Main meals

BABY AND FAMILY FRIENDLY LAMB CURRY

Oh my days, I am SO pleased with this recipe. I have wanted to try A with a curry for ages but was nervous that he would not enjoy something with such complex flavour – and I was unwilling to budge on taste as I also love a good curry.

This recipe solves both problems. It is rich and filling, with plenty of nutritious ingredients – but has the right balance of flavour to keep both adults and babies interested. This recipe is salt, dairy and refined sugar free. It is also perfect for batch cooking and freezing (this will only improve the flavour!). It only requires minimal prep on the hob as most of the work is done in the oven.

As usual the ingredients are completely interchangeable so please use this recipe as a guide and use whatever is in your fridge/cupboards, also feel free to up the heat if you are a chilli fan like me.

Ingredients to serve six adults:

1kg stewing lamb

1 each of onion, pepper (any colour), roughly chopped

Large potato, cubed

Thumb size piece of fresh ginger, grated

2 garlic cloves, crushed

1 green chilli, seeds removed and chopped

1tsp each ground coriander and tumeric

2tsp cumin

Tin chopped tomatoes

Tin chickpeas, drained and rinsed

Handful dried apricots, roughly chopped

200ml coconut milk (you can freeze the rest of the can for another time)

500ml chicken stock

Preheat oven to 160 degrees

  1. In an ovenproof casserole dish, heat a little oil and brown the lamb meat all over. Do not crowd the pan -you may need to brown the meat in batches. Remove and set aside
  2. Add a little more oil and add the onions, peppers, garlic, chilli and ginger. Cook gently for 5 mins or so or until beginning to caramelise
  3. Add the rest of the spices and the potato to the pan and cook for a couple more minutes. Add the lamb back to the pan and make sure everything is well combined
  4. Add the tomatoes, coconut milk and stock and bring to the boil. Clamp on a lid and pop in the oven for 2 hours – checking every so often to make sure it does not dry out
  5. Remove the curry and give it a stir. Add the drained chickpeas and apricots. Pop back in the oven without a lid and cook for a further half hour until the sauce is thick and reduced. If it is looking too dry, add a little water or coconut milk
  6. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly. Serve with yogurt, cucumber and rice. Adults may want to add some salt once cooked.

 

CREAMY CHICKEN AND VEGETABLE BAKE WITH CRUNCHY GNOCCHI TOPPING

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I have been meaning to try out gnocchi with my baby for ages, and I am pretty glad that I did. It is really important that you feel confident that your baby has a good chewing technique before giving them gnocchi as they are quite small and could cause choking – if in doubt please do halve the gnocchi to make them easier to eat. I actually cut mine up after taking this photo for this very reason.  If you are really worried about choking you could always use pasta or even mashed potato as a topping – it will still be lovely.

Apart from that, this is a great way to introduce new textures to your baby  – a creamy flavoursome sauce topped with soft and crunchy gnocchi.

This recipe makes enough for 4 adults, or 2 adults and 3 baby portions

INGREDIENTS

2 chicken breasts

1 each of courgette, pepper, onion (or any other Mediterranean veggies you might have in the fridge) – diced into small pieces

1 clove garlic, crushed

50g tinned or frozen sweetcorn

40g butter

Olive oil

500g pack gnocchi, mashed potato or cooked pasta

500ml low salt chicken stock

Sprig fresh rosemary

2 tbsp. plain flour

50g Cheddar cheese, grated

3tbsp double cream

Preheat oven to 200 degrees

  1. Heat a glug of olive oil in a large frying pan and add the butter
  2. Add the diced chicken and fry for 5 minutes until starting to brown
  3. Add all the veggies. Keep the heat relatively high – you want to pan to sizzle rather than for everything to start boiling
  4. After everything is starting to soften and brown, add rosemary and garlic. It will look quite oily at this stage – this is OK!
  5. Turn the heat down to low. Add the flour and mix gently so it gets evenly incorporated into the mixture
  6. Slowly add the hot stock. Keep stirring until the mixture thickens. Cook for 5 minutes to allow the flour to cook out and you have a lovely smooth sauce
  7. Remove the rosemary sprig. Add the cream, stir gently then empty the whole lot into a baking dish. Throw over the gnocchi, pasta or mashed potato. Sprinkle on the grated cheese
  8. Bake in the oven for 20-25 minutes until the topping is brown and crunchy. Allow to stand for 10-15 minutes before serving.

 

 

SUPER EASY BEAN BURGERS

There were borne out of some leftover chickpeas and kidney beans sitting in the fridge, and me wanting to make something quick yet substantial for Friday night dinner. They are also good frozen – just freeze them once formed on a tray, then once frozen transfer to a freezer bag.

They are possibly the simplest things in the world to cook, and probably the cheapest. I had this on the table in less than 20 mins so it is ideal family food and very filling.

You really can play around with the ingredients here. The only thing you need to keep constant is the beans (obviously!), and the bread and egg as binding agents- as long as you have a mixture which can be formed into patties anything goes.

Ingredients:

400g mixed cooked beans (we used chickpeas and kidney beans but any will work)

1 garlic clove, crushed

Handful dried breadcrumbs

1 small stale ciabatta loaf, of any other old bread

Handful mixed fresh herbs – we used chives and parsley

1 egg

Juice of half a lemon

1 small red onion

2 sundried tomatoes in oil

Tiny pinch chilli flakes (more if for adults!)

Heat olive oil in a non stick frying pan

  1. Simply blitz everything together in a food processor.
  2. Fry in olive oil until golden and crispy

Serve with avocado and yogurt/crème fraiche and avocado. Buns and chips optional! I might make my next batch with some halloumi to go in the buns too. Yummy…

 

 

TOMATO GIANT COUS COUS / BULGAR WHEAT

I love this recipe! It is a comforting bowl of goodness in winter and is an ace salad to serve at a summer BBQ. I cannot think of anything it does not go with, and it is just so easy to make.

An adaptation of the original recipe by Sabrina Ghayour’s Persiana, this is really a blueprint for many dishes – you can add feta cheese, seeds, nuts, chicken…the list goes on. Use this as a base and go forth with your imagination.

INGREDIENTS

200g giant cous cous/bulgar wheat

500ml stock (use low salt for babies)

2tbsp tomato puree

1 onion, finely chopped

1 pepper (red or yellow), finely chopped

Large knob butter

Olive oil

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan. Sautee the onion and pepper for a few minutes until translucent.
  2. Add the tomato puree and cook for a couple of minutes. Add your choice of grain and cook for another couple of minutes.
  3. Add the stock. give a good stir then allow to simmer quietly for 15 minutes.
  4. If you can let it stand for a few minutes, do – but this is not essential. Stir in the knob of butter, adjust seasoning, then serve.

 

 

STICKY GINGER BEEF CASSEROLE

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This is one of those sorts of casseroles that you can cook in summer as it is best served with lots of crunchy veggies, or even with salad. It is rich, but not too heavy. If you have babies over one year old, this would be great with an additional squidge of honey before serving to make it even more sticky – I am afraid the under ones will have to make do with the prunes for the time being.

 

INGREDIENTS

400g casserole beef, cubed

1 pint low salt chicken or beef stock

1tbsp tomato puree

1 red pepper, cut into small pieces

2 onions, diced

4 cloves garlic, crushed

Pritt stick sized piece of ginger, peeled and cut into little matchsticks

6 prunes, pitted and chopped 

Honey (if cooking for over 1’s)

1tbsp  reduced sodium soy sauce

2tbsp Shaoxing rice wine

1 star anise

1tsp Chinese 5 spice

1tsp sesame oil

Vegetable/rapeseed oil for frying

Preheat oven to 160 degrees

  1. Heat the veggie or rapeseed oil. in a cast iron casserole pan. Brown the beef  until sealed all over. You may need to do this in batches. Remove and set aside.
  2. Add the ginger, garlic, peppers and onion to the pan and cook slowly for ten minutes until soft but not browned. Add the meat back to the pan.
  3. Chuck in the stock, followed by the tomato puree, star anise and 5 spice. Bring to the boil, then add the soy, rice wine and sesame oil.
  4. Clamp on a lid and cook for 90 minutes in the oven.
  5. Remove the lid and stir in the prunes. Keeping the lid off, put pan back in oven for abother half an hour. Top up with water if it all looks too dry.
  6. Remove the pan and let it rest for a good 15 minutes at room temperature. Stir in the honey (if using) and season to taste. Serve with pasta, rice, noodles or salad.

 

LAMB TAGINE

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Any dinner which happily sits in the oven for hours while you can get on with other stuff is a bonus for me. This lamb tagine has been cooked in our family for years, and only needs minor tweaks to make it completely baby friendly. It is full of warming spices which are lovely on a cold day but can equally be really refreshing on a warm summer night with cous cous and some crunchy veggies or salad.

It is originally from Rick Stein’s recipe, with a sprinkling of Baby and Bean to make it a bit more suitable for everyday. I never usually specify weights of veggies but this is how it appears in the book, so to not offend any tagine purists I will keep them in.

INGREDIENTS

1kg lamb shoulder, cubed

3 tbsp. olive oil

4 teaspoons ras al hanout

450g carrots, sliced

200g onions, sliced

400g waxy new potatoes

400g sweet potatoes

450g tomatoes

75g dried apricots

2 tablespoons maple syrup (or honey if cooking for over 1’s)

1.2 litres chicken stock

For the spice paste:

4 garlic cloves

1 small onion, chopped

1 deseeded red chilli

1 pack (20g) fresh coriander

Salt and pepper (adjust according to taste and audience)

Oven set to 160 degrees.

  1. Grind all the spice paste ingredients in a food processor or in a jug with a hand blender
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large casserole. Fry the lamb in batches so it browns all over. Remove and set aside once done
  3. Add the spice paste to the pan and fry for a few minutes, then add the ras al hanout. Revel in the amazing smells for a moment, then add the veggies, tomatoes and apricots followed by the lamb
  4. Add the maple syrup (or honey), and add enough stock to cover everything with a little bit sticking out the top. Don’t drown the ingredients at this stage. Season according to your audience (don’t bother if just cooking for babies), whack on a lid and oven cook for two hours. Half an hour before the time is up, take the lid off to let the sauce reduce, and top up with more water or chicken stock if it becomes dry.
  5. Remove from the oven 15 minutes before you plan to eat so it cools a little. Skim off any excess oil.
  6. Serve with veggies, cous cous or rice.

 

BABY FRIENDLY KATSU CURRY

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I have been meaning to make this for ages, partly for selfish reasons because I love it  and was craving some. I also had a couple of Ella’s pouches to use up, and now we are beyond purees I was looking for something to cook with them. You do not have to use pouches though, fresh ingredients are also fine.

I like to serve the sauce with breaded chicken and rice but you can have it with other meat, veggies, breaded fish…anything really. The sauce makes quite a few portions so ideal for bagging up and freezing for all your instant needs. Just defrost in the fridge and microwave for a minute to reheat.

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Please do note that katsu curry tastes amazing as it is usually pumped full of sugar and salt. In the original recipes, copious amounts of soy and honey are used to create that addictive flavour. I have used apricots as a sweetener and low sodium soy sauce to mimic these flavours but it will certainly not be 100% the original. Sorry about that. It is still a mighty good alternative though and you can always add more soy and sweetener to your own portion.

INGREDIENTS

Half a medium onion, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed

10 dried apricots (preferably organic), roughly chopped

1 very low salt chicken stock cube

1 tsp mild curry powder

1/2 tsp ground coriander

1tsp garam masala

2 tbsp. flour

1 pouch sweet potato baby puree, or one leftover cooked sweet potato, mashed

2tsp reduced sodium soy sauce

Olive oil or coconut oil, for frying

 

  1. Get your kettle boiling. Add the apricots and stock cube to a measuring jug and pour in one pint of boiling water. Poke it all about to dissolve the stock cube and to help the apricots rehydrate a bit
  2. Heat your oil in a large deep frying pan. Add the onions and garlic and sautee for 5 minutes until softened and aromatic
  3. Mix in the curry powder and coriander. Keep stirring until it all melds together, add more oil if necessary. You want it to almost have the consistency of a thick curry paste. It will smell amazing.
  4. Lower the heat to minimum. Add the flour and sweet potato to the pan and mix well until combined.
  5. Slowly add the hot stock and apricot mixture. Stir vigorously – do not stop until the sauce is boiling. Don’t panic if there are a few lumps though – life is too short and it will all be blended later anyway. Let the mixture bubble away for about 15 minutes until thickened and reduced by about a third.
  6. Take the pan off the heat and get your hand blender out.  Whizz to the consistency you like – I like it smooth-ish but still with a little texture (see picture above). Alternatively, blend in a blender or give it a good mash with a potato masher
  7. Add the soy sauce and garam masala. Mix well and taste  – you can add more spices or soy if you feel it needs it. Depending on how large your apricots are you could also add a dash of maple syrup if you feel it needs to be sweeter.
  8. Allow to cool and freeze in separate freezer bags. Use within a month.