Play-doh

play doh

Enough for three or four colours

2 cups plain flour

2 cups warm water

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 tablespoon cream of tartar

1 cup salt

Food colourings

Put all of the ingredients except the colouring in a pan and stir over a low heat. It will go from liquid, to clumpy to a single mass of dough that’s coming away from the sides of the pan.

When it’s cooled a bit, cut it into as many pieces as you want colours. Add the colouring a few drops at a time and kneed in. It takes quite a lot of colouring to get a strong colour. Give it a minute or two to dry before you play with it, or the colouring might rub off on your table. We did pink, green and yellow and made snakes, dogs and brothers.

Pizza

pizza

Makes about 6 pizzas – we didn’t eat all of them between the two of us, honestly

For the pizza base:

7g quick yeast

175ml lager [wonders if beer is appropriate in a recipe for a 1 year old]

200ml tap hot water – when combined, the beer and water need to be hand hot. I get the beer from the fridge and add very hot water.

600g 00 pasta flour

1/2 teaspoon salt

50ml olive oil

For the tomato sauce:

2 garlic cloves, crushed

Good glug olive oil

Can chopped tomatoes

For the topping:

About 125g mozzerella per person (that’s a single ball)

And then whatever you fancy – we had ham and pineapple so Bert could have the Pizza Hut c. 1987 experience; when his mother was in her permed prime. With good ham and a nice, crisp base, this is actually a surprisingly good topping, as rediscovered by Bert’s dad, our usual pizza chef.

Put the yeast into a bowl, pour over the liquid and whisk together. Add the remaining base ingredients, gather into a rough dough and knead till smooth. It just takes a couple of minutes or so. Don’t be tempted to add much extra flour if the dough starts out sticky – it will get smooth and a wetter dough is a better dough.

Put the dough into a clean, oiled bowl. I’d not normally advocate unneccessary cleaning, but the clean, oiled bowl means the dough doesn’t stick to it. Cover with a tea towel and leave for a couple of hours. After the first rise, give it another knead. If you have time and energy, the more stretching and folding you do at this stage the better, but this dough is still good with just a quick second knead. You can involve babies in stretching and folding if you’re looking to convert the pizza into an immune system opportunity for everyone. After the second knead, leave the dough for at least half an hour before rolling out into pizzas.

For the tomato sauce, fry the garlic briefly in a generous amount of olive oil, add the tomatoes and as soon as they’re bubbling take them off the heat and push through a sieve. Return the sieved tomatoes to the pan and reduce for five or ten minutes. You’ll know when they’re the right consistency.

When you’re ready to cook, get the oven really hot (the maximum your oven offers) and roll out the dough into six circles. Get the tray hot in the oven, then build your first pizza on the tray. Be stingy with the tomato sauce. They take about 7 – 10 minutes. The quicker and hotter the better. For Agas, put the tray directly on the floor of the roasting oven.

The dough was originally a River Cottage recipe I think, though I refer to my own notes not the original when I make it so I’ve probably cut corners and changed it a bit over the years.

Cheddar and sweetcorn fritters

cheeseandsweetcorn

A cheese and sweetcorn version of the pea and parmesan pancakes.

Serves 2.5 (Daddy’s home!)

100g self raising flour

150 ml whole milk

1 egg

A couple of handfuls of grated strong cheddar

1 small tin sweetcorn, most of the liquid drained out

Strangely, this makes a lot more than the eight that the pea and parmesan mixture makes – I think the extra liquid from the sweetcorn and extra cheese explains it.

Combine all the ingredients and pop dessert spoons of the mixture in a hot pan that’s been greased with a smigeon of butter. They need a couple of minutes on each side till they’re golden and feel firm under a spatula – you don’t want uncooked batter in the middle, so wait till they feel a little springy under pressure.

Also lovely with a thinly sliced leek that’s been sauted in butter in place of the sweetcorn.

Pea and parmesan pancakes

peapancake

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.