Parmesan and oat crumbed chicken

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Last night we spoke to our vet friend (a friend who happens to be a vet, not a vet who I stalk) at bath time about the fact that Ray had eaten eight balloons (if you find yourself in the same boat: don’t worry too much unless they were modelling balloons or the dog looks more pissed off than usual) (I paraphrase).

By now Bert was in the bath. He spent the entire time I was speaking to her mouthing ‘let me talk! I dry my hands!’ When he was finally handed the phone he chatted at length, naked, about the eight unblown balloons, the light blue blown balloon that is now hidden and the one red balloon that wasn’t ‘eated’. Anna suggested she come over soon to see his new bedroom and he said casually, ‘that would be cool.’

Just now he called me into his bedroom over a toileting crisis and descended the bunk bed ladder jauntily, looking over his shoulder and smiling like a tiny Bruce Forsyth. He told me ‘you smell nice’ and trotted off to the bathroom.

He requested chicken, chips and broccoli for dinner. No one refuses a charmer. This is the chicken we ate.

Serves 1.5

1 chicken breast

1 tablespoon plain yoghurt

2 tablespoons rolled oats

1 tablespoon grated Parmesan

Bash the chicken with a rolling pin till it’s about a centimetre thick. Resident four-year-olds might help, but watch the arc of their swing. Together, put the chicken in a bowl with the yoghurt, stir to coat and chill it in the fridge for at least half an hour. This stage makes it tender and gives the coating something to cling to without the faff of flouring and milk dipping.

Pre-heat the oven to 180.

Put the oats in a ziplock bag and bash them with the rolling pin till broken up a bit. Put in a bowl with the Parmesan and stir quickly to mix. Take the chicken breast out of the yoghurt and dip in the oats, turning over till fully coated. Pop on a lined baking tray and into the oven for 20 minutes.

Yes, we ate it in front of the TV.

 

 

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Crab chowder pasta

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Bert demolished this. I was obviously more restrained.

Serves 2-2.5

1 garlic clove, crushed

A little olive oil

100ml sour cream

Pinch of saffron

Good pinch of paprika

200g sweetcorn

100g crab meat

Handful grated parmesan and more to serve

Salt and pepper

Pasta to your appetite

Put your pasta on to boil.

Fry the crushed garlic very briefly in the oil till it’s soft but not coloured, then add the cream, paprika and saffron, cooking very very gently so the saffron can infuse the cream. When the pasta’s cooked, stir the sweetcorn, crab, cheese and seasoning through the cream and stir it all through the hot pasta.

Sprinkle more parmesan on at the table.

Bert: [blowing dramatically on pasta] ‘Hot, hot, hot!’

Me: ‘Is it hot?’

Bert: [extremely patiently] ‘No, not hot.’

Okay…

 

Aromatic slow roast lamb feast with tomatoey broad beans, crushed new potatoes and orange berries for dessert

lamb feast

Today Daddy was home after a week away and Bert’s big brother and sister came to see him. He celebrated by not taking an afternoon nap.

Serves 4.5

For the lamb

I shoulder of lamb

1/2 a teaspoon of ground cinnamon

1 teaspoon of ground coriander

1/2 a teaspoon of ground cumin

1 teaspoon of zaa’tar

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Good glug or two of sunflower oil or a similar light oil

For the tomatoey broad beans

About 250g broad beans (I had a third of a bag of frozen ones)

About 1/2 a tin of tomatoes

Leaves from 2 springs of rosemary, finely chopped

Good handful of parmesan

For the crushed new potatoes

About 500g new potatoes

Really good glug or two of olive oil

Salt and pepper

For the orange berries

One punnet of strawberries

One punnet of raspberries

Zest of half an orange, finely grated

Juice of half an orange

Get the meat to room temperature then combine the spices and garlic with enough oil to make a thin paste. Rub the aromatic oil all over the meat, top and bottom, and then pop it in a roasting tray in a hot oven (about 220 degrees) for 20 minutes, before transferring to a cool oven for about seven hours. I used the simmering oven of the Aga, which I think is the equivalent of 120 degrees.

Meanwhile, your baby can laugh like a drain at a bouncing ball, at a dog jumping for a bouncing ball, at a dog looking like it’s nodding if you bounce a ball next to it, at a dog chewing a bouncy ball, at a dog not wanting to stop chewing a bouncy ball… the seven hours will fly by. At the end of its cooking time the lamb will just fall off the bone. Its tenderness is great for those of us with no molars, but to be honest no-one complained.

Simmer the broad beans till cooked through – about five minutes. Then add to the tomatoes with the rosemary and a little bit of olive oil. You could add a couple of chopped anchovies at this point, but I live with anchovy deniers. Simmer slowly for ten minutes or so then stir the grated parmesan through.

Cook the potatoes, whole and unpeeled, in salted water till tender then roughly mash with the olive oil and season. The oil is acting like the butter in normal mash here, so don’t be stingey with it.

Grate the zest over the berries and then squeeze the orange juice over. This is so simple but absolutely delicious.

We had our main course with roast carrots and salad. Bert ate loads. His little pot belly really isn’t so little at the moment.

Golden pesto

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If you’ve got leftover sauce from the sausage and pasta dish, you can use it to make this, just adding the parsley, pine nuts, cheese and extra olive oil and blending. If not, here’s the full recipe. It’s creamier and less strong tasting than off the shelf basil pesto.

We have a very embittered cocker spaniel whose few moments of joy derive from sitting directly below Bert’s high chair with an open mouth. He got no gifts today.

Serves 1.5 with leftovers

glug olive oil

1/2 carrot, grated

1/2 stick celery, grated

small clove garlic, crushed

1/2 can tomatoes

large handful parsley

1/2 small bag pine nuts

handful grated pecorino

another good slug of olive oil

Fry the garlic and veg briefly in a glug of olive oil, then add the tomatoes and cook for around 20 minutes, adding a bit of water from the kettle if it’s drying out. Meanwhile, toast the pine nuts till golden. Put it all in a blender (or a Nutribullet – we got one for Christmas) with another glug of olive oil and the cheese and parsley and blend till smooth.

If you’re using leftover sauce it’s even quicker. Babies have a limited amount of patience for your activities if they don’t involve you clapping them or carrying them.

Stir about 2 dessert spoons into overcooked (for your baby) pasta. Grab your pasta a couple of minutes earlier if you care for a more al dente experience. Add salt and pepper to yours after stiring into the pasta.

Leftovers will keep in the fridge for about a week. We plan to make a pasta salad with ours for a beach picnic tomorrow.