Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Cooking for children’ Category

Once kids are in the picture dinner parties become a thing of the past, or should I say civilised dinner parties become a thing of the past!  Now we opt for dinner with friends that everyone can take part in – including the kids! Over the summer we had a couple of pizza nights – having made the dough and sauce – everyone makes up their own pizzas with whatever toppings they fancy. James and I have developed a good system – I prepare the dough and James rolls it out. Works great, and I have to say that they taste so much better then store bought versions. Maybe part of that is the taste of satisfaction when you are feeling all Nigella like for having prepared everything from scratch! I expected it all to be more complicated but it is simple! Make sure you buy a pizza stone – definitely worth it.

This weekend our good buddies the Rhule’s (Jon, Justine & Easton) came over for a spot of face painting and pizza making. All done just in time to settle down in front of X Factor!

A couple of very funny Clowns!!

A couple of very funny Clowns!!

Could there be a cook book more appropriate than ‘Jamie’s Italy’ to turn to in search of a recipe for pizza dough??

Basic Pizza dough (courtesy of Jamie Oliver – Jamie’s Italy)

Ingredients:-

800g strong white bread flour

200g fine ground semolina flour or strong white bread flour

1 level Tbsp fine sea salt

2 x 7g sachets of dried yeast

1 Tbsp golden caster sugar

around 650ml / just over 1 pint lukewarm water

Pile the flours and salt on to a clean surface and make an 18cm well in the centre. Add your yeast and sugar to the tepid water, mix up with a fork and leave for a few minutes, then pour into the well (or just chuck it all in the electric mixer like I do!). Using a fork and a circular movement, slowly bring in the flour from the inner edge of the well and mix into the water. It will look like stodgy porridge – continue to mix, bringing in all the flour. When the dough comes together and becomes too hard to mix with your fork, flour your hands and begin to pat into a ball. Knead the dough by rolling it backwards and forwards, using your left hand to stretch the dough towards you and your right hand to push the dough away from you at the same time. Repeat this for 10 minutes until you have a smooth springy soft dough.

Flour the top of the dough, cover it with clingfilm and let it rest for at least 15 minutes at room temperature. This will make it easier to roll it thinly. Now divide the dough into as many balls as you want to make pizzas i.e. lots of small ones or a few larger ones, but 6 is a good quantity for the dough.

Timing-wise it’s nice to roll the pizzas out 15 to 30 minutes before you start to cook them. If you want to work more in advance, it’s better to keep the dough in clingfilm in the fridge. Take a piece of dough, dust your surface and the dough with a little flour, and roll it out into a rough circle about 1/2 cm thick. Tear off an approximately sized piece of tin foil and rub it with olive oil, dust it well with flour and place the pizza base on top. Continue doing the same with another piece and then if you dust with a little flour you can pile them up into a stack, cover them with clingfilm and put them in the fridge.

When you are ready to cook them, preheat your oven to 250C. At this stage you can apply your toppings. Remember, less is more. If you can, cook the pizza’s on a piece of granite in a conventional oven, if not, do them one by one on the bars of the oven shelf towards the bottom of the oven. (If you are going to cook your pizza’s on the bars of the oven, make sure they are not too big – otherwise they will be difficult to manoeuvre). Cook for 7-10 mins until the pizza’s are golden and crispy.

IMG_6189

Family fun

I like to put out a variety of toppings and let everyone just go for it. Some suggestions are:-

Salami, Pepperoni, Chorizo, Ham, Chicken, Turkey, Anchovies

Courgettes, Corn, Pine nuts, Mushrooms, Peppers, Tomatoes, Red Onion, Pineapple, Olives, Capers, Jalapeno, Chilli

Grated Mozzarella, Goats Cheese, Brie, Blue Cheese…..basically any sort of cheese

IMG_6196

Justine's turn...the vegetarian version!

IMG_6198

Jon's up...

Try not to overload too much – I like a good selection but just little bits of this and that. If you overload it the base can go a bit soggy. Being proper pizza rather than a pan base they are not as sturdy for huge amounts of topping.

Of course, a good pizza needs a good tomato sauce……

Tomato Sauce (a la Jamie of course)

Note: I double up on this and find it makes the right amount for 6 pizzas. Always better to have too much than not enough plus you can always throw leftovers in the freezer .

Ingredients:-

Extra virgin olive oil

1 clove of garlic, peeled and finely sliced

bunch of fresh bail, leaves picked

1 x 400g of good quality plum tomatoes

sea salt & freshly ground black pepper

Heat a saucepan, add a splash of oil and the sliced garlic and cook gently. When the garlic has turned light golden, add half the basil, the tomatoes and a few pinches of S & P. Cook gently for about 20 minutes, mashing the tomatoes until smooth, then taste, season again and put to one side.

There is a small mystery to Jamie’s recipe….where does the rest of the basil go???

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

I am really trying to encourage Izzy to join me/us in the kitchen and to be honest not a lot of encouragement is needed. Often I start cooking and Izzy drags one of the dining room chairs up to the bench and she is straight up with her hands into anything and everything! Sure it can be a messier and more time consuming but I think that getting Izzy involved with the prep makes her more interested in actually eating the food. Plus it is a nice way to spend some family time at the end of the day.

This week we turned to one of my favourite domestic goddesses and her latest release – Rachel Allen’s ‘Home Cooking’. This is a fantastic book – jam  packed with loads of great family recipes. I just didn’t know where to start!! A definite recommendation for anyone out there in search of a great all-round cookbook that will never leave the kitchen counter!

We decided on Salmon fish fingers – very simple but it works beautifully!

Salmon Fish Fingers with a Tomato & Basil dip (courtesy of Rachel Allen – Home Cooking)

Ingredients:-

500g centre cut skinless salmon fillet

3 Tbsp plain flour

2 eggs

110g fresh white breadcrumbs

salt & freshly ground black pepper

25g butter (if shallow frying, I prefer to bake)

2 Tbsp olive oi

Lemon wedges, to serve

For the tomato & basil dip

275g tomatoes, roughly chopped

110ml creme fraiche (or half fat creme fraiche for the more calorie conscious!)

1 Tbsp finely shredded basil

Preheat the oven (if using) to 220C.

Cut the piece of salmon in half across the width and then cut each half into six equal sized fingers down the length. Sift the flour onto a plate or into a wide bowl, beat the eggs in another bowl, beat the eggs in another bowl and place the breadcrumbs in a third.  Season each with salt & pepper. First dust the salmon fingers in the flour, then dip them in the flour, then dip them in the beaten egg and finally in the breadcrumbs, to evenly coat.

Izzy working hard in the kitchen.

Izzy working hard in the kitchen.

Drizzle oil on a large baking sheet and arrange the fish fingers on the oiled sheet. Bake in the oven for 8-10 minutes, turning halfway through cooking, until crisp, golden and cooked through.

Meanwhile, prepare the tomato dip. Blitz the chopped tomato in a blender or using a hand held blender until smooth. Push through a fine sieve into a small saucepan and simmer on a low heat for 4-5 minutes or until reduced and thickened. remove and leave to cool completely (very important as we didn’t have time to do this and ended up with a very loose dip) before stirring into the creme fraiche with the bail and a little salt & pepper.

Serve the salmon fish fingers with lemon wedges for people to squeeze over together with a bowl of the tomato and basil creme fraiche to dip into.

Who needs a wash and a haircut?!?!

Who needs a wash and a haircut?!?!

Read Full Post »

Meredith & Isobel were hanging out with us this afternoon and it got to that time on Sunday that we needed to star thinking about dinner – always early on a Sunday due to shorter trading hours. As Mer was needing to do exactly the same as me – shop & cook – it made sense to do it together. A quick trip to the supermarket later we were in possession of a chicken and a medley of veg. It was a win win situation – half the grocery bill and great company while preparing together.

Mer had also picked up a Graffiti Cauliflower on the way over this morning – this was completely new to me as never seen or heard of it before. What a beautiful sight it is – vibrant purple. Much much more interesting than the usual boring white cauliflower! We decided to make this into a cauliflower cheese which I haven’t had in years.  Once the cauliflower had been simmered for 8 minutes the water was bright blue.

Beautiful!

Beautiful!

Apart from the Cauliflower Cheese there was no recipe to follow – just some Lemon stuffed into the chicken with some garlic and rosemary, chopped up butternut squash, carrots & parsnips and a drizzling of oilve oil….oh and a sprinkle of S & P.

IMG_6155

Once everything was cooked we split everything in half and Mer & Isobel headed home to Stu with dinner in tow. Worked really well as was the perfect  amount of chicken & veg – no leftovers in this house!

IMG_6164

Read Full Post »

When Mum came over earlier this year she had a wonderful  surprise in her suitcase – my Maidstone Intermediate Cookbooks! YAY!!!

Now anyone who went to Maidstone Intermediate (James & I both did) will remember Technicraft. A very exciting prospect which included Sewing with Mrs Bruce, Metalwork with Mr Crombie, Woodwork with Mr Livesey and of course Cooking with Mrs Otter. Every student who came out of Maidstone in those years is familiar with making lemon drink, mousetraps, rock cakes and so much more. It is fantastic to be able to flick through the pages of my Technicraft books and relive these days and ever since I got these little beauties back into my hands I have been meaning to recreate some of these recipes. This weekend seemed to be as good a time as any and with Mackie here for a sleep over I had 2 hungry little girls to satisfy!

First up were Chinese Chicken Wings – sticky & delicious, and just as good as I remember. The girls loved them and relished picking them up with their fingers and getting stuck in. What a mess but nothing that a wet wipe doesn’t clean up!

Chinese Chicken Wings (courtesy of Mrs Otter, Maidstone Intermediate)

Ingredients:-

4-5 chicken wings

2 Tbsp tomato sauce

2 Tbsp brown sugar

1/2 tsp chilli or other hot sauce

1/4 tsp five spice

2 Tbsp soy sauce

1 clove garlic or garlic salt

1/4 tsp ginger

Boil chicken for 10 mins. Combine all other ingredients and mix well. Place cooked wings in a baking dish. Brush or pour sauce over wings.

Bake (200C – 15 mins), bbq or grill until crisp and brown.

So very simple – well it needs to be as it was being prepared by a class of 10-12 year olds!!

The girls certainly looked like they were enjoying themselves – judge for yourself!

My 11 year old creative talents!

My 11 year old creative talents!

Just out of the oven

Just out of the oven

IMG_6117

Yum yum!!

Let's see how much Broccoli I can fit in my mouth!

Let's see how much Broccoli I can fit in my mouth!

Caveman Style!

Caveman Style!

The girls enjoying home made juice iceblocks for dessert.

The girls enjoying home made juice iceblocks for dessert.

Second recipe of the weekend was Savoury Sausage Roll – tasted just like I remembered and is a great way to make 4 sausages go a lot further. Make sure they are good quality sausages – will make a big difference. For all those Kiwi’s who love a Sizzler (why, oh why?) this is not the type of sausage I mean!!

Savoury Sausage Roll (once again courtesy of Mrs Otter, Maidstone Intermediate)

Ingredients:-

2 Tbsp breadcrumbs

1 small onion

salt & pepper

200g sausage meat or 3-4 sausages

1 Tbsp flour

1 apple

1 carrot

Sprinkle breadcrumbs and flour on a piece of lunch paper.

Remove skins from the sausages. Pat sausage meat out on the breadcrumbs to a long rectangle approx 5mm thick.

Prepare filling ingredients – chop onion finely, peel & grate carrot, core & grate apple

Spread filling over the sausage meat. Season with salt & pepper.

Roll up like a pin wheel. Place in a baking dish with a little oil.

Bake 30-40 minutes in oven 180C.

Another stunning piece of artwork!

Another stunning piece of artwork!

Ready for the oven

Ready for the oven

Lunch time!

Lunch time!

Mrs Otter’s recipe says you can use 1 mashed banana in place of the apple – haven’t tried this but don’t think this sounds particularly appealing.

Read Full Post »

Weekends are a great opportunity to break away from the run of the mill week day breakfast. I have made Bill Granger’s Bircher Muesli  a few times and I think it is delicious!

On Saturday we took another trip out to Hewitts Farm for some end of season pick your own. Our stash included 2 big bags of apples (there were about 10 varieties available), lots of beetroot, a cabbage, sweetcorn & a couple of small heads of brocolli. Plus we raided the farm shop for 3 more Crown Prince Pumpkins, small squashes, a celeriac, potatoes, carrots & turnips. Think we are set for the week!!

Our very own Cabbage Patch Kid!

Our very own Cabbage Patch Kid!

IMG_0590

IMG_0592

When we got home James put the juicer to work and about 25 apples later we had 1.5 litres of apple juice. Enough for the Bircher Muesli and more for the fridge. With our last batch I took some juice and blended with some mango and then poured them into ice block moulds – Izzy loves them. We can even get away with bribing her with them!

So back to Bill’s Bircher- you must try it – so yummy!

Bircher Muesli with Pear & Blueberries (courtesy of Bill Granger – Bill’s Food)

Ingredients:-

200g rolled oats or mixed rolled oats, barley & rye

375ml pear juice (I used apple)

2 pears, skin left on and grated (I used 1 pear & 1 apple)

125g plain yoghurt

4 Tbsp toasted chopped almonds (would no doubt add more delciousness but I didn’t have any to hand)

80g blueberries (I used a mix of raspberries, blueberries & blackberries)

Put the rolled oats, barley & rye in a bowl with the pear juice and leave to soak for 1 hour, or overnight, in the fridge. Add the grated pear and yoghurt and mix well. Spoon the muesli into serving bowls and top each each with toasted almonds & blueberries. Serves 4.

IMG_6004

Read Full Post »

Woke up this morning to the news of the Tsunami & earthquake that has rocked Samoa. It’s just so sad – these things always happen to people who have the least (in a material sense) and therefore have the most to lose. My parents have been visiting Samoa over the last couple of years and are full of praise for the Samoan people – so friendly and hospitable. My first thought was for their friends and so sent a quick text to Mum. Luckily they live in the hills and so were safe. I picked up the paper on the way home tonight and my stomach lurched when I saw the headline about the 2 year old boy who was swept away from his parents – makes me feel so sick. What a cruel world this can be sometimes. My thoughts are with his family and with all those in Samoa who have lost loved ones or are now suffering the anxiety of missing loved ones. I can’t even begin to imagine.

It’s been a busy few days with quarter end (as anyone who works in financial services knows) and I am pleased that another quarter is over! Time to start on the next one!!! So this is the first time I have had a chance to sit down and catch you up on our most recent culinary experiences – but know that I have left off some not so successful dishes!!!

A year or so ago our friend Kerry shared this recipe with us. Is a lasagne that substitutes pumpkin & courgettes for pasta (great for those who are doing the whole wheat free thing). We have made it lots of times now and it has the comfort factor without the stodge feeling. I just think it works really well and is another great way to add veges to a dish for kids. We all enjoy this and I like to serve it with a salad (made up with whatever is handy at the time!). It also works made ahead of time as I made this up on Sunday, put in the fridge and then heated it up on Tuesday.

Mince & Pumpkin Lasagne

Ingredients:-

500g mince beef

400g pumpkin, thinly sliced

400g tinned diced tomatoes

1 cup or more of grated mozzarella cheese

200g courgette (or zucchini – depending on where you are), thinly sliced

100g onion, diced

Handful of pumpkin seeds

1/8 cup oregano

1/8 cup parsley

1 clove of garlic, peeled & crushed

Olive oil

Preheat oven to 180C. Fry mince in a little oilve oil until browned, add herbs, onion & capsicum (or pepper – once again depending on where you are, but I forgot to put this in anyway!!). Fry until tender, add tomatoes and simmer until thick.

In a greased lasagne dish place a layer of pumpkin slices and cover with half of the mince mixture.

IMG_5955

IMG_5957

Place a layer of zucchini on top and add half the cheese. Then cover with the remaining mince mixture and top with left over cheese and pumpkin seeds.

IMG_5959

IMG_5961

Bake in oven for 40 mins. Serves 6-8.

IMG_5968

Read Full Post »

This week I had a great email from Mum with this recipe which comes highly recommended so thought I would share it with you. According to Marty (AKA Dad) they are ‘Outstanding’ – high praise indeed!!

Pea & Caper Fishcakes

Ingredients:-

500g snapper fillets, finely diced  ( I used Gurnard )
1/2 cup frozen peas
1 Tbsp baby salted capers, rinsed
Finely grated rind of 1 lemon
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1 egg, lightly beaten
1/4 cup plain flour
1 Tbsp olive oil
Lemon wedges, to serve

Put the fish, peas, capers, lemon rind, mustard, egg and flour in a
large bowl and stir until well combined. Divide the mixture into 8 equal
portions, then shape each portion into a patty.

Heat a barbecue hotplate ( I just did them in a sauté pan with a
little olive oil ) to medium heat and spread oil over the plate. Add fish
cakes and cook for 3-4 minutes on each side or until golden and cooked
through. Serve with lemon wedges.

P1020155

These are very yummy….. I served them with Feta, Beetroot and Red
Onion Salad and Fresh Asparagus

P1020157

Looks great Mum – this will be on the menu for next week 🙂

Fish Cakes on Foodista

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »