Wholesome Fingerfood – Falafel

Like all mothers, I am constantly on the look out for new and interesting dishes to serve to my fussy toddler. I try as often as possible for him to eat our food, but as he has two warm meals a day (and we tend to have one, in the evening), I need more ideas and inspriation – somehow, he always seems to eat the same things! Add to this, that a 9 months, he only wanted fingerfood (luckily this changed when he was a little older) and Pip Squeak will no doubt go through a similar phase. Our staples became quiche (great for veg -will post a recipe ASAP) and meatballs. Both of these freeze really well, so you can always have meals stocked up in the freezer and the “effort” of making it is REALLY worth it!

Easy falafel recipe

And, I don’t know why I didn’t think of this sooner, now I have discovered Falafel! Again, like the meatballs you can make these in the oven, cutting down on “cooker time”, as well as frying fat. I haven’t tried freezing them yet, as they disappeared in no time out our house! But will try out before Pip Squeak starts finger eating, as these will be a great addition to her diet.

Here we go:

  • 1/2 onion (chopped)
  • 1 tin of 420g chickpeas (drained and left to dry a little)
  • Handful or parsley or corriander
  • Tsp ground cumin
  • Tsp ground coriander
  • 2-3 Tblsp of flour (use chickpea flour if wheat intolerant)

Blend (minus flour) together. Once all mushy, add flour, to make managable consistency. Form balls and place in pre oiled tray. Dab with extra oil. Shove in oven for ~30-40 min at 200 C – turn once or twice carefully. Brush with extra oil if necessary!

Eat. Make yoghurt tip if you feel like it!

Have also seen a similar recipe with carrots – so guess you can sneak some veg in if you need to – can imagine courgette would work too, though it is quite wet and may need more flour to help keep it togther. Alternatively, add an egg…

Cooking with Kids: Blackberry and Apple Jam

We LOVE foraging at this time of the year and them returning home and baking blackberry or plum cakes and making easy jam. This year we are having a go at this easy blackberry and apple jam recipe. The thing about jam making – is that many people think it is terribly complicated – they worry about getting the consistency of the jam “just right” and because of that frequently, don’t even have a go. Remember: homemade jam tastes DELICIOUS and yes, it is great to have a perfect consistency, but equally, if it is a little runnier, so what? So long as it tastes nice, right? The blackberry and apple jam recipe shared here, resulted in a lovely consistency. But I have to confess, I think it was fluke just as much as anything.

Easy Blackberry And Apple Jam

The consistency of jam is affected by the pectin contained in fruit. Unripe blackberries have higher levels of pectin that ripe ones. A cooking apple has more pectin than an ordinary apple etc. So there are some variants right there. Under cook your jam and it won’t set. Overcook your jam and it wont set. ARGH. So. I say. Ignore all that, follow the BASIC rules and go for it. Experiment! See what happens, I am sure that the resulting jam will taste nice whatever the consistency and you will have taught the children a great new recipe, as well as the wonders of foraging and making your own jam.

Note: when cooking with kids it is extremely important to observe Kitchen safety rules. Boiling jam is VERY hot and only an adult should pour it at any time. Make sure the children stand at a safe distance when you do this so they don’t accidently get splattered. Children can help wash, cut, chop and pour cold ingredients into the cooking pot. They can also help with the sieving (see below). Anything to do with the hot jam, should only be done by and adult.

Easy blackberry and apple jam recipe

Ingredients:

  • 900g of blackberries
  • 350g of apples (we used one from the garden and 2 granny smiths we wanted to use up, cooking apples are ideal)
  • 1kg Jam Sugar (which has a higher pectin level than preserving sugar, which has more than ordinary sugar – ordinary sugar is great for Lemon Marmalade, as lemons have high pectin levels)

This made around 5 and a bit 4o0g jars of blackberry and apple jam.

Note: you can even out the apple/ blackberry ratio if you “like more apple bits”. You just need to make sure that your sugar/ fruit ratio stays roughly 1:1. You can also add a little lemon rind to increase the natural pectin levels if you wish, which means you need less sugar.

Method

  1. Try and make your jam as soon as possible after picking blackberries. Freshly picked blackberries can go off quickly as “picked by children” often means they end up a little squished etc.
  2. Thoroughly wash your blackberries, getting rid of any bits and pieces and small bugs.
  3. Place in a pot with a little water (1/4 of a cup or so) and bring to the boil for 10 minute or so. Cooking them thoroughly.
  4. Take off the heat and squish through a sieve. Yes, this is a little laborious, but it will make your final jam taste much smoother and nicer! If you like “the bits and seeds” of course you can skip this step. If you do skip this step, you may want to add a little more sugar – make the fruit/ sugar ratio roughly 1:1 – i.e. 1.3kg. By sieving it, I am assuming I am “loosing” approx 200g of fruit.
  5. Peel and chop your apples.
  6. Place chopped apples, the strained blackberries and the sugar in a large sauce pan. Gradually heat until the sugar dissolves and then bring to the boiling point.
  7. Boil rapidly for approximately 5minutes. (If you are super keen to get the consistency right, you can place a dish in the freezer BEFORE yous start, take the dish out of the freezer once you reach this step, add a little jam, the dish will cool it quickly. And if the jam looks stiff/ wrinkles when “poked”, you have the right consistency… I find this a faff and don’t bother!).
  8. Carefully, pour into sterilized and warmed jars.

Keep in store cupboard for 6 months or once opened stored in the fridge. Enjoy! And congratulate yourself and the kids for making your very own Blackberry and Apple Jam recipe! Yum.

Blackberry and Apple Jam

I think these make great little gifts too! Who doesn’t love some Blackberry and Apple Jam for breakfast?!

Gorgeous Cook Books for the Family

Whilst at Britmums Live, I was given two FABULOUS Cook Books for all the family:

61yR6uk2HiL._SX385_Step by Step Vegetarian Food and Mama’s Italian Family Cook book, both by Parragon Books.

Step by Step Vegetarian Food – We are not a vegetarian family, but we do like to eat vegetarian on a regular basis and I am forever looking for new and tasty ideas that the kids will enjoy eating.

The first thing that is notable about the books, is the lovely step by step photography. Many cook books have one lead image (if that) per meal and that is it, but this book has many more. Making each dish look simple, inviting and totally “do able”.

I love that the book begins by explaining good substitute foods – e.g. replacing eggs with tofu and milk with nut milk etc, as well as providing a list of storecupboard basics. I hate finding a delicious recipe to cook and then not having the basic ingredients “in”. So the list itself is a huge help.

As to recipes? You will find a variety of tarts – made attractive and simple (e.g. making them large or as individual tarts in muffin trays), suggestions for more unusual foods such a Jersualem artichokes (we have some growing in the garden, so am VERY happy about this.. es we usually end up eating soup with it!), risotto and casserole ideas (always good, if you don’t have ALL the ingredients to hand). I particularly like the look of the chickpea casserole and will be giving that a go very soon!

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Mama’s Italian Family Cook book

This books makes you feel, as if you REALLY ARE reading Mama’s cookbook – the sort of book, where someone has tucked in notes and recipes and information to feed the family. I love all the additional family photo graphs and tips and tricks for “cooking for all the family”!

You will find everything in this book from the classic pizza’s, minestrones and rissottos. Of course, else it wouldn’t be a classic italian cookbook. But I also love the section on puddings – I have never attempted making ice cream and now I am so inspired and really want to have a go (especially as we are currently mid Summer and the kids would love it). But it also has Pana Cotta and a delicious looking Chocolate & Almond Tart… mmmh, I think that will be my first bake, followed by some Almond Biscotti. Can you tell I have a sweet tooth?

But don’t worry, plenty of good healthy dishes in this book too. From Broccoli Rabe Gratin to simple but flavour-some looking salads and main courses.

But books will be much used in ours, I am sure!

Easy Lemon Marmalade Recipe

We made the easiest lemon marmalade recipe imaginable whilst on holiday in Austria. We had beautiful fresh lemons from Sicily and couldn’t resist making the marmalade. Normally, I am not a great fan of marmalade, as find it a little too bitter, but these Sicilian lemons where simply gorgeous and make a great marmalade. It is super easy to make too!

lemon marmalade recipe

Ingredients (for approx 6 medium jars of lemon marmalade):

  • 2kgs of fresh Sicilian lemons
  • 1.5kg of sugar OR pectin jam making sugar (see below)
  • a little water

Lemons have a pectin content, so you CAN make the lemon marmalade with ordinary sugar if you want. But it will be a slightly runnier consistency. It is still delicious and just a matter of preference. If you like it “thicker”, do get the special jam making sugar.

The thing about jam and marmalade making, is that to get the “perfect” consistency is quite tricky. This puts many people off making jam or marmalade in the first place. However, if you are less concerned with the consistency and more with the flavour and the fact that it is fresh and home made, forget about the consistency, don’t worry about perfection, but enjoy the jam making for what it is. And a runny jam is still pretty delicious!

Method:

1. Wash your lemons thoroughly.

2. Squeeze the lemon juice into a bowl.

3. Chop the as thinly and finely as possible.

4. Add the chopped lemon to the bowl, pat down and add a little water to make sure it is all covered.

5. Leave overnight to soften the lemon.

6. Put the lemons and all the sugar in a big pan and bring to the boil.

7. Let boil for about 30min, stirring continuously.

8. Meanwhile sterilise your jam jars in the oven.

10. Pour your jam into the hot jars. Seal and let cool down.

Done.

 

 

Cooking With Kids: Haddock Chowder

Cooking with Kids Haddock ChowderI am very keen to bring my kids up knowing the basics of cooking! In the UK, celebrity chef Delia Smith sold millions of cook books on “how to boil an egg” – ridiculous, isn’t it? Our generation of children really should know that, right? So for me, Cooking With Kids, is all about introducing them to the kitchen. Of course, they can’t do that much – the stove is hot, the knives are sharp. But I let my kids do bits and pieces here and there. And I talk to them through the process – and then repeat it. And whilst we are eating, I ask them again what we did to make our meal.

Haddock Chowder Cooking With Kids

I have a Cooking With Kids community on G+ (please do request to join, all are welcome), where we are challenging each other every so often to cook with a specific items.

Please note: SAFETY is the first and foremost rule when Cooking With Kids. Always make sure the kids are safe from hot things (e.g. stoves or spitting fat) from knives and scissors or from “falling off things”. Kitchen hygiene and hand washing also a very important role. 

Do involve your children, but BE SAFE.

This challenge, was about FISH!

Luckily, we have one Fish based dish, that my children love: Haddock Chowder. It is originally from 101 One Pot Dishes by Good Food Magazine. We tend to stick to the ingredients, but only loosely follow the amounts – very rough and ready!

Ingredients (and amounts we used):

  • One large onion
  • 4 medium sized potatoes
  • Approx 1.5 pints of hot water
  • 2 tea spoons of stock
  • A packet of Haddock (350g??)
  • A tin of creamed sweetcorn (key to the recipe and it has to be the creamed variety!! I can only ever get it when I do an online shop via one the larger supermarkets)

The great thing, is that it really only needs one pot for preparation!

Method:

1) Shop the onions and start frying them in a little olive oil. I did this bit, the kids watched. The Boy had a little smell of the onion and exclaimed “Mummy it isn’t hurting my eyes this time”. No idea why that was the case, but this onion didn’t make us cry.

Cooking with kids chopping

2) Shop the potatoes into 1-2cm cubes. You can peel the potato first if you wish, but we put it all in. The kids helped me with this. With the Girl, I held her hands and the knife. The Boy, I let have a go on his own. I watched him like a hawk of course as knives are dangerous. He did a great job.

Note: NEVER EVER leave a child unattended when they are holding a knife or scissors. Watch what they are doing and do not do something else.

3) Once the onions are fried a little, add the potatoes, the hot water and the stock. Be sure the water covers the potatoes. If not, add a little more. Let simmer.

Adding the stock was a great job for The Girl (3yrs old), she loved spooning it in.

4) In the meantime cut your haddock into chunks – take the skin off and check for bones. Again, I did this – but I “challenged” the kids to touch the fish and also to feel one of the bones. The Boy was very keen to help me throw away the skin etc. I think this is an  important part of the process, getting kids used to handling “yukky things”. I am not keen on handling meat and fish and I think doing it early helps you get to grips with it. It is also a good lesson in kitchen hygiene and the need to wash your hands etc.

Note: when you put the haddock chunks in the hot pot – there is hot steam or the soup could splash your children. Discuss this with them, do it slowly and gently or do it for them.

5) We added the fish. Let simmer a little more.

Cooking with Kids Tin Opening

6) Once the potatoes were soft, we opened our tin of creamed sweetcorn and added that. Heat through. Again, this may seem simple – but showing the children how a tin opener works is all part of the Cooking with Kids experience. Naturally they didn’t have the strength to do it on their own, but together, we did it.

Note: a tin open can also be a harmful item – as well as the tin with it’s jagged edge.

Serve hot with some bread. You can sprinkle a little parsley on top too!

Now The Boy wants to make Carrot Soup next! And it is on the menu tonight!