Baby-led

Miriam, 6 months

June 29th, 2011

I absolutely dreaded the idea of feeding my daughter pureed food. It seemed so unnatural. Introducing her to REAL food made more sense to me. But I didn’t know how to go about it. I was soooo excited when I finally came across your book. Thank you for guiding me in this process and giving me confidence as a parent. – Deborah, mum of Miriam

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Spanish Apple Cake

June 29th, 2011

This delicious, moist cake has plenty of fruit in it and is quick and easy to make, using olive oil rather than butter.
* 250g (9oz) self-raising flour
* ½ tsp cinnamon
* 50g (2oz) caster sugar
j* uice and zest of 1 unwaxed lemon
* 2 eggs, beaten
* 160ml (5½fl oz) olive oil
* 450g (1lb) crisp dessert apples

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4.

Sift the flour and cinnamon into a large bowl and add the sugar and lemon zest.

Make a well in the centre and add the eggs, olive oil and lemon juice, stirring as you go, to make a smooth mixture.

Peel, core and chop the apples into roughly 2cm (1in) cubes. Fold them gently into the cake mixture and pour everything into a lightly greased 17cm (7in) round cake tin.

Oven bake for 40–45 minutes until firm to the touch in the centre and golden brown on top.

Leave the cake to cool slightly in the tin for a few minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack.

Serve cold as a snack, or warm with cream or home-made custard (see page 161 in the book) .

Option
• You can swap the cinnamon for nutmeg, or use crisp pears instead of apples.

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Banana Cake

June 29th, 2011

Banana cake is deliciously moist and sweet. It’s best made with bananas that are really over-ripe – the more they ripen, the sweeter they become, so don’t throw those squishy ones away!

* butter or oil for greasing
* 100g (3½oz) self-raising wholemeal flour (or 100g/3½oz plain flour with 2 tsp baking powder)
* ½ tsp ground mixed spice
* 50g (2oz) butter (preferably unsalted)
* 75g (2½oz) raisins (or chopped figs)
* 200g (7oz) mashed banana (1½–2 medium-sized ripe bananas)
* 50g (2oz) walnuts, ground or finely chopped (optional)
* 1 egg, beaten

For the topping (optional):
* 200g (7oz) cream cheese
* 50–100g (2–3½oz) 100% fruit spread or jam (optional)

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4 and lightly grease a 450g (1lb) loaf tin.

Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the spices. Cut or break the butter into small cubes and add it to the flour. Using your hands, a pastry blender or a food processor, rub the butter into the flour until the mixture looks like fine breadcrumbs.

Stir in the raisins (or figs) and make a well in the centre of the mixture.  In a separate bowl, mash the banana, add the walnuts (if using) and stir in the egg. Pour the banana mixture into the flour mixture and fold in.

Put the mixture into the cake tin and put it in the oven. Turn the oven down to 160°C/325°F/Gas Mark 3 and bake for 45–60 minutes, or until done. (Check by inserting a skewer – it should come out clean.)

Remove the tin from the oven and allow to cool for 5–10 minutes, then turn out on to a wire rack to finish cooling.

Serve plain, with crème fraîche or natural yoghurt, or covered with the topping. To make the topping, combine the ingredients and mix thoroughly (using a blender or food processor if the jam is lumpy), then spread evenly over the cake.

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Salmon and Broccoli Bake

June 29th, 2011

This comforting bake is nicely balanced in terms of nutrition; with fish, vegetables, pasta, herbs and dairy foods. For a quicker way to make the sauce, see page 188 in the book.

Serves 2 adults and 1 baby, generously

* 250g (9oz) pasta shapes
* 1 medium head broccoli, cut into large florets
* 25g (1oz) butter (preferably unsalted)
* 25g (1oz) plain flour
* 600ml (1 pint) milk
* 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley (optional)
* 1 tbsp chopped fresh dill (optional)
* 3 skinless salmon fillets, cut into large chunks
* 50–75g (2–2½oz) cheese, grated, (or enough for topping)
* 25–40g (1–1½oz) breadcrumbs, stale or toasted (optional)

Cook the pasta in a pan of boiling water for slightly less than the time indicated on the packet (so that it’s ‘al dente’), then drain.

Steam or boil the broccoli until it is just starting to soften, then drain.

Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas Mark 4. To make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan and stir in the flour. Cook gently until the mixture starts to bubble. Remove the pan from the heat and gradually add the milk, stirring constantly. Return the pan to the heat and bring to the boil, still stirring. Simmer until thickened, stirring all the time. Stir in the parsley and dill.

Arrange the salmon chunks in an ovenproof dish and add the pasta and broccoli. Pour on the sauce. Mix the
cheese with the breadcrumbs, then sprinkle over the surface. Bake in the oven for 30 minutes.

Serve warm with vegetables – steamed baby carrots and green beans or asparagus go particularly well with this dish. Check carefully to make sure there are no bones in your baby’s portion.

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Fish Cakes

June 29th, 2011

Fish cakes are easy for babies to grab and eat, even when they’re just starting out.

Serves 2 adults and 1 baby

* a little milk (or water) for poaching
* 250g (9oz) white fish or salmon fillets
* approx 250g (9oz) cooked potatoes (without skins)
* knob of butter (preferably unsalted) for mashing potatoes (optional)
* 1 tbsp chopped fresh coriander or parsley
* zest of 1 unwaxed lemon (optional)
* freshly ground black pepper, to taste
* 1 egg, beaten
* 25–50g (1–2oz) breadcrumbs, stale, dried or toasted
* oil for frying

Pour some milk into a shallow pan (with lid), to a depth of about ½cm (¼in), and add the fish. Heat until the milk is just beginning to boil, then turn the heat down, cover and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the fish is opaque and cooked in the centre. Drain the fish thoroughly, then skin and flake it, removing any bones.

Mash the potatoes with the butter, herbs, lemon zest and black pepper. Stir in the flaked fish with a little of the beaten egg.

Put the remainder of the egg in a shallow dish and put the breadcrumbs into another one. Flour your hands, then take small amounts of the mixture and shape into 4–5 fishcakes. Dip each fishcake into the beaten egg so it is covered on all sides then roll it in the breadcrumbs, so that it is evenly coated.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the fishcakes. Cook for about 5 minutes on each side, until golden brown. Serve warm, with roasted sweet potato wedges, steamed peas and sweetcorn or baked beans, or with a salad.

Option
• Tinned salmon or tuna (in spring water or oil, not brine) can be used in place of fresh fish. A few chopped spring onions added to the mixture is delicious.

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