Has your child ever asked you loudly in public why that man has such a big belly or why that lady has a beard? Yes? Well then you will understand how I felt when my child brought this home from school the other day.
See over there on the left (or down the bottom on yer mobile)? Yeah that, the Irish Parenting Blog Awards! I’ve gotten a couple of nominations, and excitement is building in the IPB community. I don’t get out much and now I’ve a glitzy awards ceremony to look forward to. Eep!
One of the awards sponsors is the fabulous Glenisk – who I’m on record as loving already in case you think I’m sucking up. I’m gonna represent on behalf of vegetarians and show how we use their products outside Go-Yo’s in the lunchbox. We use them a lot. So, me and the boys had a little think about dinner while we indulged in a breakfast smoothie…
We decided on curry. This particular one is a real treat meal, but still lacks the guilt of a takeaway. I dunno about you but I lovecurry. I have eight million herbs and spices but sometimes I want some shortcuts. I don’t like using jars so the compromise option for me is to buy a spice mix from Green Saffron (another great Irish company). As usual, the packet recipe is for a meaty curry, so I adapted it to suit us.
2.5 tbsp coconut oil
1 large onion, roughly chopped.
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
3 cloves crushed garlic
1 pack of paneer
1 pack Green Saffron Tantalizing Tikka Spice Mix
1 tin tomatoes
1 large carrot
1/2 a courgette
75 mls Glenisk low fat yogurt
75 mls Glenisk creme fraiche
1/2 lemon, juice & zest
1/2 cup of cashew nuts
Heat 1.5 tbsp coconut oil in a large pan. Sweat the onions, garlic & ginger with the lid on til they’re all nice and soft.
In the meantime, chop the paneer into cubes. Melt the other tablespoon of coconut oil at a medium-high heat in a non-stick pan, and toss in the paneer cubes. It takes about 6 minutes each side to crisp up a bit. A spatter guard will come in handy. You’re frying cheese here people, you’re frying cheese. Mmm, fried cheese…
Back to your oniony mix. Add half the spice mix, and stir for a minute or so. Yes! Good news, I find half of the 25g is enough to feed two adults and two kids, so you can get two full meals out of one packet.
Add your tomatoes and simmer for ten minutes.
While they simmer away, chop up your veggies nice and small. You want them to cook through in the sauce and you don’t necessarily want the kids to notice huge chunks of veg. Get your lemon zest done now too. Quick! The kids’ tv show is nearly over and you set up Netflix not to automatically play the next one in a fit of good parenting.
Move the pan off the heat and blend the tomato sauce. I really recommend a stick blender in your kitchen gadget arsenal.
Put it back on the heat, add your veggies along with the Glenisk yogurt and lemon juice.
Let this simmer gently for 20 minutes.
Add the cooked paneer, Glenisk creme fraiche and lemon zest, and simmer for another 5 minutes. Ta-da! Done.
Toast the cashew nuts on a dry pan for a few minutes. Keep a really close eye, they can burn very easily.
Now, in case you think “ah here, I’m never going to get through all this lark the kids will be all over me looking for their dinner” I like to chop up extra veggies and just leave them on the side as if they’re an ingredient, and then, just watch them disappear. They sneak in and grab them, thinking they’re hilarious. Joke’s on you kiddo, you just ate raw veggies.
Serve up your curry on a bed of brown basmati rice with a sprinkling of coriander and the crushed up toasted cashews scattered on top for a protein boost.
I made an extra serving of yogurt with some dried mint and more lemon zest mixed in. My kids are generally ok with a mild curry, but I often add yogurt to their dinner just to cool the temperature when they can’t wait to get stuck in.
During dinner prep we even managed to make a bit of dessert. Lime (veggie) jelly with raspberries and blueberries. I stuck it in the freezer so it would be ready after dinner. The colour of the fruit ran so it wasn’t as pretty after. Never fear, it was eaten, but we had run out of yogurt to serve with it.
I’m a big fan of The Happy Pear, the grocers and cafe run by a pair of handsome man-twins seen being optimistic and cheery and wearing unseasonal shorts all over the media late last year. That was shortly before my birthday and the reason they were so ubiquitous was that they released a book, so I sat on my hands to avoid purchasing it and waited. With not a hint dropped my BFF turned up with the goods and I don’t quite recall but I probably snatched it from her in a my preciousssss style.
The book hasn’t let me down. Though their food is my style – vegetarian, hearty, unpretentious – I will preface this by saying I’m not entirely on board with all their methods. I’ve pretty much halved or cut out the salt in the recipes I’ve made from it, and have been more liberal with my oil use: olive, rapeseed, sesame and coconut are my fats of choice. The guys are not fans of oil use at all as they explain in the book. However I heartily agree with the main thrust of their philosophy, which is:
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.
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.
Last night Mark made the speediest dinner ever using this basic recipe. He’d been inspired while watching Gino D’Acampo in a hospital waiting room and I’ve found a link to the broadcast since (you can’t watch outside the UK but the recipe is there). I was in another room with needles stuck in my boob at the time so obviously I’d have preferred to have been watching cheesy lunchtime tv. And safe to say, I think it was fair enough that he was on dinner duty after that little ordeal.
If you look at those 2 recipes linked above, they’re basically the same and I reckon you could do this with grated carrot or grated courgette – any vegetable that softens up nicely and has a bit of sweetness. Maybe add some chopped spring onion, and some more herbs or spices.
Him & I ate these with some leftover curry, but Dominic just ate about 4 of these tasty sweetcorn fritters on their own. They’re very moreish. They’d be nice with a side salad and with the natural yogurt, garam masala & mint dip that I’ve written about before.
I reckon these are the perfect baby led weaning food. Easy to hold onto, they can be eaten hot or cold and can be cut into strips either. They’d be a great party food, and go nicely with a bottle of beer! So, definitely a crowd pleaser!
Here’s the recipe:
100g plain flour
1 Tsp baking powder
200g sweetcorn (used frozen)
Sift the flour, baking powder and seasoning into a large bowl. Make a well in the centre, add a medium egg and gradually beat in 150ml milk to form a smooth batter.
Cook the frozen sweetcorn then add to the batter mix. Season to taste – I’d like to try this with maybe some chopped scallions, or a small bit of paprika.
Heat some veg oil in a frying pan – we tend to use rapeseed oil. Fry spoonfuls of mixture for about 2 mins each side until golden and crisp on each side.