Lola and Finn's Mum

Lola and Finn's Mum

Friday, 31 May 2013

#Hungry2happy in minutes with a smiley mini meatball omelette!

Whilst there is a certain satisfaction in producing something that you can anticipate over a couple of hours as it blips away in the oven or somewhere, Lola and Finn don't really have that kind of patience and therefore it's pretty important to be able to produce something pretty quickly after they have declared their hunger, otherwise there is bad tempered mutiny.
So when I discovered that Britmums were looking for bloggers to create a meal in eight minutes using Richmond's Mini Meatballs I decided to use the quickest fast food I know that doesn't involve a trip out through the 'drive thru', the egg. And as we're talking hungry to happy here, what better than to create a real smile to show how we feel.
This is an eight minute recipe. Send your bubs off to wash the hands and lay the table (or something) and prepare the mini feast:
Smiley Baked Mini Meatball Omelette
Serves 2
Half a pack of Richmond's Mini Meatballs
four medium eggs, beaten
Some bits of peppers to create a nose and eyebrows. (You could go crazy and create alsorts of facial features, hair, etc.)
Put the meatballs on a tray and bake in a preheated oven for seven minutes (They will get a little more cooking once in the omelette).
Cut up some pieces of pepper ready to create the face in the omelette.
Meanwhile crack four eggs into a bowl, add a little salt and pepper and beat until combined.
Preheat the grill to high.
Place a non stick small frying pan onto a medium heat and add a little oil.
Take the meatballs out of the oven.
Pour the beaten eggs into the hot pan and briefly mix until the curds are beginning to set. Once the eggs show signs of setting, place the meatballs and the peppers in a smiley face shape. (If you have any meatballs over, these are 'cook's perks').
Put the pan under the grill to cook and set the egg mixture on the top of the omelette. Don't overcook. You want something that is set but not rubberised.
Once set, you're done. Take to the table and allow your children to dig in. Personally I would also consider opening a tin of beans but I need little excuse. By the way, sunglasses are optional.
This post is an entry for BritMums’ Hungry to Happy Challenge sponsored by Richmond Mini Meatballs. Visit here for many more recipe ideas! 

Wednesday, 29 May 2013

Sunny Greek Food is the antidote to it lashing it down in May: Lamb Kleftiko

I am defying being governed by the weather when it comes to food. Frankly I should be hankering after stodge and putting the fire in because, surprise surprise, Summer seems somewhere in the distance, even though it is 'flaming June' next week. are of any of us who cling to this rock betwixt the Irish and the North Sea really surprised. Not really. If you have a Northern soul then you will not have had a decent Summer since 2006 and the only reason I remember that so vividly is because it was the year that Lola was born and one of the most beautiful memories I have was Lola's penchant for a four o'clock feed, just as the light and, soon after, the heat came creeping across the sky. My favourite time and type of day, and Lola's too, it would seem. Lola spent most of June and July in a nappy only because it was so warm, and me in floaty loose dresses, seeking some sort of Summer breeze amidst the stubborn, but welcome, heat.
Anyway, it's all a memory, because here we are overcast and a bit chilly and whilst the heating isn't on the chances of my getting any washing dry are virtually nil, judging by the threatening furrows of grey cloud in the middle distance so, two fingers to you British weather, for the purposes of this blog post I am in Greece - Sunny, amazing, azure skied Greece.
I first had kleftiko in a taverna in Falaraki (yes, really...) more years ago than I care to remember when I was beginning to eat something other than chips. That was the holiday I also discovered dolmades and tzatsiki as well as finding out I could drink my own body weight in weird, stickily sweet cocktails and shots and actually stay upright. This ability to stay vertical and walk I put down to the ballast of soft, lemony potato and succulent, tender lamb I had eaten several hours earlier. It was substantial enough to keep me going but light (or different!) enough to not believe that you were actually eating something hearty. Stew doesn't 'go' with warm weather does it? But this does...
I halved and adapted the recipe from Rick Stein's 'Mediterranean Escapes', a well battered and splattered tome of my favourite kind of cooking. I know there is a fashion for cookery titles that place some sort of whimsical emphasis on a luxurious ingredient or smell, or taste. I own many of these books, but this title says it all for me. I regularly want to escape this weather and if I had the money and time, the Med would be my escape route. Until then, I will have to put up with dodgy weather, memories of a time when the sun peeped over the horizon with a sense of promise and the fact that one cocktail or indeed one shot would be enough to put this thirty something on her back, the last one probably not a bad thing.
Kleftiko, adapted from 'Mediterranean Escapes' by Rick Stein.
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum and Dad and one other (I halved the ingredients you see below)
2 x 1kg shoulders of lamb (each one cut into 3 large chunks through the bone) - I used lamb necks and reduced the cooking time accordingly - It took about an hour and a half.
2kg waxy maincrop potatoes (such as Desiree), peeled and cut into 5-6cm chunks.
1 head of Garlic (outside papery skins removed), cut in half through the middle.
1 tablespoon dried oregano
3-6 Fresh bay leaves
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves (I substituted thyme)
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (plus extra for drizzling)
Juice 2 large lemons
Salt and freshly ground Black pepper
Preheat the oven to 190°
Combine the meat, potatoes and garlic in a large ovenproof casserole dish.
Sprinkle with the dried and fresh herbs, olive oil, lemon juice, 100ml water, 2 teaspoons of salt and plenty of black pepper.
Mix together well, then nestle the pieces of meat down in among the Potatoes. Drizzle with a little more oil.
Cover the casserole tightly with foil and a well-fitting lid and bake for three ( I baked for about on hour and a half) hours until the meat is falling off the bone. (Check after a couple of hours to make sure it doesn’t need a little more water).
Serve, sprinkled with parsley if you like.

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Turkey. Not just for Christmas. Quick Provencale Turkey

I’ll be honest, usually I buy diced turkey thigh to hurl into a curry or something because it’s the kind of meat that can carry such a range of flavours quite successfully. And it’s lean. And it’s relatively cheap. But with my just arranging this year’s holiday to France I thought it might be interesting to evoke the smells and tastes of southern France rather than my usual culinary journey to somewhere far flung and far eastern. So, a mixture of peppers, tomatoes, garlic and herbes de Provence (and if I was without Lola and Finn, a handful of olives) were the inspiration behind this slightly ad hoc but very satisfying dish which smelt great whilst cooking and delivered a rich, tomatoey, ‘Provencey’ flavour, approved of especially by Lola and Finn.
In terms of weekday cooking, when I crash into the house with two hyperactive children, a bag for life full of marking and a generally negative outlook on working for a living, I just want something I can hurl together with what I have in the cupboard and the fridge/freezer before crashing on the sofa. This just might be it. And not only does it create a healthy meal for me and my bubs, it’s evocative of the holiday I am so looking forward to.
This post is an entry for BritMums’ Summer Turkey Recipe Challenge. You can find plenty of information at here about the versatility of cooking with turkey. You can also visit for other recipe ideas!
Quick Provencale Turkey
Serves Lola, Finn, Mum, Dad and one other
400g diced turkey thigh
2 peppers, or a third of a pack of frozen peppers
1 onion diced
3 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
1 heaped tsp of herbes de Provence, or you could use thyme, or oregano
200ml chicken stock made with a bouillon type cube
tin of chopped tomatoes
a squirt of tomato puree
Salt and pepper
In a suitable heavy bottomed pot or casserole pan, add the olive oil and saute the turkey pieces until they become slightly coloured.
Add the onions and cook until they become translucent and then add the garlic. Cook briefly until the garlic becomes fragrant but take care not to burn it. Add the herbs de Provence and stir, then add the peppers.
Saute until the peppers begin to soften, scraping up the bottom of the pan to get up any tasty turkey bits, then add the chicken stock. Finally, add the tomato puree and stir before finally adding the tinned tomatoes and some seasoning.
Bring the mixture up to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cook for about 20/30 minutes, stirring occasionally so that it does not catch on the bottom of the pan. By this time the mixture should have perceptibly thickened and tomatoey. If you want to thicken the sauce further then increase the heat to a boil for a couple of minutes or so until the sauce is the consistency you desire. Taste and season once again.
I served this with rice, but some other lovely carb like pasta or some potatoes might be good too. Or you could dunk some crusty bread into it and all will be right with the world for a little while.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Mermaids for the birthday girl: Orange drizzle cake without the drizzle but with other fun stuff!!

Lola is seven. I really don't know how or when this happened. I think I must have blinked. Anyway, the fact of the matter is that the girl with the shock of rock and roll hair and a knowing look which belied the fact that though a babe in arms, she had definitely been here before is now a very old seven, and if you ask me she is a '7 going on 17' kinda girl, judging by her requests for nail polish, jewellery and lip glosses and some false nails off her auntie, who has since been declared the best auntie ever. I don't think I knew this stuff existed until I was at least in double figures but it's true what they say when it's declared that they grow up quick these days, because they do. And it is a shame.
Lola, aged seventeen hours
Lola, aged seven
However, I was slightly placated by the conversation I had with her several weeks ago about the birthday cake challenge she was going to set me this year. I was expecting her to tell me she wanted 'One Direction' on her cake but she told me that mermaids were where it was at. Thank goodness. a sense of childlike wonder was still evident, as it should be when you are seven.
Anyway, I recalled a picture I had seen somewhere of white chocolate shells and toasted coconut creating a beach scene and I decided that after my Angry Birds cake I would try to make something resembling a mermaid out of sugar paste. If you squint it sort of looks like one. I decided also to fore go the orange drizzle and icing that goes with the original cake recipe (from Fiona Cairns' 'Bake and Decorate') but split the cake and spread a thick layer of raspberry jam. Orange, raspberry, coconut, vanilla frosting. If you insist.
Orange drizzle cake, adapted from Fiona Cairns' 'Bake and Decorate'.
Serves 8 (though in reality I doubled the ingredients for I was making two cakes).
For the cake:
250g unsalted butter, softened, plus more for the tin
250g golden caster sugar
Grated zest of 2 large oranges, plus 75ml orange juice
4 eggs, lightly beaten
250g self-raising flour, sifted
a pinch of salt
1/2 jar of seedless raspberry jam.
For the frosting:
(I'll be honest - I eyeball this; there is no definitive recipe I just mix softened butter with icing sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla and some milk until I get a consistency that is spreadable but then holds its shape. Then I added baby blue colouring to get to the shade I wanted. If it helps, I often use the Hummingbird Bakery recipe that you can find here. Scroll down for the recipe).
For the decoration:
Pink sugar paste
flesh coloured sugar paste
teddy bear brown sugar paste
Edible ink pens
50g dessicated coconut
white and yellow Wilton Candy Melts
a mould for creating the shells
Some cardboard
Preheat the oven to 170ºC/fan 160ºC/340ºF/gas mark 3 ½. Butter a 20cm diameter, 7.5cm deep, round tin, then line the base with baking parchment.
Cream the butter, sugar and zest until very pale, light and fluffy (it will take at least 5 mins in an electric mixer). Add the eggs gradually, beating between each addition, along with 1tbsp of the flour to prevent curdling. Fold in the remaining flour and, lastly, slowly mix in the orange juice.
Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and bake for 40 - 45 mins until the cake springs back to the touch, or a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven, leave for 1 min, then turn out to cool on a wire rack.
Once cool, split the cake carefully and spread the inside with raspberry jam before sandwiching the two layers together.
Melt the candy melts according to the pack instructions and when melted and pliable, spoon the molten chocolate into moulds. Place in the fridge to set.
Toast the coconut in a dry frying pan, stirring occasionally until the coconut begins to colour. Once it starts to brown it happens quickly so be vigilant. Allow to cool completely or else it will melt the frosting.
Make your frosting by beating the butter and then gradually adding the icing sugar and a little milk and a teaspoon of vanilla followed by a knife tip of colour paste. Mix until the frosting becomes fluffy but stiff enough to spread on the cake. This could take quite a few minutes.
Spread the frosting on the cake by starting on top and spreading the frosting on the top and then down and around the sides. Use a knife dipped in hot water to move and spread the frosting around the cake.
Once the cake is covered, tidy the frosting up by spreading the frosting upwards on the sides of the cake and then smooth the top as much as possible.
Roll out your sugar pastes and cut out a fish tail, a body, a face and hair. Put the parts together carefully on the cake. Using the edible pens, draw the features on the face.
I used a piece of cardboard with an 'undulating' pattern cut out to act as a template for sprinkling the coconut over the cake. take the template away once you have sprinkled the coconut over the cake.
Unmould the shells and place them onto the cake.
Unfortunate Warburtons Bread shot...
Serve to a seven year old who is going on seventeen...


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