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Thursday, 10 April 2014

Carrot and Feta Keftedes

It’s an earlier than usual post this week as I’m heading off on a Glamping Hen Weekend tomorrow, and have made some Mini Tiffin Bites and these Carrot and Feta Keftedes to share around the campfire while we’re there!

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This recipe was featured on last week’s Sunday Brunch and I thought I’d give it a try, not only to take away with us, but to share as an aperitif at home. I deep fried in a wok, rather than shallow fried, and served with a sweet chilli jam. The trick to a good flavour is to roast the carrots first, and, as usual, I found it easiest to add amounts to your taste. As long as the final mixture is sticky but not sloppy, they’ll turn out fine.

Ingredients:

  • 350g carrots, roasted then grated
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 small brown onion, grated
  • 150g feta, crumbled
  • 50g fresh breadcrumbs
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 2 tsp dried mint
  • 50g parmesan or Kefalotyri cheese, grated (I used a little mature Cheddar instead)
  • 10g flat leaf parsley, finely chopped
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Plain flour, to dust
  • Olive oil, to fry

Method:

Clean, top and tail then roast the carrots until nearly cooked through, with some salt and pepper.

When cooled, I used a food processor to then grate the carrots and onions but you can do this by hand. Simply combine all the ingredients well, then chill for about an hour.

Form into little balls, dust in flour then fry until golden brown.

Serve with sweet chilli dip.

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Hope you enjoy them as much as we have.

Friday, 4 April 2014

Tiffin / Rocky Road - t.t.t (Tasty Toddler Treats!)

I add a large handful of mini marshmallow and another 100g of milk chocolate topping.

We have a copy of the Ella’s Kitchen Red cook book, which Frankie and I have been trying over the last few weeks. I have to say, it’s the sweet treats that she seems to enjoy the most, as do I, and this one is most definitely a favourite. The only question is, what do you call it? My husband made a version recently that he named ‘tiffin’. The teachers at nursery called it Rock Road? I’d like to see your comments underneath as to what you call it, as I’m sure there are several variations: the thing it, it still tastes gorgeous, whatever its name!

It’s a recipe where your LO can get involved every step of the way, from crushing the biscuits, to measuring out the tablespoons of gloop, stirring it all together and pouring over the chocolate. Now, I never think there’s enough of a chocolate layer on top of the ones I make so I double the given quantity, using 100g of dark AND 100g milk chocolate. I know, I know, but if you’re gong to eat it, you may as well make it worth your while. We also add a handful of baby marshmallows, just for fun!

Ingredients:

200g digestives

100g unsalted butter plus extra for greasing

3 tbs golden syrup

2 tbs cocoa powder

50g raisins

(handful baby marshmallows)

100g dark chocolate

(100g milk chocolate)

Method:

First, crush the digestives in a large bowl. Or, ask your LO to do this!

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Meanwhile, put the syrup, cocoa and butter into a microwaveable bowl and put into the microwave until melted. I give it 10 seconds each time and check along the way.

Pour on top of the crushed biscuits: be careful, it will be very hot straight from the microwave so do this away from your LO. They can then join in again with mixing it all together as the heat dissipates quickly once added to the crumbs.

Add the raisins (and marshmallows) to the mixture, combine, then push into a greased tin or mould. I use a silicone one as it’s easier to get out in one piece! Pop into the fridge for ten minutes.

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Break the chocolate into pieces and melt in the microwave. Again, I do a few seconds at a time, giving it a swirl rather that a mix in between each one, until the lumps have melted.

Pour the melted chocolate over the cooled biscuit mixture, smooth, and return to the fridge to set hard. Don’t be tempted to get it out early, or it’ll all fall apart! Use a big knife to slice into squares.

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Friday, 28 March 2014

Jamie’s 15 Minute Glazed Sizzling Lamb Chops with Sweet tomato and Asparagus Lasagnetti

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Surprisingly, this really is a 15 minute recipe. Just make sure you have the ingredients out – no chopping beforehand, no packets opened, all can be done within the time! And it’s really scrummy too!

I didn’t use lamb chops as I couldn’t find the ones with the ‘stick’ on the end to hold (!), so chose a rack of lamb instead, and cut them into chops myself. Obviously, very easy and incredibly tasty. 018

It’s a case of seasoning the lamb then popping it into a hot pan, turning every so often so it gets a good colour. Meanwhile, chop the veg for the lasagnetti. Jamie uses spring onions, asparagus, red chilli and cherry tomatoes. Pop those in pan with some olive oil to fry off. Chop a bunch of mint and add this and some crushed garlic to the vegetables. Squash a couple more garlic cloves and, along with some rosemary springs, add to the lamb chops. Cut the fresh lasagne sheets into strips then add to the pan with some water to cook through. Reduce the heat under the lamb then toss the chops with clear honey and balsamic vinegar. Leave to rest for a few minutes while you sprinkle some parmesan over the lasagnetti, then serve everything. I poured the lasagnetti into a large bowl and the chops onto a plate so everyone could dig in a help themselves!

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Watch how Jamie does it here.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Pancakes–albeit a little late!

Ok, I admit it: my pancake day was a disaster. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever had a successful one. It’s not the pancakes, they seem to turn out well every time. It’s just the combination of being in a rush, never having quite the right ingredients for the topping and not thinking ahead. It sort of creeps up on me every year and I ‘make do’. This year, we happened to have some ready-made ones in the fridge, so I thought I’d top them with tartiflette for main course, then we could have Nutella for pudding. Quick and easy. Wrong.
For a start, I didn’t have any cream, or anything resembling yummy stuff, so used yoghurt – the no-fat, very healthy one – which, or course, I knew would curdle, and did. Ignoring that, I continued, heating the pancakes and spooning the mixture on top. However, once I had taken the first bite, I realised that the ready-made, oh-so-quick pancakes I had used were of the sweet, rather than savoury, variety. Not a good combination.
I skipped mains and went straight to dessert. Surely I couldn’t go wrong? Well, no, not technically. Mine were delicious, but the LO just didn’t like the pancakes, opting instead to simply lick the Nutella from the top.
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So today, I had promised myself I would give things another go, if only to use my new Oxo ‘Flip and Fold’ omelette turner I had been sent to try for this purpose! Keeping things simple, I wanted to see if my LO would actually eat homemade pancakes, rather than shop-bought, and not simply scoff the chocolate! I always use Delia’s simple recipe.
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After pouring the mixture into the small frying pan, I swirled it around a bit to spread it evenly, then when the edges began to crispen, used the thin edge of the flipper to loosen. Being quite a big flipper and quite a small pan, it worked really well to get under the pancake itself, and turned it easily without losing any of the mixture or crumpling the pancake. I had to wipe it clean if any mixture did get caught, as it then continued to stick, but this happened rarely. It was also brilliant for scraping all the mixture from the bowl so I wouldn’t waste any.
And the result? Perfect pancakes that even my LO approved of and ate! Hurrah!

Disclaimer: Although I was sent products to try for the purpose of this post, all views and opinions are entirely my own, truthful and honest.

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Ella’s Kitchen Beef Stew – t.t.t. (tasty toddler teatimes)

For Christmas, the LO received a cooking set including all the things she might need in the kitchen! It wasn’t a shop bought one, but one put together from various places that combined baking equipment, such as bun cases and mixing bowls, with savoury meal needs, like a chopping board or small saucepan. It is something we use together at least once a week, whether to make Mini-slider burgers, tiffin, or something more adventurous, like this Ella’s Kitchen cookbook Beef stew. It appeals to the LOs as it’s filled with sweet fruit and vegetables, but makes a brilliant family meal everyone can enjoy. We served ours with Yorkshire puddings, greens, and mustard mash.

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For very little ones, it does involve much chopping of hard vegetables, but I still involved Frankie by asking her to find the right vegetables, count out the carrots, pop the pieces into the bowl after chopping, etc. And she enjoyed stirring everything together too. You could even put aside a little of everything for the LOs to ‘play’ with while you’re doing all the hard work, and if they munch on a little piece of raw carrot, so much the better! When it comes to spooning out the plum jam, I used jelly as we had some leftover from the last batch, it’s easy to get them involved again.

Ella’s Kitchen – Wonderfully Warming Fruit Beef Stew

Ingredients:

2 tbs olive oil

750g diced stewing beef

1 onion

300g carrots, sliced

2 plums or apricots, stoned nad sliced

1 clove garlic

1tbs tomato puree

2 tbs plain flour

finely grated rind of 1 lemon, plus 1tbs of the juice

750ml beef stock

150g plum or damson jam

ground black pepper

Method:

Preheat oven to 160 degrees. In a large casserole, batch fry the beef in the oil until browned on all sides. Remove.

Cook onion in the same casserole for 2 minutes until softened. Add carrots, plums or apricots, garlic, tomato puree and flour, and cook for a further 2 minutes.

Return the beef and juices to the casserole, add the lemon rind and juice, beef stock, and jam. Season with the pepper and simmer.

Cover and cook in the oven for 2 hours until the beef is tender.

I used a ‘pre-chopped’ pack of stewing beef, but it was still dry when cooked because it had no fat on it. Next time, I will definitely buy a cheap cut of beef and chop it myself and it’s the melting fat that helps keep the beef pieces moist and fall apart wen cooked.

I apologise for the pictures on this post, but we’d already dug in to the meal before I remembered!

This recipe is taken from ‘Ella’s Kitchen. The Cook Book, The Red One.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Homemade Burgers & Mini-Sliders t.t.t. - tasty toddler teatimes

007For some reason, we’ve always strayed away from the burger option on children’s menus, but, having thought more about it, surely they’re just the same as lasagne or cottage pie? Healthier in fact as not every little piece of mince is browned in fat first? Ok, so I’m not sure of the science behind that last comment, but it makes sense to me!

When asking Frankie if she wanted to make burgers for tea she, as is her first response to most things, declared that she didn’t like them. That was beside the point, and we began anyway! This is a great way to get the little ones involved in cooking as they can get their hands in to mix, measure out spoonfuls of spices, squash them in the pestle and mortar and help break the eggs and crumble the bread – it’ll keep them occupied for hours!

I’ve always based my mince mix on Jamie Oliver’s ‘Botham Burgers’ as they’re really tasty. If you read my blog regularly, you’ll know I tend not to ‘do’ quantities as, with things like this, you adapt to your own tastes. I’ll try and put a few suggestions in, but it’s really up to you and your family what flavours and spicing you prefer. Here’s my version:

Ingredients:

small pack of lean mince

1 large tablespoons coriander seeds

1 desert spoon cumin seeds

a few grinds of black pepper

1 egg

1 slice of bread, crumbed

1 red onion

1 large dollop Dijon mustard

Dice-sized cubes of Cheddar cheese – or blue cheese if you prefer

Method:

Ask your LO to tip the mince into the bowl and begin pulling it apart. Remind them not to put their fingers in their mouth!

Meanwhile, finely dice the onion. I shove mine in the food processor!

Once the mince is broken up, measure out the coriander, cumin and pepper and grind in a pestle and mortar. Again, the measuring and grinding is something your LO will enjoy helping with. When done, tip into the mince and get your hands in to combine. You could always add a few chilli flakes at this point too.

Use one slice of bread, doesn’t matter which colour, as breadcrumbs. I use a coffee grinder to do mine but your LO will have fun just pulling it apart. Add the crumbs, the egg, the onion and the dollop of mustard to the mix and combine well. Lots of hands in to squash and squeeze the mixture – combine everything well.

Now comes the fun bit! Take a good sized amount of the mixture and squash flat onto the surface. Pop a cube of cheese in the middle and wrap the mixture around it. Use cupped hands to shape it into a ball, then gently flatten to the desired thickness for your burger. Your LO will really enjoy ‘hiding’ the cheese inside when making her own mini burger, or slider.

To cook, simple brown on each side in a frying pan then put into the oven to finish the cooking. You can do it all in the oven if you’d prefer not to fry but you’ll lose some of the flavour from the browning process. It will depend on how thick your burgers are as to their cooking time, but I brown for a couple of minutes on each side, then finish off for about 10 minutes in the oven. You want the beef to be cooked through but still moist.

Now layer up your bun. I used a tiger roll or a soft one with a crisp top. For Frankie, We used small cookie cutters and pushed them through a soft roll to create a mini slider bun just the right size for little hands and tummies.

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For the grown ups, I put salad leaves,cheese, tomato and red onion into the bun, then people added their own sauces. For Frankie, I left hers plain with a small squeeze of ketchup as a treat and made a ‘shake-me’ salad instead: chopped tomato, cucumber, pepper and onion in a tub which she can shake to mix, then pour onto her plate.

Frankie wolfed hers down, as did the rest of the family, and it’s perfect to keep your LOs occupied for an hour on a wet day. Don’t forget, there’ll be the extra surprise of the melted cheese too!

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Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Salted Caramel

I’ve been looking for a European salted caramel recipe for a while now, but all seem to be from the other side of the ocean, so it was with excitement that I discovered Rachel Khoo’s version in her book. It was also with excitement that I thought I might be able to pull it off. I’m not good with sugar … many a time has it crystallised or stuck to the pan, but this one looked simple and clear, and I noted that it also kept in the fridge for up to two months, so I could use it in my mini caramel lattes as and when! (Or dollop a spoonful over ice cream if the need arose!)

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It’s a case of combining 150g caster sugar melted in a pan until dark golden, then adding 150ml of double cream and a tsp of salt (in future I’d add a little more salt) whilst remembering NOT to stir the caramel, but to swirl the pan instead. You then leave it to bubble for a few minutes and pour into sterilised jars. This I did, and it looked and tasted good.It was only when I came to use it the next day, and couldn’t remove any of it from the jar, that I wished I’d bubbled it for considerably less time after adding the cream. Rookie error, but one I make regularly when attempting plum jelly, often ending up with a very stiff paste.

So what can I do with the caramel, or should I say toffee? I’m going to have to heat the jar to loosen it, then use immediately I think: ice cream for 20?

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