Sardine fish cakesĀ 

Photographed in the middle of singing our own version of The Wheels on the Bus. I made the mistake of suggesting ‘the grandad on the bus says have some crisps’ as a verse, after which the fish cakes lost their appeal.

He ate half the fish cake. And a packet of crisps.

Makes 4-5 fish cakes (just the two of us so I froze two)

400g mashed potato (ours were leftovers – if cooking from scratch leave to cool first)

200g tinned sardines (about 2 tins), drained and broken up -coincidentally how I felt on Saturday after a full day of screaming tantrums

1 teaspoon mayonnaise

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 small egg, lightly beaten

1 tablespoon breadcrumbs and more to coat

A few chives, finely chopped

Salt

Combine the ingredients, adding more breadcrumbs if the mixture seems too wet. Form into patties and sprinkle them with breadcrumbs, turning over and sprinkling again. I chilled them at this point but according to the recipe there is no need!

Get a couple of tablespoons of sunflower oil very hot in a large frying pan then fry the fish cakes for a couple of minutes on each side, till deep golden brown.

We had ours with broccoli, Bert had half a slice of buttered bread, I had half an avocado, sliced and drizzled with chili oil and sea salt. Bert begged to try the avocado then declared it ‘too frothy’.

This is another one from the National Trust Family Cookbook, only I subbed smoked mackerel with tinned sardines.

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Chicken skewers, veg fritters and potato croquettes

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A one tray in the oven meal, using leftovers, but you could use fresh veg. As I handed it to Bert he said, ‘mmm, Bert like – very nice. Thank you Mummy!’ What an angel. He didn’t eat the fritters but I knew that was pushing it since the veg were a. visible and b. not raw or frozen.

Eaten on the sofa under a duvet because I thought he was ill, but he ate all of his (except the fritters of course), stole some of mine then had 3 portions of strawberry yoghurt. I think I’ve been had.

The fritters recipe is based on a recipe in the fantastic Fast Days and Feast Days by Ellie Pear.

Served 2

For the fritters:

1 small carrot, grated

Mixed leftover veg – we had peas and savoy cabbage – chopped if not already in smallish pieces

1/2 block of haloumi (100g), grated

1 egg

2 dessert spoons plain flour

Salt

A few leaves of fresh mint, finely chopped

For the croquettes:

Leftover mash

1 egg, beaten

Flour to dust

Storecupboard golden breadcrumbs

For the chicken skewers:

1 chicken breast, cubed

2 teaspoons dried rosemary

dessert spoon olive oil

dessert spoon lemon juice

2 large cloves garlic, crushed

Combine all the ingredients for the fritters, form into four patties and put on a large baking tray.

Form the mash into little barrel shapes, dush in flour, roll in egg and then coat in breadcrumbs. Put them on the same baking tray and put the tray in the fridge for an hour or two.

Combine the chicken in a dish with the rest of the marinade ingredients and pop in the fridge for an hour or two. Preheat the oven to 200/ gas mark 7, then thread the marinated chicken onto skewers and put on the same baking tray as the veg.

Put everything in the oven for 20-25 minutes, turning everything once halfway through. Ketchup for dipping if you’re a small boy.

Pulled pork, tomato and sage ragu

I was a bit stuck on what to do with our glut of sage and my sister suggested the sage and tomato combination. This was lovely.

porkragu

Served 1.5 of us for three meals

500g diced pork (a slow cooking cut like leg or shoulder)

1/2 tin of tomatoes

2 grated carrots

A bit of olive oil

300ml passata

Good handful of sage leaves, chopped

1 onion, diced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

Fry the onion and garlic till soft, add the grated carrots and cook for another couple of minutes then add the pork to the pan and brown. Stir the tomatoes, passata and sage through. Bring to a fast simmer then put in a low oven (140 degrees) or the bottom of an Aga simmering oven with a lid on for 4 to 5 hours. After its long, slow cook the pork will just pull apart into the sauce. This is great if you’re lucky enough to be at home with your baby rather than at work, as it needs so little prep – you just bung it on at lunchtime. Or you could do it on the Sunday and have easy meals for three nights in the week.

The first night we had this with pasta, parmesan and salad (because everyone knows how much babies love salad). Tonight we had it with four-veg mash* and peas. Bert rejects cooked peas. He eats them frozen from a small bowl on the kitchen floor. Don’t ask me. Babies are eccentric, lawless creatures.

I’ve topped the ragu with the mash in an ovenproof dish for a Shepherd’s (Pigkeeper’s?) Pie tomorrow. I’ll grate a bit of cheese on top and put it in the oven (180 degrees or the middle of an Aga roasting oven) for 30 minutes.

* 1 sweet potato, 4 carrots and 1 potato, cut into chunks and boiled till tender, 1 sliced onion sauted in butter till brown and caramelised, an extra knob of butter. Mash the veg with the butter then stir through the buttery caramelised onions and season.