Very Buttery And Very Cheesy Mini Bites

This is such an easy and yummy snack to make, that even small kids could help. Bobcat loved being in charge of the rolling-pin and sprinkling the sesame seed. All over the place. And eating raw dough of course. (Who did not like that as a kid. Or even as a grown up.) These cheesy bites are great for parties, for the lunchbox, or as an afternoon snack. The resting seems long, but it’s absolutely necessary. They freeze well (whilst still raw), so it worth to make an extra portion for unexpected guests, or for a busy day and double the measurements. They go quickly anyway!

Ingredients: 

500g all purpose flour or pastry flour

250g unsalted butter (cold, straight from the fridge)

50ml milk

200g sour cream (room temperature)

3 egg yolks (2 for the dough + 1 for brushing)

100g grated cheese (cheddar or similar)

1 tsp sugar

1 tbsp salt

8g quick yeast

sesame seed for decoration

Method:

Sift the flour into a mixing bowl. Cube the butter and with your hands, rub it into the flour. Warm the milk A little bit and add it to the mixing bowl along with the sugar, the yeast and the salt. Mix the eggs with the sour cream and add the mixture to the bowl. Knead a neat dough ball, combining everything well, cover it and put in the fridge to rest for an hour.

Cover a baking tray with baking paper and preheat oven to 200C. Sprinkle some flour on a wooden board before rolling out the dough, to 1,5-2 cm thickness. Cut about 3×3 cm little squares, place them on the baking sheet, brush them with the egg yolk (into which you can add half a teaspoon of sweet ground paprika for a bit of an extra colour) and sprinkle with sesame seed. Bake them for 20-35 minutes.

 

One Messy Mama

Fresh Spinach and Pear Salad With Feta Cheese And Pomegranate

I’m a big fan of salads combining fruits, vegetables and cheese. I could eat them every day. When you’re having guests and you want to prepare something different from the usual green salad, this could work very well as a good-looking, tasty and not your everyday starter dish. There’s not much work with it either, ready in 15 minutes. The kids will love it too as it’s got sweet tasting fruit in it. Serves 4 adults.

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Ingredients:

For the salad:

150g baby or young spinach

2 ripe but still firm sweet pears cored and sliced.

Half a pomegranate’s arils

50g feta cheese crumbled

50g dried cranberries

50g walnuts, chopped and toasted

For the dressing:

80ml apple cider vinegar

1 tsp of clear honey

1 tsp of dijon or wholegrain mustard

2-3 tbsp of olive oil

Hint of freshly grounded pepper

Directions:

Wash and drain the spinach leaves and place them into a large salad bowl. Toast the walnut pieces and prepare the dressing. Add all the ingredients and the dressing and combine well. I like it when the feta cheese covers the salad with a fine cheesy film, but if you prefer them in cubes or in bigger pieces just add them after you combined everything else and serve the salad with feta cheese topping.

 

Pasta With Salmon And Broccoli In Cheese Sauce – Great Toddler Meal

I normally have this in the freezer all the time, for Bobcat and for the days when he’s extra picky and won’t eat anything substantial. Pasta can always come. So it’s a good idea to add as much healthy and nutritious ingredients to a pasta dish as you can. Very simple to prepare, a real comfort food for him. If you cook everything really soft, it’s a great weaning meal too. The recipe below will give you 3-4 toddler portions.

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Ingredients:

50g salmon

half a head of broccoli, broken into florets

150g pasta (any kind of, really)

2 small garlic cloves, minced

150ml whole milk

30g butter

50g medium cheddar cheese grated

half a tbsp of flour

1 tsp of fresh parsley, chopped

salt and pepper to taste

Method:

Start to boil some water in a medium pan and steam the broccoli above it. It takes around 15 minutes to soften, but depends on how tender you want it. In a small pan poach the salmon for 10 minutes in 100ml milk on low/medium heat, add the garlic and the parsley. When it’s cooked, set it aside. We keep the milk too, don’t throw it away. Start to cook the pasta and simultaneously, in a small pan melt the butter, add the flour and simmer for a minute. Add the milk from the salmon pan and keep stirring on low heat when it starts to thicken, add some more milk and the grated cheese. Add some salt and pepper if you wish. When everything cooked, flake the salmon. In a bowl mix everything well. The broccoli should just break into small pieces. Serve it with a some grated cheese on the top.

 

Cauliflower Mac’n’Cheese – great way to get them to eat more veggies

This recipe is a great version of the much-loved, original Mac’n’Cheese, one of our favourite childhood meal. It’s creamy and crunchy at the same time: the whole family will love it. It also takes no time and very little effort to prepare it.

The good thing about cauliflower is, that it’s packed with Vitamin C, K and B6, fiber, protein and Omega-3 fats. So it’s basically just like fish 🙂 Therefore, if you can see any chance to smuggle it into any dish, give it a try.

Both toddler and weaning diet compatible: depending on how soft the pasta is. You can even mash it even further down if you wanted to. You can play around with how much cauliflower you want to use: not everyone (i.e most of the kids) can’t stand the smell of cauliflower, but you can outsmart them by hiding it well. Add less of it and add more cheese, cream cheese or herbs. Either way it will be a delightful vegetarian dish.

I used fussili as pasta, because it’s easier for little hands to grab them. But penne will do it too. The recipe below will give you 2 grown-up portions and 3-4 toddler portions, so you can put some into the freezer.

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Ingredients:

1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets (8-9 larger florets)

300g fussili pasta

250g medium Cheddar cheese, grated

50g unsalted butter + a knob of room temperature butter with the breadcrumb

200ml full fat milk

1 tbsp flour

100g soft breadcrumb

Handful of fresh parsley leaves, chopped finely.

hint of nutmeg (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

 

Directions:

Steam the cauliflower florets above boiling water for about 15-20 minutes. (You can also choose to cook them of course.) Mash them with a fork roughly.

Cook the pasta until it’s al dente or soft, depending on how soft you want it.

Whilst the pasta is cooking, prepare your bechamel sauce. Melt the 50g butter in a pan. Add the tbsp of flour, shimmer it until golden brown. Add half of the milk and keep stirring occasionally. Once it’s beginning to thicken, add the nutmeg, little salt and pepper. half of the grated cheese and finally the other half of the milk. Keep stirring. This will give you a nice, creamy, but somewhat watery texture. This is what we want, because it will cook further in the oven, plus, the pasta will absorb some liquid from it.

Now, combine all: pasta, cauliflower, bechamel, the other half of the cheese, parsley in a casserole or baking dish.

Mix the breadcrumbs with the soft butter in a cup with your fingers until you can’t see the butter bits and sprinkle it evenly on the top of the dish.

Into the oven for about 30 minutes on 200C. I hardly ever preheat oven, if you do, it will take less than 30 min. Bake it until the breadcrumb on the top turns nice golden brown.

Montreux. Pretty scenery, bad food and marmots. Oh, and Freddy Mercury.

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One of our early holiday with the little one took us to Montreux. Husband booked the flight tickets back at the January BA sale, never been there, sounds jazzy. (Sorry…) what could possibly go wrong? It’s Switzerland. Frenchy stuff with german efficiency. Well, the reality shows the other way around.

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Stayed at the Golf Hotel Rene Capt, a bit like Wes Anderson’s Grand Hotel Budapest came alive. Just not as funny. CHF 35.- per night for a travel cot for Captain Bobcat. (Ouch!) Only twin beds. I accused them silently that they must have been thinking: oh well, new parents anyway… But after complaining, it turned out that apparantley all the 60 something rooms are twin bedded. Have we just checked into a sanatorium? Probably we were the only couple in the hotel who wanted to have a king size bed and a drink in the bar in the evenings. Unlucky with both. However, the hotel is located at the nicer and less busy part of the promenade. And it has marvellous views to the lake. Pay that extra money for that. Seriously. Especially, that the other side of the building gets train track views and noise.

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Montreux is pretty and small. Apart from the annual jazz festival you have the beautiful lake, easy access to the great mountains, a couple of really good gallery, forgettable reastaurants with bland and expensive food. The best place for a coffee belongs to the Fairmont Hotel: La Terasse Du Petit Palace. Not joking. We paid CHF 15.- for a capuccino and a glass of wine and received nuts and olives with them. Plus wonderful lake views and very nice waiting staff. The hotel’s Jazz Cafe worth a look-around too, looks like a very posh Hard Rock Cafe with all the festival memorabilias.

Switzerland is expensive. Try not to get a cold or a hangover because even the £0.69.- paracetamol will cost you more than CHF 5.- here. Swiss chocolate is more expensive than in your local convenient store in London. Swiss wine is reasonably priced though, but don’t expect too much of them. Eat lots of cheese. And fondus. That’s the best. And after a couple of days in Switzerland you don’t want to have cheese for a while anyway.

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When the jazz festival is not on and it’s not ski-season yet, there’s still things to do: great mountain train ride (I thought it’s rather a tram) up to the top of Rochers de Naye. Captain Bobcat really enjoyed it, not to mention husband. Kids… Superb views, real snow in August and marmot sanctuary await you up there And yurtas, which can be rented. Even the not so good Simagewiss wine tastes here better. Blame it on the thin air.

We’ve also visited Vevey, taking a steam boat from Montreux. Great fun, pretty old town with a famous food market, where you can take a lot of foodie photos for your Instagram and exhaust your sense of smell with sniffing of cheese, truffle, smoked meat and various food stations.

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Vevey also hosts the world’s most boring museum (http://www.alimentarium.ch/en), with plastic food installations and a herb garden, which must make the place even more boring in winter time. The lack of the herb garden, that is. There are a couple of good cafes and again: picturesque walk along the lake side. Funny artistic installations to amuse the tourists, like plastic seats nalied to the lake side rocks and a giant fork poking out of the water.

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Montreux has been an inspirational place for famous residents like Freddy Mercury who’s statue beside the lake is now competing with the entire Jazz Festival as Attraction Number One. Deep Purple also owned a studio here before The Queen moved in, and their famous song “Smoke On The Water” tells of the events of December 1971, when a Frank Zappa fan with a flare gun set the Montreux Casino on fire. Those would have been the fun times. Earlier fellow composers such as Stravinsky and Tchaikovsky were also fond of the town and residents. And, uhm, Shania Twain.