OK so when you give this to your little ones to eat, you’d better have the hoover ready. My husband seemed to delight in sharing a video with me of the mess she had made as I commuted home, and then realised that he was the only one around to handle the clean up. He was later seen wafting our beloved child in the garden, shortly followed by her high chair in a bid to de-flake.
After getting lots of inspiration from the thoughtfully compiled set of Ella’s Kitchen recipe books – it suddenly dawned on me whilst going through The Big Baking Book aka The Yellow One of the series – that combining puff pastry and yummy fillings would solve the two issues I’ve been having with sending Adelyn off to the childminder’s with her packed lunch; 1) homemade and 2) easy-to-feed-herself portioned food.
I get mildly anxious about ensuring Adelyn gets enough iron in her diet so this recipe has been somewhat of a Godsend given her reluctance to eat bolognese (like seriously, how can anyone fail to enjoy spaghetti bolognese??) The Big Baking Book helpfully reassures me that “spinach is rich in iron and calcium, making it perfect for superhero-style bones and brains.”
And look at these crispy beauts! Note: I made a change to the original recipe and made my puffs smaller.
125g ricotta cheese
50g Parmesan, grated
Good pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
250g ready-made puff pastry (I use ready rolled)
1 egg, beaten for glazing
Sesame seeds (I only had black at home!)
- Preheat the oven to 200C and line your baking sheet with parchment.
- In a sizeable saucepan (must have a lid too), pop your spinach in and drizzle with 1 tablespoon of water. Cover and heat the spinach gently for 5 minutes till wilted. Tip the spinach into a sieve or colander and press out the juice as you don’t want soggy filling! Then roughly chop.
- Drain off any liquid from the tub of ricotta and place in a large bowl along with the Parmesan and nutmeg. Mix together. Then add the chopped spinach and mix till evenly combined.
- Assuming you’ve bought the ready-rolled sheet of puff pastry as I do, roll it out and leave on the parchment. Cut in half widthways and lengthways and then quarter those rectangles too so you have 16 rectangles.
- Divide the filling amongst 8 of the rectangles and you’ll have something that looks like this:
- Brush the edges lightly with the beaten egg. Cover with the remaining 8 rectangles and press the edges down with a fork or finger.
- Carefully place your puffs on to the prepared baking sheet. Cut a little cross in the top of the pastry and then glaze with the remaining egg and sprinkle with sesame seeds. Bake in the oven for 20-25minutes until wonderfully puffed up and golden!
- Delicious served warm (but can be eaten cold). Store in an airtight container for up to 24 hours.
Agh. The dreaded day has landed upon us; my once wonderful eater has turned into a right fusspot for the best part of the past week.
Foods she once devoured she now reacts to as though I was giving her cat food (squawking and scrunchy faces and spitting food back out ensue).
One thing I’ve found though, is that finger foods will find their way into her mouth more often than not so I figured – how do I make her favourite foods into more of a readily held meal?
Solution: combine them in egg, milk and flour to make Fritters. Voila! My greedy eater is (kind of) back:
- 1 egg, beaten
- 50g self-raising flour
- 10ml milk
- 1 already-roasted sweet potato, flesh scooped out
- 3 spring onions, finely sliced
- 100g courgette, grated
- 2tbsp sweetcorn
- 50g cheddar cheese
You’ll need to have a sweet potato already baked and ready to be used so wash, stab with a fork a bit and bake in an oven for 40-60mins (depending on size) with a bit of foil on the rack underneath to catch any juice.
Then you can get the batter ready…
- In a large bowl, beat the egg lightly. Mix in the flour and then the milk to form a thick batter.
- Cut open the baked sweet potato and scoop the squishyness out and into the batter.
- Add the spring onions, courgette, sweetcorn and cheese. Mix well.
- Heat up a non-stick frying pan with a light drizzle of oil for good measure over a medium heat.
- Using a table spoon, plop heaped tablespoons of the batter into the pan so that they form nice even rounds and fry for 2-3mins each side till a lovely golden brown.
- Note – they’re not the driest fritters on account of the veggies in the mix!
I’m a big fan of finger foods, especially ones that are quick to make and packed full of nutrition – courgette, carrots and spinach with the added hit of cheese for that moreishness…oooh these’ll be a hit in your household too if my family are anything to go by!
Adelyn literally bounces and makes strained squealing sounds when she sees me coming with these. Just like her Papa.
Remember – babies under 1 years old shouldn’t have salt added to their food as their kidneys aren’t mature enough to process it efficiently so there’s no need to season this. The cheese contains enough savoury flavour to satisfy even an adult’s palate.
225g self-raising flour
1tsp baking powder
1 carrot – peeled and grated
1 small courgette – washed and grated
80g mature cheddar, grated
2 handfuls of spinach, chopped
1 egg, beaten
45g unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat your oven to 180C (fan) and lightly grease a muffin tray with butter or oil. You can use muffin cases if you like.
- Pop your dry ingredients into a big bowl – so your flour, baking powder, cheese, carrot, courgette and spinach – and mix together.
- Then add your wet ingredients one at a time, mixing after each addition – so the egg, butter and then the milk. You should have a thick and pleasingly colourful batter.
- Pop a generous tablespoon of the mixture into your prepared muffin tray – you should have enough for 12.
- Bake for 20-25mins, until golden brown on top and your chosen poking testing implement comes out clean (toothpick, uncooked spaghetti, actual poker tester thing etc.)
- Leave them to cool slightly, if you can bear the wait.
FREEZING TIP: These freeze well in an airtight container or baggy. You can warm them up in the oven from frozen for 15mins (or leave to defrost) to enjoy all over again.
Adelyn using two hands to devour hers – a sign of enjoyment!