January’s Family Foodies challenge: hidden goodies

family-foodies

We all want to feed our little ones good, healthy food, and yet that isn’t always as easy as it sounds. As parents and carers, we play a huge role in shaping our children’s attitudes towards food but the individual child’s tastes and character play a big part too.

Take my two daughters, for instance. Our first daughter Jess is nearly nine, and will eat practically everything you put in front of her. Everything that is, except mushrooms for some reason. But overall she is an absolute joy to feed and cook for and she’s always been this way, ever since weaning. She has an adventurous and curious approach towards food and is always eager to try new things. A lover of strong, bold flavours, Jess delights in being able to eat chillies almost as hot as those my husband and I can eat.

So my husband and I were rather proud about this little foodie we assumed we had created. And then our second daughter comes along; Mia, who is now nearly six. While she will eat quite a varied diet, it is only after a great deal of coaxing and cajoling. And disguising. Mia likes meat and plain foods. Bangers and mash is one of her favourites, or a straightforward roast dinner; sweet puddings and chocolate. You can see the look of suspicion instantly appear in her eyes when I serve up anything different, or smelling of spices, or containing a heavy quota of vegetables.

Yet our children have had exactly the same influences, have grown up being fed the same foods and tasting the same tastes and yet their whole response to food is at such polar opposites.

That’s why I’m thrilled to be hosting this month’s Family Foodies challenge, calling for your favourite family recipes featuring Hidden Goodies.

HIDDEN GOODIESWhile I’m not a big believer of making special food for children and would much rather they ate the same good food as the rest of us, we do need to acknowledge that sometimes children need a little extra persuasion to enjoy new foods, tastes and flavours. And yes sometimes, at the end of the day, all we care about is making sure our kids get something nutritious inside them, whether they realise it or not.

So that’s this month challenge. What are your cunning ploys and devious devices for getting some of the good stuff into your kids – be it fruit, vegetables, fibre, nuts or pulses? What are your favourite recipes containing hidden goodies? At the end of this month’s challenge, it would be fantastic to have a store of ideas to share with other parents looking for creative ideas on how to tackle this age old problem.

Win a delicious juice and smoothie recipe book

At the end of the Hidden Goodies Family Foodies challenge, one lucky winner will receive a recipe book from Passion 4 Juice, featuring an inspiring collection of tempting juice and smoothie recipes created by Trish Tucker May. Trish launched her mobile juice bar at the Glastonbury Festival back in 2003 and since then thousands of festival goers have experienced her amazing taste sensations, both here in the UK and in her native Australia.

passion 4 juice

Family Foodie Entry Guidelines:

  • You may submit any recipe on your blog that fits this month’s theme, new or from the archive, and feel free to enter as many times as you wish. You’re also welcome to submit the post to other challenges too. If the recipe is not your own, please give the appropriate credit.
  • Send your recipe URL to me at vanesther-at-reescommunications-dot-co-dot-uk, including your own email address and the title of your recipe or post. The closing date this month is Tuesday 28 January 2014.
  • Display the Family Foodies badge (below) on your recipe post, with a link back to both Eat Your Veg and Bangers & Mash, as well as details of this month’s challenge.
  • If you’re on Twitter, then please tweet your post to myself @BangerMashChatand Lou @Eat_Your_Veg and include the hashtag #FamilyFoodies. We’ll retweet all that we see.
  • You may enter from anywhere in the blogosphere, and we’ll happily post out any prizes.
  • At the end of the month a guest judge will choose a winning recipe. The winner will be announced in a monthly round-up of all the entries. Winners will get to display a Family Foodie Winner annotated badge on their blog if they wish and their recipe will go through to the Family Foodies Hall of Fame on each of our sites.
  • All entries will be added to the Family Foodies Pinterest Group Board.

I’m really looking forward to seeing your Hidden Goodies entries!

January’s entries…

  1. Turkey Sliders from Mamacook
  2. Spinach and Potato Bites from Mamacook
  3. Broccoli Frittata from Mamacook
  4. Chocolate and Beetroot Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting from Selma’s Table
  5. Spicy Chicken Burgers from Caroline Makes
  6. Chicken Cutlets with Veggies from Happiness is Homemade
  7. Chorizo and Vegetable Stromboli from Utterly Scrummy Food for Families
  8. Smoked Mackerel Fish Cakes from Mamacook
  9. Broccoli, Courgette and Stilton Soup from Caroline Makes
  10. Veggie Sausageless Rolls from The Crazy Kitchen
  11. Chicken, Pearl Barley and Veggie Stew from Eat Your Veg
  12. Slow Cooker Turkey Supreme from JibberJabberUK
  13. Chocolate Avocado Mousse from Eat Your Veg
  14. Mini Calzones with Asparagus from My Tasty Adventures
  15. Avocado Oat Cookies with Raisins and Chocolate from Veggie Desserts
  16. Creamy Green Chicken Curry from Dip’s Diner
  17. Roast Cauliflower Cheese Soup from Bangers & Mash
  18. Lamb & Potato Bake from JibberJabberUK
  19. Green Olive & Date Breadsticks from How to Cook Good Food
  20. Parsnip, Carrot & Lentil Soup from Tinned Tomatoes
  21. Beef Pie with Hidden Carrot (and Other Vegetables) from Gluten Free Alchemist
  22. Apricot, Coconut & Plain Chocolate Cookies from Eat Your Veg
  23. Carrot & Courgette Fritters from The Spicy Pear
  24. Jerusalem Artichoke Cake from Chocolate Log Blog
  25. Jerusalem Artichoke and Rosemary Soup with Jerusalem Artichoke Crisps from Allotment 2 Kitchen
  26. Leftover Rice Balls from My Tasty Adventures
  27. Roast Vegetable Sauce for Pasta from Bangers & Mash
  28. Slow Cooker Carrot & Coriander Soup from JibberJabberUK
  29. Vegetarian Canneloni from Spurs Cook
  30. Fig and Honey Smoothie from Bangers & Mash
  31. Beef Ragu from Feed My Family!

family-foodies

Sausage chilli

sausage chilli

I feel a bit of a fraudster posting this sausage chilli on my blog.

Firstly, it’s not actually my recipe. It comes from Sarah over at The Garden Deli, who is as talented in the kitchen as she is in the garden. Sarah really wanted to enter April’s Recipes for Life challenge – the three set ingredients this month are pork, sweetcorn and tomatoes. As a vegetarian, she obviously found the pork element a challenge too far. And so we agreed that Sarah would create a vegetarian dish and I’d then try out her recipe to see if it would also work with meat.

The second reason I’m feeling a little fraudulent is because I wasn’t even the one to try cooking Sarah’s dish. I handed that honour over to my husband Jason. This means Sarah’s recipe received a proper testing. Not that Jason’s a bad cook. He’s actually a very good cook indeed and is probably one of the main reasons I got into cooking in the first place. No, it’s not a case of him being useless in the kitchen and needing clear instructions. It’s just that he is very thorough and precise and when he’s following a recipe, rather than his own instincts, he’ll follow it to the absolute letter.

The verdict? We all loved Sarah’s sausage chilli and can wholeheartedly confirm it works just as well with pork sausages as it does with vegetarian ones. Jason found the recipe instructions absolutely faultless (although his hands are clearly much larger than Sarah’s when it comes to measuring coriander by the handful) and he had no problems on that score. It’s a feast of colours, flavours and textures, and perfect for little ones as it has just the right level of spice without being too hot. This is my kind of tasty, healthy, family food and a recipe I’m sure we’ll be coming back to again and again. Thank you Sarah!

You can find Sarah’s original Sausage Chilli recipe here. We hardly played with it – simply substituted the vegetarian sausages for pork ones, and used frozen sweetcorn instead of tinned.

sausage chilli

Easy ratatouille

Along with my tasty chicken rice, this easy ratatouille is my go-to meal when I’m stocking the freezer with quick weekday meals for the kids.

Now that I’m working over in Wells four days a week, ratatouille appears regularly on my meal plans. It’s particularly good for those days when I’m not back home til late and my husband has little time to get the girls back from school and fed before taking them off out again to their various clubs and activities.

My girls have been eating ratatouille since they were very little, when I’d mash it up for them a bit. They still love it today, served either on its own with a hunk of bread to mop up the juices, with rice, pasta or a baked potato and sprinkled with cheese, or as a veggie accompaniment to sausages or chops.

This is one of those recipes you can play around with. If you’ve got herbs to hand, throw in some of those. If you don’t like cumin, leave that out. The quantities of aubergine, courgette and pepper vary each time I make it, but this should give you the general idea.

Easy ratatouille

Makes 8-10 servings

2tbsp olive oil
½tsp cumin seeds
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
2 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
3 courgettes, chopped
2 aubergines, chopped
1 bay leaf
2 400g tins of chopped tomatoes
Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 200ºC / gas mark 6.

Heat the oil in a large ovenproof casserole dish and fry the cumin seeds for a minute or so.

Add the onions and fry gently until golden, then add the garlic and fry for another minute before throwing in the red and yellow peppers.

Saute the peppers until they have slightly softened and then add the courgettes. Continue to saute for a couple of minutes and then add the aubergine. You may need to add a little more oil to the pan at this stage. Keep stirring the vegetables until they’ve started to colour, and then add the bay leaf, tomatoes and season to taste.

Put the lid on your pan and pop in the oven for 20-30 minutes. If it’s a little too liquid for your liking, remove the lid and cook for another 5 to 10 minutes. Leave to cool before dividing into freezer bags.

Barbara’s Courgette Bake and Vanilla Cream Terrine for the Care to Cook Challenge

Knitting with my Nana Barbara back in the 1980s

My parents split up when I was very little. I can barely remember them being together. So much so, I’m not totally sure how old I was when they went their separate ways. Two perhaps, or three?

But despite that, my dad’s parents, my Nana Barbara and Grandad Peter, ensured they remained constant factors in my life – through my childhood and teens, my university days and when I started my own family and they became great-grandparents. My mum moved around the UK quite a bit as I was growing up, but no matter where we went, Nana Barbara and Grandad Peter would trek across the country to come and visit me. Because family is important. I grew up knowing that and knowing how much I was loved. And that is so important.

I am so pleased my Nana Barbara has entered these recipes into the Care to Cook recipe challenge to raise awareness of the fostering and adoption charity TACT. I always associated visits from my grandparents and then later, when I was old enough to go and stay with them in Lancashire and then the Lake District, with food. Homebaked cakes, pies, tarts, casseroles and puddings. Dinner round the table. Proper family food.

My Grandad Peter and my Nana Barbara with me and my daughter Jessie a few years ago

The two dishes Nana has entered are actually new ones on me, and I can’t wait to try them out…

Courgette Bake

In one bowl mix:

2 grated courgettes
1 grated carrot
1 chopped onion
5 rashers of chopped up crispy bacon
1 cup grated tasty cheese
1 cup self-raising flour

In a second bowl mix:

5 eggs, beaten
½ cup olive oil
salt and pepper
crushed clove of garlic
1tsp paprika

You’ll also need:

Parmesan or cheddar for sprinkling on top
Chopped fresh parsley to finish

Stir bowls one and two together, then spread into a lasagne dish. Sprinkle with Parmesan or Cheddar cheese.

Cook at 200°c for 30 to 40 minutes. Serve hot or cold, garnished with fresh parsley. Will serve six people.

Vanilla Cream Terrine

2 tsp vanilla extract
425ml whipping cream
11g sachet powder gelatine
85g caster sugar
425g Greek yoghurt
Mint leaves and raspberries to garnish
raspberry couli

Begin by placing the gelatine in a cup together with three tablespoons of the cream and leave to soak for 10mins.

Meanwhile place the rest of the cream in a saucepan with the sugar and heat gently until sugar has dissolved. It is important not to overheat the cream. Next, add the soaked gelatine to the warmed cream and whisk everything over the heat for a few seconds. Now remove the cream mixture from the heat.

In a mixing bowl, stir the yoghurt & vanilla together, then pour the gelatine cream mixture through a sieve. Mix very thoroughly and pour the whole lot into a plastic box (I use an old ice cream container). Allow to cool, cover and chill in the fridge for at least 4-6 hours or overnight.

Serve sliced, with fresh raspberries and mint springs, with a pouring of raspberry coulis.

Thanks Nana!

Penne with chicken, tarragon and broccoli

Tarragon is one of my favourite herbs, especially when paired with chicken. Its unique flavour lifts simple dishes to new heights.

I first got excited about tarragon many years ago when my father-in-law cooked us Elizabeth David’s sumptuous poulet et l’estragon one summer holiday in France. It was incredible and my husband and I have recreated it many times since and it always takes us back to those long hot days in the Dordogne.

But that is really one to save for special occasions (my husband last cooked it for me on my birthday), while this pasta dish is much more of a quick, every day family favourite. Nonetheless it tastes fantastic and all because of that lovely fresh tarragon.

Penne with chicken, tarragon and broccoli

400g dried penne pasta
250g purple sprouting broccoli, cut into manageable chunks
1 large leek, washed and finely sliced
2 skinless chicken breasts, cut into bitesize pieces
2 tbsp vegetable oil
70ml chicken or vegetable stock
2 tbsp fresh tarragon, chopped
100g cream cheese
salt and pepper

Cook the penne in a large pan of salted water following the packet timings. About five minutes from the end of the cooking time, add the broccoli to the pasta water and cook until both pasta and broccoli are tender. Drain.

While the pasta (and broccoli) are cooking, heat the oil in a frying pan. Add the leeks and sweat gently for a couple of minutes. Add the chicken pieces and cook for about five minutes until there is no sign of any pink inside.

Pour the stock into the pan, stir well and cook for a couple of minutes before stirring in the tarragon and cream cheese. Season to taste. Mix in the pasta and broccoli and serve.

I’m entering this dish into July’s Herbs on Saturday blog challenge, set up by Lavender & Lovage and hosted this month by me! If you have a herby recipe you’d like to enter, you can find out all the details here.

The Care to Cook Recipe Challenge, plus Bernadette’s Caribbean Pot Roast Chicken

What dish would you cook to welcome someone into your family home? Share your favourite recipes and you could win a copy of TACT’s cookery book, signed by the charity’s patron Lorraine Pascale, who has personal experience of both the care system and adoption.

For the last few years I’ve been working with a wonderful charity called TACT, which provides fostering and adoption services to help some of the most vulnerable children and young people in the UK. Their aim is to help these youngsters find loving homes and a fresh new start in life.

In this time I’ve had the privilege to meet many amazing carers, adopters and staff who are making an incredible difference to the lives of the young people they work with.

The concept of family is very important to TACT; providing a safe, stable and caring home environment is so crucial and it makes a massive difference in supporting children and young people who find themselves in the care system for all kinds of reasons. Young people need to feel valued, made to feel special and loved, and need to be listened to when they are ready to share. That is what family is there for.

One of the simplest ways to bring family together and welcome new people into our home is through food. Family meals all too often are something children in care have missed out on. Because the family meal is so important, TACT has launched its very own cook book called Care to Cook, packed full of delicious starters, mains and desserts kindly donated by TACT’s adopters, supporters and staff.

The cost of the book is £3 and all proceeds directly benefit adopted children and their new families.

To help raise awareness of Care to Cook, Bangers & Mash is calling on food bloggers and food lovers to submit their own favourite family recipes, and one lucky person will receive a copy of the cook book signed by TACT’s new celebrity patron, TV chef and best selling cookery writer Lorraine Pascale.

Lorraine Pascale, patron of TACT, TV chef and cookery writer

How to submit your recipe

  • If you are a blogger and would like to enter the Care to Cook Challenge, simply post a recipe on your blog with links to both this page and the Care to Cook page on the TACT website and include the Care to Cook Challenge logo somewhere in your post.
  • The recipe can either be one of your own or somebody else’s but do remember to clearly credit your sources. You can republish an old blog post but please include information about the Care to Cook Challenge.
  • Your post can also be entered into other blogging challenges, so long as this complies with their rules.
  • If you mention your post on Twitter please mention @BangerMashChat and @TACTCare and use the #CareToCook hashtag. We will retweet all we see.
  • Please also email a link to your entry to vanesther@reescommunications.co.uk.
  • If you aren’t a blogger, don’t worry – you are still welcome to enter. Simply email your recipe (and a photo if you have one) to the above address and I’ll upload it to the Bangers & Mash blog for others to see.
  • The closing date for entries is Sunday 12 August 2012, and a round-up of all recipes submitted will feature here on Bangers & Mash and on TACT’s website the following week.
  • The winning entry will be chosen by one of TACT’s looked after children in the Bristol and South West region.

We can’t wait to see your family favourite recipes and please feel free to enter the challenge as many times as you like. Thanks for your support!

To get things started, here’s a fantastic recipe for Caribbean-style Pot Roast Chicken taken from Care to Cook. I tried it out on my own family last weekend and it is extremely yummy and very, very moreish. My daughters loved it – they asked for seconds and then thirds!

As my husband was tucking in to his, he asked where I got the recipe and I explained it had been donated by a TACT adopter for their cookery book. In between mouthfuls, Jason nodded and said: “Whoever Bernadette has adopted is very, very lucky. Her food is great!”

Pot Roast Chicken – Caribbean Style
By Bernadette Biscette, TACT Adopter

Serves 6

1 whole medium free range chicken, cut in half
½ medium onion, peeled and chopped
1½ tbsp all purpose seasoning
1 tsp mixed herbs
1 tsp paprika
1 tbsp mild bajan or jerk seasoning
3 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp brown sugar

For the gravy

Cup of hot water
1 tsp cassareep or molasses
1 tbsp tomato puree
½ medium onion, peeled and chopped
½ tsp all purpose seasoning

Preheat the oven to 150°C/gas mark 2.

Place the two halves of chicken in a large bowl and add the onion, all purpose seasoning, mixed herbs, paprika and bajan or jerk seasoning. Rub the seasoning into the chicken with your hands making sure it is well covered.

Pour the olive oil and brown sugar into a large iron or Dutch pot and heat until the sugar starts to brown. Place the two halves of chicken in the pot and slowly brown the surface by turning in the oil for around 15-20 minutes. (I had to do the two halves separately as I don’t have a pan large enough.)

When the chicken is well glazed, let them simmer on a low heat for 15 minutes.

Remove the chicken from the pot and place in a deep roasting pan and set aside.

Add a cup of hot water to the juices in the pot and all the ingredients for the gravy. Stir over a medium heat for 5 minutes and then pour over the chicken, cover with foil and cook for 2 hours in the oven, removing the foil for the last half hour. The chicken should be tender and well cooked.

Serve with salad and boiled rice for a hearty meal.

And now it’s your turn – what would you cook?

The Entries

  1. Homemade Fillet O’ Fish and “Chips” from Under The Blue Gum Tree
  2. French Madeleines from Crêpes Suzettes
  3. Peanut Butter and Salted Caramel Chocolate Cheesecake from Reluctant Housedad
  4. Penang Hokkien Mee from Cheryl Leembruggen
  5. Stuffed Tomatoes with Herbs and Oats from Lavender & Lovage
  6. Nonya Chicken Curry from Elly Rowe
  7. Pasta and Pesto Sauce from A Trifle Rushed
  8. Boeuf en Daube from Chez Foti
  9. Yorkshire Season Pudding with Herbs from Lavender & Lovage
  10. Spinach and Bacon Macaroni Cheese from Fishfingers for Tea
  11. Courgette Bake followed by Vanilla Cream Terrine from Barbara Hamer
  12. Chicken Basquaise from French Foodie Baby
  13. Strawberries and Cream Birthday Cake from Sue Hamer
  14. Hainanese Chicken Rice from Bangers & Mash

Highs and lows in the Bangers & Mash kitchen – part 5

The last few weeks have been as busy as ever in the Bangers & Mash house. I jetted off to Amsterdam and London for work leaving my darling Mashettes to fend for themselves for a few days. I’ve never been apart from my family for that long before but of course when it came to food they were all sorted, as I’d left them with a trusty meal plan…

That’ll be me then. In the Dam.

Amsterdam was wonderful. The last time I visited I was in my early twenties and it felt quite strange going back all grown up and all professional. I was there for the Meet the Blogger event for interior design bloggers at the simply stunning Conservatorium Hotel. If you’ve ever seen my home, you’ll know how incongruous I felt being at a conference for glamorous ladies talking about the latest in home design trends. But my role there was to tweet and blog about the proceedings, and I’m always happy when tasked with writing. There is a lovely short film documenting Meet the Blogger if you’re interested…

As I was there in a work capacity I didn’t have much opportunity unfortunately to really explore Amsterdam’s restaurant scene, although I did enjoy a rather splendid steak somewhere I can’t remember the name of at the end of a very long day. And I was also taken to a lovely bakery for a quick bite of lunch on my way back to the train station. De Bakkerswinkel bakes superb bread, as well as pastries, cakes, pies and all kinds of baked delights. I only had a simple ham and cheese roll but it was sensational and a delicious way to end my stint in the Dam.

De Bakkerswinkel in Amsterdam

A day after getting back from Holland, I had to head off to London for a trade show where I was helping out as a press officer on a client’s stand. I can’t say the event was all that exciting but it was a good chance to catch up with my Dad and step-mum Sue the night before as they live in Tottenham. And I finally got to see their amazing new kitchen, which they’ve been talking about and planning for oh, only the last 20 years or so. I am now green with envy. I want a new kitchen. Now.

My step-mum Sue in her beautiful new kitchen

But back to the food. I’ve been trying out some really rather good recipes lately. Initially I was rather disappointed with my attempt at a lamb and rosemary crumble. When it came out of the oven it just didn’t look particularly appetising and so I didn’t bother taking any photographs. Yet it tasted surprisingly good. I’m to work on it a bit more to see if I can make it look as good as it tastes.

My rhubarb, strawberry and lemon tart creation went down rather well, although this was another dish that wasn’t much of a looker.

Strawberry, rhubarb and lemon tart

Another tart that turned out well was a butternut squash tart with blue cheese, spinach and ricotta. It was one of those very simple affairs where you roll out some ready-made puff pastry, smother it with a few choice ingredients and bake. Hey presto! You have a tasty supper.

Butternut squash, blue cheese and ricotta tart

Pasta is always popular in our house, particularly as a quick dinner after a busy day at work and school. We all loved this yummy sausage and courgette pasta carbonara from Chez Foti. Definitely a dish we’ll be making again. And again.

Sausage and courgette pasta carbonara from Chez Foti

Pasta makes another appearance in my list of highlights. Broad bean tops arrived in our veg box the other week. I have to admit I had no idea you could eat them but they are quite delicious; like a cross between pea shoots and chard. I used them in this recipe from Riverford for pasta with broad bean tops, ricotta and mint, which was very good indeed. We are growing broad beans in our vegetable patch, so I look forward to experimenting some more with this new ingredient.

Pasta with broad bean tops, ricotta and mint

Egg fried rice is an excellent speedy supper and so versatile too. You can throw in whatever you have to hand or need to use up. I cooked up a big wok full of egg fried rice the other night with peas and red pepper, served up with lashings of soy sauce and hot chilli oil. My kind of fast food. Yum.

Egg fried rice with peas and peppers

Last but not least comes the Full English pizza. Yes, you’ve guessed it. Pizza topped with all those staples of the traditional cooked English brekky: sausage, bacon, tomato, spinach and egg. I wanted to use mushroom as well but my daughter Jessie hates them with a passion. You’re probably thinking it sounds completely OTT and you’re probably right, but it was so tasty and very, very moreish. I can’t believe I’ve never tried it before.

The Full English Pizza

Well I think that’s it for now. I’m rather pleased to be able to look back and see the highs far outweigh the lows. I’m definitely getting better at this cooking lark, I think. Now, time for those meal plans…

Monday 11 June
Lunch: pasta with broad bean tops, ricotta and mint 
Dinner: Bangers & Mash bake (F)

Tuesday 12 June 
Lunch: tuna mayonnaise rolls
Dinner: butternut squash tart with spinach, blue cheese and ricotta

Wednesday 13 June
Lunch: rice salad
Dinner: sausage and courgette pasta carbonara

Thursday 14 June
Lunch: cheese and pickle rolls
Dinner: baked potatoes with garlic mushrooms and salad

Friday 15 June
Lunch:  pasta salad
Dinner: egg fried rice with peas and red peppers

Saturday 16 June
Lunch: cheese and tomato on toast
Dinner: courgette and summer greens pie and salad

Sunday 17 June
Lunch: OUT
Dinner: cold courgette and summer greens pie

Monday 18 June
Lunch: hummus, pitta bread and salad
Dinner: lamb and rosemary crumble with new potatoes

Tuesday 19 June
Lunch: ham salad rolls
Dinner: the Full English pizza with salad

Wednesday 20 June
Lunch: cous cous salad
Dinner: red Thai curry with tofu and vegetables

Thursday 21 June
Lunch: cheese and pickle rolls
Dinner: chicken and ginger stir fry with noodles

Friday 22 June
Lunch: wet garlic, tomatoes and mozzarella on toast
Dinner: pasta with pesto and cream cheese

Saturday 23 June
Lunch: bread and cheese
Dinner: pork chops with rice, asparagus and carrots

Sunday 24 June
Lunch: homemade ham with Finnish mustard and herby focaccia
Dinner: cheese omelette

F = from freezer

Bangers and mash bake for Father’s Day

It’s Father’s Day in the UK this Sunday. Normally when I’m planning what to cook on Father’s Day, my thoughts turn to light, summery meals we can eat outside in the garden. Perhaps a barbecue? But the weather forecast for this weekend doesn’t look good. I heard on the radio that they’re expecting three months’ worth of rain to fall over the next three days. Splendid.

So my offering for a Father’s Day meal this Sunday might not be what you’d typically expect to be serving up in June, but it’s perfect comfort food guaranteed to put a smile on Dad’s face on a soggy, grey afternoon; followed perhaps by the chance to doze on the sofa in front of James Bond. Perfect.

This bangers and mash bake is simply a sausage casserole baked in the oven with buttery mashed potato on top, rather like a cottage pie. It’s very satisfying and, of course, very popular in our house. For this recipe, I’ve gone with peppers and green cabbage in the casserole but use whichever vegetables you fancy really; courgettes, carrots, swede and beans all work well.

It’s also a great dish to prepare in advance. Simply pop in the oven half an hour or so before you’re ready to eat. And the leftovers freeze really well too.

To cool dads the world over – Happy Father’s Day!

Bangers and mash bake

Serves 4 (two big, two small)

3 tbsp vegetable oil
6 good quality pork sausages
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
1 red and 1 green bell pepper, deseeded and chopped
1 tbsp corn flour
750ml beef stock
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
Good squeeze of tomato puree
Half green cabbage, shredded
Salt and pepper
1kg potatoes, peeled and chopped
50g butter
Splash of milk
50g Cheddar cheese, grated

Preheat the oven to 200ºC/gas mark 6.

Heat one tablespoonful of oil in a large heavy-bottomed pan over a moderate heat and brown the sausages. Remove to a warm dish.

Add the rest of the oil to the same pan and fry the onion until soft and golden. Throw in the red and green pepper and fry for a couple more minutes.

Return the sausages to the pan and stir in the corn flour. Cover with the beef stock, balsamic vinegar and a good dollop of puree and stir well.

Add the shredded cabbage and stir in. Bring to a gentle simmer and cook uncovered for about 25 minutes to let the casserole thicken. Season to taste.

Meanwhile boil the potatoes in a large pan of salted water until tender. Drain and return to the pan. Add the butter, a splash of milk and salt and pepper to taste, and mash well.

In a large oven-proof dish, firstly arrange the sausages to make sure everyone gets a fair share in their helping.

Then add the rest of the casserole. Spoon over the mashed potato (it does help if the casserole has had a little time to cool first), and tidy up with a fork. Go wild and create fancy patterns with your fork while you’re at it. Lastly sprinkle with the grated cheese.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the mashed potato and cheese are beginning to brown on top and go crispy. Serve and enjoy!

Chinese sausage and noodle soup

This is not an authentic Chinese soup recipe by any stretch of the imagination. It’s something I concocted using ingredients from the store cupboard in an attempt to liven up another Savoy cabbage to arrive in the veg box.

It also features slices of Chinese sausage, which you should be able to get from an oriental supermarket, but if not feel free to substitute with any cured sausage that takes your fancy.

I made up the dish as I went along and was really rather surprised at just how tasty and moreish it ended up and have made it several times since. As it takes only half an hour or so to rustle up, it’s an excellent contender for a quick mid-week dinner when you don’t want to spend all evening in the kitchen.

Chinese sausage and noodle soup

Serves 4

1 tbsp vegetable or sunflower oil
½ onion, peeled and finely chopped
3cm piece ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
3 cloves garlic, peeled and crushed
1 Chinese sausage (I used a skinny one about 20cm long), thinly sliced
½ Savoy cabbage, shredded
1.5l hot chicken stock
50ml light soy sauce
50ml Chinese rice wine (Shaohsing) or dry sherry
25ml black rice vinegar
80g egg noodles (I use either medium or fine)

In a large pan heat the oil and gently fry the onion until golden. Add the ginger, garlic and sausage and fry together for a couple more minutes.

Throw in the cabbage and stir-fry for a minute.

Pour in the hot stock, soy sauce, rice wine and vinegar and bring to a gentle simmer. Leave to cook for 10 minutes.

Add the noodles and simmer for another three minutes or according to the packet instructions. Serve and enjoy.

I’m also sharing this soup at the Fantastic Foods Friday supper party over at Justa’s Kitchen.

Spaghetti with wild garlic pesto

I’ve been swept away on an aromatic love affair with wild garlic in the last few weeks. As well as my delicious wild garlic risotto, it has also featured in many salads and has livened up our mashed potato. But this whirlwind romance is set to end all too soon. While there are still lots to be seen in the local hedgerows, it won’t be long before their leaves wither and the flowers wilt.

I have, however, come across the perfect way to capture this garlicky essence of early spring – by making up a large jar of wild garlic and walnut pesto. Divine.

This recipe comes from River Cottage, who say it will keep it in the fridge for up to three weeks and can also be frozen. They also say it makes 5 x 200g jars but I only got one large jar out of it. It’s not a problem though as I think this will keep us going quite a while.

The pesto tastes fresh and green (if you know what I mean) and packs a strong tasty punch so you don’t need too much of it. For its first outing, I served it very simply stirred through a dish of spaghetti and only needed to  use a couple of spoonfuls to get the full effect. I’m looking forward to trying it as a crostini or pizza topping next and, according to River Cottage, it’s also good stirred into soups and stews.

Spaghetti with wild garlic pesto

100g wild garlic leaves (carefully washed – I found a couple of slugs in mine!)
50g spring onions, chopped
50g walnut pieces
200ml good olive oil
70g Parmesan cheese, grated
1 tsp salt
½ tsp sugar
spaghetti, allow 75-100g per person

Remove any thick stalks from the wild garlic and put in a food processor with the walnuts, spring onions, and 150 ml of olive oil.

Give it all a good blitz until everything is finely chopped and you have a beautifully thick, vibrantly green salsa.

Stir in the grated Parmesan, salt and sugar. Then pour into sterilised jam jars.

The advice here from River Cottage  is to ensure you press the pesto down well with the back of a spoon to get rid of any air bubbles and leave room at the top of the jar for a layer of olive oil. Every time you use the pesto, mix in the oil before you take a spoonful, and replace with another layer of oil before replacing the lid and returning to the fridge.

Bring a large pan of salted water to the boil and cook the spaghetti according to the packet instructions. Drain and stir in a spoonful or two of the wild garlic pesto to taste. Enjoy!