WWW: Wonderful world of weaning

 

We’ve gone for baby-led weaning* in a big way in our house. Good food, one meal for everyone with as little effort as possible. Yes please!

HOLIDAY FUN!

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On a recent trip to Italy Elena caused quite a stir. She became known as, ‘The baby that eats everything!’ and ‘The baby that feeds herself!’ Baby-led weaning hasn’t quite hit remote towns in Southern Italy. As she picked up strips of frittata, I was met with a few ‘Madonna! Madonna’s!’ and looks of utter horror but, to my relief, it changed throughout the two weeks to amazement, and utter pride from Nonna. Elena even started to get an audience. She didn’t seem to mind (or should I say notice – she was too busy eating!).

RECIPE

I can’t get enough of Gill Rapley & Tracey Murkett’s The Baby-Led Weaning Cookbook . The recipes are fantastic but it’s also great if you’re creating your own and want to check if a certain ingredient is ok.

Here’s their Simple broccoli quiche.

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1 medium head broccoli (florets only)
250g shortcrust pastry (see Cook’s Tip)/ or use a readymade pastry case
1 small onion
3 grilled rashers of bacon, chopped (optional)
50-100g grated cheese (according to taste)
3 eggs
115ml (4floz) milk
Pinch freshly ground black pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 190ºC/375ºF/Gas Mark 5. Cut the broccoli into small florets and steam or boil for 2 minutes until just tender and drain.

2 To prepare your pastry case, either line a 23cm (9in) lightly greased pie/tart tin with pastry (or use a readymade pastry case). Spread the onion in the bottom of the pastry case. Add the broccoli (and bacon, if using) and sprinkle half of the cheese over it.

3 Beat together the eggs and milk and add the black pepper. Pour the egg mixture over the onion, broccoli and cheese, then sprinkle the remaining cheese on top. (The egg mixture should come at least 3 quarters of the way up the pastry case. If it doesn’t add another egg, beaten with 2tbsp milk)

4 Bake in the oven for 40-50 minutes, until the egg is cooked through (test with a skewer) and the pastry is golden brown. Serve warm, sliced or in fingers, with new potatoes and either salad, green beans or asparagus for a main meal, or eat it cold for a light lunch.

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Cook’s Tip

I also like to use ready-rolled pastry for this too. To make the pastry from scratch use 85g diced butter, 165g plain flour. Use your fingertips to rub the butter into the flour until it looks like fine breadcrumbs. Using a cold blunt knife, stir in 1-2 tbsp water a few drops at a time with a criss-cross cutting motion. Stop when the mixture starts to clump together. Gather into one lump and knead it lightly for a few seconds, until it forms a dough.

*Here’s a PDF from the NHS website about weaning – it includes a small paragraph on baby-led weaning. There’s a little more detailed info about it here on the NCT website.

 

 

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#35 FOOD NEWS: Mum’s super 70’s savers!

shopping final I always remember loads of veg and good home cooking when I think of mealtimes as a kid. So, with a January budget to stick to and a new years resolution to eat more veg, me and mum grab a cuppa and chat through a typical weeks food from ‘the good ol’ days’ when anything that resembled granola was firmly meant for the budgie. I’m loving the retro shortcuts in this little lot! Make sure you stock up on them – recipes on links below.

SUNDAY – Roast chicken

Good sized chicken for a roast (this is going to make three meals), so spend out on a good quality free-range chicken. Serve with roast potatoes, carrots, Paxo stuffing balls, parsnips and Brussels sprouts (or the veg of your choice).

Retro shortcut: Paxo paxo final

MONDAY – Leftover chicken and leek pie

Fry leek, onion and mushroom, stir through the leftover chicken and Campbell’s condensed mushroom soup. Fill a homemade pastry case with the filling. Crimp the top to seal. Brush with milk and bake. Serve with cabbage and mash.

Retro shortcut: Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup campbells final

TUESDAY – Chicken broth

Boil the chicken carcass, with stock (made from 1 oxo stock cube) and veg, such as potatoes, parsnips, swede, carrots, onion (whatever veg you have – or possibly buy a stew pack) add a little Bisto for colour and cornflour paste to thicken (if necessary). This definitely sounds free-style: ‘add soup – packet or canned, until you have an appealing colour!’

Retro shortcut: Oxo stock cube oxo final

WEDNESDAY – 70s Spaghetti bolognese

(Italian In-Laws turn away now!) Make up a packet of (1 pint) Knorr minestrone soup with a little less water than stated on the packet. Fry off the mince with carrot and onion, drain off the excess fat. Stir through tomato purée. Add the minestrone soup, frozen peas (or sweetcorn) and mushrooms. Serve with spaghetti and grated cheddar.

Retro shortcut:  Knorr minestrone soup

THURSDAY – 3 bears pies Fry off mince with diced carrot and onion. Drain excess fat. Meanwhile make up a Bisto paste (!). Put 2-3 dessert spoons of Bisto in a cup and stir through a small amount of water until you have a paste, add to the mince, stirring. Cook for 3-4 mins. Roll out homemade shortcrust pastry. Cut out 7-8 circles (using a saucer as a template). Fill one half of each pastry circle with the mince, fold over and crimp to seal. Bush with milk and bake. Freeze any leftover pies. Serve with mash and veg.

Retro shortcut:  Bisto gravy granules bisto final 1

FRIDAY Grilled pork chops, tomatoes and chips (Friday treat).

SATURDAY Sausages with onion gravy, mash and cabbage.

Retro shortcut: Mum’s fave makes another appearance! Bisto gravy granules! bisto 2

The whole lot aside from store-cupboard staples, a packet of mince and a packet of sausages (which I already had) came to £33.10. I don’t think that’s bad! All meals will feed at least four – as there’s two of us I’ve included some freezer notes on some of the recipes. Very handy – I won’t need to cook hardly at all next week!

#32 FOOD NEWS: ‘Apple’ apple pies!

Every monday

Ferrero Rocher, Kinder Bueno and nutella…. the hazelnut is somewhat of a hero in Italy, so I’ve decided to take a piece of inspiration from Mr Ferrero and hidden a fruity hazelnut filling in the centre of these pies. With honey from Pollino National Park dotted throughout, I’ve hopefully given this British fave a little kiss from Italy. AND they’re shaped like an APPLE!

apple group

300g plain flour, sifted
Pinch salt
180g butter
3tbsp caster sugar
3tbsp runny honey
6 Granny Smith apples
100g Pre-soaked mixed fruit
40g roasted chopped hazelnuts
milk, for brushing
softly whipped cream, to serve (optional)

ingreds

1 Place the flour, salt and butter in a bowl, rub between your fingertips until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs. Stir through 1 tbsp of the honey, the sugar and 4-5 tbsp cold water. Turn out onto a work surface and knead quickly to form a smooth dough. Wrap in cling film and chill for 20 mins.

pastry strip

2 Meanwhile peel the apples.

Peeled apples

3 Slice off the bottom to create a flat surface, then remove the core using an apple corer.

stuffing apples strip
4 Heat the remaining honey in the microwave for 10 seconds to loosen. Mix the dried fruit with the nuts and 1 tbsp of the honey. Set aside.

5 Divide the dough into 6 x approx 90g pieces. Roll out the first piece on a lightly floured work surface, large enough to wrap around an apple.

Stuffing apples

6 Place the apple in the centre with the top of the apple facing down. Fill with the dried fruit mix. Brush the outside of the apple with the remaining honey.

7 Pull up the sides of the pastry, folding to follow the shape of the apple. The folds will mean there will be excess pastry at the bottom of the apple, slice off the excess and reserve.

Trimming pastry
8 Turn over, so the apple is the right way up and shape in your hands, smoothing out the folds as best you can. Repeat with the remaining apples, place on a baking tray lined with baking parchment.

leaf trimmings

9 Roll out the reserved trimmings and use to cut out leaf shapes, brush the undersides with a little water and stick to the tops of the apples. Pierce the top with a skewer to allow the steam to escape. Chill for 10 mins.

Ready for oven
10 Preheat the oven to 200ºC, 180ºC fan, gas 6. Brush the apples with the milk and bake for 30 mins (checking after 20 mins – if they are already a nice golden colour cover with a layer of foil for the final 10 mins). Serve with softly whipped cream, if liked.

#12 FOOD NEWS: Breakfast special

Every monday

Full English or a continental pastry? I’m a massive fan of the English breakfast but it occurred to me that it could be taken to dizzy heights with a few Italian twists!

WEEKEND WONDER: The Embellished English

britalian breakfast final1

Garlic and balsamic roast tomatoes

Oliveoil and balsamaic tomatoes

Place 3 halved plum tomatoes and 2 whole garlic cloves in a baking tray, drizzle with olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Sprinkle with dried oregano and season to taste. Roast at 190’C, 170’C fan, gas 5 for 30 mins. Serves 2 (double for 4).

The sausage

Place Sicilian Inspired Pork Sausages (Sainsbury’s Taste The Difference, £2.50 for 6) in a baking tray above the tomatoes and cook to pack instructions at 190’C, 170’C fan, gas 5 for 30 mins. If you’re lucky enough to have an Italian deli nearby or if you’re self-catering or camping in Southern Italy seek out pappagnotta – the ultimate Italian sausage.

Dreamy creamy scrambled eggs

eggs crop

Whisk 4 large eggs, 6 tbsp whole milk and 50g mascarpone. Season to taste. Heat 1 tbsp of olive oil over a medium heat in a non-stick frying pan, add the egg mixture and allow to sit for 20 secs then gently fold and stir with a wooden spatula. Allow to sit for a further 10 secs and fold and stir again. Repeat until the eggs are soft softly set. Serves 2.

Crispy pancetta

sizzling pancetta

Place the pancetta in a dry non-stick frying or griddle pan over a medium heat for 3-5 mins, turning once, until crispy.

Britalian Tip

Add some courgette flower fritters if you have the rest of the day to walk (or sleep!) it all off!

WHEN YOU NEED TO BE UP-AND-OUT:

4 weekday 5 minute breakfasts…

Superfood smoothie

Whizz and go!

superfood smoothie crop

Beetroot & blueberry smoothie

Place 125g cooked beetroot (half a pack of cooked beetroot in natural juices),  100g blueberries, 25g goji  berries, 60ml pomegranate juice, 1tsp honey and a squeeze of lemon juice in a blender. Blend for 1 minute and serve. Serves 1

My Calabrian breakfast
Although I’m never in a hurry when in Italy, breakfast is a quick affair – just a little entree to LUNCH.

My Italian breakfast

Lipton English breakfast tea (Mama Romeo likes to make me feel at home!), Pan di Stelle biscuits (good Italian deli’s sell these in the UK or you can even buy them from Amazon.co.uk, from £2.95) and a fresh peach. A seemingly odd little mix that I’ve grown to love.

Mummy ‘E’s’ mega cereal breakfast
Setting her up for a day of teaching 11-15 year olds. No wonder it’s quite hefty.

Super cereal crop

Top your favourite ready mixed granola with milk, a large spoonful of Greek natural yogurt, a small handful of berries and a few slices of kiwi fruit (or top with any fruit that needs using up!).

Slow release energy fast! 

 Perkier porridge pots

These little pots of joy from Perkier are perfect for busy days, pop one in your bag on the way to work and simply top up with boiling water.  Perkier was set-up by Anne Perkins and her partner Steve; fed up with the lack of choice and the price of gluten free products, Anne decided to do something about it. Perkier porridge pots are available at large supermarkets for around £1.50 each. For full product range visit http://www.perkier.co.uk

GREAT GADGET

Running out of cupboard space? These stackable Leaning Tower of Pisa espresso cups are perfect to keep on the worktop – making it even easier to reach for that morning coffee. Fab and functional! £19.99 www.menkind.co.uk

leaning tower of pisa_In situation