CHEF & CO-OWNER WITH HUSBAND MO OF APERO, AND MUM TO MAX (1)
“New Zealand is different to France where from the age of three kids get hot school lunches in the canteen. I remember having to eat things I didn’t like; otherwise I’d go hungry. My parents always cooked at home, nothing was fancy but it was all made from scratch. I do the same for Max, cooking at home and avoiding pre-made foods.
“Mondays and Tuesdays are the nights we’re able to eat together and it’s always at home because now Max is walking he just wants to get up and go all the time which makes eating out tricky. Max eats almost anything for now, so having a child hasn’t really affected what we eat. He’s still eating some purees which I make in big batches, but otherwise, he eats the same as Mo and me. Tonight it’s roast chicken and I’ll just chop it all up for him. He’s really into strong flavours – he loves things like oysters and kina. Quinoa is the only thing he just won’t eat; I’m guessing it’s the texture he finds unpleasant. If he refuses something, I just keep trying over several days until he learns to like it. I want him to eat all foods – it’s a battle he just won’t win against me! If he doesn’t finish his plate he won’t get to go and play.
“Mo and I don’t have lunch and we don’t really eat breakfast either, so dinner is important. It’s always at the table, the food in the middle so we just help ourselves. I’m really against having a screen in front of kids when they’re eating; I see it in the restaurant a lot. We put phones away when we’re eating – you can have them the rest of the day so forget about them for a while. Our favourite meals together are pretty simple things: lasagne, chicken soup, shepherd’s pie. Or my Apero sausage, with mashed potato and carrot. Max loved my sausage the first time he tried it which made me so happy.
“For something sweet we love a simple chocolate cream – it’s easy as and you can portion it into individual pots to use when you want. Not too heavy on the sugar as well which is always better when feeding kids.”
LESLIE’S FAMILY MEAL IDEAS
EASY CHICKEN SOUP
Start by shredding all the meat from a roast chicken (homemade is best but bought will suffice). In a large pot fry 2 sliced shallots, 5 cloves garlic and 5 sliced portobello mushrooms, add 1 litre chicken stock and the shredded chicken (skin and all). Add kale or silverbeet leaves and 1 cup risoni and simmer for 10-15 minutes. Serve with chopped parsley and a dash of olive oil. You can add crispy croutons and grate fresh parmesan on top too if you like.
SALMON & LEEK QUICHE
Got to have some French flavour so we’d go for a quiche. Make the pastry in a processor: mix 1 cup flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, ½ teaspoon salt and 125g softened butter on low speed to combine, then add 1 egg yolk and 4 tablespoons water to form dough. Shape in ball and chill (or you can make in advance and freeze). Shape pastry into a tart mould and chill. Slice 1 leek thinly, fry in a pan with olive oil, a pinch of salt and ⅓ cup water. Cover, simmer until water evaporates and the leek is soft. Dice 1 salmon fillet into small cubes (or you can use smoked salmon) and lay on pastry base along with the leek. In a bowl mix 3 eggs, 300ml cream and season with salt, pepper, grated cheese (your choice) and any herbs you like. Pour egg mix into tart shell, bake at 180°C for 30-40 minutes.
Beat 5 eggs and 40g sugar together. Bring 600ml of milk to boil then pour it over 110g diced dark chocolate. Stir until melted. Add egg mix to the chocolate and mix until smooth. Pour into individual ramekins and cook in a bain-marie in an oven tray for 10 minutes at 180°C. (Make sure the water for your bain-marie is level to the top of your ramekins to ensure even cooking). Once cooked, leave to cool and then place in fridge, where they’ll last for up to four days until you’re ready to serve.