Meat

Mushroom & Ham Risotto

This is a truly wintery risotto and one that's fantastic to have up your sleeve for festive entertaining of big and little people. My daughter is more than a little hesitant to try mushrooms at the moment but unsurprisingly she wolfed some of the leftover risotto once I'd balled, breaded and fried as arancini for pre-dinner nibbles- but who can blame her- no one in their right mind would turn down arancini!!!

[Note: just leave out the ham for a veggie version]

BLW Tip: blitz the cooked risotto down for 30 seconds and mould into small balls for little hands to grab hold of.

Serves 2 adults and 1-2 small children

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50g butter

150g arborio rice

1 small onion, finely diced

10g dried porcini mushrooms, soaked in 150ml boiling water for 20 minutes

500ml vegetable stock

50g Parmesan (or vegetarian alternative), finely grated

zest and juice of 1/2 lemon

50g pulled ham hock or good quality ham cut into dice

for the roasted mushrooms:

250g chestnut mushrooms

2-3 cloves garlic, crushed

4 sage leaves, finely sliced

2 tbsp olive oil

1 tbsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp salt, optional

freshly ground black pepper

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Preheat the oven to 180oC and line a baking tray with baking parchment. Combine the ingredients for the roasted mushrooms in a bowl and then spread in a thin layer over the baking tray. Place in the oven for 20-25 minutes.

Meanwhile, place a medium saucepan on the heat and melt 30g butter before adding the rice and onion. Cook for 3-5 minutes. In a food processor, blitz together the soaked mushrooms, their liquor and the vegetable stock and once combined add to the rice/onion mix and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 20-25 minutes- [Note: make sure the heat is not too high otherwise the liquid will evaporate too quickly.]

After 20-25 minutes of the rice cooking, add the parmesan, remaining 20g butter, lemon zest and juice, the roasted mushrooms and ham. Stir through and bring to the boil. Turn off the heat and cover for 5 minutes to allow everything to melt in. Serve immediately with plenty of extra Parmesan.

if preparing ahead: place the cooked rice in a container and chill immediately. 

for adults and older children: add 1/2 tsp salt  to the final risotto

Beef & Mushroom Puff Pastry Pie

This is warm, comforting food for the winter months and its wonderful. I blitz down the carrots and onions as it adds thickness and sweetness to the sauce (and can sometimes go unnoticed) but you can cut them into small dice instead. I generally make half of the recipe up into individual pie dishes and ramekins and the other half gets frozen - either as a completed pie or just a stew ready to be topped another day (because let's be honest- whenever there is a opportunity for a puff pastry lid its only polite to take it!)

Makes enough for two pies that serve 2 adults and 1-2 small children each

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2 tbsp olive oil

600g braising steak, cut into 2-cm dice

200g carrot, roughly chopped

200g red onion, roughly chopped

200g chestnut mushrooms, quartered

4 cloves garlic, crushed

1 tbsp tomato puree

1 tsp dijon mustard

2 tsp cornflour

750ml vegetable stock

1 sheet puff pastry

1 egg, beaten

fresh thyme, to garnish

Preheat the oven to 150oc. Place the carrot and onion in a food processor and blitz down until fine. Remove and set aside.

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Heat the oil in a large casserole dish and add half the meat. Cook over a high heat until it is nicely browned. Remove and repeat with the second half- add a little more oil if the dish is dry and smoking. Return the first batch to the dish along with all the rest of the ingredients and stir everything so it is evenly mixed and then place in the oven for 1 hour, covered. After one hour, the meat should be falling apart- if not, then place back in the oven for 30-45minutes- remove from the oven and place a large colander over a deep frying pan. Drain the stew so that the meat and vegetables are caught in the colander whilst the sauce is in the pan. Put the meat/veg to one side and bring the sauce to the boil. Reduce down until you have a thick glossy sauce- it will take about 15 minutes and you need to reduce the sauce to 400ml. Remove and pour back over the meat/veg. Serve immediately if opting for a stew or cover with puff pastry, brush with egg and place in the oven [increase to 200oC] for 25 minutes until puffed and golden. 

for adults or older children: add 1 tsp salt along with all the other ingredients

 

 

Sweet Lamb & Butternut Tagine

The dates in this recipe give a wonderful natural sweetness but you do need to get good quality plump ones rather than those dried up bits of cardboard that aren't too good for anything. 

BLW weaning tip: mix 2 tbsp cooked tagine with 2 tbsp couscous and mould into mini cakes

Makes enough for 2-3 adults and 2-4 small children

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250g mince lamb

300g butternut squash (prepped weight), peeled and cut into 1-cm dice

2 tsp tomato puree

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

35g soft dates, stoned and roughly chopped

2 garlic clove, peeled but left whole

500ml passata

300ml boiling water

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In a medium saucepan heat the olive oil and brown the lamb until golden (about 5 minutes). Add the butternut, tomato puree, cinnamon, dates and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes over a high heat before adding the passata and water. Bring to the boil and then reduce to a simmer. Cover with a lid and cook for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent it from catching. Remove the lid and cook for a further 30 minutes until the butternut is tender and the sauce is glossy and thick. Serve with couscous, toasted pitta and some Greek yoghurt.

early weaning puree? blitz down until smooth

just adults? add 1/2 tsp salt

Beef Bolognese

Bolognese is one of those wonderfully therapeutic and delicious meals. This size batch feeds our family twice so I either freeze half and eat the rest or make two lasagnes- one for now and one for the freezer. You can also freeze into smaller portions which are fantastic for early weaning - 7-month old Madeleine used to have great fun attempting to dip batons of sweet potato or pasta into the bolognese- so messy but so fun!

Serves 4 adults and 2-4 small children

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2 tbsp olive oil

500g good quality lean beef mince

140g onion, finely diced

110g carrots, peeled and cut in 1-cm cubes (or grated if you are preparing for older children who don't like chunks of vegetables)

2 garlic cloves, peeled but left whole

800g passata

200ml water

50g parmesan, finely grated

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In a large pan heat the olive oil and then fry the meat in two batches until golden brown. Add the onion and carrots and cook for 5 minutes on a high heat stirring occasionally to prevent them burning. Add the garlic, passata and water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes covered. Stir occasionally. After 45 minutes remove the lid and continue to cook for a further 30 minutes.Turn off the heat and stir through the parmesan until it has completely melted. Remove and weigh- you should have about 1kg of mixture- if you have a lot more then return to the heat for a little while longer to reduce down. If you have much less then add some boiling water to loosen the bolognese.

Now remove 500g of the mix and place in a food processor. Blitz down into a rough puree and then weigh into 8 portions for your baby. With the remaining half, add the salt, stir to combine and then keep for two adult meals.

 

just for adults: add 1/2 tsp salt

 

Chilli Con Carne

There is a general feeling of excitement in the house whenever this is on the menu- my mouth waters just thinking about it! I like to serve the chilli piled up like nachos with toasted triangles of flatbread and topped with green veg guacamole, Greek yoghurt and grated cheese - my daughter loves picking at the mountain with us! But for a midweek dinner you could also just cook up some rice and it would be absolutely delicious.

[Note: It's high on the bean:meat ratio so just reduce the bean quantity if you aren't so keen but pulses provide a wonderful dose of fibre and meat-free protein so I am a big fan.]

Makes enough for 2-3 adults and 2-4 small children

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2 tbsp olive oil

250g beef mince

1 red onion, diced

100g jarred cooked red pepper

1 tsp ground cumin

1 tsp ground coriander

1/2 tsp paprika

2 tbsp tomato purée

2 garlic cloves, whole

1 X 400g chopped tomatoes

200ml water

1 x 400g kidney beans

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In a large pan heat the olive oil and then fry the meat until golden brown. Add the onion and cook for 5 minutes on a high heat stirring occasionally to prevent them burning. Add the red peppers, spices, tomato puree and garlic and cook for a couple of minutes to release the fragrance. Add the chopped tomatoes and water and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for 45 minutes covered. Stir occasionally. After 45 minutes remove the lid and add the kidney beans. Continue to cook, uncovered for a further 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove. Serve immediately as suggested above or freeze any leftover portions.

just for adults? add 1/2 tsp chilli powder

Beef & Sweet Potato Pie

This is a modern twist on the old nursery classic- cottage pie- and its a great dish if you are feeding the whole family as its delicious for all ages and packed full of flavour and veggies- young children particularly like having it served up in individual dishes (as pictured below) but if you don't have any then you can easily just layer it up in a medium-sized ovenproof dish or blitz it all down for babies who aren't quite ready for texture. 

Serves 2 adults and 1-2 small children

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2 tbsp olive oil

250g lean beef mince

180g red onion, diced

150g carrot, roughly grated

3 cloves garlic, crushed

6 tbsp tomato passata

2 tbsp tomato puree

2 tsp balsamic vinegar

1/2 tsp Worchester sauce, optional

200ml vegetable stock or water

275g sweet potato (peeled weight), cut into 1-cm dice

15g cheddar cheese, grated

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Heat 1 tbsp oil in a medium ovenproof dish with a heavy bottom (I use a shallow Le Creuset) and over a high heat brown the mince. Remove with a slotted spoon and leave any residual oil. Add the final 1 tbsp olive oil and the onion. Cook over a medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring frequently to prevent it catching. Add the carrot, garlic, passata, tomato puree, balsamic and, if using, the Worchester sauce and cook for a further 5 minutes. Return the mince to the pan along, with the stock, and bring to the boil. Cover with a lid and allow it to cook for 25-30 minutes by which time it should have reduced slightly and have a wonderfully meaty flavour. Meanwhile, steam or boil the sweet potato cubes for 15 minutes or until tender. 

Once everything is ready scatter the sweet potato cubes over the mince, followed by the cheese and place under the grill for 8-10 minutes or until bubbling. 

For early weaning: mix everything together and blitz down to a manageable consistency before freezing into individual portions.

For freezing: allow the mince to cool before portioning up and scattering over the potato and cheese 

Just for adults? add 1/2 tsp salt to the mince

Crispy Beef Noodle Stir-Fry

My daughter loves getting messy and she has great fun with this noodle dish. Its debatable how much makes it into her mouth but  she seems to enjoy the whole experience and thats good enough for me. Meanwhile, my husband and I love it too and its so quick and simple we often have it for last minute weekend lunches. 

Serves 2 adults and 1-2 small children

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2 tbsp sunflower oil

250 g beef mince

75g red pepper, finely sliced

75g baby sweetcorn, sliced

2 garlic clove, crushed

1 1/2 tsp reduced-salt soy sauce

11/2 tsp ground cumin

11/2 tsp ground coriander

90g egg noodles

100g broccoli, (I always use frozen but break up the florets if large)

2 tbsp water

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In a large frying pan or wok heat the oil and brown off the mince- there should be no liquid left in the pan once this has been achieved. Add the red pepper and baby corn. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the garlic. Cook for 1 minute and add the spices and soy sayce. Cook for a couple more minutes and then remove from the heat and put to one side.

Meanwhile, soak the noodles and broccoli in boiling water for 3-5 minutes or until softened but not completely cooked. Drain and add to the wok along with 2 tbsp water. Turn the heat up high and stir fry for a few minutes before removing and allowing to cool slightly before serving.

for early weaning: blitz down and add a little more water to give a loose consistency

just for adults or older kids? serve scattered with toasted sesame seeds, sliced spring onions, and a drizzle of sriracha sauce.

Speedy Lasagne

A good lasagne is a thing of wonder and even a pretty mediocre one makes many of us nostalgic of childhood. This recipe doesn't use a traditional white sauce as I often find lasagne a little too sloppy which makes it pretty much impossible for a child to consume without most of it ending up in their lap.. on the floor... somehow on your clothes... Anyway, this delicious mascarpone based cheese sauce makes it a little more 'stable' and  also makes the recipe super fast to put together- especially if you make big batches of our beefy bolognese and freeze in 500g portions ready to go.

 

Makes 2 adult and 2 small child portions

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1/2 x beefy bolognese

125g mascarpone cheese

50ml full fat milk

25g Parmesan cheese

freshly ground pepper

125g fresh lasagne sheets

30g fresh baby spinach leaves, optional

35g cheddar cheese

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Preheat the oven to 200oC.

Whisk together together the mascarpone, milk, Parmesan and a good amount of freshly ground black pepper.

To assemble: use a medium ovenproof dish and spread approximately a third of your bolognese over the base. Top with a third of your spinach, follow with a sheet of fresh pasta and finally, with a third of the cheese sauce.

Now use another third of spinach, followed by bolognese - lasagne - cheese sauce.

Repeat the above and top with cheddar cheese and a little black pepper.

Place in the oven for 20 minutes or until bubbling and golden. Serve immediately.

The best meatballs (and burgers!)

This is the only beef patty recipe you will ever need as it works equally well for making seriously addictive meatballs and the juiciest, meatiest burgers! Make the whole batch and divide as suggested below- fantastic for freezer ready meals, family bbqs or kids' parties. I use my tomato and red pepper soup recipe for the sauce when making meatballs.

See below for how to divide your batch.

500g beef mince

2 tbsp mustard - I like to use the rather dubious looking French's for these

2 tbsp reduced salt soy sauce

1 tbsp dried oregano

1 sprig Rosemary, leaves picked and finely chopped

25g Panko breadcrumbs

1 egg

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Place all the ingredients in a large bowl and mix together using your hands. You should end up with around 640g- I use the following weights for the different combinations:

Batching up for the Freezer - 16 x 20g meatballs (or baby patties) + 2 x 120g adult burgers + 2 x 40g kids' sliders

Meatballs for Everyone - 32 x 20g meatballs (or baby patties) - use one whole batch of tomato sauce

Family BBQ - (4 x 120g adult burgers) + (4 x 40g kids' sliders)

Kids Party - 16 x 40g kids' sliders

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To cook: preheat the oven to 200oC and cook 20g meatballs for 15-20minutes, 40g sliders for 25-30 minutes and 120g burgers for 30-35 minutes. [Note: BBQ timings will vary so please ensure everything if cooked through fully before serving].

For meatballs: place the cooked meatballs in a saucepan with your prepared sauce  and heat through thoroughly before tossing through cooked spaghetti. Serve with plenty of Parmesan.