Holiday hell-fryer (the curse of the dismal ‘kids menu’)


Here’s my post-holiday question to you all – why is it that kid’s restaurant menus are so universally crap?

The picture above beautifully illustrates the joys of it all. Doesn’t it look delicious! See how the fish & chips, calamari & chips and nuggets & chips are all so seductively similar. Just the shapes vary – the nuggets were even cleverly shaped like dinosaurs!

It may be the cheapest and most cheerful option for restaurants, but don’t you reckon that we should be trying just a little bit harder to feed the kids something that’s not golden? Don’t get me wrong, my kids can scoff a nugget as heartily as any child, but if you’re road-tripping about for several days then even the tin lids quickly reach their fried food limit.

I know I can get a side plate and give them a makeshift meal from the adult plates, but what I’d really love is the option of a small portion of something healthy that isn’t full of chemicals and soaked in fat.

I think food outlets Australia-wide should take note of these mince kebabs – they are cheap, inoffensive (no outlandish vegies on show), can be kept long term in the freezer, can be eaten without utensils and still offer kids some nutrition. I’m sure I’m not the only parent out there who thinks it’s not unreasonable for a kid’s menu to provide an option that requires the chef to do something more than tip the contents of a freezer into a deep fryer.

How about something like this?

Mince kebabs

If your kids are likely to use the sticks as weapons, just shape into rissoles or meatballs instead. Vary cooking times to suit.

1/3 cup cous cous
1/3 cup boiling water
1 brown onion, diced
1 bunch English spinach, chopped finely
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 kg beef mince
Salt & pepper
2 eggs, lightly whisked

2 tbsp olive oil, for frying

Preheat oven to 180º. Soak 12 bamboo skewers in cold water for 15 minutes. Line an oven tray with baking paper.

In a bowl or jug, combine the cous cous and water, stir and cover with plastic wrap. Leave for 5 minutes then fluff with a fork.

Combine the rest of the meatball ingredients in a large bowl. Use your hands to combine the mixture, then roll golf-ball sized portions into sausages and slide them firmly onto a skewer. Heat oil in a large frying pan over medium heat and fry in the kebabs on all sides (4-5 minutes total), then transfer to a baking tray and bake for 10-15 minutes until cooked through.

Makes enough for 2 adults and 4 kids. Serve with the tomato relish pictured. Find the recipe in the Vegie Smugglers cookbook.

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9 Responses so far »

  1. 1

    uforicfood said,

    I don’t have kids, but I totally know what you mean! I am always mortified by what I see sevred up on kids menus – it’s no better than taking them to a fast food joint!
    I think I’ll just be ordering off the adult menu for my kids, when the time comes.
    Great post!! Hope the chefs out there are listening! This is their chance to educate younger generations about great food – but they stick to the deep fried rubbish. Not good!

  2. 2

    Rosie W said,

    Absolutely! We suffer from the same thing in New Zealand. We’re lucky in that a few local restaurants offer something better – although I have yet to dredge up the courage to take the kids out locally! Sp’getti, an Italian restaurant in Browns Bay offers smaller portions of carbonara, lasagne and bolognaise, as well as proper sauteed chips. And Tides in Waiake has it sorted – they’ll make pasta or pizza to scratch with whatever the kids want (“As long as Mum is happy, that’s fine with us!”)

    Whenever we’re on the road, though, it seems to be nuggets all the way down.

  3. 3

    Anne said,

    Our local RSL kids menu says they serve the nuggets and chips with a little bit of salad – reality is it is a wedge of tomato!! Come on chuck on a lettuce leaf and some grated carrot at least!

  4. 5

    Vicki said,

    These mince kebabs were a huge hit with my girls this evening. Thank you!

  5. 7

    Meegan said,

    This may be a silly question, and I’ve probably missed something, but does the cous cous go into the mince mix?

    • 8

      wendyblume said,

      Hi Meegan, yes, the cous cous goes in – it takes the place of breadcrumbs, helps bind it all together and adds in another ingredient. It’s almost like a meal on a a stick! Good luck. x

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