Courgette fritters


I thought this was worth a try and tried to sell them in as ‘big, round chips’. Fail. 

Here he is, complete with the hot pink manicure nursery gave him today (I’ll miss their sweet, random activities when he leaves – it’s like the kids run it. The other day all the children came up with a list of rules, like they live in a tiny commune – most involved trying to resist the urge to be violent). It was film night, Bert’s choice; Boss Baby (don’t bother).

Makes 4

1 small courgette (from our garden!), coarsely grated 

Leaves of a spring of mint, finely chopped

25g (about a tablespoon) plain flour

1 egg

25g grated Parmesan 

Salt and pepper 

2-3 tablespoons vegetable oil for frying

Mix everything but the oil together and heat the oil in a large frying pan till it’s good and hot. Drop in spoonfuls of mixture, flatten and fry for a couple of minutes on each side till golden. 

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Roast rhubarb puree


Another attempt to bring fresh fruit and veg back into Bert’s life. Bert refused to eat it – I went away, stirred half a teaspoon of strawberry jam in and he declared it ‘very nice’.

We just spent two weeks at a friends house on an island off the coast of France, stopping for the night on the way at a chateau with a pool, swings, a trampoline, and bunk beds behind a hidden door. The highlight of Bert’s holiday? ‘The iPad’.

Serves 2

80g rhubarb, cut into 2cm pieces

40g golden caster sugar

30g butter

Roast at 180/ gas mark 4 for 10-15 minutes, till softened, then puree and stir through Greek yoghurt, custard or whipped cream.

Courgette macaroni cheese


We’ve just got back from our holiday where Bert ate, over the course of two weeks, two family-size packs of crisps, the inside of half a baguette, half a jar of nutella, 14 ice creams, 30 yoghurts and one grain of rice.

I’m trying to get him back on decent carbs and protein before he loses his characteristic sturdiness and the dimples on his knuckles.

He also invented a new card game he called Mojo (the opposite of snap – shout Mojo when the cards don’t match) [me, feeling sure I’ve never said the word ‘mojo’ in my life: where did you get that word from? Bert: blank face], learnt to swim with a float vest on [me: you’re really good at that! Bert: yes I am really good at that], and invented a chilling game with the toy sword that we found in the pool. The latter involves stabbing a person or toy repeatedly, then saying ‘it’s cutting time’ and cutting across their jugular with the bottom of the sword, announcing ‘I’m going to eat you’ and then slicing down the stomach and bending over to eat the entrails. [Me, in a high, tight voice: where did you hear those words? Bert: blank face]. Maybe reincarnation is a fact and Bert was once… a cavalier soldier? A cannibal? A zombie? Or maybe nursery carry out some awfully vivid history sessions.

Anyway, it’s courgette time!

Serves 4

1 courgette, coarsely grated (peeled too, if you’re living with a massive veg avoider)

1 dessert spoon each of butter and olive oil

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Macaroni (about 400g for 4 servings)

1 spring mint, leaves finely chopped

Salt and pepper

300g creme fraiche

125g grated mozzerella

60g grated parmesan

Finely grated zest of a lemon

3 tablespoons of breadcrumbs to top

Gently fry the courgette in the butter and oil with the garlic until soft (about ten minutes) while you cook the pasta. Add salt and pepper to taste, and the finely chopped leaves of a spring of mint (I debated this ingredient since Bert can spot a strand of green a mile off, but I figured he eats pesto so I threw it in). Combine with creme fraiche, mozzerrella and half the parmesan and tip into an overproof dish. Top with the breadcrumbs, lemon zest and the rest of the parmesan.

At this point I left it to finish off later.

Pre heat the oven to 180/ gas mark 4. Cook for 10-15 minutes, if cooking straight from prepping it while it’s still warm, or 20-25 if cooking from cold.

We had ours with green beans; whole, boiled veg being less alarming than those drenched in sauce.

After moaning that he didn’t like it, he ate it all.

Mango muffins


Here’s Bert at an outdoor performance of The Wind in the Willows (or The Wind in the Willies, as my phone desperately wants it to be called).

When I asked him if he enjoyed it he said, ‘yes and no’. The muffins were a yes though.

Makes 12 muffins

240g plain flour

160g golden caster sugar

1.5 teaspoons baking powder

1/2 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda

75g sunflower oil

4 tablespoons plain yoghurt

2 eggs

250g fresh mango, diced (about one of those lazy, ready prepared punnets – you’ll need to dice it a bit more finely though, into 1cm cubes, more or less).

Flaked almonds to scatter on top.

Preheat the oven to gas mark 5/ 190 degrees and grease your muffin tin or fill them with muffin cases.

Mix together the dry ingredients and then stir through the beaten eggs, oil and yoghurt. Mix in the diced mango (or diced tinned peach, if you prefer). Spoon carefully into the muffin holes and sprinkle with flaked almonds. Bake for 25-30 minutes. 

Bert ate six of these.

Lemony hummous


We allow Bert’s tummy to say no to more food if he’s full, but recently his tummy’s been on a power trip, losing all sense of justice and prorportion – today it’s said no to saying sorry, having a bath and switching off the TV.

Homemade hummous can be a bit sticky and heavy. Adding a bit of water gets the lighter, whippier texture that the shop-bought stuff has. But still Bert’s tummy said no. Mine said yes.

Served me

1 tin chickpeas, drained

1 clove garlic, peeled

Juice of half a lemon, finely grated zest of half a lemon 

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Splash of water from the tap

Put everything except the water into a blender and blend till smooth. Then add a splash of water and blend again till smooth and whippy, adding a little more if necessary.

Pesto, bacon and tomato pasta 

Or green dinosaur and meat pasta as we call it.

Today Bert discovered he could run out of the back door and climb back in through the living room window. He declared himself ‘amazing superhero window boy’, and every time (there were about 50 times) he attempted to climb in, I was instructed to say, ‘there’s no way Bert could climb in the window. He’s just a boy! Unless…’

We were all assigned personas – I’m bookandtea-man (realistically my best fit superhero), Tony campervan-man (ditto) and Ray lead-dog (he’s less thrilled).

This is campervanman’s favourite crime fighting pasta dish.

Serves 3-4

2 little packets of diced pancetta or diced bacon, fried in a little olive oil

1/2 punnet cherry tomatoes, halved

1/2 bag of pine nuts, dry toasted in a hot pan

Cooked pasta

3 dessert spoons pesto

Parmesan cheese, grated

Combine the cooked pasta, pesto, pine nuts, tomatoes and bacon, and top with cheese at the table.

 

Egg fried rice


At music group today Bert had three tantrums, threw a plastic cuckoo clock at his best friend’s head and refused to apologise. When his dad asked him at dinner if ‘Tadpole Tunes was good’, Bert replied with a flat ‘no’.

When I was trying to convince him to leave the house at lunchtime, I said ‘you can jump off the back of the sofa and then we’ll leave. Deal?’ He laughed, said ‘No deal!’ in a high-pitched voice and dived, head first, off the sofa.

He did eat this, on condition that I spoon feed him. 

Winning at parenting; as Bert would say, ‘I nailed!’

Serves 4

Cooked rice, left to cool (works even better if cooked the day before) 

4 eggs beaten with 2 tablespoons of soy sauce and 1 of fish sauce 

Thumb (what else!) of ginger, grated

1/2 small white cabbage, finely sliced to ribbons

Handful of frozen edamame beans or peas

6 spring onions, finely sliced

Leftover chicken or pork, shredded, or some frozen prawns (or a combination of these)

4 tablespoons sunflower oil

50g salted peanuts, bashed into chunks

Heat half of the oil in a wok and cook the cabbage and ginger for about 5 minutes, till wilting, then add the cooked meat, onions and beans and cook for another three minutes. Remove to a bowl.

Get the rest of the oil smoking hot in the wok then add the rice, stirring quickly till it’s coated with oil. Add the egg mixture and stir rapidly till it’s completely coating the rice, then keep stirring and cook till it’s starting to brown and caramelise in places. Stir the rest back through and serve, sprinkling the peanuts on at the table.

From the National Trust Family Cookbook.