Tentative words.

I *think* we have our mojo back.  Maybe it’s because I started with a recipe from a cook book instead of my imagination, after the bad run of dinners.

We got The Silver Spoon as a present from a friend.  Now I’m sure I read before that it was traditionally given by Italian mothers to their daughter-in-law-to-be before they wed her son.  Ahahahaha. Charming.  Of course, I can’t find any reference to this now, but all I can say is I’m glad it’s a whopping great book, because if it were given to me with any such inference it’d be used as a weapon.

“Looka after mya little boya,  I’ve-a markeda hisss favourites…”

THWACK!

(Luckily my mother in law doesn’t conform to any such stereotypes – sometimes indulging her son’s meaty cravings when we visit but also always feeding me imaginative veggie food, and all the while conforming to her own Coeliac and her husband’s Diabetic dietary requirements. Yikes)

I was going to make baked beans, and had soaked and cooked cannellini beans in prep for that.  Then I realised I forgot to defrost the tomato sauce, and had a quick scan through my reasonably small cook book collection for an alternative.  (Aside: I find as a vegetarian, I don’t have a huge grá for cookbooks.  Despite watching lots of cookery shows, the associated books are usually way too meaty to bother buying.  I’ve just ordered Simon Hopkinson’s Vegetarian Option though – I can’t wait to flick through and cook from it. )

I love beans – they’re filling & super nutrious. I came across this simple healthy recipe, which was a nice contrast to the heavy creamy pasta we’d had the previous night (not complaining but I can’t eat cream/mozzarella laden dinner every night)

good to go

Summer Cannellini Beans (Serves 4)

3 tbsp Olive Oil

1 Garlic clove

1 diced Aubergine

1 Yellow pepper diced (only had red. sue me)

2 Tomatoes (only had cherry toms so used 1/2 a tin of chopped toms.)

350g Cannellini beans

Grated rind 1/2 Lemon

Basil leaves & Parsley, chopped

Salt & Pepper

Heat the oil in a pan, add the garlic & cook until browned, then remove and discard (what! discard garlic, never…).

Add the aubergine, and pepper to the pan and cook over a high heat for a few minutes, then add the tomatoes and beans, cover and cook for 5 minutes.

Season with salt & pepper and cook, uncovered, for a further 5 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, transfer the beans to a warm serving dish and sprinkle with the lemon rind, basil and parsley.

Mix well and serve.

Dominic really loved this.  He doesn’t have a particular problem with veg, or any one food we offer (besides unreconstructed bananas) but I’ve definitely noticed that as he’s gotten older he has gotten that bit fussier maybe just due to being more aware of what things are.  When he’s happily eating one thing, he’s not really into trying the different coloured/textured thing beside it.  Maybe he’s a bit OCD! So he might lay into his sweet potato wedges, but not touch the roasted peppers.  Or eat the tofu but not the noodles.  Last night he ate every single scrap of his scrambled egg, but wouldn’t touch the toasty soldiers.  This is a great one pot dinner – where the ingredients sorta stick together, each forkful contains lots of different bits and pieces, and the textures are not dissimilar.

Win.

Jill

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2 strikes and we’re out

Oh dear!  A streak of bad luck has befallen our cooking!

First up, yesterday for dinner I made Vegan Yum Yum’s Crispy Sweet & Sour Tofu.  This a great site, full of imaginative vegan grub, and lots of beautiful food photography.  I had a bit of an urge on me for good old fashioned radioactive coloured sweet and sour sauce, like the very first Chinese take out I had age 12 in my cousin Carmel’s house.  I thought it was so exotic.  It was, compared to our standard fare.

So in this recipe, the tofu method was spot on.  I didn’t have any egg replacer, being not of the vegan variety, but the tofu went lovely and crispy using the cornflour alone.  But, it was thrown across the table by his nibs, who clearly prefers my other tofu dish.  As for the sauce, hmm, I think I’ll keep looking.  It was a great consistency, but I think it was the ketchup I didn’t like in it.  Pineapple might not be authentically Chinese (or is it?  is ketchup?) but I think this might be what this dish was lacking for me.  Hungry Dom does not tolerate new foods for long if he doesn’t like the first bite, so it was forkfuls of plain white rice for the rest of his dinner.   Actually, the rice was perfectly cooked, using this method – Rinse basmati really well in a sieve, cover with water – 1.5cms approx above the rice (I start with boiling water).  12 mins covered on a low simmer. Voilà.

nooooo!

Today, it was husbag’s turn.  He turned a blind eye to the whole supermarket shop I did yesterday after his head was turned by The Good Cook on BBC.   Off we went to Fallon & Byrne for some gorgeous overpriced veg, and a trip to the offie for Vermouth.  He likes an aul cheffy dish (read: using every saucepan and utensil going) and made this Braised Fennel with Butter & Parmesan for a light dinner this evening.  Fennel cooked like this is so good for baby led weaning – perfect fingers of sliced fennel to hold, soft enough to chew easily.  To our adult taste buds, this was divine.  The vermouth is not a strong taste and the alcohol is clearly gone.  I know fennel is divisive, but one quick chew and it was spat out by our cantankerous toddler.  Talk about barely giving it a chance!

Honestly though, this is the kind of dish I’d serve as part of my meal if I were on Come Dine With Me.  Child doesn’t know what he’s missing.  He had a yogurt and 2 kiwi’s for his dinner instead.

To make up for such rejection, I decided I’d make a sure fire winner, with none for baby!  Step up the fabulous Babaduck, whose baked goods are becoming legendary via their pale imitations round here.  Husbag asked in a urgent worried tone if any of these were going into work with me as I took them out of the oven. Take that baby boy… we’re eating all of these now you’re gone to bed…

Jill

Risotto. Italian for yum.

We’re big fans of risotto in our house.  It used to be one of those things that we thought was really hard, or time consuming, but it’s actually not.   Especially now –   Mark tried out the BLW cookbook oven-cooked one with aubergine & courgette a while ago, as opposed to the stand and stir variety and we actually found it nicer – less stodgy and clumpy.  It’s definitely  less effort too.

After a lovely long zoo trip the other day, when Dom was almost running on empty – tired out from animals, slides & other kids  – we thought a variation on the oven cooked risotto starring what ever was in the fridge/garden would go down a treat.

Mark set to getting onions, garlic & peppers on the pan, while I went into the garden.  Yes, dear reader, I harvested a few little carrots, and some sage and parsley.  The pride!  I was bursting with it.   Now, I don’t think Tesco will come a-calling with orders any day soon, but I don’t care, my double-pronged carroty wonders were awesome.  Except the one with the approx 18 inch long root, for what lay beneath was a miserable greeny tinged number.  There’s a lesson there somewhere.

Hurry up and take photo so I can eat.

The carrots softened nicely in the 20 mins in the oven, as all the stock goes in at once so they get a chance to cook through.  This means I don’t have to go picking out crunchy carrot bits from Dom’s dinner.

Risotto is a brilliant BLW food.   You can use low salt stock, get a variety of vegetables and cheesiness into junior. It sticks nicely to spoons and forks and little hands.  Our friend Tina over at Cookwithtina.com was enquiring about freezing risotto on The Twitter the other day, but I honestly can’t say I’ve ever tried – ours is always gone with one sitting & one batch of leftovers.

– Jill