Sunday, 29 August 2010


450g Minced beef
1 x 400g tin of chopped tomatoes
1 tsp oregano
1 dash Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and diced
1 celery, trimmed and finely sliced
1 clove of garlic, crushed
1 tbsp olive oil
300 ml hot, recently boiled water
1 tsp beef Bovril (or 1 beef stock cube, crushed)
50g butter
50g plain flour
500ml milk
3 oz cheddar cheese
1/2 oz grated parmesan
6 fresh lasagne sheets (or dried lasagne sheets softened in water and ready to use)

Heat the olive oil in a deep based saucepan and add onions and garlic over a medium heat, cooking until the onions are soft and translucent. 

Add the minced beef and cook until browned all over. 

Add the carrots and celery and cook for a further minute. 

Add the chopped tomatoes, tomato puree, oregano, hot water, Bovril and Worcestershire sauce.  Bring to the boil and then lower to heat to just above a simmer, stirring occasionally as the sauce thickens for approximately 20 minutes. 

After 10 minutes, turn the oven on to 200C and start cooking the white sauce. 

Melt the butter in a sauce pan, stir in the flour.  Remove from the heat and add a little milk, whisking with a metal whisk until you get a roux.  Return to the heat and add the rest of the milk, stirring continuously until the mixture thickens and bubbles. 

Add 1oz of the grated cheddar cheese and stir in to the bubbling sauce, until melted through.  Remove from heat. 

In a lasagne dish,  spoon in a layer of the meat sauce.  Cover with a layer of the white sauce and then place a layer of lasagne sheets on top.  Repeat again with another layer of meat sauce, white sauce and lasagne sheets.  Finally pour on the remaining white sauce on top of the lasagne sheets and cover the with the remaining grated cheddar cheese and parmesan. 

Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese has melted and turned golden and the sauce is bubbling through. 

Serve with a healthy salad.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Red Lentil Puree

1 Sweet potato, peeled and chopped
2 Carrots, peeled and chopped
1/2 Celeriac, peeled and chopped
1 Onion, peeled and chopped
100 g Red lentils, soaked and rinsed thoroughly
1 knob of butter
1 pint of water
1/4 tsp Turmeric
1/4 tsp Ground cumin
1 sachet bouquet garni

In a deep pan, melt the butter and gently fry the onion until translucent.

Add all the other vegetables and lentils.

Add the water, herbs and spices.

Bring to the boil and boil hard for 10 minutes.  Remove bouquet garni sachet.

Make sure there is still a decent amount of liquid in the pan and reduce heat and simmer for 25 minutes.

Drain some of the liquid and then puree, adding any excess liquid if necessary to get the right texture.

Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Cook's Staple - Swiss Roll

This is a very simple cake to make, however the absence of butter means that it doesn't last long and should be eaten the same day it is made.  You can fill it with a variety of different fillings, from jam to whipped cream and fruit.

3 large eggs
125 g Caster sugar
125 g Sifted plain flour

Turn the oven on to 180C and grease and line a swiss roll tin with greaseproof paper.

In a heatproof bowl, whisk the sugar and caster sugar until well mixed. 

Place the bowl over a saucepan of simmering water and continue to whisk until the mix has thickened and paled, leaving a trail when you lift the whisk out.

Remove from heat and continue to whisk until the bowl has cooled.

Sift in the flour and then fold in carefully with a metal spoon, until well blended, being careful not to lose the air in the mixture.

Spoon the mixture onto the lined tray and spread evenly, tipping the tray to get the mixture to lie smooth and evenly across the whole tray.

Cook in the oven for 12-15 minutes, until golden and the cake bounces back when pressed lightly in the middle.

Allow to cool in the tray for a few minutes before lifting out to continue to cool.

Get a large piece of greaseproof paper an sprinkle with caster sugar.

Place the cake, face down, on top of the sugar and slowly peel off the greaseproof paper.

Spread the filling of your choice across the cake and slowly roll from one end, careful not to break the cake.

Eggy Bread

I didn't get a chance to photograph this today as it went too quickly off plates!

2 thick slices of home-made white bread or 1 thick slice of shop bought white bread
2 large eggs
A dash of milk (no more than 1 tbsp)
A sprinkle of caster sugar
A pinch of cinnamon
1 tbsp olive oil
1 knob of butter

Beat the eggs and milk with a fork.

Place the bread in a deep dish and pour the beaten egg mixture over it.

Sit the bread in the mix for 5 minutes before turning over and continuing to sit in the mixture for a further 3-5 minutes, soaking up all the egg.

Over a medium heat, heat the oil and butter until the butter has melted and stopped bubbling.

Place the bread in the pan and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the egg has turned golden.

Flip the bread and cook again for about 5 minutes on the other side, until golden.

Place on a plate and sprinkle with caster sugar and pinch of cinnamon.


Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Cumin Lamb and Lentils

This recipe has been kindly provided by my daughter's god mother, Charlie.  She is a wonderful mother and cook as well as having over 15 year's experience as a nanny - so lots of knowledge about caring for and cooking for kids.

400g Lamb leg steaks trimmed and chopped into 2cm cubes
one medium onion finely chopped
half a tin of chopped peeled tomatoes
1 teaspoon ground cumin
a cup of green lentils
half pint lamb stock
salt and pepper to taste
a tiny bit of oil for frying

In a heavy bottom pan with a tight fitting lid ; fry the onion in a little oil until soft, add the lamb until brown. 

Stir in the cumin and cook  for a minute before adding the tomatoes, stock and stirring in the green lentils and season to taste. 

Bring to the boil and turn down the heat to a simmer and put on the lid. 

Cook for at least an hour on a low heat checking intermitantly to make sure it's not drying out before the lentils are cooked. If it remains too saucy then remove the lid for the last bit of cooking so the juice can evaporate. 
When my babies were really young I left it more liquidy so that when I pureed it it would be the right consistency. Then as they got older I made it less so and therefore easier to eat with big kid cutlery!

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Chocolate Mousse

This is a yummy treat for Mum's and Dad's - because they were once little Screamers too.
Makes 4.  Please note - this recipe uses raw eggs.

100 g Dark chocolate
3 Large eggs, separated
30 g/1.5 oz caster sugar

Melt the chocolate in a glass bowl over a small pan of simmering water.  Don't allow the water to touch the bowl.  Remove from the heat and set aside to cool to room temperature.

Whisk the egg whites in a bowl, using an electric whisk, until nearly firm.  Slowly add the sugar, a tablespoon at a time, and continue to whisk until firm and glossy.

Mix the yolks together in a small bowl and then add to the egg whites.  Fold these in gently. 

Check that the chocolate is cooled to room temperature and then add a spatula's worth of the egg mix.  Stir in well. 

Add the rest of the egg mix and fold in gently, keeping as much of the air as you can in the mix.

Pour the mousse into 4 ramekins and set in the fridge to chill for 4 hours until set.

Fish Pie

320 g Fish pie mix (salmon, cod, smoked haddock)
200 g King prawns
1/2 Lemon
1 tbsp Olive oil
Black Pepper
1 Onion, chopped
1 tsp Dill (fresh or dried)
25 g Plain flour
25 g Butter
295 ml Milk
4 Red potatoes, peeled and chopped
2 Sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped
A knob of butter and a splash of milk
3 oz Cheddar cheese

Turn the oven on to 200C.

Place the peeled and chopped potatoes into a saucepan of water, bring to to the boil and cook for 15 minutes or so, until soft.  Drain.  Add a knob of butter and a dash of milk and mash until smooth.

In a microwaveable dish, place the fish pie mix and squeeze over the juice of half a lemon and grind black pepper over.  Cover and cook in the microwave for 2 minutes.  Once cooked, flake with a fork and put aside.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter and flour.  Remove from the heat and whisk with a metal whisk.  Add a dash of milk and whisk again.  Return to the heat and slowly add the rest of the milk, continuing to whisk.  Keep stirring until the sauce thickens and bubbles. Allow to simmer for a minute and then remove from the heat.

In a pan,  heat the oil over a medium heat and gently fry the onion until translucent and soft.

Add the fish pie mix, with juices, to the pan and stir well.  Add the prawns and dill and cook for a few more minutes.  Stir in the white sauce.

Pour the fish and sauce into a casserole dish.  Cover with the mashed potato.  Sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes, until the cheese has melted and turned golden brown.

Serve with a healthy salad.

Friday, 13 August 2010

Party Treats - Gingerbread Man Biscuits

2 oz/ 50 g butter
2 oz/ 50 g sugar
1.5 tbsp golden syrup
6 oz/ 175 g self raising flour
1/2 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 rounded tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp milk

Melt the butter, syrup and sugar in a pan, stirring occasionally  Once everything has melted, remove from heat

Sift the flour, soda and ginger into a large bowl.  Stir in the melted butter syrup and sugar until you have a fairly stiff dough.  If it becomes too dry and crumbly, add a little milk, a drop at a time, until you get a dough that can be rolled without breaking.

Turn out onto a lightly floured surface and roll to about 1/4" thick.

Cut out biscuits using a cookie cutter, either round or as gingerbread men shaped. Keep rolling out the dough to make as many biscuits as you can. 

Using a palette knife, lift them and place them on a lightly greased baking tray.

Bake in the oven at 190C for about 8 - 10 minutes, until golden brown.

Remove from oven and allow to cool on the baking tray and turn out onto a wire rack.

Decorate and eat.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Swede, Spinach and Pear Puree

600 g swede, trimmed and diced
1 bag of baby leaf spinach
4 pears, peeled, cored and chopped

Put the swede in a pan and cover with water.  Bring to the boil and cook for 15 minutes, until tender.

Wash the spinach before adding to the pan with the chopped pear. 

Cover and cook for a further 5 minutes, until the spinach has wilted.

Drain the pan, reserving the liquid.

Puree with a hand blender, slowly adding the reserved liquid until you get the desired consistency.

NB:  You can add a knob of butter to this recipe when pureeing if so wished.

Easy Pasta Bake

This was a really quick and easy dish to make.  Feeds 4 adults.

8 Sausages
1 Red onion, peeled and quartered
1 Red pepper, washed, de-seeded and coarsely chopped
1 Yellow pepper, washed, de-seeded and coarsely chopped
1 Medium courgette, washed, trimmed and sliced
1 tbsp chopped Thyme
2 tbsp Olive oil
400g Tin chopped Tomatoes
125g ball of Mozarella, sliced and chopped
250 g fresh pasta
3 oz Cheddar cheese, grated

Turn the oven on to 190C and heat a roasting tray in the oven whilst it reaches the correct temperature.

Once at 190C, remove the roasting tray and add the sausages, vegetables and thyme.  Drizzle over the olive oil and cover all contents in the pan before returning to the oven.

Cook for 25 - 30 minutes until sausages are cooked and vegetables are roasted.

Meanwhile, cook the fresh pasta according to the packet instructions, drain and put aside.

Remove the roasting pan from the oven, but do not turn the oven off.  Place the contents in a large earthenware dish.  Cover with the chopped tomatoes.  Add the pasta and stir through until well mixed.

Add the mozarella and sprinkle over the grated cheese.

Return to the oven and cook for a further 15 - 20 minutes until the cheese has melted.

Pork, Leek and Apple Soup for Screamers (or Puree for Weaners)

I intended to make this into a puree for Boo (which you can easily do, which is explained in the recipe) but decided to turn it into a soup for Bob instead.

1 Onion, chopped
1 tbsp Olive oil
5 oz Pork steak, fat trimmed and diced
2 medium Potatoes, peeled and diced
1 Leek, washed, trimmed and sliced
2 eating Apples, peeled, chopped and diced
4 sprigs of Thyme, leaves removed
500 ml Chicken Stock

Heat the oil in a pan over a medium heat and cook the onions for 5 - 10 minutes until soft and translucent.    

Add the diced pork and cook for a couple of minutes until browned.  

Add the potato, leek, and apple and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Finally, add the chicken stock and thyme.  Bring to the boil then lower the heat to a simmer and cover. 

Cook for 30 minutes, until all vegetables are soft. 

If making into puree for Weaners: 

  • Drain the pan and reserve all the liquid.  Using a masher, mash down the vegetables.  Slowly add the reserved liquid and puree until you get the desired consistency
If making soup for Screamers:

  • Using a masher, mash the vegetables down before pureeing to a soup consistency.  Add a little seasoning before serving, if desired. 

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Mini frittatas for mini fingers

These are really simple to make and you can be as inventive and adventurous as you wish with them.

For the base:

6 Eggs, beaten
75g / 3oz Cheddar cheese, grated

Mix the two together and then add 1 or 2 of any other ingredients you wish, such as:

  • Tin of tuna, flaked
  • Small can of sweetcorn
  • Diced pepper
  • Chopped spring onion
  • Chopped cooked chicken
  • Chopped sliced ham
  • Chopped fresh parsley
Turn on the oven to 190C.  Grease a muffin tray with a little olive oil on some kitchen towel.

Mix in the base mix and any two other ingredients.

Spoon into the tray, about halfway up each casing as the cheese in the mix will expand the frittata.

Cook for 15 - 20 minutes, until cooked in the middle and golden brown on top.

Allow to cool slightly before removing from tray.

Serve with salad or beans.

These also taste great cold and are great for picnics or school lunches.

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Weaners Recipe - Shepherd's Pie

You can easily make this for screamers by not pureeing the base mix.  (I will be adding a screamer's shepherd's pie recipe soon, however.)  You can freeze the base mix in small batches and simply thaw and top with fresh cooked mashed potato if you so wish, thereby being able to control portion sizes as your baby grows.

Screamers and Weaners' Size Shepherd Pie

5 oz Lamb steak, diced into small cubes
2 Carrots, peeled and diced
1 Parsnip, peeled and diced
1 Onion, peeled and chopped
1 tbsp Olive oil
1 Can of chopped tomatoes (400gm)
300 ml Lamb or Chicken stock
1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary

For the mashed potato toppping

1 large potato, peeled and cubed
A little warm milk
A knob of butter

To make the base

Heat the oil over a medium heat and add the onion.  Cook for 5 -10 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.

Add the lamb and stir whilst browning.  Don't cook for too long as the lamb cubes will be small and cook quickly.

Add the diced vegetables and cook for a further minute.

Add the chopped tomatoes and Rosemary and cook for another minute.

Finally add the stock and bring to the boil.

Lower the heat, cover and simmer for 40 minutes until all the vegetables are soft and meat cooked.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes before pureeing.

If freezing, divide into appropriate size and containers and place in freezer once cooled.

If cooking - Turn oven on to 200C.

Cook the potato for 20 minutes (whilst cooking base mix), until soft.  Drain, add a little warm milk and butter and mash until smooth. 

Place the pureed base mix into a ramekin and cover with tablespoon or two of mashed potato.

Cook for 20 minutes.

Allow to cool before serving.

Friday, 6 August 2010

Party Treats - Gooey Chocolate Brownies

8 oz/ 225 g Caster sugar
3 Eggs
7 oz/ 200 g Dark chocolate, broken into squares
6 oz/ 175 g Butter, cubed
1 oz/ 25 g Cocoa powder
4 oz/ 100 g Plain flour
1 tsp Vanilla extract
1 tsp baking powder

Turn the oven on to 180C. Grease and line a baking tray.

Place the butter and chocolate into a glass bowl.  Place over a small pan of boiling water, but be careful not to let the water touch the glass bowl.  Stir the butter and chocolate until melted.  Remove from heat and allow to cool.

In a large bowl, mix the eggs and sugar together until pale, glossy and doubled in volume.  This takes about 3 minutes with an electric whisk.  This should make your egg mix full of air, which is what we want.

Add the vanilla extract and whisk again for a further 2 minutes.

Pour in the melted chocolate and fold in with a metal spoon.

Sift in the flour, baking powder and cocoa and fold in with a metal spoon, being careful not to get rid of the air in the mixture.

Pour into the baking tray and cook in the oven for 35 - 40 minutes.  The idea is that you want the brownies nice and cooked on the outside, but soft and gooey in the middle.

Allow to cool in the baking tray for a few minutes before removing and cutting into squares.

Eat on their own or with ice cream.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Finger Foods - Butternut Squash

This is a great finger food for little ones.  Make sure you thoroughly wash the skin if you are going to serve skin on.  For very young eaters it is best to remove the skin after cooking as they can find it too hard to chew the skin at an early stage of weaning.  NB: ALWAYS supervise when feeding babies finger foods. 

1 Butternut squash
A little olive oil

Turn the oven on to 200C.

Trim the top and bottom from the butternut squash.  Cut in half length ways from top to bottom.  Continue to cut in half until you have 8 wedges. 

Scoop out the seeds and discard.

Lay in a baking tray and drizzle with a little olive oil.

Place in the hot oven for 30 minutes, until cooked.  You can check that it is cooked properly by cutting the flesh of one of the wedges with a knife.  If it goes straight through it is done.

Remove from baking tray and place on a plate with some kitchen paper to absorb any oil. 

Allow to cool.  Cut into smaller batons and serve.

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Bread and Butter Pudding

This is a classic children's dessert dish and so very easy to do.

8 slices of white bread
350 ml Milk
150 ml Double cream
1 tbsp Vanilla sugar
2 Eggs
1 tbsp Cinnamon sugar
1 Eating apple, peeled, cored and chopped
50 gm/ 2 oz Raisins
Pinch of nutmeg

Leave the bread out on a plate for about 30 minutes to an hour, so that it goes slightly hard.

Turn the oven on to 180C.

Grease a 20 cm x 20 cm square dish with some butter. 

Butter both sides of the bread and remove crusts.  Cut the buttered bread into 4 triangles. 

Add the milk and cream to a small pan and gently warm over a low-medium heat until warm, but not boiling.

Layer the buttered dish with half of the bread.  Scatter half of the raisins and the chopped apple across the bread.  Sprinkle with half of the cinnamon sugar. Add another layer of buttered bread, raisins and cinnamon sugar.

Whisk the eggs and the vanilla sugar together until well blended and the egg mix has gone paler.

Stir in the warmed milk and cream and whisk together for about 30 seconds - 1 minute.

Pour the egg and milk mixture all over the bread.

Sprinkle a good pinch of nutmeg over the dish.

Place in the oven and cook for approximately 30 - 35 minutes, until the custard has set and the bread has browned slightly.

Serve as it is or with additional custard or ice cream.