Orange and Raisin Soda Bread

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My 5 year old son and I love Nadia Hussain – former Bake Off Winner and all round loveable mum – so we made the delicious, slightly sweet soda bread from her World Book Day book Bake Me A Story.   The great thing about soda bread is that you don’t have to knead it, it is just a matter of mixing the ingredients and patting the dough in to a rough ball.  It was easy and we all loved it with a spread of butter! We replaced the dried blueberries with raisins as we had them at home already.

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My son tends to help a little then run off, then help a little more and run off, before declaring he is tired.  Which is fine, because every second helping out counts.  He helped tipping in and mixing the ingredients, cutting a cross in the loaf before baking, and tapping on the bottom of the loaf to check it was cooked (it should make a hollow sound).

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Here is the recipe!

Orange and Raisin Soda Bread (makes one loaf)

400g plain flour

2 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

50g caster sugar

2 tbsp olive or vegetable oil

100g raisins/dried cranberries/dried blueberries

Grated zest of 2 oranges

1 large egg

185ml buttermilk (if you don’t have buttermilk you can easily make it by mixing milk with lemon juice – mostly milk topped up with lemon juice to 185ml – it might curdle and that’s fine)

Preheat the oven to 180 degrees/gas mark 6.  Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper.

In a large bowl mix the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, oil, raisins and orange zest until combined.  Separately beat the egg with the buttermilk then pour in to the bowl with the other ingredients, and mix with a spatula.  Gently bring the dough together to form a ball, but don’t overwork it (you may need to use your hands at the end).

Place the dough on the lined tray and make two deep cuts in the top in a cross shape, nearly all the way through.  Bake for 30-40 minutes, until the loaf is golden and sounds hollow when taped on the base.

Leave to cool then enjoy with butter!  Should last 2-3 days and can be toasted.

 

 

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Cooking With Kids – Salmon and Green Bean Curry

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This is a gently spiced Salmon and Green Bean Curry recipe from the lovely Nadiya Hussain’s free kids cookbook for World Book Day.  It is all made in one pan so nice and simple.

My youngest son Robin (5) helped me make the curry using his new proper grown up chopping knife (the knife brand is ‘kitchen devil’, so obviously he was sold).  Luckily he is naturally cautious so I wasn’t scared for long!  I just had to make sure there was no loud music on and he and his brother were in different rooms and not distracting each other.  He helped me cut the green beans and salmon, holding one end with one hand (fingers curled in) and cutting slowly with the other.

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He also helped me put the ingredients in the pan and stir.  Great job Robin!  Hopefully Freddy will cook with me soon too.  Freddy and us adults loved the dish with some brown rice.  Robin wasn’t keen on the green beans but enjoyed the rest of it and we agreed to try it with peas next time.  Canned chickpeas would make a great alternative to the salmon.  Allow about 30 minutes to make everything!

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Salmon and green bean curry (serves 4 with brown rice)

Glug of oil

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Thumb of ginger, grated very small

1 small onion, chopped small

1 tsp tomato puree or 1 tomato, chopped small

1/2 tsp turmeric

1 1/2 tsp garam masala

Water

170g green beans, chopped

450g salmon, skin removed and chopped in to chunks

Handful of fresh coriander, roughly chopped

Heat the oil, garlic, ginger and onion in a pan for 5 minutes, until the onions have softened.  Add the tomato puree or tomatoes, turmeric and garam masala and cook for another minute.  Add a 2 tbsp water and then the green beans.  Cook for 5 minutes, adding a little more water if need be, to just cover them.

Add the salmon and cook for another 5-7 minutes, adding a little more water to help them cook if necessary.  Take off the pan and stir in the coriander.  Eat with brown rice!

Pumpkin Pie With The Kids!

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Pumpkin Pie is a wonderful Halloween comfort pudding.  It is also really quick and easy to prepare thanks to cans of pumpkin puree now being available in the UK (and pre-made pastry cases!).  Alternatively you could make pumpkin puree yourself by chopping and boiling the flesh for about 20 minutes or until tender, then draining and mashing it/blitzing it in a food processor.

My 5 year old pudding-loving son poured the ingredients in to a bowl, mixed them together and carefully spooned the filling in to the pastry.

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My pastry case was on the small-side so I had some pumpkin filling leftover, which I spooned in to 4 recycled ramekins and baked as individual pumpkin desserts (a slightly healthier option!)

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Another thing to note – according to the lid of the pumpkin puree it also makes a great substitute for eggs, butter or oil in many recipes.  Interesting.

Happy Halloween!  And thank you to the Hummingbird Bakery Cookbook, which this recipe is based on.

Pumpkin Pie (makes 10 slices)

1 large sweet pastry case

1 egg

425g can of pumpkin puree

235ml evaporated milk

220g caster sugar

1/4 tsp ground cloves (if you don’t have this don’t worry – it’s not essential!)

1 tsp salt

3/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1 tbsp plain flour

Preheat the oven to 170 degrees/gas mark 3.

Put the egg, pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, caster sugar, ground cloves, salt, cinnamon, ginger and flour in a large bowl and mix until everything is combined and there are no lumps.

Pour the mixture in to the pie crust.  If there is any mixture left you can pour it in to ramekins or small ovenproof containers to make little crustless puddings.

Bake the pie in the oven for 35-50 minutes, or until the filling is setting (it might not completely set until it has been taken out of the oven and cooled for about 1 hour).

Serve with cream or ice cream!

 

Cooking With Kids – Baked Whole Fish with Tasty Roast Veg

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A fillet of fish in a packet bears no resemblance to the animal it used to be.  So I feel really strongly that if children are going to eat fish or meat they should find out where it came from.  I’d always assumed that cooking a whole fish would be technical and awkward, but actually if you buy it gutted and descaled then all you have to do is stuff it with lemon and herbs, shake over some salt, pepper and a drizzle of olive oil and bake it until flaky .  My kids love the spectacle of peeling the cooked skin off and using a fork to serve themselves.  They really enjoy the texture and flavour of the fish and then seeing and touching the bones, head and eyes left at the end.  They don’t hold back, so having wipes nearby is a must!

My kids are young so I just get them to do little tasks when I am cooking.  In this case they chopped the olives in half with a blunt knife (next time it will be a proper knife!) and stuffed the fish (seabass) with the herbs and lemon slices.  The fish is baked on top of sliced potatoes, onions, the olives and sundried tomatoes, which become sweet and chard, along with the subtle flavour of the lemon juice.  Other vegetables such as sweet potato, broccoli, pepper, tomatoes and asparagus would also work well.  Sainsbury’s do a pack of ‘British sea vegetables’ which you can fry in minutes, and make a great accompaniment (not according to the kids though, who stuck to their peas!)

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The whole dish is fun to eat as you can put it in the middle of the table for everyone to help themselves.

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Baked Whole Fish With Tasty Roast Veg (serves 2-4 depending on appetite)

2 large potatoes sliced

1 onion, sliced

12 olives, chopped in half

6 sundried tomatoes, chopped small

2 whole sea bass or other similar sized whole fish, descaled and gutted

Handful of parsley

2 lemons, sliced

Olive oil (or any other cooking oil)

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees/gas mark 6.

Spread the sliced potatoes, onion, olives and sundried tomatoes out on a baking tray or large casserole dish to make a sort of bed for the fish, and pour over some oil.  Lay on the descaled and gutted whole fish and stuff them with the parsley and lemon slices (don’t worry if they come out the side a bit).  Finally drizzle the fish with a little oil and shake over some salt and pepper.

Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the fish is flaky and cooked, taking out the fish briefly to turn over the veg halfway through cooking.   Let everyone serve themselves and the kids explore the fish as much as they like.  Watch this video from 37 seconds in for how to eat your cooked fish – it is simpler than you think!

 

 

 

Eton Mess in 5 mins

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Ah, Eton Mess. The creamy and delicious summer dessert combination of strawberries, crushed meringues and cream.

Eton Mess is believed to have originated from Eton School, who served it during cricket matches. One theory of how the recipe came to be is that the ingredients were accidentally mixed together when they were dropped on the floor, hence it being called ‘Eton Mess’! Another theory is that a cheeky labrador dog sat on a picnic basket containing the ingredients during a picnic, crushing them together. Either way, the dessert really is wonderful with a sprig of mint on top and a little vanilla added to the cream.

Eton Mess can be made in 5 minutes if you buy the meringues from the shop.  Or if you want a challenge you could make them from scratch. I tried it for the first time when making this and it was really straightforward. I used an electric whisk but if you put some welly in to it then a regular whisk is fine.  Whatever meringues you use, the kids might enjoy helping crush them up.

Although Eton Mess is traditionally made with strawberries you could try other fruit too, such as raspberries, blackberries or mango. There is even a similar dessert made with bananas called Lancing Mess. Lemon zest, liquor, elderflower cordial or ginger would work well as alternative flavours in the cream.

Eton Mess (serves 4)
400ml double cream, whisked until thick
1 tsp vanilla essence

8 ready made meringues, crushed

20 strawberries, hulled and cut smallish
Sprigs of mint, for decoration

Add the vanilla essence to the cream and mix.  Mix in most of the strawberries and the crushed meringues.  Spoon equal amounts of the mixture in to four glasses (any are fine) or glass ramekins.  Serve garnished with the remaining strawberries and a sprig of mint.

 

Chicken (or Veggie) Chow Mein

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This delicious Chicken (or Veggie) Chow Mein recipe comes courtesy of Judy and Andy Mus, a couple who run excellent ‘Saturday Cooking Club’ family cooking classes in Walthamstow, East London. Judy says this is the most popular dish at their cooking club, with many people commenting that it tastes better than a take away!  Even many fussy eaters have enjoyed it.   I have added fresh coriander to the recipe, as I can’t get enough of it and it is nice to sprinkle on some fresh herbs.

You can use chicken, prawns, tofu or quorn chunks along with the veg.  Allow about 25 minutes to prepare and cook it all.   The kids could help with all aspects of the dish – here is a guide to cooking with kids, in particular a video about knife skills: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/guide-cookery-skills-age.  I had never let my kids cut with a sharp knife until I attended the cooking club!  It was a little scary, but my 6 year old did really well and still has all his fingers.
If you are local to Walthamstow then check out E17 Pop Up Kitchens on Facebook for info about upcoming cooking sessions. It costs £15 per family, is fun and relaxed, and there is no minimum age.

Chicken (or Veggie) Chow Mein (serves approx 4)

3 tbsp ketchup
2 tbsp oyster sauce
2 tbsp soy sauce
Small thumb ginger, peeled and grated or chopped very small
1 clove garlic, crushed or chopped very small
Any oil, for cooking
2 chicken breasts, cut in to small chunks OR chopped smoked tofu OR quorn chicken chunks OR prawns
1 pepper, cut in to thin strips
5 spring onions, chopped
200g beansprouts

200g noodles (any is fine – I used medium egg noodles)

Optional – roughly chopped coriander

Mix the ketchup, oyster sauce, soy sauce, ginger and garlic together and set aside.

Heat some oil in a frying pan on a medium heat and add the chicken (or tofu, quorn chunks or prawns), stirring regularly for about 10 minutes, until it is white and cooked through.

Meanwhile cook the noodles as per the pack instructions and set aside.  To the chicken add the pepper and stir fry for another 2 minutes. Pour in the sauce and stir well until bubbling. Add the noodles, beansprouts and spring onions and mix well for another 2 minutes.  Eat, sprinkled with coriander if you wish.

Cooking with kids – Toad In The Hole

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Toad in the Hole (along with mushroom roast) is the nostalgic taste of my childhood.  I decided to become a vegetarian aged six, so it was an extra special treat to have a traditionally meaty dish with the sausages nestled in puffed up golden batter (even if the sausages were Linda McCartney vegetarian ones!)

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This recipe is based on 7-year-old Sam’s recipe from BBC Good Food.  I choose it as the reviews said it was foolproof, and indeed it is.  I have simply added some dried herbs for extra flavour, and included 2 veggie sausages as well as meat ones, since I still don’t eat meat.  The kids helped place the cooked sausages in the casserole dish, make and mix the batter and then pour it over.

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We all absolutely loved eating the Toad in the Hole, alongside some roast vegetables and gravy (see below for empty plate evidence)!  Allow time to cook the sausages, 5 mins to make the batter and around 35 minutes for the whole dish to bake.

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Toad In The Hole (serves 4 with veg)

8 cooked sausages (can be meat, vegetarian or a mixture of both)

140g plain flour

1/2 tsp salt

2 eggs

175ml semi-skimmed milk

1/2 tsp dried mixed herbs

Cook the sausages as per the pack instructions.  While they are cooking make the batter by tipping the flour in to a bowl with the salt, making a well in the middle then cracking in the eggs.  Use an electric whisk (if possible) to whisk it together, gradually adding the milk.  Leave to stand while the sausages finish cooking.

Heat the oven to 220 degrees/gas mark 7.  Arrange the cooked sausages in a casserole/baking dish, then pour the batter all around them.  Sprinkle the dried herbs on top of the batter then bake in the oven for 25-35 minutes, until puffed up and lightly golden.  Eat with roast veg and gravy!