Kid-Friendly Fishcakes

Fishcakes are a family favourite because they’re nutritious and have flavours your kids will be familiar with. I use frozen cod fillets which are cheaper than fresh but just as tasty. They take a little time to make but the kids can help with the stirring and coating. You can freeze the cooked fishcakes then reheat them in the oven if you want to make big batches and save time in the future. I serve the fishcakes with baked beans for the kids and veggies for me and Paul.

Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids
100g white cheddar
1 tbsp mayonnaise
small bunch of chives
1 tbsp flour
50ml veg oil and 50g butter for frying
lemon wedges
for the crispy coating
100g golden breadcrumbs
2 eggs
100 plain flour

  • Take the fish out of the freezer and put into a bowl of tap water to defrost.
  • Peel the potatoes and cut into 3cm cubes then in a large pan cover them in cold, salted water and bring to a gentle boil. The potatoes should be par boiled (still firm in the centre) after 7 minutes from boiling. Drain the potatoes then return them to the pan to cool and dry out.
  • Once dry use a fork to gently crush the potatoes (you don’t want mash, you just want to break the cubes so they can grip to the fish mixture).
  • The fish should be thawed enough to cut into 3cm chunks. Put the chunks into a pan with a lid on and cook over a medium heat for 2 minutes. The water in the fish will steam cook the cod.
  • Drain the excess liquid then put the fish into a large mixing bowl and add the grated white cheddar, mayonnaise and chives to the bowl.
  • Add the potatoes and sprinkle over a tablespoon of plain flour. Use a spoon to gently combine everything.
  • Put the flour, breadcrumbs and whisked eggs into three separate bowls. Heat the oil and butter in a large skillet over a medium high heat then carefully form the fish mixture into cakes without squashing the ingredients.
  • Coat in the flour first, then the egg then the breadcrumbs then into the pan to fry until golden brown then gently turn over to cook the other side. Turn down the heat if the pan is getting too hot. Remove the cooked fishcakes to kitchen roll to remove excess oil then serve up and squeeze over the lemon.

Mashed Swede (‘Neeps)

What I would call swede is called rutabaga in North America and turnips in Scotland. Turnips got shortened to ‘neeps which became the immortalised partner of haggis for Scotland’s traditional celebration meal on Burn’s Night. I will make Haggis, ‘Neeps and Tatties (straight up mashed potato) for Burn’s Night but I regularly make mashed swede throughout the year because it’s delicious with roast dinners and one of the few veg that Henry will eat without bribery and corruption.

Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids
swede (approx. 700g peeled)
1 large satsuma or small orange
35g unsalted butter
1/2 salt
1 tbsp maple syrup

  • Use a horizontal peeler to peel the swede then dice and place into a large saucepan. Cover the swede with water then add the salt.
  • Cook on medium/high for 35-40 minutes until soft then drain and place back in the pan.
  • Grate over the zest of the satsuma then squeeze in the juice and add the maple syrup. Add the butter and mash then taste and adjust the flavour with salt and pepper. A sprinkle of cinnamon is also delicious on top.

Egg and Spinach Prosciutto Cups

This fantastic little breakfast treat is basically bacon and egg with an iron-boosting portion of spinach. Prosciutto cooks really quickly to form the cups that hold perfectly runny eggs topped with spinach. Bacon has more fat and takes longer to cook so it’s not ideal as the cups ends up rubbery and wet. What I love about this recipe is that I can make a few if it’s just us and I can make a trayful if we have visitors. I add chilli flakes for some extra morning pow and if I’m feeling indulgent I’ll whip up a hollandaise sauce to pour over.

Post-Natal Superfood Profile: Eggs
Contain Omega-3 (DHA) and Selenium which improve physical brain health and stabilize mood.

2 portions
2 large free range eggs
4 slices of prosciutto or other cured meat
2 handfuls of spinach (approx. 50g grams)
salt and pepper
vegetable oil
*optional: chilli flakes

  • Pre-heat the oven to 195°C (175°C Fan).
  • Put the spinach into a microwavable bowl with 1 tsp of water then into the microwave on a medium heat for 1 minute. Squeeze out the excess water then grind over a little salt.
  • Brush a little vegetable oil into two muffin pan wells then line each of them with 2 rashers of prosciutto. Crack an egg into each well then grind over with a little salt and sprinkle with chilli flakes if using.
  • Divide the spinach between each well then place in the hot oven for 8-10 minutes depending on how hard you want the yolks.

Chinese Beef Noodle Soup

I’ve talked about my deep love of beef broth before because it makes me feel good and I love making beef stock then turning it into an aromatic broth to use in soups or stews. For this Chinese Beef Noodle Soup I add star anise, cinnamon and Chinese 5 spice to bring depth and flavour to the broth. You don’t have to make your own beef stock but always buy the best stock you can afford as it forms the backbone of this recipe. You can use leftover roast beef or fresh steak to make this meal.

Post-Natal Superfood Profile: Spice
Certain spices contain chemical compounds that aid brain function and repair. The post-baby brain works extremely hard and spices help support the changes that happen.

Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids

280g cooked beef
400g rice noodles
2 large spring onions
1 lime
for the broth
1 litre beef stock
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp soy sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tsp rice wine vinegar
small piece of ginger
1/2 bulb of garlic
1 cinnamon stick
1 star anise
1/2 tsp Chinese 5 spice

  • Pour the stock into a saucepan then add the cinnamon stick, star anise, fish sauce, soy sauce, oyster sauce, vinegar, Chinese 5 spice, peeled ginger and garlic cloves.
  • Bring the stock to the boil then immediately reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Use a slotted spoon to remove the star anise, cinnamon, ginger and garlic then add slices of beef and long dark green strips of spring onion. Cook for 4-5 minutes on a medium heat.
  • Serve with cooked rice noodles (usually plunged into salted boiling water for 5-8 minutes) and finish with finely chopped white spring onion and a squeeze of lime juice.

Sausage and Potato Traybake

In the middle of the week I love a dinner that goes on one tray and into the oven. This sausage and potato traybake is such a great family meal because the kids essentially get sausage, chips and baked beans then I steam some cabbage and spinach for me and Paul to get the extra iron boost I need. I add a few shallots to the tray so I can add the soft roasted shallots into some instant or leftover gravy to smother on top of the sausages.

Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids

700g potatoes
12 sausages
2-3 echalion shallots
olive oil and salt

  • Pre-heat the oven to 220° (200° Fan). Cut the potatoes in half lengthways then cut each half into wedges. Peel the shallots and cut in half lengthways.
  • Place the potatoes, sausages and shallots on a large baking or grill tray, that’s lined with greaseproof paper, and drizzle over some olive oil. Use your hands to toss every in the oil then arrange the ingredients so that they’re in a single layer on the sheet.
  • Grind over a little salt then pop into the oven on a medium/high shelf for 30 minutes. Turn the ingredients after 20 minutes and spoon off any excess fat so that the ingredients brown evenly.
  • Spoon the shallots into reheated or instant gravy then serve the sausage and potatoes with veggies or baked beans.

Classic Mashed Potato

Knowing how to make a classic mashed potato is a great skill to have. Not only does it make umpteen meals like Sausage and Mash, Country Chicken or Cottage Pie; the leftovers are perfect to make fishcakes or one of my favourites, Irish Boxty.

There are a few key tips for making great mash:
1. Don’t over cook your potatoes (soggy potatoes makes gluey mash)
2. Use enough milk (not enough milk makes the mash dry and thick)
3. Be generous with the seasoning (taste your mash before serving to adjust the taste with salt and pepper)

Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids
600g mashing potatoes
250ml of milk
40g butter
1tsp salt for the boiling water
salt and pepper to taste

  • Peel the potatoes and cut into similar sized pieces (about 3cm across) then put into a large pot of cold, salted water.
  • Put the pan on a medium high heat and cook from cold for 20-25 minutes. You don’t want to boil the potatoes too quickly as it makes them stodgy. 
  • Drain the potatoes once they are tender to a fork then add the butter and milk and mash to a smooth consistency.
  • Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper.
  • ***Optional Extra Step. If you’re feeling a bit fancy and have the time then putting the cooked, drained potatoes through a ricer will give you an extra smooth mash. Add the butter and milk once you’ve riced the potato and mash then adjust with salt and pepper.

Steak and Pomegranate Salad

When I need an iron kick I can rely on this salad to restore my energy levels. The dark and peppery rocket leaves are delicious with the sweet and hot dressing. I love using pomegranate seeds for colour and texture against the tender steak. This recipe is a great example of how to use the residual heat in a pan to cook meat without drying it out. I tend to make this grown-up salad at the weekend alongside a good glass of red.

Iron: Red meat contains iron that regulates your blood sugar levels which improves your energy levels.

Serves 2 Adults

225g steak (2.5cm thick rump or fillet)
60g rocket
1/2 pomegranate
1 tbsp olive oil
salt and pepper
**optional extras: feta, tomatoes, black olives
for the dressing
2tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp mustard
1/2 tsp horseradish
1 tsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
juice from the pomegranate

  • 1 tbsp of olive oil in a frying pay and heat on high. Generously season the steak on both sides then place in the hot pan and cook for 3 minutes on each side. Turn off the heat but leave the steak in the pan and move the pan to a cool area. Turn the steak over in the cooling pan after 5 minutes.
  • Using a wooden spoon tap most of the seeds out of the pomegranate half into a bowl. In a separate bowl squeeze the seeds left in the half to extract about 1tbsp of juice.
  • Put all the ingredients for the dressing into a small jar along with the pomegranate juice and the resting juices from the steak pan then shake to combine.
  • Put the rocket leaves and pomegranate seeds in a large bowl then add 3/4 of the dressing and toss to coat. Serve the salad with the sliced steak then drizzle over the remaining dressing.

Apple Turnovers

As a self-confessed inept baker I rely on the joys of pre-made shortcrust pastry to make dessert. These apple turnovers are easy to make, delicious hot with ice cream or custard and equally good cold with a splash of double cream. They keep for 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge or in the freezer for two months. This is a great family-friendly dessert that makes the house smell delicious and hides the fact that I’m not great at making desserts!

Makes 12 Turnovers

1 roll of shortcrust pastry (approx. 375g)
1 large Bramley cooking apple or 2 regular eating apples
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground ginger
1 tbsp golden sugar
1/4 tsp cornflour
25g unsalted butter
milk for sealing and extra sugar for sprinkling

  • Peel and core the apple then cut into large cubes. Melt the butter in a small saucepan (that has a lid) on a medium high heat then add the apple to the pan.
  • Add the spices and sugar then toss to coat the apples in the butter, sugar and spices and turn the heat down to medium/medium low. Put the lid on the pan and cook for 10 minutes (give it a stir after a few minutes to check if the apples are catching on the bottom so you can turn the heat down).
  • Pre-heat the oven to 200°C (180°C Fan). Open out the pastry onto a large baking sheet and cut into 12 equal sized pieces.
  • Place one teaspoon of mixture in the corner of each piece of pastry then brush an L shape of milk around two edges. Fold the corner with the apple sauce on it over to the opposite corner and use a fork to press the pastry edges together and seal. Brush the tops with milk and sprinkle over a little more sugar then bake for 15 minutes. Allow to cool a little then serve with ice cream, custard or pouring cream.

Kid-Friendly Beef and Broccoli Stir-Fry

A mid-week stir-fry is a fast and easy meal to make for the whole family. In the time it takes for my 20-Minute White Rice to cook I can have the sauce ready so that everything gets dished up in under half an hour. This recipe has less salt than lots of Beef and Broccoli recipes so that it’s suitable for the kids as well. I use rump steak but you could absolutely use leftover roast beef or a different steak cut.

Iron: Red meat contains iron that regulates your blood sugar levels which improves your energy levels.

Serves 2 Adults
and 2 Kids

2 tbsp vegetable or sesame oil
1/2 bulb of garlic
thumb sized piece of ginger
1 head of broccoli
125ml water
200g sliced lean rump steak
spring onion and sesame seeds to finish
for the sauce
2 tbsp light soy sauce
1 tbsp oyster sauce
1 tbsp rice wine or white vinegar
1 tbsp light brown sugar
1 tsp corn starch
50ml water

  • Prepare you rice using my 20-minute Fluffy White Rice recipe.
  • Put the corn starch into a bowl and add the soy sauce then stir to combine. Add the oyster sauce, vinegar, sugar and water and stir to combine then set aside.
  • Peel and finely chop the garlic and ginger. Put the oil in a medium sized wok or skillet and cook the garlic and ginger on a medium heat for a minute until they are fragrant.
  • Chop the broccoli into florets then add to the pan along with 125ml of water. Turn the heat up to medium high put a lid on and steam for 5 minutes.
  • Add the steak strips to to the pan then pour over the sauce and quickly fry for 3-5 minutes until the steak is cooked. Serve with the rice and finish with a scattering of chopped spring onion and a sprinkle of sesame seeds.

Wild Boar Ragu

Britain has a growing wild boar population and there are several wild boar farms getting this incredible meat to supermarkets and food markets across the nations. Wild Boar has less fat and cholesterol than pork and a deeper flavour but needs to be cooked for longer as wild boar’s a harder working animal. It’s not a terribly expensive meat; I picked up 500g of diced Wild Boar from the Suffolk Food Hall for £6 and it made 4 adult and 2 kid portions of this beautiful ragu.

Serves 2 Adults & 2 Kids
with leftovers
500g diced wild boar
3 tbsp olive oil
2 tbsp plain flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
3 rashers smoked back bacon
1 white onion
2 carrots
2 celery sticks
1/2 head of garlic
250ml red wine
250ml tomato juice
400g whole tomatoes
2 tbsp tomato puree
rosemary stalks and 2 bay leaves

  • Put the flour, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of pepper into a mixing bowl then add the wild boar and toss to coat all the pieces. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet (with a lid) on a medium high heat then add the meat and brown all over. Once the meat is browned use a slotted spoon to remove it to a bowl.
  • Pre-heat the oven to 170°C (150°C Fan). Peel and dice the onion, garlic and carrots then dice the celery and bacon. Fry the bacon for a couple of minutes in the oil to colour then add the vegetables, chopped garlic and 1/2 tsp of salt and cook for 5 minutes, stirring regularly.
  • Add the red wine and deglaze any bits in the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the whole tomatoes, tomato puree and tomato juice.
  • Bring the sauce to a boil then turn off the heat, add the meat back to the pan along with rosemary and bay then put the lid on. Pop in the oven on the middle shelf for 2 hours.
  • Remove the herbs then toss cooked paradelle or tagliatelle with the sauce and finish with grated parmesan. The sauce is ideal for freezing.