Tuesday, March 11, 2008

S is for Salad Shells

“My salad days, when I was green in judgement’

When Freddie was little he was invited to a birthday party at an extremely smart house. The child who lived there had not one but two nannies. Caterers had been brought in to celebrate his fourth birthday party. There were no sausage rolls, no chips, no jelly or sweets. Instead the mother looked on as tables of small children were served with salads and what can only be described as canapés for infants. The mothers and nannies became competitive.
“Come on now Peter, you know you like tomatoes.”
“Lucinda, try those lovely asparagus tips.”
Most of the kids went on strike. Some of them crawled under the table and started fighting. Even the birthday child refused to play ball. They held out until the cake arrived and then fell on it like vultures.

It has taken 5 more years to entice Freddie to eat a salad. I experimented with ingredients and dressings. After months of intensive research, we have stumbled on a successful formula; give complete control to the child and make the salad bowl edible. This is the ultimate do-it-yourself salad. Alex called the final product, made from tortilla wraps, ‘Salad Shells’.
This lifted the humble salad from being simply a side dish and turned it into something that Freddie awarded an astonishing 9 out of 10.

1. Make your tortilla salad shell
Metal tortilla bowl bakers or ovenproof glass bowl
Cooking spray oil
Medium sized tortilla wraps

I found a specialist tortilla bowl maker in TK Max. These are simply flat-bottomed non-stick metal shells. If you can’t get hold of one, try using an ovenproof glass bowl with a flat bottom. If you are using a tortilla shell baker, spray the inside of the shell pans lightly with cooking oil spray. Place a tortilla in each shell pan, smoothing it to make it fit the shape of the pan. Bake in a preheated oven for 8-10 minutes at 180C. Cool for 5 minutes before removing from the pan. If you are using an ovenproof bowl, lightly spray both sides of the tortilla and smooth with a kitchen towel. Take the tortilla and drape evenly over an upturned ovenproof bowl, place it on a baking sheet and bake in the oven at 190C for between 6 and 8 minutes.

2. Pick your own salad shell fillings - some ideas for you to try out.

· Chose your favourite salad leaves. Wash them and make sure they are thoroughly dry. You don’t want the tortilla bowl to become soggy when filled with a salad.
· Take fresh or frozen edamame beans. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a wok with half a teaspoon of mild chilli powder. Stir-fry for 2 minutes.
· Take chopped asparagus tips. Heat 1 tablespoon of sesame oil in a wok with a tablespoon of sesame seeds. Add the asparagus and stir fry for 1 -2 minutes.
· Wash 250g of baby corn. Place them in boiling water or steam for 2 mins.

· 1 red or yellow pepper. Halve and deseed. Cut into strips and stir fry with a chopped garlic clove for 2 minutes in olive oil. Or you can offer them raw- but make sure they are very thinly sliced.
· Small new potatoes. Boil them till they are just soft. Cut them in half. Add a little knob of butter and some chopped fresh mint. Season with salt and pepper
· Button mushrooms. Wash and dry and chop in half.

· Grated carrot and celeriac, mixed together. Add a squeeze of lemon juice to stop the celeriac from going brown.
· Chose whatever selection of vegetables your family enjoys.

Toppings
· Roast chicken breast, cut into strips.
· Stir fry strips of beef fillet
· Crispy streaky bacon

· Any hard cheese, grated; Emmental, Cheddar, Gruyère.
· Mixed seeds like sesame, sunflower, pumpkin or raisins to sprinkle.

Offer a bowl of couscous or quinoa. Quinoa is a tasty alternative to rice and takes less time to prepare. The Incas used to refer to it as the mother of all grains.


Dressings
· Provide a choice of shop-bought or home made dressings. Don't use too much or the tortilla shell will become soggy. Here is one of our favourite dressings..
· Yoghurt and herb dressing. Beat 250g plain smooth ( not set) yoghurt with 2 teaspoons of lemon juice, 1 tsp of Dijon mustard, 2 teaspoons of chopped basil leaves and 2 teaspoons of chopped fresh mint.

Now because we think you might enjoy eating salad shells, try it out and email us an image of your salad creations and we will create a slide show.....

10 comments:

  1. Thanks so much for paying my blog a visit, yes we have survived the gale force winds so far? We love tortilla wraps, I have yet to see the special moulds though. We have hot and cold fillings so it is always very useful to hear of different filling variations, thanks for those. x

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  2. What a great idea. It certainly makes salad more exciting even for grown-ups.

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  3. That looks great with such variety!

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  4. Hilarious story. Delicious recipes. Some things never change! Hope you are all well.

    Cheers
    David x

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  5. Brilliant - what a good idea. Definitely going to give it a go - look delicious - have to find the baking shells first! TopVeg

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  6. Genius! We just planted some mesclun today (my daughter and I) so there might be hope on the salad front, with this delightful idea. Thanks for sharing!

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  7. Mamabird. I am sure this gives some hope - the key is letting them decide what to put in the salad shell - and providing loads of choice. Let me know how the Mesclun gets on.

    Top Veg - I know - I was lucky - but you can use a normal oven proof pudding bowl upturned - Anyone out there know where to get these bakers online?

    David Hall,
    We are well - your toffee apple cake recipe is delicious. I recommend everyone goes and reads Book the COok blog asap!!

    Jessie and Winnie - Thanks. Give it a go - its a really fun and easy meal.

    Sylvie - Yes we all need a little excitement in our lives - !

    Louise - You are welcome. Hope you can find the tortilla bakers.

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  8. What a wonderful blog! I'm no longer allowed near the kitchen but seeing as Quarsan will be out of the country for about 4 weeks during May, the 2 weeks that my kids are with me I think I may well experiment .... Coralie hates any form of veg other than a potato. (That's the true Belgian in her.)
    Tatiana loves greens - easy.
    Todd - "wot iz a veg-e-taybul, Mama?"
    Oh, and Quarsan - blech - it's green!

    I may well give your recipes a go - but they do need meat. So do I.

    Zx

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  9. How awesome do they look? Excellent idea. I think my kids would love them. School holidays coming up soon so these will definately be on the agenda.

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  10. Squishy - try it out - let me know how you get on.

    Zoe - Take advantage of Quarsan's absence....
    This is perfect for the contrariness of all your brood. You can let them all create what they want to eat, or not eat.The Belgians are like the British then with their love of potatoes?
    There are plenty of recipes with meat to try out - good luck

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