Pea and parmesan pancakes


A new category in honour of Anna and her daughter, Fearne of the evil cackle – portable finger food. This is a little nursery-food-like as it comes, though I eat it like that with Bert, but you can add crispy bacon and a poached egg and call it brunch.

Makes 8

100g self raising flour

150 ml whole milk

1 egg

Good handful grated parmesan – about 30 or 40g

Handful or two of frozen peas – a small hand may help you carry one extra pea from the freezer to the work surface

Small knob of butter

Freshly chopped mint. I’m a new convert to dried herbs, but this needs fresh

Mix all the ingredients except the butter together with a whisk or fork. The flour needs to be incorporated but it doesn’t matter if it’s lumpy. Get a pan hot and melt the butter – brush it over the whole pan surface with a piece of kitchen roll. The pan needs to be barely greasy and very hot. Put in dessert spoons of the batter and spread into small circles. They need a couple of minutes on each side – once they start to firm up you can turn them over – they should be evenly golden on each side. You could cook half and then season the other half of the batter for you, but I think my palate’s adjusted to the salt thing and I don’t bother.

I ate 3.5, Bert ate 2.5 and there are two in the fridge for when we’re out and about tomorrow.

This is one finger food that you don’t need your baby in full Breaking Bad protective overalls for.


Bramley cheese fingers


I got the idea for this in Costa Coffee, proof that even in the darkest place a little light may fall.

They had roast tomatoes beneath the cheese, though.

Serves 1.5

1 eating apple, cored and thinly sliced

A scant dessert spoon of butter

2 thick slices of bread

Strong cheddar – enough to tessalate on the bread

Saute the apple in the butter for about five minutes – as long as it takes to wrestle a maniacally laughing baby out of one nappy and into another. Toast one side of the bread. Press the soft, browned apple into the butter in the pan with the back of a wooden spoon to form a rough mush. Spread the mush on the untoasted side of the bread while a baby clings to your knee and howls like a wolf. Cover with cheese and toast under a hot grill till bubbling. Serve the baby’s portion cut into thick fingers.

Mac ‘n’ squash


I remember macaroni cheese always tasting too strong when I was little. This is a bit lighter.

Serves 2.5

1/2 small butternut squash

good glug olive oil

1 tsp dried sage or a few finely chopped sage leaves

4 or 5 handfuls of tubey pasta – it was about 175g

1 dessert spoon butter

1 dessert spoon flour

1/4 litre of whole milk

Grated nutmeg, pepper

A large handful grated strong cheddar

A small handful grated parmesan

1 thick slice of bread – I used sourdough because that’s what we had and because I’m insufferably middle class.

Another dash of olive oil

Peel, seed and chop the squash. Drizzle it with olive oil – actually, I rained on it rather heavily. Sprinkle on the herbs. For some reason, even though I don’t recall ever cooking with dried herbs, we have a full set in the cupboard. I think a single Jamie Oliver recipe called for the lot. Frugal. Anyway, they’re proving to be quite good for cooking for babies – a bit stronger, so helpful with the low salt thing, and very fine, so no strands for a baby to pull out of their mouth in disgust.

Roast the squash in a hot oven for about 20 – 25 minutes depending on how small you cut it. Check now and then. You want it soft and browned but not crisp. It needs to be soft enough to collapse into the cheese sauce almost completely.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to the packet instructions – 10 minutes or so.

Melt the butter and beat in the flour – take it off the heat, stirring, so it can cook for a little while. Then add the milk. A tiny bit at first – the whole thing will seize up – then more and more, stirring a lot. Season with pepper and grated nutmeg. When it’s thickened add the cheese and take off the heat. Add a ladleful of the hot pasta water.

Reduce your bread, crusts and all, to crumbs. I use our new Nutribullet. Everything’s getting Nutribulleted these days. The dog’s lucky not to get a smoothie for dinner. Now heat up a glug of olive oil in a frying pan and, I would say toast but I think the honest word is fry, the breadcrumbs.

This sounds like a pain to cook but it’s really not. I put the squash in to roast, took a ten minute cuddle break with Bert, and then did the rest in fifteen minutes. For some of that time I was holding him while he peered at what I was doing one handed.

Crush the roasted butternut squash with a fork and combine with the pasta and sauce. Sprinkle over the breadcrumbs. Put the whole thing in the oven at 180 degrees for about ten minutes.