Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What child wouldn't eat saag paneer?

...and the answer is probably every child! As I've mentioned before, I was hell bent on having kids who ate what we ate all the time but I now realise that is probably an insane pipe dream.

I still try to make the same dinner for the whole family most nights but the fact of the matter is, there are very few kids who love a seriously spicy Indian curry (although I'd love to be proven wrong). I was at a cooking class on the weekend with Di Holuigue who cooks her four-year-old grandson big bowls of prawns, mussels and pippies so there is some hope.

So on the nights when I want to have a grown up dinner, Leo has leftovers or a classic kids' tea like baked beans on toast and I throw an extra chilli in our dinner to celebrate! Here is the recipe for a not very authentic, but very quick, saag paneer (spinach and cheese curry).

Eleanor's Saag Paneer
2 tablespoons korma curry paste
1 onion chopped
1 tin chopped tomatoes
2 handfuls baby spinach
1 cup frozen baby peas
200gms paneer or haloumi cheese, cubed
2 tablespoons of natural yoghurt
Steamed basmati rice to serve

Fry onions in some vegetable oil until soft. Add the curry paste and cook until fragrant then pour in the tomatoes and bring to the boil. Add the spinach, stir through and cover with a lid until wilted.

Quickly blitz the mixture with a stick blender until the sauce is relatively smooth. Bring back to the boil and add the baby peas. Cook for around 5 minutes until peas are tender. If using paneer, add and cook until heated. If using haloumi, fry pieces of cheese until lightly brown and then stir into the mix.

Turn off the heat, stir through the yoghurt and serve on rice. Enjoy!

Saturday, February 4, 2012

The problem with maternity leave (and a recipe for Vietnamese coleslaw)

First up, I should say that I am actually loving maternity leave and even more, I think paid maternity leave is a wonderful thing. However, there is one thing that really lets maternity leave down and that is the fact that you imagine that you will have this huge, long period to do things for which you don't usually have time. For me, that includes cooking elaborate dishes that need more than the 30mins cooking time available at the end of the working day. For my mum it was finishing off a Masters degree (if I remember rightly she enrolled for both rounds of maternity leave and subsequently withdrew!) I also remember friends suggesting that I should start writing a book when Leo was born.

For some reason, even though you know that having a baby means extra work, you can't factor in the impact of sleep deprivation, the time needed for feeding and bonus loads of laundry, and the brainspace that gets used up wondering 'what does that cry mean?' and 'where is that smell coming from?'

So I thought i would be worth sharing another shortcut recipe that I have been using lately because I love it even though it is a serious quicky. Warning - this is really a grown up recipe unless you have fabulously adventurous children as the dressing has a reasonable hit of chilli. Maybe give any kiddies a toasted sandwich or some baked beans (that's what I do).

Vietnamese Chicken Coleslaw

Half a roast chicken, shredded
1 bag of ready made coleslaw or Asian salad mix
1 handful chopped mint
1 small cucumber julienned
1 handful chopped peanuts
150mls of dipping sauce for spring rolls* Fried shallots to serve*

Mix chicken, salad mix, mint and cucumber in a large bowl. Pour over dipping sauce as a dressing and mix well. Serve scattered with chopped peanuts and fried shallots.

Serves 3-4

*from the Asian section in the supermarket