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.


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.


Shepherd’s pie


This shepherd really likes to hide veg in his pies.

Serves 3.5 – 4.5

400 diced lamb

200g minced lamb

3 carrots, 1 sweet potato and 2 sticks celery, all coarsely grated

1 onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, crushed

Glug of olive oil

1 dessert spoon tomato puree

1 dessert spoon Worcester sauce

1 dessert spoon plain flour

1 beef stock cube

300ml hot water

400g potatoes

Knob of butter

1 leek, sliced

100g Cheshire cheese, grated

1 dessert spoon butter

Fry the onions and garlic in the oil till soft, then add the meat to brown. Stir through the grated veg and cook for five minutes, then add the flour and cook for another minute or two. Pour in the boiled water and add the Worcester sauce, tomato puree and crumbled stock cube. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer on a low heat or in a low oven for 2-3 hours.

Boil the potatoes for 15-20 minutes till soft. Meanwhile saute the sliced leeks in butter. Mash the potatoes with another spoon full of butter then add the cheese and the leeks. Pour the meat sauce into an ovenproof dish, top with the potato mixture and cook at 180 degrees (or the middle of an Aga roasting oven) for about half an hour, till the little peaks of potato are brown and crunchy.

Potato topping and sweet potato in the sauce – we’re really going in carb-heavy at the moment. Anything to avoid sitting up in bed at 3am while a baby repeatedly slaps you round the face and laughs his head off. The grated sweet potato does make the gravy thick and tasty, too.

Chicken nuggets and sweet potato wedges (and a chicken burger for you)


A chicken recipe for Caroline and Rupert.

It’s only when I look at these photos I’m taking every day that I realise how massive my son’s hands are.

Feeds 1.5 with nuggets to spare

2 chicken breasts

2 tablespoons plain yoghurt

4 crackers (we used Jacob’s)

A bread roll

A couple of dessert spoons of mayonnaise

1 lemon

Black pepper

1 tomato, sliced

Small handful of baby spinich

1 large sweet potato

A table spoon of sunflower or vegetable oil

Bash both breasts about with a rolling pin till a little flatter – this tenderizes them. Cut one chicken breast into bite sized pieces and leave the other whole. (If neither of you are huge eaters you could do this with one large chicken breast, cutting a few nuggets off for the baby – that’s what we did.) Put the chicken in a freezer bag with the yoghurt, making sure it’s coated, and leave in the fridge for a couple of hours. The yoghurt acts as an extra tenderizer, so the nuggets are nice and soft for peg-toothed people.

Blitz your crackers to a powder by putting them in a bag and bashing with the rolling pin again (this is a good recipe for punchy days), or by putting them in the food processor for a few pulses.

While your baby climbs inside the dishwasher with a small plastic ball, peel the sweet potato, cut into wedges and coat in the oil. I pour a little oil into my hands and jiggle the wedges around in it.

After their marinade, take the chicken pieces out of the yoghurt and dip in the crumbs to coat. Add a little salt to yours. Pop the chicken and wedges onto a lined baking sheet and bake in a hot oven (about 220 degrees) for about 20 minutes. You’ll probably have more nuggets than you need if you used two chicken breasts. Either cook the lot with a view to nabbing some yourself, or freeze them in their coated state and give them an extra five minutes to cook from frozen another time. The wedges need another five minutes, so take the chicken out and give them a last blast, turning them over first.

Meanwhile, finely grate a little lemon rind (about half a lemon’s) into your mayonnaise with some black pepper and lightly toast your bap. Then construct your burger – bun, chicken, mayo, sliced tomato, spinich, bun. Any extra lemon mayonnaise can have a sweet potato wedge or two dipped in it.