Equal opportunities carb savages – potato cakes & noodle soup

We love an aul’ spud.  For years I would deny them: my new found culinary freedom when I went to college meant I could alternate pasta and rice and never see a spud that wasn’t chipped & deep fried, or encased in a packet marked ‘Hunky Dory’. When I was little,  I would try to hide pieces of potato under my cutlery long after everyone had left the table, having been instructed to stay there til I’d finished everything (an 80’s phenomenon due to the starving babies in Africa, and the more recent memories of an fairly impoverished upbringing).  Luckily my darling father would take pity on me as he went about his daily washing up chore (we had a dishwasher, why on earth was there so much washing up done in our house?) and let me escape to watch Home & Away.  They were nearly always boiled, sometimes leftover & fried on a saturday morning.  There was the occasional baked potato, and the traditional roast, and quite regularly home made chips.   It was only boiled I rejected whole heartedly but the proliferation of them into every single dinner meant I couldn’t exclude them from my diet fast enough when given the opportunity.

mash you can hold
mash you can hold

Then I had a kid, and mash became part of our lives again.  It’s buttery/creamy/whatever you’re having yourself deliciousness is so tasty, that it’s a pretty good fall back meal when you haven’t a clue what else to make.  Last weekend, with no shopping done and a few roosters in the cupboard, little potato cakes were on the menu.   It’s mash you can hold!  Incidentally ‘a few roosters’ is actually an item on our shopping list – my mothers influence is strong there.  We had no eggs and each recipe near the top of my google search seemed to contain one, so I just went with a roundabout experiment that really worked!  Binding, schminding…  This makes about 12-15.

Oven baked potato cakes:

  • Chop a few roosters (okay, 3) quite small & cook.  I do ours in a microwave steamer, and the small pieces were done in 5 minutes plus a couple of minutes sitting.
  • Mash well with a decent dash of milk and more butter than you think you should use.
  • Grate in cheddar, add a couple of chopped spring onions and season well with black pepper
  • Spread out little cakes on a baking sheet.  Either make little patties with your hand, or use a scone cutter (they don’t keep their shape and spread a little though)
  • Bake in the oven at a high temp (I used 200c) for 7 or 8 mins each side.

The beauty of these is it’s not an exact recipe.  Throw in what you have – caramelised leeks would be gorgeous I’d say, or different cheeses.  If you’re cooking something else in the oven at the same time then just use whatever temperature you need it set to for that.

And the equal opportunities part?  Well, since we had spuds on saturday, we had risotto on sunday (and monday), and then our very favourite – noodley doodleys tonight.  In a noodle soup form for parents and Dominic (who used his pilfered Wagamama chopsticks – we took a bunch) and ‘deconstructed’ for Theo.  The constituent parts proved very popular with him too.  He has the art of the pincer grip down pat now.  I even left the plate in front of him while he ate and it lasted a good 8 minutes there I’d say!

We’re definitely enduring a throwback-to-the-eighties Ireland in some regards what with our rampant recession. But I thank the gods of air travel and globalisation for broadening the range of grains and carbs available in Ireland.  I know there was plenty of rice and pasta and maybe even noodles around then (just not really in our house) but cous cous and quinoa…far from it I was reared!

Jill

Puttin’ up The Dinner: sweet potato tuna croquettes

Croquetteish
Croquetteish

Mama cuts up colouredy things while I sit in my chair and shout at her.  And then she puts things in the hot-hot-hot water and then puts it all together and that’s called dinner and we all eat it and I throw a bit aswell.

Sometimes Dada makes dinner, when Mama says she sounds like Mammó used to saying “I just wish for once someone would put a dinner up in front of me”.  But when Dada was going to make my food instead he had to work hard in his office and then Mama had to make it for all her boys instead.

Mama said Yuck Yuck Yuck and opened the smelly tin of pink stuff and gave some to the meooowss.  Then she made the spuddies and she made spuddy-spuddies and the orange ones I love too, and she mashed them all together. She mixed it all up and made it bready on the outside.

Then Dada arrived in and me and the Dom-bomb and him ate them all up. It was my first time having them but they eated them before lots. Dada said he mixes an egg in too when he makes them.  Mama had sadface and made her own din-dins.

Theo

Tuna Croquettes (adapted from the Baby Led Weaning Cookbook)

2 large potatoes (I used 1 regular, 1 sweet)

185 g can tuna

1 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp butter

1/2-1 cup breadcrumbs (2 slices of wholemeal whizzed up in blender)

Directions

1. Steam or boil potatoes.

2. Preheat oven to 200c and lightly grease a large baking sheet.

3. Drain the tuna and break it up.

4. When the potatoes are cooked, drain and mash them and add the tuna. Add the lemon juice & butter and mix.

This is where the husband adds in an egg – mine were a bit squidgy, which might have been the sweet potato, but he reckons they bind better with the egg.

5. Shape the mixture into small sausages then roll each one in the breadcrumbs and put on the baking sheet.

6. Bake in the oven for about 20 minutes, until browned and cooked through.

Falling at the first hurdle, or a helping hand?

You’d think there wouldn’t be so many surprises the second time round. The learning curve with weaning of any kind is steep, as much for parents as for junior.

hey! this was a good plan mama
hey! this was a good plan mama

I can’t remember how Dom took to pre-loaded spoons.  But I know that he did master them, by a couple of weeks later than this stage with Theo.  In fact there’s a very cute video here. I’ve racked my brains and can’t think how it started, so I just went ahead and handed Theo a spoon  with an assortment of items (not at the same time) – porridge, bananacado, thick soup, and more often than not he flips the spoon and sticks the handle in his mouth.  So this evening, with a lack of anything else for dinner to give him, and parent no.2 not home I decided he could  have some of my massamam curry, with tofu, butternut squash and of course potato.  I use the Thai Gold brand of paste, which I’ve blogged about before here.

The pieces were in small cubes, and we’re not in pincer grip territory yet, so I thought I’d try the pre loaded spoon again. I gave it a wee mash up, to a good soft but lumpy texture, and added some natural yogurt to cool down the spice. FLIP off went the curry across the table and the spoon went in upside down.  I had a little lightbulb moment, he doesn’t know what he’s missing! I put some on the spoon, coaxed open that little mouth and SPOON FED him.  I did this 3 times with small amounts, then he shrieked when I took the spoon away.  You want it that bad baby?  Help yourself!  And he did, roaring indignantly each time I took the empty spoon back from him.

The spoon: it contains yummy stuff.  He just didn’t realise it.

Jill

Le sigh. Sometimes I wonder why I bother.

My daddy makes me the best dinners.  He got me from the creche last night when mamma was still in work and we went home and played for a while we did trains and jumping.  Then he went to the kitchen to make dinner and one Handy Manny later it was ready.  We had sausages and then  out of the white beeping  box we had potatoes, carrots & broccoli.  I nommed it up.  Sausages are new to me, mamma won’t eat them with me and dadda but sometimes she has special ones from the brrrfreezer and dadda and me eat them too.

Today my mammy chopped up 2 big oberjeans and put them in the dangeroushotoven. Mostly I like to see what she’s doing but it was taking her ages today and I didn’t bother. There were tomatoes and pasta too and cheese on top and it took so much time that I had a bath and everything.  Then we all had dinner together. Doma had dinner and dadda had dinner and mamma had dinner but only mamma loved dinner.  I don’t think dadda likes oberjeans very much and I said my tooth hurt and it was better when I had milk then my other tooth hurt and I drank more milk and it was better so I stopped eating dinner and had a yogurt and mamma said she thought i mean my tung hurt and she shouldn’t have put chilli in the dinner.

Dom

Mackerel shmackerel*

*this represents the views of the author.

They ate mackerel fillets there last friday night, the boy and his dad.  I believe mackerel was grilled, some baby new potatoes were steamed and off they went.  I’m also told that fillets don’t have bones in them, that the 3 fillets cost under €3 in Superquinn, and that the smaller boy manages the potatoes easily when quartered.

harumph

I really thought I could convince Dominic’s dad to write the meaty & fishy posts for this blog, but that never came to pass.  Dom isn’t vegetarian, not yet, so I don’t just want to show a one-sided view of what he eats.  But save telling you the facts, I can’t share much else.  I don’t cook it and I won’t, but I do want to help others that are starting off BLW with their kids, or just trying to come up with different ideas for feeding their own families.  So I’ll keep telling you what Dominic eats.  Just don’t expect me to be super happy about it…

Jill

Something smells a bit fishy.

Barry was no ordinary fish

There’s no denying the goodness of fish.  Personally, I like them to keep their goodness all to themselves but I hear if you consume such things they’re chocka full of omega 3’s and what not, especially the oily fish kind.  Pity their greasiness doesn’t allow them slip away from nets…

Dominic’s favourite fish is Barry The Fish With Fingers.  But his Dad thinks it’s okay to eat other, less talented fish, and thusly consulted his new bible, the Baby Led Weaning cookbook.   Tuna croquettes were on the menu.  His top tip for speed is chop up the spuds & steam them in the microwave.  These were very quick to make, and after Mark sliced them into discs Dom nommed them up that way.  I think I spent more time cleaning potato & flaky tuna off the floor than he spent making them.  Then I gave the other tin of tuna to the cats, the bang* off it is woeful.

Then last sunday, while I revelled in delight at finding Cauldron tofu in Tesco (really firm, definitely the easiest to cook with, but not always available), Mark was slipping peppered mackerel fillets in the basket.   They ate them up on the next night with steamed babycorn & mangetout.  The packet said may contain traces of bone, but after a thorough combing through turns out they were actually bone-free.  Again, he ate small flaky bits with his hands.  The way he eats baby corn is really cute, its like an adult eating corn on the cob.  The tiny bits come back out with the sides nibbled off.

In case you’ve wondered, I don’t handle the meat/fish side of things at all, cooking or health & safety like bone removal.  I stand there making myself a little meal for one while father and son tuck in.  I don’t even like cleaning up after it, but then, when have I ever said I enjoy cleaning?

– jill

*bang is an irishism for smell, dear alien-readers.