Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Slow Roasted Lamb Shoulder for the Whole Family

Lamb might not be an obvious choice for kids but there are lots of great things about it.  Kids need iron and red meat is a great source of it.  Lamb though is a fairly strong taste in comparison with chicken and pork but that said, if you don't offer stronger tastes with kids, they don't get used to them, and let's face it, I would happily serve a lamb curry to my 2 year old.

Rosemary and garlic are natural partners for lamb but with a leg of lamb, it's often inserted and I find the garlic is still undercooked and indigestible.  This way makes sure the garlic and rosemary are fully cooked but still flavours the meat because it's cooked in it's own little steamy oven.

The other great reason to cook this dish is it's incredibly thrifty.  When I went to my local supermarket to buy this, a leg of lamb was £11-12 a kilo.  Lamb half shoulders were £5 a kilo.  Trust me, this is as good or even better than a leg of lamb and brings it into the price range of more households.

Monday, 26 November 2012

The Best Roast Potatoes EVER!

The fact that you can buy frozen roast potatoes has confirmed to me that people don't know how to make roast potatoes but it's super easy and makes you look like a superb cook to your friends and family.  This is the VITAL recipe to have to hand come Christmas.  Don't worry about the turkey needing a lower temperature, cook the turkey to be ready to take out of the oven 1 hour before you want to eat, then turn up the temperature.  Not only does the resting time help the meat, it then means you don't have to worry.

Even some really good cooks don't know how to make these.  The perfect roast potato should be golden and crunchy on the outside and lovely and fluffy within.  The perfect accompaniment to Christmas lunch or any other roast (and just maybe a delicious midweek treat!)  What's more is depending on what fat you use, these are really cheap to make (if you're smart, why not save some fat from roasting a duck to make these later, which kind of makes one of the ingredients free!)  No cheating with flour either.  Just two ingredients.  Done.

Saturday, 24 November 2012

Slow cooked duck with Thyme and Apple for kids and adults

I made this last weekend but it's been a busy week in the Mamacook household.  I now have my own business providing food safety support to food companies (which is my day job) and it's going pretty well but it does mean that time is short to fit in playing with my toddler, blogging, running and sleeping.  Unfortunately sleeping is paying the price as a result and if you think I've touched the vacuum cleaner in the last few weeks you are much mistaken!

It's inevitable that something has to give but I hope to get back on top of blogging asap because it brings me so much joy.  It's odd to think my little blog has been going for nearly two years now and regularly has 20,000 page views a month.  That might not sound like a lot but it's significant for me.

I still use the recipes from my first post (so much so I even went back and added a photograph recently) so everything changes but nothing does in lots of ways.

This is an easy recipe for duck.  If you've never cooked duck it's a great meat to roast.  Just be aware the amount of meat you will get won't be huge but you will feed 2 adults and a toddler without much of a problem.  Also don't be afraid of the fat (there's a life lesson!)  The fat is delicious and great for making roast potatoes.  In fact, you could freeze it and use it for Christmas day!

Which comes to another point.  Turkey is not for everyone and if you are just eating as a couple on Christmas day, a duck might be a tasty alternative if you fancy something a bit different.

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Vegetable and Chorizo Soup

One of those things, you've been to the supermarket, bought some ingredients, then you come home and your partner suggests something for tea you'd not planned for.  Today was 'soup'.  Now soup is easy, you can often make it from store cupboard ingredients but I didn't fancy lentils (I've over lentil-ed recently, even though I love lentils, you can have too many) and pumpkin is so autumnal.  So this was the result.

My husband astutely pointed out when I told him what we were having it was "the stuff which was in the fridge".  Yes.  Sometimes inspiration takes the form of cooking the "stuff which is there" and the "stuff which needs eating up".  I like to think there is more science to it than that but, let's face it, sometimes there isn't.  Still, despite that, my husband described this as 'delicious'.  I've not tried this with my son yet but it's the kind of thing he likes, definitely full of flavour and he has a bit of a thing for chorizo.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Sugar Free Fruit and Nut Slice for Toddlers

This is a lovely and simple fruit and nut slice which has no added sugar, no honey, no sugar substitutes.  It's a good substitute to the sugar and fat laden fruit and nut cereal bars which kind of seem healthier than they actually are.  Lots of healthy fats and fibre in here though.  Still even with no added sugar and very little added fat, the ingredients are reasonably filling so I did cut into small squares.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Great Christmas Present Ideas for Foodies - My favourite recipe books and online resources

People often ask where my inspiration comes from and in general it is often lying in bed in the morning when you're half asleep and ideas drift in.  Sometimes it's eating out in restaurants and cafes but I do also sometimes use inspiration from cook books and online recipes.

Where I've used a recipe as the basis for mine, I always credit it but there are also cook books that I cook from without changing anything.  Obviously I don't really blog about this because, well you can go out and try them for yourselves!  But if I don't blog about them, how do you know?

So, I thought I'd put together a list of the things I use most often, the recipe books and online resources I turn to again and again.  Some of them might make great Christmas presents too for the foodie in your life.

My own scrapbooks.  I have been keeping a recipe scrapbook for about 20 years.  I picked up the habit from my Mum.  Some of them are stained with recipes, have crossings out (some recipes have been unceremoniously removed or overpasted too!  I'm ruthless!)

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

Chorizo and Mozzarella Panini for Toddlers

Ok, I know I'm mixing countries here but panini aren't Italian anyway.  If you asked for a panino in Italy, you'd probably get a bread roll!

But in the UK (and I think the US where it was probably invented) it has come to mean a toasted sandwich normally made in a baguette or ciabatta.  I often share one of these with my son if there is no other option when we're out.  I say "if there's no other option" because they're often served in cafes which are one of the few places in some towns which will serve food at 11:30/11:45 which is when my little man gets hungry.

Well it occurred to me that we often make toasted sandwiches in our famous boxer endorsed "grilling machine" so why not panini?  I chose chorizo because there was precious little choice of Italian salamis in my local supermarket this morning, certainly nothing spicy and I like chorizo.  I chose mozzarella because you need something which melts well.

Friday, 9 November 2012

Proper Cocoa

This is probably a recipe for older kids and adults.  Forget hot chocolate, it's not that nasty overly sweet confection, this is the good stuff, the real stuff, the thing you crave when it's chilly outside...

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Very Berry Compote for Babies and Toddlers (and their parents)

I love berries.  In summer, pretty much the only pudding I really want is fresh raspberries, maybe with some blueberries or blackberries depending on the month.  I miss that in the winter, as does my son from the amount of times he's asked for "Strawberries and Cream" recently.

Well winter feels like it's here and if you think I'm buying a hothouse strawberry at this time of year, you must be mistaken.  There's no point.  The flavour in strawberries is pretty much all perfume and sweetness, winter strawberries have neither (and some would argue a lot of summer ones aren't much better!)  So I have turned to the frozen berries.  Raspberries can just about get away with being frozen and defrosted to be eaten cold and only just.  They're still better as part of a dish.  That said, you can use the tendency for berries to leak juice to your advantage and make this compote.

I have added honey to the compote because the frozen berries I had weren't very sweet.  Obviously only do so if your child is over 1 year old and if you want to.  I wouldn't have sweetened this when my son was still a baby and if you're looking at 1-2 tsp across the whole batch, it's not a lot compared with cakes and sweets.  Likewise if you do have a younger baby, you could also whizz this up and sieve out the seeds (if you want to, I never bothered) and mix with yoghurt for a lovely pudding.

For adults this would be great as a topping for a good vanilla ice cream or even as a topping for porridge in the morning.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Pumpkin Risotto with Thyme for babies and toddlers

I posted a risotto recipe a while back.  It was made in the slow cooker to make it easy with a little one around but, well it wasn't quite as good as a proper risotto, not that this is a 'proper' risotto, not really.  I've used some cheats and used up items in my fridge which needed using.

Risotto made with parmesan is not vegetarian so if you do want to make this veggie, you will need to switch the cheese.  A good tip is Berkswell which is a British cheese made from vegetarian rennet but it is a hard parmesan style.  Alternatively use a vintage cheddar, a properly strong 'crunchy' one.  Obviously all of these changes are completely inauthentic but then as ever I make no claims for authenticity!

So this was made after my son spent the morning at a birthday party eating breaded bits and bobs and sugary snacks.  You have to admit it's quite a good thing to have a risotto freshly made for you to include some vegetables into your diet!  He's a lucky boy!