Fast Food. Get it quick. Delivery in 30 minutes or less. A minute on the lips, a lifetime on the hips. Why do we spend so much money (and time) ordering take-out and eating convenience food? Because we don’t have time. Because we are busy, because we have 3 kids and a husband/wife to feed when we get home. These are all valid reasons, of course. But what if you took the very same 30 minutes that pizza places promise to deliver food to you in and instead make something simple and delicious at home instead? Sure, there is a little effort involved. I believe you have to ‘Give a little, to get a little’, but the food you produce will not only be better for you and your family, but will probably be even better received!
As a food writer, I read every possible food magazine, observe all the latest trends in food and buy all the new cookbooks, reading them with interest. The latest book to join my collection is “Nigella Express”. Nigella Lawson, daughter of a politician, Ethereal beauty and seductive goddess of the kitchen. How I wish a little of her magic would rub off on me, but selfish desires aside, the woman can cook. She doesn’t claim to be a Chef, just a wife and a Mother, and of course, accomplished author and journalist with two decades of experience. Her latest book focuses on preparing quick and easy delicious meals that don’t need to take all day long to prepare. This has prompted me to look into the matter of preparing dishes in less than 30 minutes, and I’m hoping that just a few simple pointers will show you how easy it can be to prepare great meals for friends or family at home.
My ‘Shoobie’ Burgers (Feeds 6 people or 4 REALLY greedy people)
These burgers are my take on the classic American hamburger, but with a twist. Simple, easy and versatile. You should put what YOU like into them. There is no wrong doing. Go nuts! Do your own thing.
2lbs (Just under 1kg of ground beef mincemeat or lamb if you prefer)
1 large free-range egg
1 level teaspoon of salt & _ teaspoon of pepper
A large handful each of fresh continental parsley & coriander (cilantro)
A handful of sundried tomatoes (About 12 or so)
1 small white onion
1 bunch of scallions (not too large)
Method – In a food processor, put the onions, scallions, parsley, sundried tomatoes, and whizz until they are finely chopped, but not too fine, because otherwise the juice from the onions & scallions will start to ooze out making the mix too watery to use. If this happens, drain the excess liquid.
Put your ground mincemeat into a bowl, add the salt and pepper and the egg and with clean hands, mix the egg and seasoning into the meat. Really use your fingers and squelch through the mixture (It’s quite a nice feeling!) when the mixture has absorbed the egg, add the onion mixture and again, mix it thoroughly until is all even and mixed well. At this stage you can decide if you want to add red chilli peppers, or smoked paprika seasoning or cumin… Basically anything YOU like. That’s what I do. It’s always delicious!
Shape them into thick patties slightly wider than the buns you have for them (as the meat shrinks a little when cooking) and then fry them with a little oil on a high heat to suit your taste. Whether medium-rare or well done, remember beef and lamb can both be eaten raw, so you WILL NOT get sick, unless the quality of meat you use is bad. Serve with all your favourite sides. Mine are bacon, tomatoes, sliced raw onions and ketchup & mayonnaise… all in a toasted Ciabatta bread roll or the classic burger bun. The whole process takes under 30 minutes to make, and believe me, less than 5 minutes to consume! They are always a hit and both simple and cheap.
I often think about my future and if and when I have kids, I would not want them to eat fast food, filling themselves with empty calories, trans fats & way too much salt and sugar. I feel I owe it to my un-borns to ensure they get a healthy start in life and at least know that Mommy always made good food, that will hopefully incentivise them to join me at the dinner table, even once they have kids of their own. But can you deprive children of “The Colonel’s Original Recipe” or “The Golden Arches” forever? No, you can’t. But if you make burgers, pizzas and great fun foods at home, you can at least keep them happy and maybe only give-in to fast food once a week or so. This way you can sleep easy knowing you are not filling your kids (or friends and family for that matter) full of unhealthy crap and instead you are filling them with love and yummy stuff.
When I was a kid, we didn’t think about calories or fats or any of the things that we seem to obsess about these days and maybe now that’s why I never seem to be at the weight I want to be! But whether you like Fajitas, Chinese food, Pizza or good old hamburgers… there is another way and it shouldn’t take you longer than 30 minutes. YOU consume the food, it should never consume you. At home, people will generally eat what they are given, especially when it’s simple and the ingredients used are as good as possible.
Now I’m suddenly craving a good hamburger and I know I have some ground meat somewhere in the frosty depths of my freezer. I have some herbs and some spices too, so please excuse me as I roll up my sleeves and do what I do best, cook. With passion, with heart, with absolutely no idea which spices I actually have in my cupboard, but with the confidence that whatever I create will be perfectly good and may even become a ‘New Classic’. Creativity is everything and rules are made to be broken. The only question left to ask is “Would you like fries with that????”