (medium) the vegetable and sesame oil along with cumin, cayenne pepper and sliced garlic for 2 minutes.

Add the shrimp and calamari and cook for 3 minutes. Next add the chopped scallions. Mix in the rice and the cooked mussels and stir fry on a medium heat for five minutes until the rice is fully heated through.

Garnish with cilantro and serve immediately.

- Matthew

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Peruvian-inspired Feast Cont.: Lomo Saltado


This traditional stir fry of beef, peppers and potatoes served over rice (starch-heaven) is a staple in Peruvian restaurants. 

For my purposes I omitted the potatoes and added chestnut mushrooms and a red onion. Oh, and I upped the meat quotient with a small pork tenderloin.

You’ll need:

1 top sirloin steak (about 3/4 lb)
1 pork tenderloin
3 bell peppers (green, red and yellow)
3 garlic cloves
1 red onion
1/4 pound of chestnut mushrooms
3 tablespoons soy sauce

First I sliced red and green peppers, mushrooms, and one red onion. Then I thinly chopped three garlic cloves.

Next I thinly sliced the sirloin steak and pork loin.

In a large non-stick saute pan (or wok) heat olive oil and add the garlic, sauteing over medium heat for three minutes. Next add the peppers and onion. Then add the mushrooms and cook until soft (2 mins).

Add the thinly sliced beef and pork and brown then add the soy sauce. Cook on medium high heat for two minutes then serve with white rice and hot sauce on the side (for the adults most probably).

- Matthew

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Ceviche Peruvian Style


Ceviche is both incredibly easy and intimidating to prepare the first time. After all, who’s going to put their faith in the curing ability on raw fish of lime juice unless you’ve succeeded in the past?

For this Peruvian-inspired appetizer (for 8 people) I made a 1.5lb medley of fish, including cod, sea bass, salmon and halibut (all cut in one inch cubes) along with cooked shrimp (normally a staple of Ecuadorean ceviche). I placed the fish mixture in a flat-bottomed ceramic dish and then added the juice of three limes, one clove of raw garlic (sliced) and a jalapeno (seeded and sliced). I refrigerated the dish and left it for one hour.

While curing the fish, I boiled one sweet potato and two ears of corn then reserved them and let them cool.

After an hour I sliced the sweet potato into four parts, served the cured fish on top of the sweet potato and garnished the fish with sprigs of fresh cilantro. The corn I broke into four pieces and served with the fish.

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