We are delighted to introduce Anna Stanford @annasfamilykitchen who has agreed to become our regular ‘foodie’ contributor. Anna will provide us with healthy, home-cooked and wholesome meals for all the family
Tell us a bit about your foodie background
I am not a trained chef but a complete foodie. I always cooked from a young age but it was in my early twenties having spent some time in Asia and living in London that I really started to experiment with home cooking and different cuisines. When I had my children (Mia now 16, Tom 13 & Finn 11) it was really important that they experienced as many different flavours and textures as possible. The process of feeding a family is constantly evolving. Mia became vegetarian 4 years ago and my youngest can be fussy. Thankfully they all love spice!
Where does your inspiration come from?
A desire to prepare balance meals in one pot or tray. For instance if I’m making a chicken dish, what else does it need? It needs a carbohydrate or a grain, or a pulse! And it needs vegetables. And of course it needs flavour! I am lucky enough to have travelled to Hong Kong, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, India. The food I had in all those places inspired me. I also shared a flat for a year with a friend who made the most amazing authentic Indian food. I learned a lot from her. And of course celebrity chefs. I am a huge Yotam Ottolenghi and Jamie Oliver Fan. Yotam for his sophisticated full of flavour meals and Jamie for his brilliant family staples! Ottolenghi certainly started the love I have for Middle Eastern dishes. Before moving to Kent I lived in Islington where he opened one of his first cafes and used to visit regularly.
What is your go to family recipe?
Roast on a Sunday, a curry for a Friday or Saturday. Steaks if I’m short on time but want a treat. All my children love Chilli , Ragus and Shepherd’s Pie too. These are easily adapted for Mia. I also love recreating the dishes my children would typically choose if they ate at a restaurant such as Noodles, Beanie Wraps, Curries and this Peri Peri Chicken. We call them ‘fake-aways’!
How do you combine being a blogger and parent?
It’s a juggle and sometimes the family just want to sit down to eat rather than wait for me to photograph their dinner! I do most of my writing and often the prep during the day when the children are at school. But the family are who have inspired me to run a food blog!
What are your top 5 store cupboard staples?
Onions, Garlic, Spices, Balsamic Vinegar and Olive Oil.
What could you not live without in your kitchen?
My Le Creuset Casserole! And good knives.
Are there any food trends emerging?
Not exactly emerging but I’m revisiting street food at the moment!
Is there a cookbook/chef who inspired you and continues to do so – culinary hero / heroine?
Ottolenghi’s first book The Cookbook. Jamie’s early books and I’ve got an ancient book called Far Flung Floyd! I still refer to it regularly. It has the most amazing curry recipes.
What recipe would you take to your desert island (you are allowed the ingredients)?
A simple roast chicken with an array of vegetable side salads. Or if I was on the Island with some friends, Asian Beef Stew – this recipe has been a huge success. It’s great for feeding a crowd (not that we’re allowed to at the moment!), it freezes well, it’s all cooked in one pan and never fails. I’ve received so much love for this recipe since I first shared it 2 years ago!
What is your motto for life?
I’m stealing a recent quote from Oprah Winfrey I saw recently. It stopped me in my tracks. “Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough. Turn your wounds into wisdom. Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.”
Here’s my healthier spin on the Chinese Takeaway favourite Lemon Chicken. Ready in 20 minutes, you could add a green veg to it, or some cashew nuts. I served it simply with rice and sesame dressed broccoli on the side.
INGREDIENTS (for 4)
800g boneless chicken, either breasts or thighs cut into strips
3 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp honey
2 garlic cloves crushed
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
Juice and zest of 2 lemons
2 tsp corn starch, corn flour or plain flour mixed with 4 tbsp chicken stock
Extra lemon juice/zest
1 chilli chopped
Sliced spring onions
Mix together all the ingredients apart from the extra lemon, chilli and spring onions. Pop in the fridge until you’re ready or cook straight away.
Heat a pan, add the chicken and it’s marinade and cook on a medium to high heat for 15 minutes until the chicken is caramelised and has become sticky and the marinade has reduced.
Taste and add the juice and zest of the other lemon if needed. Finish with the spring onion and chilli if you like. You could also add toasted cashew nuts or peanuts….and/or blanched broccoli or green beans.