3 successful recipes

Just a quick note-to-self, really, about these three recipes I’ve tried recently, all of which were a huge hit with Ben.

Salmon, spinach and dill potato bake – This is a really useful recipe, and works well to cook in bulk and keep in the freezer. I made it for some friends who have just had a baby. So far, this is the only fish recipe Ben has enjoyed.

Moussaka – I used a Greek yoghurt and feta cheese topping of my own concoction, and left out the feta for Ben’s portion. He loved it.

Chicken, Sweet Potato and Coconut Curry – Ben’s first taste of coconut, which was a success.

No photos I’m afraid as I didn’t intend to blog about them, but that’s how it goes sometimes.

Advertisements

Cookbook Review: Hungry?

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

I found this book in the library a few weeks ago, and immediately liked the tag line: The innocent recipe book for filling your family with good stuff. It’s created by innocent, the smoothie company, and the whole book follows their slightly cheeky style. Most of the time this is fun, and welcome, but at times, I have to admit, I could have done without it.

That said, the recipes are excellent. There are lots of them for a start, covering many eventualities and occasions. There are also loads of mini-recipes, which I thought was good. For example, in the section on ‘Sides,’ there are 16 recipes for salads, potatoes, vegetables etc, but then you have the ‘Quick things to do with Veg’ section. This section alone goes through 12 different vegetables that appear frequently in most kitchens, and gives at least 3 interesting ways to cook them. That’s over 50 recipes for Sides alone.

So far, I’ve tried four of the recipes from the book: chicken nuggets, lamb kofte pittas, chop salad and homemade baked beans. They were all Tim’s requests, and all were really successful. Made using standard ingredients, they were simple to prepare and cook, looked good and were really tasty.

One of the real joys of this book is the ‘extras’ – little hidden gems that you find tucked away between chapters. For example, the ‘Things to do in 15 minutes’ page: genius.

518-galleryhero

There are short stories, cartoons, 30 steps to Sunday Heaven and so on. There are also informative sections on food, which are great. I was particularly impressed by the section on soups. Soups are all basically made the same way, and so the cookbook builds on this by giving different options for the base, the cooked flavours, the ‘hero veg,’ the stock and the finishing touches.

One thing I really like is that they haven’t tried to give everything a ‘spin’ – the recipes are exactly the kind that I would cook without a recipe book; this just gives me a few more ideas. I don’t need to start putting anchovies and chillis with everything.

My only issue with the book was the photographs. Often, I find it really useful to have a photograph of the finished dish, so that you can see how it is meant to look. While many dishes do have supporting photographs (often with a creative touch, like a hovering pinata over a burrito), too often the photograph is of a person, some flowers or a toy. In that case, I think the innocent humour has got in the way of good food.

This is a really good cookery book, and I’m seriously considering buying it for my collection – I’ve already renewed it at the library twice.

photo

 

Ben’s Birthday Cake

In my husband’s family, highly decorated birthday cakes are a bit of a family tradition. Since I have joined the family, I have seen a Welsh dragon, Thomas the Tank Engine, Kermit the Frog and Mrs Potato Head. I knew I had to live up to the challenge for Ben’s first birthday.

We took the opportunity to combine his first birthday with his dedication at church, and used the church hall for a little party – bacon sandwiches and birthday cake – after the service. This meant that our families only had to travel the length of the country once, and also gave us a good excuse for a party. Otherwise I think it would have been a quiet family tea.

I posted a while ago about watching Abney and Teal as part of Ben’s bedtime routine, and Tim suggested making an Abney and Teal-themed cake, complete with sugarpaste figures. I had covered a cake with royal icing before, and used stamps to make butterflies and flowers, but this was definitely a step up.

I had a huge amount of help and advice from one of Tim’s colleagues, who was actually kind enough to lend me her colours. The paste-style dyes were really easy to control, and I managed to mix together the right kind of colours. However, I couldn’t achieve the muted tones that make Abney and Teal so whimsical; lurid was more like it.

The cake itself was a simple Victoria Sponge. I then sandwiched it together with jam and buttercream, and used buttercream to cover the whole thing. I put that in the fridge to set, and rolled out the blue royal icing.

I made the characters using ideas from Bake Happy, but I have to say they were very complicated – I really tried, but both Abney and Teal looked a little on the portly side.

IMG_3605IMG_3606

I think I managed Neep ok though.

IMG_3607

I used a brown-grey colour to represent the island, and cocktail sticks to spear the characters in place. However, this didn’t entirely work to my satisfaction. By the time we came to cut the cake, Abney looked like he’d been drinking too much birthday booze.

Birthday Cake

Tim’s colleague kindly allowed us to use the sugarpaste flowers, and suggested grating the icing in a cheese grater to create grass. Little ‘rocks’ helped to cover up some of the lumps and bumps in the icing.

As a first attempt, I don’t think it’s too bad.

 

Baby Falafel

I’d been meaning to make these baby-friendly falafel for a while. They are adapted from the River Cottage Baby and Toddler Cookbook by Nicky Duffy. It’s a fairly good addition to my shelves, although the recipes only take up half of the actual book, which I feel is a bit of a cheat. Confusingly, in the book, these are actually called ‘Felafel.’

Ben loved these. I think it was the dried apricots, which gives the falafel a sweetness. He loved them as a finger food.

Ingredients (Makes 18-20)

  • 5 dried apricots
  • 1 onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tin chickpeas
  • 1 slice bread
  • Small bunch coriander
  • 1 tsp ground cumin

Method

  1. Soak the dried apricots in boiling water for a few minutes to soften them.
  2. Finely chop the onion and garlic and fry them gently in the olive oil for around 10 minutes, until soft.
  3. In a food processor, whizz up the bread into breadcrumbs. Add all the other ingredients and process a few times, so that you have a thick paste. It should be quite smooth, otherwise your falafel won’t hold together.
  4. Take teaspoonfuls of the mixture and roll them into sausage shapes – these are easier for babies to hold.
  5. At this stage, you can freeze the falafel if you like, on a baking sheet. When frozen, transfer to a freezer bag.
  6. If frozen, defrost the falafel. Preheat the oven to 190C. Drizzle the falafel with olive oil and bake for around 18 minutes, turning halfway through cooking.
  7. Allow to cool before serving them to your baby. We had them with pitta bread, greek yoghurt and cherry tomatoes.

IMG_3713