Breaking in the littlies
A new cookbook serves up healthy meals for fussy toddlers
DEPENDING on the child, introducing new flavours to them can be messy, fun or a bit of a nightmare. Food technologist Amie Harper, who has more than 10 years’ experience working for consumer goods companies, acknowledges how hard it can be to get toddlers to try new things. Harper’s latest cookbook, Little Pip Eats the Colours of the Rainbow, is a follow-up to her first recipe collection, Baby Pip Eats, which she wrote after having her first baby.
INGREDIENTS: ◗ olive oil, for frying ◗ 1 onion, finely chopped ◗ 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped ◗ 1 tbs oregano, chopped ◗ 500g lean lamb mince ◗ 1 x 600g jar tomato passata ◗ 3 large or 4 small eggplants, sliced horizontally 1cm thick ◗ 260g plain yoghurt ◗ 1 egg yolk ◗ 200g cheddar cheese, coarsely grated
METHOD: Preheat the oven to 180 degrees. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a large frying pan over a medium heat and cook the onion, garlic and oregano until soft and fragrant. Add the mince and cook until lightly browned.
Add the passata and simmer for 15 minutes. Heat another large frying pan over a medium heat. Add two tablespoons of olive oil and fry the eggplant slices, in batches, for three minutes each side, or until lightly golden. Remove from the pan and place on a paper towel.
Whisk the yoghurt with the egg yolk until combined. Line the bases and sides of six 10cm individual ramekins with the slices of eggplant. Spoon the meat sauce into each ramekin until three-quarters full then pour the yoghurt sauce on top of the meat. Sprinkle grated cheese over each one, and then bake for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden.
Sweet potato gnocchi
INGREDIENTS: ◗ 400g sweet potato (2 small or 1 large) ◗ 185g plain (all-purpose) flour, you may need a tablespoon or two more if the mixture is too wet ◗ 1 egg yolk ◗ 25g parmesan cheese, finely grated (optional)
METHOD: Preheat the oven to 190 degrees. Line a baking tray with baking paper. Roast the sweet potatoes (whole) for 50 minutes, or until soft when pierced with a skewer. Remove from the oven and, once cool, remove their skins.
Combine the cooled sweet potato flesh with the flour, egg yolk and parmesan in a mixing bowl. Place the dough on a lightly floured workbench and knead lightly. Divide evenly into four balls. Roll each ball gently into a 2cm thick sausage log. Slice the logs evenly into 2cm pieces, press down gently on each with a fork, then set aside.
Cook the gnocchi in a large pan of boiling water until all of them rise to the surface. Drain. Serve with your favourite sauce such as a creamy mushroom sauce (see below) or basil pesto.
FOR THE PERFECT SAUCE: Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Add a chopped onion and cook for five minutes, or until translucent. Add two crushed garlic cloves and cook for a further minute before adding 200g of sliced button mushrooms and a small handful of thyme. Cook for five minutes, or until softened. Add 300ml of thin (pouring) cream and bring to a gentle simmer. Reduce the heat and cook for five minutes. Stir through finely grated parmesan and serve with the gnocchi.
◗ Mini moussakas and, right, sweet potato gnocchi from Amie Harper’s Little Pip Eats the Colours of the Rainbow.