Melba streusel loaf

Mmmmmmmm.  I just made this cake having found the recipe on the back of a packet of dried apricots.  I thought it looked a bit different.  The moistness of the fruit, lightness of the sponge and crunch of the streusel topping makes for a very satisfying cake!  It took about 25 mins to prepare (with very minimal beating) and 45 mins to cook, although the original recipe suggests cooking for 35 mins.  Accompanying cup of tea essential.

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Ingredients

Streusel topping:

25g butter or sunflower margarine

50g plain flour

25g flaked almonds

25g demerera sugar

Cake mixture:

100g caster sugar

100g butter or sunflower margarine

2 eggs, beaten

100g self-raising flour

75g dried apricots, roughly chopped

75g raspberries, fresh or frozen

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 / 190 degrees.  Butter a loaf tin.  For the streusel topping rub the butter or margarine into flour, stir in almonds and sugar.  Set aside.

Beat sugar and butter or margarine a little.  Beat in eggs and fold in flour.  Fold in the apricots and raspberries.  Spoon in to tin and level.  Sprinkle streusel topping over.  Bake for 40 – 45 mins or until risen and cooked through.  Cool in tin for 10 mins and then turn out.  Leave to cool completely.

Kids meals special – quick, healthy meals for hungry children

A few of you have mentioned you’d like some ideas for meals to quickly rustle up for inpatient, hungry kids.  So here are some recipes tried, tested and recommended by 22 month old Freddy!  Please let me know if you have any feedback or your own recipe suggestions.  You can use the comment tab at the bottom of the blog.

Microwaved sweet potato with chickpeas and feta (serves 2 children) – takes 5 – 10 mins

Cut a small/medium sweet potato in half, pierce a few times and put in microwave dish.  Covering it with cling film will speed up the cooking (this is safe – Jamie Oliver does it!)  Microwave on full power for approx 6 mins, or until it’s soft and cooked through.  Discard the skin if you wish.

Meanwhile boil contents of half a can of chickpeas , then add the chickpeas to half a block of chopped feta, and chopped fresh herbs if you wish (e.g. mint/coriander).  Top the sweet potato with the mixture and serve.  For Freddy I mash it all up a bit.

Two ways with shop-bought tortellini – (serves 2 children) – takes 5 mins

1.  Boil half a pack of tortellini together with a big handful of the peas.  Top with some olive oil and grated cheese.

2.  Boil half a pack of tortellini with half a can of chickpeas and some chopped brocolli.  Top with grated cheese if you fancy.

Guacamole and/on toast – (serves 1 – 2 children) takes 5 mins

I think this recipe depends a lot on the child’s tastes.  You could give your child an avocado chopped in half and they can enjoy spooning it out themselves. You could also mash an avocado with olive oil and spread it on the toast, or add more flavours like crushed garlic, fresh herbs, lemon juice, even a little chilli, to make a guacamole type mixture.  Very quick and healthy.

Smoked mackeral and spring onion omelette (serves 2 – 4 children) – takes 10 – 15 mins

Fry 2 chopped spring onions for 2 mins, then add a large handful of torn smoked mackerel and cook for a couple of mins more.  Pour in 4 lightly beaten eggs and continue cooking until egg is set.  It might be easier to finish the omelette off by putting the pan in a hot oven or grilling the top for a few mins.  The omelette works well cut in to strips for younger children so they can finger feed.

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(Freddy dipping omelette, pepper and brocolli in to mayonnaise)

Ideas for tricking kids in to eating healthy stuff

* Give them some chopped veg, chunks of shop-bought falafel or any finger food, plus a dollop of dip to dip it in to e.g. hummus or mayonnaise.  Seems to work!

* Toast with peanut butter and chopped banana or chopped grapes

* Put seeds in an omelette

* Top shop-bought filo pastry with veg and cheese, cook then cut it in to strips

* Combine grated carrot with raisons for a nice salad (not all kids seem to like the texture though!)

* Oatcakes with cream cheese and chopped red pepper (maybe get your child to spread on the cheese and sprinkle on the pepper)

* Baked beans and potato waffles cut in to fingers

* Grate peeled courgette in to a basic biscuit recipe – it doesn’t change the texture or taste

* Give your child something to sprinkle on to their food e.g. italian herbs/cinnamon.

* Put ground flaxseed in their cereal or on a cheese toastie.  You can get flaxseed and nuts/flaxseed and berries from Holland and Barrett.

Good luck – please let me know if you have any further suggestions for trickery!

Snazzy, effortless fish tray bake recipe plus anchovies as seasoning

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(Photo from www.flickr.com)

This lovely recipe is from Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals (http://www.jamieoliver.com/tv-books/jamies-30-minute-meals) cookbook. It’s so easy, it really is a case of getting everything together, cutting some of it up, and chucking it all in a roasting tray. It’s a good one to cook for friends as it looks a bit snazzy and they always seem to like it and want the recipe! You could experiment with lots of different veg and herbs in a fish tray bake (although some veg need a little cooking before putting in the tray), but I would recommend always using the lemon, chilli, anchovies and garlic as basic flavours. I serve the fish tray bake with some roast or mashed potato. Here is my slightly tweaked version of the recipe:

Ingredients (serves 4)

4 x 150g salmon fillets, skin on, scaled and pin-boned

Bunch of asparagus

1 lemon

1 fresh red chilli

Small bunch of fresh basil

1 x 30g tin of anchovies in oil

4 cloves of garlic

12 cherry tomatoes

Cooking

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5 / 190 degrees. Lay the salmon fillets in a large roasting tray. Snap off the woody ends of the asparagus, then add the spears to the tray with a good pinch of salt and pepper. Quarter a lemon and add it to the tray. Finely chop the chilli and add to the tray with the basil leaves. Drizzle over the oil from the tin of anchovies and tear in 4 of the fillets. Crush in 4 unpeeled cloves of garlic and drizzle over some olive oil. Add the cherry tomatoes. Arrange everything nicely in the tray, so the lemons are facing up and the salmon is skin side up. Cook for approximately 20 – 25 minutes until the salmon is cooked through and it’s all oozing with flavour.

The book

Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals is a great cookbook, partly because for each ‘meal’ it has a main, side dishes and dessert, so it gives you ideas of what work well together. However, the title is a bit misleading, as I haven’t made anything in it in less than an hour… If you are not a Jamie hater, you can watch the fish tray bake episode of 30 Minute Meals here:

http://www.channel4.com/programmes/jamies-30-minute-meals/episode-guide/series-1/episode-22

I will blog some more favourite recipes from 30 Minute Meals in the future!

Anchovies (*an exciting ingredient*) as seasoning

It wasn’t until I cooked the above recipe that I realised anchovies weren’t just funny hairy little fish but could be used as a rich, salty seasoning.  They also work well cut up and added to tomato based sauces and dishes like potato dauphinoise.

Easy sweet chilli jam recipe plus rocky roads (good to make with kids)

Easy sweet chilli jam

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I made this chilli jam for a few people at Christmas.  Everyone loved it and said it went well with cheese, ham, bread, samosas or even to liven up a cheese sandwich.  It’s really simple and although it takes a while to cook, 95% of the effort is just stirring, so you can sit near to the hob and relax (sort of).  You may need to cook it for longer than 50 mins for it to become ‘like thick, bubbling lava’.  Here is the recipe:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/8257/sweet-chilli-jam

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(Photo from www.bbcgoodfood.com)

Don’t be put off by the need to sterilise the jam jars.  It’s easy!  Nigella Lawson tells us how:

‘Wash them well in hot, soapy water, rinse well with hot, clean water and dry with a clean cloth. Then put the jars in an oven preheated to 140c/Gas Mk 1/275F for 10 minutes. Put the contents into the warm jars, seal and leave until completely cold then store in a cool, dark place’ (from www.nigella.com).

Here is a link to lots of other edible gift ideas:

http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/content/recipes/occasions/edible-gift/

Rocky roads

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(Photo from www.nigella.com)

Speaking of Nigella, here is another easy recipe, for gorgeous rocky road crunch bars.  If you haven’t ever tried them then you need to.  Okay they’re not healthy, but they’re great for making with children as they can help put the ingredients in a bowl, stir and even bash the biscuits up with a rolling pin!  I didn’t bother dusting mine with icing sugar.  Here is the recipe:

http://www.nigella.com/recipes/view/rocky-road-crunch-bars-25

Two omelette recipes plus omelettes for weaning babies/kids

Tonight I cooked a red pepper, onion and potato omelette and it turned out okay!  If a little bland.  So maybe they’re not that difficult.

Thanks Katherine Rose for the top tip about ‘calling it a frittata and embracing (i.e. finishing it off in) the oven’!  Makes it possible just to chuck the egg in and leave it to cook evenly by itself.  Check out this gorgeous and interesting frittata recipe recommended by Katherine:

http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/a-tasty-frittata-recipe.html

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(Photo from www.101cookbooks.com)

I’m looking forward to trying it.  I’ve previously made and would recommend the tortilla in Jamie Oliver’s 30 Minute Meals book (possibly my favourite cookery book).  He uses fennel seeds (*an exciting ingredient*) which add an unusual flavour:

http://www.jamieoliver.com/recipes/other-recipes/tapas-feast-tortilla-glazed-chorizo-manc

More about fennel seeds in a future blog!

Omelettes for weaning babies (and bigger children)

I’ve found omelettes are great for weaning babies who are ready for some texture and enjoy finger food, as you can cut the omelette in to strips and leave them to it.   Babies and older kids seem to like the creaminess of the omelette, which means you can sneak in loads of healthy stuff (such as veg and pumpkin seeds)! My son Freddy devoured a smoked mackerel and spring onion omelette.

Baked red onions with walnut salsa (10 mins prep, 20 mins cooking)

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(Photo from www.guardian.co.uk)

This is a recipe from Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi, who writes for the Saturday Guardian magazine.  He has a restaurant and take away shop in Highbury in London.  I once bought a slice of passion fruit cake there and it was unforgettable…  He is sometimes criticised for having very long-winded recipes with obscure ingredients, but this recipe is simple, delicious and looks fancy once done.  Even my boyfriend loved it, and he would normally opt for a greasy fry up…You don’t need to use rocket as any salad leaves would work, the parsley could also be replaced with mint and if you’re not a fan of goats cheese, feta would be just as nice:

http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2012/may/25/baked-onions-chicken-salad-recipes

Here is Ottolenghi’s website:

http://www.ottolenghi.co.uk/

Tomato, anchovy and porcini sauce recipe plus the joys of roast avocado

Dinner (10 mins prep, 20 mins cooking)

For dinner I made the sauce from this recipe – red mullet with tomato, anchovy and porcini sauce http://www.bbc.co.uk/food/recipes/red_mullet_with_tomato_52679 – from the Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy cookbook (http://www.carluccios.com/antonio/two-greedy-italians), based on the fantastic BBC TV series.  Red mullet is very expensive though so I replaced it with haddock, which I baked for about 20 minutes at gas mark 5.  I served the sauce on top of the haddock, with mashed potato.  The sauce is simple to make, and gorgeous.  Porcini mushrooms (*an exciting ingredient*) come dried and are great for adding a smoky richness to dishes (especially in tomato sauces and creamy sauces).

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The joys of roast avocado…

Yes, you can roast avocado!  And it’s suprisingly delicious.  Especially nice as part of a salad.  Check it out in this Jamie Oliver mad dog salad recipe – http://labellacook.blogspot.co.uk/2010/01/mad-dog-salad.html.  It’s from his (underrated?) Jamie’s America book – http://www.jamieoliver.com/tv-books/jamies-american-road-trip).

Hi…

My name is Katie.  Welcome to my food blog!  It’s a mixture of my own recipes, recipes I have stolen, discoveries about interesting ingredients, decent cookery books and cookery programmes.  It will also have cheap and easy recipes for childrens’ meals, ideas for cooking with kids, and links.  I am hoping foodie family, friends and basically anyone who wants to will give me recipes to post, too.  Oh, and that I can overcome my fear of making omelettes.  Cheers!  Katie x

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