Photos: Foster Wales

Recipes: Bring Something to the Table

Masterfully combining culinary delights with community spirit, renowned celebrity chef Colleen Ramsey has launched a groundbreaking cookbook designed to inspire and support young people in foster care. Bring Something to the Table, unveiled during Foster Care Fortnight™, is a testament to the transformative power of food and care, packed with recipes from some of your favourite celebs and designed to teach vital cooking skills to those who need it most.

Culinary revolution with heart

At the heart of this initiative is Foster Wales, the national network of local authority fostering services, which collaborated with Colleen to create a cookbook that is as heartwarming as it is practical. The book features over 20 delectable recipes from a constellation of celebrities, all aimed at equipping young care-experienced individuals with essential cooking skills. The launch event, a vibrant cookery workshop held at Fitzalan High School, saw Ramsey herself guiding young participants through the creation of mouthwatering dishes, turning the ordinary into extraordinary.

Colleen’s own ‘everything’ sauce is a standout from the book, designed to be a versatile and teachable recipe for all ages. ‘I love this recipe because it’s the perfect base for so many dishes and is endlessly customisable. You can teach it to children from a young age, and once they’re older, you can let them lead in transforming this basic recipe into a deliciously impressive meal!’ she shares.

From food insecurity to culinary success

Research by Foster Wales revealed that 61% of foster carers have looked after children who have faced food insecurity, with many carers struggling to provide quick and healthy meals. This cookbook aims to bridge that gap, featuring recipes from celebrated figures such as athlete Fatima Whitbread, comedian and foster carer Kiri Pritchard Mclean, and MasterChef winner Wynne Evans. Each recipe is a blend of simplicity and gourmet flair, designed to empower both foster carers and the young people they support.

The cookbook also showcases inspiring stories from care-experienced individuals like Rhys, now a professional chef, who contributed a luscious Oreo brownie recipe. Rhys recalls his journey: ‘I learned to cook through my foster carers. When I first arrived at their house, aged 15, I knew very little about cooking. They supported me in preparing meals for the family, building my confidence and knowledge. I found a passion for food and went on to train as a chef. After working full-time in kitchens, I now create home-baked desserts, like these luxurious Oreo brownies.’

Minister for Social Care Dawn Bowden graced the launch event, emphasising the critical need for more foster families in Wales. ‘This heartwarming cookbook has recipe contributions from across Wales, which highlight our strong and dedicated fostering community. I want all children in foster care in Wales to have stable lives, to have trusted relationships, to feel cared for and to benefit from high-quality foster care for as long as they need it. Recruiting more foster carers is crucial to this… I hope people recognise the qualities they already possess to support young people and look into fostering with their local authority.’ she stated

The vision ahead

With over 7,000 children in care but only 3,800 foster families in Wales, Foster Wales aims to recruit more than 800 new foster families by 2026. Bring Something to the Table is a central pillar of this mission, demonstrating how mealtime memories and shared culinary experiences can create a nurturing environment for young people.

The cookbook features an array of exclusive recipes from celebrities and foster carers alike:

  • Colleen Ramsey: Colleen’s ‘everything’ sauce
  • Wynne Evans: Family-style spaghetti
  • Poppy O’Toole: Sausage and vegetable traybake
  • Jon Jenkins: Pasteis de Nata
  • Fatima Whitbread: Family cottage pie
  • Kiri Pritchard Mclean: Chicken Kabsa

Plus many more, each recipe carrying a piece of its creator’s heart and home, from grandma’s corned beef hash to West Indian dumplings.

In this delicious blend of gastronomy, generosity and community spirit Colleen Ramsey and Foster Wales have crafted a triple threat towards supporting young people in care. Bring Something to the Table will be distributed to foster carers across Wales, with a digital version available for download at those inspired to become foster carers, more information can be found at

Chicken Kabsa 

Credit: Natalia Hanin

Kiri Pritchard Mclean is a comedian and foster carer in Anglesey. Her stand-up show, Peacock, shares her journey to become a foster carer. 

‘This is a traditional Arab dish originating from Yemen that we made for a young person who was with us from Syria, he talked about a type of boiled chicken he used to have and after a bit of investigating we worked out it was Kabsa. Some of the ingredients might take a bit of tracking down if you, like us, don’t have much of a world food aisle in the supermarket. But once you’ve bought them, they go very far, and we have it about once a fortnight now – it’s delicious and a great way to feed a big group of people.’ 


Serves 4 (with leftovers)

  • 2-3 bay leaves
  • 2-3 cardamom pods
  • 1-2 cloves 
  • 1-2 cinnamon sticks
  • 1 large onion, finely diced 
  • 1 red pepper, chopped
  • 1tsp minced garlic
  • 1tsp minced ginger
  • 2 green chillies, chopped (to taste) 
  • 3 dried black limes (if you can get them)
  • 3 diced tomatoes 
  • 3tsp tomato paste
  • 3tsp coriander
  • ½tsp ground cardamom
  • ½tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1tsp black pepper
  • ½tsp turmeric
  • 1tsp paprika
  • 1tsp ground cumin
  • 1tsp salt
  • 1.5kg chicken pieces (this recipe can also be made vegan by removing the chicken and adding either fried tofu or vegan chicken at the end)
  • 1.5l hot water 
  • 500g basmati rice 


  1. Heat vegetable oil in a big pot and add a few bay leaves, a few cardamom pods, a few cloves, and a couple of cinnamon sticks.
  2. After a minute or two add a large onion, finely diced, and a chopped red pepper.
  3. When soft, add a teaspoon of minced garlic, a teaspoon of minced ginger, two chopped green chillies (to taste) and three dried black limes (if you can get them)
  4. Stir in 3 diced tomatoes and 3tsp tomato paste.
  5. Add spices: 3tsp coriander, ½tsp ground cardamom, ½tsp ground cinnamon, 1tsp black pepper, ½tsp turmeric, 1tsp paprika, 1tsp ground cumin, 1tsp salt.
  6. Add 1.5kg chicken pieces.
  7. Pour in 1.5l hot water and simmer for 30 mins.
  8. Remove chicken and add 500g basmati rice, topping up with extra water if needed.
  9. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes or until rice is cooked and water has been absorbed.
  10. While rice cooks, paint chicken pieces with a glaze made from neutral oil, tomato paste, black pepper, and water, then put under a hot grill until starting to blacken.
  11. In another pan, toast pine nuts, golden raisins, cashew nuts and sliced almonds.
  12. When everything is ready, fish out whole spices, then turn the rice out onto a big serving platter, top with chicken pieces and scatter nuts over. 

To serve: Add a handful of pine nuts, golden raisins, cashew nuts and sliced almonds. Serve yoghurt and/or flatbread.

Colleen’s ‘everything’ sauce (V/VE)

Credit: Melica

Colleen Ramsey, presenter and author of the bilingual family cookbook, Bywyd a Bwyd – Life Through Food

‘I love this recipe because it’s the perfect base for so many dishes and is endlessly customisable. You can teach it to children from a young age, and once they’re older, you can let them lead in transforming this basic recipe into a deliciously impressive meal!’ 


  • 2 big garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1tbsp olive oil
  • 2 ready-roasted red peppers (from a jar), roughly chopped
  • 360ml (half a jar) passata
  • 1 chicken or veggie stock cube (the jelly versions work best)
  • Store cupboard: salt and pepper to taste


  1. Warm the crushed garlic cloves in the olive oil on low heat for a minute, then add in your chopped red peppers.
  2. Cook all the ingredients together for 2 minutes, then add your passata and jelly stock cube.
  3. Turn the heat up until the mixture is boiling, then turn it down to a simmer for 5 minutes.
  4. Take the sauce off the heat, blend with a hand blender and season to taste. 

Now you have a basic sauce, that can be combined with so many ingredients to make a mouthwatering meal. I’ve given examples of three dishes, but this can be adapted to your family’s taste! 

Pasta: Cook the pasta according to packet instructions. Drain the pasta, but make sure to keep the pasta water to one side! Pour the sauce onto your cooked pasta with some of the reserved pasta water, stir up and enjoy. 

Chicken: You can use lots of cuts of chicken for this recipe; chicken breast and thigh work especially well. For cooking, grill, fry, or air fry the chicken until cooked through. Top with the sauce and serve with roasted vegetables and potatoes for a balanced weeknight meal.

Fish: Any white fish – cod, haddock, pollock – pairs well with this sauce. Cook the fish to the instructions, and top with the sauce. Serve with new potatoes and green vegetables for a tasty meal rich in protein and iron.To serve: This dish is always delicious with some fresh Parmesan cheese and basil leaves on top.

Author WCS

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