Ratatouille

ratatouille

Served 3.5 as a side dish

1 small aubergine, diced into 1cm cubes

2 medium-large tomatoes, diced into 1cm cubes

1 small onions, diced into reasonably large pieces – about 1cm cubed

1 large red pepper, diced into 1cm cubes

2 cloves garlic, crushed Olive oil

Chopped oregano – leaves from a couple of sprigs, chopped

Fry the onion and garlic till soft then add the rest of the veg, diced into equally sized pieces. I was basically aiming for the same quantity of each veg, so start with your aubergine and attempt to match. Stir through the herbs and a dash more olive oil and simmer on a really low heat for as long as you have – a couple of hours at least.

I did it in the Aga simmering oven, where, I saw on Facebook, a friend used to keep their baby lamb as a child. Either it really is a very cool oven or that baby lamb was beautifully slow cooked. Or both.

We had ours with roast lamb (which the last story makes me feel a little queasy about) and had there been any leftovers, I planned to give it to Bert for lunch with some alphabet pasta in some sort of homage to tinned seventies childhood food.

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Mini risotto alla Milanese

milanese

Oops, we’re having a barbeque for dinner and forgot to start it in time for Bert.

Serves 0.5 with leftovers for risotto balls for lunch – triple the quantities to serve 1.5

1-1.5 teaspoons butter

1/2 onion, diced finely

1/3 stick celery, diced finely

1/2 clove garlic, crushed

1/3 cup arborio rice

1 and 1/3 cups hot water from the kettle

About 1/3 to 1/2 a low salt chicken stock cube, crumbled

Pinch of saffron

Handful grated parmesan

Grating of black pepper

Saute the onion, celery and garlic in the butter till soft and translucent then stir through the rice. Add the liquid bit by bit till it’s absorbed – it will take about 20 minutes. Throw in the saffron with the first addition of liquid and add the pepper and cheese at the end.

We’re using the (pretty tiny amount) of leftovers for risotto balls for Bert’s lunch one day this week. They’d be nice with tomato sauce in the middle.

Beef stew and pesto mash

beef

Babies seem to prefer a tomatoey base to a beef stew – I suppose it’s lighter and fruitier and less intense.

Bert also seems to prefer having food dumped en masse in front of him and being in control of what he eats. Fair enough, I suppose I do too. This is good for picking up, but soft enough to chew when you’ve got just a couple of Bugs Bunny teeth.

Serves 2.5 or 1.5 with leftovers for pie or baked potatoes

450 g stewing steak

About 30 g plain flour, seasoned with grated nutmeg and black pepper

A couple of glugs of olive oil

1 stick celery, grated

1 large carrot or two small, grated

1 large carrot or two small, cut into chunks

1 red onion, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon dried rosemary or the leaves from a small sprig of fresh rosemary, very finely chopped

1 dessert spoon tomato puree

1 low salt beef stock cube

About 400ml water – hot from the kettle

Floury potatoes to your appetite – I used 5 smallish ones for the two of us and we had leftovers

2 dessert spoons basil pesto

Coat the beef  in the seasoned flour, heat a glug of oil in a frying pan and brown the beef on all sides. Transfer to a casserole dish with any remaining seasoned flour. Saute the veg in a bit more oil till the onions are soft. The shredded veg will melt into the sauce. Add to the casserole with the herbs, tomato puree, stock cube and water. Bring to a good boil on the top of the stove then cook at 180 degrees for about 3 hours. I’ve got an Aga, and I cook it on the bottom of the simmering oven for 3 or 4 hours.

Peel and chop the potatoes into even pieces and put in a pan of cold water, bringing to the boil, reducing to a simmer and then cooking till tender – about 20 minutes, depending on the size of your pieces. Or, if you’ve got an Aga, try the ‘steaming in the simmering oven’ method, curse your Aga and vow never to try that method again, and cook on the top of the stove till done. Mash till very smooth then stir in the pesto.

Grab handfuls and stuff them in your mouth, nose and ears.