Baked rainbow trout, fresh garlic bread and ratatouille

This sounds fancy, but it’s not- it’s quick and yummy. You could make it from scratch and it would be even tastier, but would take much longer. AsĀ  usual, here is the busy Mummy’s version, which shouldn’t take longer than 30 minutes.

Serves 2 adults and 2 toddlers

Ingredients:

Sea salt

2 whole rainbow trout

Ready-made, fresh, wholemeal pizza dough or ‘just add water’ pizza base mix, prepared as per packet instructions

3 cloves garlic, peeled and cut into thin slices

1 large sprig rosemary

200g grated cheese

Olive oil

1 tin ratatouille (400g ish)

Method:

1) Cut the heads off the rainbow trout and discard. Then place in a roasting tin and sprinkle with a little sea salt. Bake in a pre-heated oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 25-30min, or until the fish is soft and flakey.

2)Lightly oil a large baking tray. Then sprinkle with plain flour. Press out the pizza dough until it is about 1.5 cm thick.

3)Dot the dough with the slices of garlic. Pick leaves off the sprig of rosemary, and dot in between the garlic, pressing gently into the dough. Sprinkle with a pinch of sea salt. Then drizzle a tablespoon of olive oil over the pizza and top with the grated cheese.

4)Bake in the oven with the fish for around 15min, or until the cheese is bubbling and the crust risen and lightly browned.

5)Heat up the tin of ratatouille as per the instructions on the tin.

6)De-bone and flake the fish. Serve with the ratatouille and wedges of the fresh garlic bread.

Last Minute Valentine’s Day Meal Inspiration

You want to impress your beloved with a delicious meal on Valentine’s Day, but you’ve left it all a bit last minute, and haven’t got long to prepare. Don’t worry. You can still rustle up something that will impress. Here’s my suggestion…

Steak, Chips and Garlicky Green Beans

Steak

With simple meals, it’s all about the ingredients. Buy the best steak you can afford from the best butcher you can find. If you have to buy from the supermarket, go for the premium meat range.

1) Dry both sides of the steak with kitchen paper. Sprinkle lightly with salt.

2)Heat a little oil in a heavy-based frying pan. When hot, add the steak.

3)Cook for 2-4 mins on each side, depending on whether you like it rare or well done. Serve immediately.

Chips

In an ideal world, you would hand peel potatoes, slice them and fry them in hot oil. Here in the real world you’re running late and need to get dinner on the table, but don’t want to eat something that tastes awful. The key is to buy the best quality oven chips you can get your hands on. These should be made from whole potato and coated in nothing more than sunflower oil. Many supermarkets now have premium ranges that will taste great.

Garlicky Green Beans

Ingredients:

300g trimmed green beans

2 tblsps olive oil

3 cloves of garlic, peeled and finely chopped

Method:

1)Steam the green beans for around 5 min.

2)Meanwhile, heat the oil in a small frying pan over a high heat. Add the garlic and fry until lightly browned. Remove from the heat and add a pinch of salt. Place the green beans on the plates, pour over the garlicky oil. Serve immediately.

Beef and Winter Vegetable Stew

A great meal on a cold day, and full of hidden veg that the kids will never know they’re eating! Works great served with cheesy dumplings, click here for the recipe. This is another slow one, but make it on a quiet Sunday afternoon and serve the leftovers later in the week. It definitely re-heats well. Like other stews, this one can be made more quickly by using a pressure cooker.

Ingredients:

2 tblsps cooking oil

1 large onion, chopped

450g diced beef

3 large carrots, diced

1 medium parsnip, diced

1 small swede, diced

1 tblsp worcester sauce

2 beef stock cubes

Salt and pepper

1/2 tsp dried rosemary

1 tsp dried sage

1 bay leaf

4 juniper berries

4 tblsps tomato paste

4-5 large savoy cabbage leaves, stalks removed and finely chopped

1 tin of pinto beans

Method:

1) Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based pan or pressure cooker. Add the onions and fry lightly, stirring all the time.

2)Add the beef, and fry over a high heat until browned.

3)Sprinkle on the worcester sauce, stock cubes, salt and pepper, rosemary, sage, juniper berries and bay leaf. Cook stirring for a minute.

4)Add enough water to cover all of the ingredients. If using a pressure cooker, cook the stew at the highest pressure setting for 30min, do not overfill. Otherwise, simmer for 3 hours, stirring regularly. If the stew starts to look dry, add a little water.

5)When the meat is soft and starting to fall apart, add the tomato paste, cabbage and pinto beans. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary, then simmer for around 20 min. If serving with dumplings, add them at this point and simmer until cooked.

Cheat’s fried potatoes

Fried potatoes are super yummy and great served with so many things. But who has time to boil, cool, peel and then fry potatoes? Here’s a cheat’s method that is fast but still scrumptious.

Serves 2 adults as a side dish

 

Ingredients:

2 tblsps olive oil

Half an onion, finely chopped

300g tin of small new potatoes, drained and halved

Half a teaspoon of garlic granules

Salt and pepper

 

Method:

1)Heat the oil in a heavy frying pan. When hot, add the onion and potatoes.

2)Turn down to a medium heat. Sprinkle with the garlic granules and season with salt and pepper to taste.

3)Fry until the potatoes are golden brown all over, turning frequently. Serve immediately.

Easy baked haddock

This won’t take any longer than 25min to make, is healthy and has a lovely lightness to it. A great healthy meal for the kids.
Ingredients

Haddock fillets – 1/2 a fillet per toddler, ideally skinless and boneless

1 medium potato per toddler

Frozen peas

Butter or Margarine

Mixed herbs

Milk

Method

1) Put the fish on a baking tray, then put a teaspoon of butter/margarine on each fillet and sprinkle on some mixed herbs. Bake in the oven at 180 degrees Celsius for 20min, check after 15 as you don’t want it to be too dry, just moist and flaky.
2)Wash and scrub the potatos, pierce all over with fork. Microwave on full power for 5min, then check and turn. If they need longer, blast for 3 min, then check and repeat as often as necessary.
3)Microwave peas as per packet instructions.
4)To serve, flake the fish and remove any skin or bones, then pour over any juices left on the tray. Mash the potato with some butter/margarine and milk, with a fork on the plate. Add the peas.

Pork and Tomato Stew with Cheesy Dumplings

This one isn’t quick to make, but is worth the wait! The stew freezes well and could be served with crusty bread on defrosting, whilst the dumplings are simple enough that a toddler can help make them.

Makes enough for 2 adults and 2 toddlers

Ingredients:

1tblsp cooking oil

1 onion, finely chopped

3 pork steaks, diced

A quarter of a pint of white wine

2 carrots, diced

1 medium sweet potato, diced

1 cooking apple, peeled, cored and diced

1 tin chopped tomatos

1 vegetable stock cube

3 tblsps tomato puree

Half a teaspoon of garlic granules

1 tblsp golden syrup

1 handful of chopped, dried dates or raisins

1 tsp mustard

Salt and pepper

1 packet dumpling mix (enough to make 6 dumplings)

80g cheese, grated

Method

1) Heat up the oil in a large, heavy based saucepan. Add the onions and reduce to a medium heat. When the onions start to soften, add the pork, turn up the heat and fry until the meat is lightly browned.

2)Add the wine and bring quickly to the boil. Allow to boil vigorously for 4-5min, stirring occasionally. Then reduce the heat, add the carrots, sweet potato and apple and stir.

3) Stir in the chopped tomatos and add enough water to the pan so that the vegetables and meat are just covered.

4) Add the vegetable stock cube, tomato puree, garlic, golden syrup, dates and mustard. Season lightly with salt and pepper. Bring the stew to the boil, then allow to simmer for 30min.

5)Meanwhile empty enough dumpling mix into a bowl to make 6 dumplings and stir in the grated cheese. Then follow the instructions on the packet to form into dumplings.

6)Keep the stew simmering. Check the taste and add any more salt and pepper if required. The stew should be thickening by this stage. If it is still very thin and runny stir in some tomato puree, one tablespoon at a time, until it begins to thicken.

7)Now place the dumplings on the stew and simmer for a further fifteen minutes.

8)Carefully turn the dumplings, and simmer for another fifteen minutes.

9)Check the dumplings are cooked through by cutting one in half. Serve on large plates.

Super fast one pan gnocchi

There are two great things about this meal: it tastes amazing, and it takes only 10 mins to prepare! Brilliant for getting everyone fed when you’re short of time.

 

Makes enough for 2 adults and 2 toddlers

 

Ingredients:

1tblsp olive oil

200g bacon, snipped into bits

500g ready-made fresh gnocchi

350g tomato based pasta sauce

30g grated cheddar (any sort)

 

Method:

1)Heat the oil in a large, heavy based frying pan, then add the bacon and fry for 2 minutes

2)Add the gnocchi and fry at a fairly high heat until golden (about 3-4min)

3) Reduce to a low heat. Stir in the pasta sauce and grated cheese and heat until the cheese is melting.

4) Serve with plenty of salad and cherry tomatos