By far the boys favourite food is Sushi so it is lucky that that they like to make it themselves. All I have to do is cook the rice and chop some avocado and cucumber and they are away.
We have been making these rolls for a long time, but the boys are now old enough to actually roll them themselves. Not quite California Rolls, more like English Rolls, not quite as finished and slightly out of shape!
So my week in food had the benefit of starting with almost a full bloomer that I had cooked the previous day, so R had his favourite lunch, Beans next to Toast. The beans cannot be on the toast or even referred to as Beans on Toast. You sometimes forget how nice the most simple things are.
I also took advantage of the bloomer and some of the leftover pulled pork and bbq sauce from a few weeks ago and had a sloppy sandwich.
Steak with twice cooked chips (no time for triple cooked), woodland mushrooms and creamed spinach
My week in food was a little light this week as we used up some of the reserves that we had in the freezer. I did however make my first real loaf of bread by making a bloomer, which was pretty successful. I also made a sweet snack Chocolate covered honeycomb) for a picnic that we were going to at The Lookout. I had made this several years ago and made it with Lindt Cherry Chocolate, which went a bit lumpy when I heated it, so will stick to normal chocolate next time.
Meatballs with couscous
Heurvos Ranches (black beans, tortillas, salsa and eggs)
My week in food started off quite well with a mini Japanese feast, with Miso, Fish, dumplings (shop bought) and some fried tofu. Tuesday was retro school chicken curry, which despite having made this for years, the boys managed to improved with a big dollops of Tomato Ketchup stirred in. Wednesday was a Mediterranean mix. We didn’t cook anything too exciting for the rest of week as we took some things out of the freezer, such as Bolognese and a chili.
As a way to ensure that we cook more food at home and to encourage the boys to keep eating a wide variety of food, I have decided to document the foods that make and eat each week. As this was the first week, we were very active in the kitchen cooking and baking, with a few firsts, and a few fails upon which we will need to improve upon.
Cinnamon and raison muffins
Thai-style fish vegetable broth
Filo pastry cheese and spinach triangles
Pancetta and Gruyère tarts
salt and pepper squid
Vietnamese beef salad
When I get time I will add some of the recipes to the site, but for now I just only have a few iphone photos of some of the things that we made and ate.
My sons are mad about pasta, and so it’s a regular on our weekly menu. I usually make a very simple tomato sauce to go with some penne or fusilli, but today I wanted to make something a little more flavoursome, so I decided to make a slow-cooked beef ragu. I have loosely used a recipe from Mario Batali (From The Food Network, not to be confused with the ex Man City player), with the main difference being that I have not used wine in my recipe.
Whilst I sometimes like to cook intricate and delicate dishes, making something tasty without too much complexity or mess is often preferable, especially when you have two young boys running around the house. I switched the cooking method for this dish to a one-pot oven roasted dish so that once the preparation is complete, I can set the timer on the oven and do something else.
As with all tomato based sauces the longer that the cooking time the more intense the flavour. This dish is probably ready within the hour, but could cook for three or four hours in the oven! I have a cast-iron Dutch oven which I use for all of my oven recipes, but any pot that can be used on the hob and the oven will work.
large glug of olive oil
1 carrot diced
1 onion diced
1 clove garlic
1 bay leaf
100g pancetta diced
750g beef cut into cubes
1/2 tube tomato paste
1 cup of milk
1 carton of passata
Tesco Finest* Paccheri pasta
Parmigiano-Regganio to taste
Heat the oven to about 160 C
On the hob, gently sweat off the onions and carrots so that they are fully cooked, but not browned and then add the pancetta.
When the pancetta has some colour and is starting to turn crispy, add the beef and sear the meat well.
Once the beef is brown add the tomatoes, bay leaf, milk and about 200ml of water and season.
Cover the pan with a lid and transfer to the oven for around two hours.
After around two hours the sauce should be fully cooked so remove from the oven and fork the meat into smaller pieces; to a consistency a little like pulled pork or crispy duck.
When ready to serve cook the paccheri in salty water as per the cooking instruction, with a little olive oil. Drain the pasta and return it to the pan, retaining a small amount of the salty cooking liquor. Add a large spoon of the ragu to the saucepan and stir to fully coat the pasta.
Transfer to a plate and sprinkle a generous amount of Parmigiano-Regganio over the pasta.
The Tesco Finest* Authentic Italian Pasta used in this recipe was provided by Tesco as a complimentary sample. The pasta is made by the Di Martino family in Italy where they have been producing pasta in their factory in Gragnano for 100 years, and are experts at knowing how to make the best possible authentic Italian product.
I especially like the Orzo pasta which I have been using for quite a while to make a lovely rocket, Parmigiano-Regganio and olive oil salad.
My dad was neither Chinese or a particularly good cook, but for Christmas one year he got a wok as a present and made something like the following recipe. I have added a lot more vegetables to his version of the dish and served it with some pea egg fried rice.
The vegetables in the dish can easily be changed for whatever is in the fridge or your preference. The key ingredients really are the cashew nuts and the sauce. Ingredients Chinese chicken with vegetables
1 chicken breast
2 cloves of garlic
1/2 cup of mushrooms
1/2 cup of mini sweetcorn
1/2 cup of mange tout
1/2 cup of broccoli
50g of cashew nuts
150ml of chicken stock
1/2 tablespoon of corn flour
2 tablespoons of soy sauce
Pea egg fried rice
200g rice or 1 pack of ready cooked rice little easier to fry as it tends to hold less water
1/2 cup of frozen peas
1 egg white
1 egg yolk
Cook the rice and set aside to dry
In a hot wok cook the chicken until cooked and set aside.
Toast the cashews for about a minute, being careful not to burn them. Once browned add all of the vegetables and cook until tender.
Add garlic and continue to cook for a minute or so.
In a jug mix the stock, soy and corn flour, and then add to wok. Stir and cook for a further two minutes. Remove from heat and place on a serving dish.
Heat a fresh wok or frying pan until hot and add the rice and peas.
Stir the rice through and once fully heated add the egg whites, continuing to stir.
Once the whites are fully cooked, egg the yolks and continue to stir so that the yolks are evenly mixed through the rice.
When cooked through serve with the chicken, season with a little soy and enjoy!
For Christmas I was bought the Gordon Ramsay Ultimate Home Cooking book. As I had seen some of the episodes on TV I was really excited to see how they would work at home.
One of my New Year resolutions was to make more basics like bread, so in preparation for the beer bread recipe, I went to my local supermarket and bought some beer. Brains have recently brought out a new range of craft beers, which I hadn’t tried and them being my favourite brewery and me loving craft beers, it was the first item in my trolley. I probably should have checked the cupboard before going to the shop for the other ingredients, but we just about managed with what we had.
This is probably the easiest recipe in the world to make, as it only contained three recipes, one of which was salt!
250g white self-raising flour (original recipe 175g white and 75g of wholemeal)
300ml of Barry Island IPA beer
1/2 teaspoon of sea salt
Preheat the oven to 180°C and dust your tins with a little flour.
In the book we are supposed to use small individual bread tins, which I do not own, and so just used a muffin tray instead.
Put all of the ingredients into a large bowl and mix together to form a runny batter.
Spoon the mixture evenly into the tin and put in the oven for 30 minutes.
Remove from the oven and brush over a little milk and return to the oven for 5 minutes to brown off.
Ensure that the centre of the bread is fully cooked by inserting a a skewer into the middle of the roll, which if clean from crumbs is cooked.
I would probably use a different tin ,as they were very rustic looking, but as with any food the real test is how they taste.
Having helped with making the bread, my son was eager to be the first to taste the bread, so ripped open the warm roll and covered it in cold butter.
The brief from our son for his birthday cake this year was a chocolate cake, and as it was a Muppets party, it had to be Kermit. As I had not made a chocolate cake before I did a test run last Monday (without the icing) and spent quite a while researching the best recipe. Loosely based on Jamie Oliver’s Chocolate Orange Birthday Cake, which based on his guarantees, seemed the easiest one to make. We had more guests than one muppets birthday cake would provide for, so we decided to also make a Miss Piggy cake as well.
The recipe makes two 8″ cakes, so you need to cover the base of two cake tins with baking paper and then grease the sides of the tins, before you start the mixture. I cook the cakes at about 160°C-170°C for 24 minutes.
200 g butter, at room temperature, plus extra for greasing
200 g caster sugar
200 g self-raising flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
4 tablespoons cocoa powder (mixed with 5 tablespoons of boiling water
1 teaspoon vanilla essence
3 large/ 4 medium eggs
Mix the butter and sugar together in a mixer (or by hand) until they become light and fluffy (about 30 seconds).
Add all of the other ingredients to the mixture and mix for about another 30 seconds.
Evenly pour the mixture into the cake tins and cook for 24 minutes at about 160°C-170°C.
Icing the cake
Having previously made a mess of the last time that I iced a cake, I decided to look for some tips. I first watched the following, but the icing is white and so did not completely help as I was using coloured icing.
The following used coloured icing, which described the process of polishing a little icing sugar into the top of the icing ball prior to rolling and not using any more during the process.
A reasonably easy cake to make once the cake is covered in icing. I made a template of Kermit and then cut out a black background and then the various features.
Miss Piggy was a little more difficult in that I also added a cup cake under the icing for the nose. As long as you are gentle in smoothing the edges and do not force the icing into the shape it should cover the area without creases or cracks.
A little bit of free form in creating the hair, eyes and mouth completes the cake.
One final tips is to keep the cakes out of reach of a two year old, who says ‘ah play-doh’ and pushes his finger into the sides.
The boys wanted cookies, but we didn’t have any in the house and it was raining so we couldn’t go out and we needed something to do. Looking on BBC Food I found the following recipe, which I then adjusted a little. They are probably the best cookies that I have ever eaten, especially hot, as they are soft, chewy and very chocolaty.
Before you start on the mixture, cover two trays with baking paper and set the oven at 160°C.
150g butter, at room temperature
80g light brown sugar
80g caster sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
225g plain flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
150g plain chocolate chips and/or chunks
Mix the butter and sugar together in a mixer (or by hand) until they become light and fluffy (about 30 seconds).
Add all of the other eggs, vanilla, flour, and bicarbonate of soda to the mixture and mix for about another 30 seconds. Stir in the chocolate and spoon large teaspoons of mixture onto the baking trays. The mixture should be enough for about 12 cookies.
Cook for about 14 minutes at about 160°C and then allow to cool down a little before eating so that they firm up a little in the middle.