Tuesday, 29 June 2010

Pizza's for Screamers

Making pizzas is a great way to get kids involved in the kitchen and interested in their food. They can help out with the kneading of the dough and the rolling of the pizza, as well as choosing their own toppings. This is great for fussy eaters as they can really get involved.

4 oz Strong white bread flour
4 oz wholemeal bread flour
1 teaspoon of dried yeast (fast acting)
1 tablespoon olive oil
250 ml of warmed skimmed milk (if cooking dairy-free you can just use tepid water and omit cheese as a topping)
1/2 teaspoon salt

Sieve the flour, yeast and salt into a large bowl. Add the warmed milk and olive oil and mix until a dough ball. Either use a Magimix or Kenwood chef with dough hook attachment and knead for 5 minutes, or turn out onto a lightly floured, clean, surface and knead for 10 minutes.

Place the dough in a ball shape in a lightly greased large bowl and cover with a clean tea towel. Leave in dry place for an hour to prove.

Meanwhile, make a basic tomato sauce and leave to cool.

Collect ingredients for toppings such as mini mozzarella balls, grated cheddar cheese, ham slices cut into squares, drained tuna, sweetcorn, sliced red onion, sliced peppers etc and have them in small bowls for the kids to choose and decorate their pizza.

After an hour, once the dough has proved, give a quick knead for a couple of minutes and then divide into 8 small balls. Roll these out on a lightly floured surface until they make a small, thin circle (about 5mm).

Spoon on some basic tomato sauce and then decorate with toppings.

Cook in an oven set at 220C for approximately 12-15 minutes. Leave to cool slightly before serving as melted cheese is very hot.

Cook's Staple - Basic Tomato Sauce

This is another great recipe to have in your Cook's Staple directory. A basic tomato sauce for many dishes, from pasta to bolognese, lasagne to pizza.

1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon of olive oil
400 gm can of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree

Optional - 1/2 teaspoon of dried mixed herbs or 1 tablespoon of chopped fresh herbs.

Add oil and crushed garlic to a small pan over a low-medium heat and cook gently for a minute. Add the chopped tomato, tomato puree and optional herbs. Simmer on a medium heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

You can store this in your fridge for up to 48 hours.

Monday, 28 June 2010

Parsnip, Apple and Pea Puree

This is quite a nice combination of savoury and sweet flavours for little weaners. Frozen peas are great to use in recipes as they are frozen so quickly after picking that they retain their freshness and nutrient values.

1 large parsnip, peeled and sliced
2 eating apples, peeled, cored and chopped
50 gms frozen peas (add more or less to suit baby's taste)

In a small pan cook the parsnip in boiling water for 10 mins.

After 10 mins add the peas and chopped apple and cook for a further 8 minutes

Check that all ingredients are soft.

Drain the pan, retaining the liquid so as to add when pureeing to get the required consistency.


Cook's Staple - White (Bechamel) Sauce

Knowing how to make a white sauce opens up a whole range of family meals. Macaroni Cheese, Lasagne, Fish Pie - the list goes on. You can halve or double the quantities, depending on how much you need, but once you know how to make a simple white sauce, the world is your oyster.

50gm butter
50 gm flour
600 ml milk (If you wish for a thicker sauce then add less milk)

Melt the butter in a pan over a low heat. Once melted stir in the flour with a metal whisk. Remove from heat and add a little of the milk and stir to make a roux. Return pan to low heat and slowly whisk in the rest of the milk. Keep stirring over low heat for about 8-10 minutes until the sauce thickens and starts to bubble. Simmer for 1 minute.


Sunday, 27 June 2010

Easy Peasy Chips for Screamers

2-3 Large potatoes
Olive Oil

Peel potatoes and cut into chip length.

Bring a pan of water to the boil. Add potato and par-boil for 10 minutes. Drain and leave to dry for 10 minutes. (This is the important bit to remember - if you fail to leave them to dry they can just turn mushy).

Turn oven on to 200C.

Put potato onto a baking tray and drizzle over olive oil. You can sprinkle with a little salt too if that is to your taste.

Cook for 20-25 minutes, turning occasionally.


Cook's Staple - Home-made Bread

There really is nothing quite like home-made bread. When I first thought about baking my own loaves I was really daunted, thinking it would be really hard, but in fact it is truly very simple. The hardest part is being patient whilst waiting for it to prove so you can bake and eat it. If you have a helpful toddler who likes to be included in baking, like sir Bob, then the kneading part is great fun. Otherwise if you have a Magimix or Kenwood chef you can halve the kneading time using the dough hook attachment.

1 lb wholemeal bread flour
1 teaspoon dried yeast
1 teaspoon salt
10 ounces/280 ml tepid water
1 tablespoon olive oil

Mix all ingredients together until formed into a dough ball. Knead, either using a dough hook and Magimix or Kenwood chef or if by hand, lightly flour a clean surface and using the palm of your hands push out the air, pushing the dough and pulling it back over again, for about 10 minutes. Roll into a ball and put in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with a clean kitchen towel and leave in a cool dry place place to prove for about an hour or until it has doubled in size.

After an hour remove the dough ball and lightly flour a clean surface and knead by hand again for a couple of minutes. Lightly oil a 1 lb loaf tin and roll bread dough into an oblong shape to fit the tin. Cover again with kitchen towel and leave to prove again for 30 minutes.

Turn oven on 200C. Brush with a little milk. Bake bread for 25-30 minutes. You can check that the bread is cooked by lightly tapping the bread loaf. If it makes a hollow sound then you know it is done. Leave to cool for a few minutes in the tin and then turn out onto a cooling rack.

Eat warm or leave to cool and make yummy sandwich later.

Saturday, 26 June 2010

Avocado and Banana Heaven

1 ripe baby avocado
1 banana

Blend. (I pureed but this dish can easily be mashed as well to make the desired consistency)

Yummy scrummy!

Friday, 25 June 2010

Elderflower Cordial

This is a lovely refreshing drink for hot summer days. Easy to make and can be frozen. If storing in the fridge make sure the storage bottles are properly sterilized and use within one month.

20-25 large elderflower heads. Rinse and shake off any small bugs.
3 lemons zest pared in strips and sliced. (You can use fewer lemons depending on personal preference)
2 kg granulated sugar
75 gm citric acid (available from chemist)

Place the elderflower heads in a large heatproof bowl with the lemon slices.

Pour 1.1 litres of cold water in a large saucepan and stir in the sugar. Place on a low heat and continue stirring until sugar has dissolved and water is a thick clear syrup. Bring the syrup to the boil then stir in the citric acid and lemon zest. Remove from heat and pour over the elderflower blossoms and lemon slices.

Cover with clingfilm and then set aside to steep for about 24 hours in the fridge.

Using a sieve lined with a muslin, strain the cordial into a jug and then divide amongst sterilized bottles or storage containers for freezing. Seal tight if storing in fridge and use within one month.

Cook's Staple - Chicken Stock

Making chicken stock could not be easier and quite economical if planned properly. I usually use up any unused vegetables from the week's shopping or purchase a basket full of suitable veg from the market for about £1. If you have a local butchers ask for a bag of chicken carcasses, which is usually very cheap at around 50p or so, otherwise you can use the remains of a roast chicken from a Sunday lunch.

Chicken carcasses or remains of a roast chicken with remaining meat.
1 - 2 Onions, peeled and chopped in half
5-6 root vegetables - sweet potato, carrots, parsnips, potatoes - washed, peeled and coarsely chopped
Leek - washed and chopped
Celery - washed and cut in half
1 sachet of bouquet garni or make your own using fresh herbs tied in a muslin square
Around 2.5 to 3 litres of water

Put all ingredients into a large casserole pan and bring to the boil. Skim off any froth and then reduce heat to a simmer. Cover and simmer for about 3 hours.

Allow the stock to cool and then put into suitable tupperware and keep in fridge for 12 hours, allowing for fat to settle to the surface. Remove the fat layer and use.
Can be kept in the fridge for around 2-3 days. Can be frozen for later use.

Makes about 2-3 litres.

Thursday, 24 June 2010

Courgette and Carrot Puree

1 Large courgette (zucchini), washed with ends removed.
2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced

Place the sliced carrots in some boiling water in a saucepan. Slice the courgette (you don't need to peel as the skin is soft and edible when cooked) and place in a steamer pan over the boiling carrots. Steam/cook for 10 minutes.

Drain carrots, keeping some of the water for blending if desired. Add courgettes and puree.

Tessa's Chicken Meatballs

My lovely friend Tessa sent me this recipe from Australia. Thanks very much kind lady. Can't wait to start cooking.

Makes about 24 Meatballs

1 cup chicken mince ( or 1 breast, put in food processor to mince)

1/4 cup minced vegetables ( broccoli, carrot, mushroom, onion, ginger, zucchini etc)

Optional- 1/2 tsp tomato paste 1/4 tsp spices ( curry, cumin, etc)

1/2 beaten egg ( this is not essential)

Flour, egg and crumb ( this is not essential)Put a selection of vegetables (empty your crisper) into food processor (note, make sure vegetables are not too wet, if so, get out veg and press out a little excess.)

Mince to fairly fine consistency. Add mince to vegetables and pulse, just to combine them both

Pull out mince, roll into small balls

Pan fry until cooked, this will take 3-5 mins, depending on size.

Will keep for 2 days in fridge, 2 months in freezer

Boo's Favourite Fruit Puree

This one is always a winner with our little lady.

1 apple, peeled, cored and chopped
1 pear, peeled, cored and chopped
3-4 tbsp water

Put chopped fruit into a saucepan and simmer with lid on for 3-4 minutes until soft. Puree.

You can mix this in with some baby rice to thicken if desired.

Chicken Fingers for Screamers

1 chicken fillet - cover with cling film and bang to 1 cm flat with meat hammer, cut into finger slices
1 egg, beaten
Crusty bread or 2 slices of slightly stale bread

Optional - Parmesan or herbs to add to breadcrumbs

Turn oven on to 200C

Dip chicken fingers in beaten egg and leave for about a minute. Roll in breadcrumbs and place on baking tray. Cook for 15-20 mins, until chicken is thoroughly cooked through.

Serve with vegetables, salad and/or potato.

Lamb Bolognese for Screamers

Today's screamer's lunch was Lamb Bolognese. Mainly because I thought I had bought beef and had in fact picked up lamb mince. Doh!

450 gm Lamb mince
1 carrot, diced
1 celery, stick sliced
1 onion, chopped
1 lamb stock cube
400gm tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon tomato puree
100 ml water
Pasta to serve

In a little oil soften the onion, carrots and celery, add the mince until browned, add tinned tomatoes, tomato puree, stock cube and 100 ml water and simmer for 15 mins whilst cooking pasta.

Easy peasy.

You can always spice up this recipe with dried or fresh herbs or add parmesan when serving.

Banana, Peach and Blueberry Puree for Boo

1 Banana, chopped
1 Peach, peeled and chopped
50 gm blueberries
2-3 tablespoons water (or apple juice)

Simmer fruits in water (or juice) for a few minutes until soft. Puree.


(Add baby rice to thicken or make a yummy breakfast porridge).



I have started up a second blog to keep a track of recipes, suggestions and anything else. I have been very fortunate that so many people have been willing to share ideas for meals with me so far and am happy to pass these on to you in a simple, easy to read blog.

I hope you enjoy cooking them, and your kids eating them, as much as I/we do.