Firstly let me apologise for there being no pictures in this post – not great for a foodie post, but it was so yummy that I totally forgot to take pics before we devoured it 😉
It’s been a while since I wrote up a slow cooker recipe. It’s not that I haven’t been slow cooking, but more that I haven’t found the time to write about it as well as all the other things I’m doing, and recently I have been sticking with recipes I’ve done before rather than experimenting with new things. But this week we had a celeriac in the veg box, and I haven’t had one for quite a while, so this got me thinking about how I could slow cook it.
I remember I enjoyed a dish once (I can’t actually remember where or when!) that was a bit like a celeriac dauphinoise, with a creamy cheesy sauce around slices of the root vegetable. So this hazy memory formed the basis of my slow cooker creation. I made a simple creamy sauce out of milk, soft cheese and a small amount of flour. The celeriac formed the main bulk of the solid part of the dish, though I added a bunch of purple kale that was in the box, as well as a tin of pink salmon for more protein beyond the dairy ingredients.
It turned out very well, and generally the boys were impressed, although Andrew wasn’t too keen on the taste of the celeriac – I think it’s quite an acquired taste and I’m not sure when he last had it. We served it with rice because the boys had eaten quite a lot of pasta in the days before we ate this, but pasta would work well with it too I think.
Here’s the recipe, which is very simple but give very yummy results!
- 1 pint milk
- 200g tub soft cheese with herbs/onion/garlic
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 1 celeriac
- 1 tin salmon
- 1 bunch purple kale
- rice or pasta to serve
- Cut the stalks of the kale off and chop the leaves into smaller pieces.
- Peel the celeriac and cut into slices about 1cm thick, and then each big slice into smaller pieces.
- Place the slices in layers in the slow cooker pot, sandwiching some purple kale between each layer of celeriac.
- Mix the milk, soft cheese and flour in a jug, then pour the mixture into the pot – it should just come up to the top layer.
- Cook on high for 5 hours.
- About an hour before the end of the cooking time, drain the tin of salmon and flake the fish, then add it on top of the celeriac in the pot.
- About 10 minutes before the end of the cooking time, cook some rice or pasta to serve it with.
This week the Great British Bake Off was all about unconventional baking – using flours that are wheat- or gluten-free, and using no dairy ingredients (like butter or milk). The final round saw the contestants bake a showstopper cake that was completely dairy free and contained a vegetable. They went for butternut squash, carrot or beetroot between them.
As we had a courgette in the veg box this week, and as I’ve been meaning to bake a courgette cake for some time now, I decided that this would be a great time to do it! We also had some cooking apples given to us by one of Tom’s work colleagues who has a glut of them in her garden, so I thought I’d combine the two in a cake with some spices too.
I googled some courgette cake recipes and adapted one from BBC Good Food (I never follow a recipe exactly, and I wanted to add apple anyway). It came out very well, and actually rose more than I thought it might, given that vegetable cakes can be quite stodgy. It tastes like a fruit cake, but is lovely and moist from the grated courgette and apple. My boys all approved!
- 2 large eggs
- 125ml vegetable oil
- 85g soft brown sugar
- 1 medium courgette, grated
- 1 cooking apple, grated
- (combined weight of courgette and apple around 350-400g)
- 300g plain flour
- 2 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp ginger
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 150g sultanas
- Pre-heat the oven to 180ºC (fan) and prepare a cake tin (grease and line if necessary – I use a silicone mould that doesn’t need this).
- Mix the oil, sugar and eggs together in a bowl, then add the grated fruit and veg.
- In another, larger bowl, mix the flour, spices, baking powder and sultanas until evenly distributed.
- Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until well combined.
- Pour the mixture into the prepared tin/mould and bake for about an hour (vegetable cakes, according to Mary Berry herself, take longer to bake than ordinary cakes), until a skewer inserted into the centre comes out clean.
- Remove from the oven and let it cool.
- Eat as fresh as possible – you can also freeze this.
I actually cooked this a couple of weeks ago now, but it was just before we went away for 10 days and I was too busy finishing my posts on cloth nappies for Real Nappy Week (and getting ready to get the four of us off on holiday – that’s no easy feat!) so I didn’t get round to blogging this rather delicious meal until now. Risottos are a great way to use up things in the fridge that have seen better days and/or a great way to chuck in things from the store cupboard if you’re running low on fresh ingredients. These are the reasons why I cobbled this together just before going away, and the result was a yummy family meal.
Needless to say, Andrew loved it, as always. Joel is still not eating much, just a nibble here and there, but when he’s having a go at more variety of flavours and textures, this would be a great meal for him too. I’d say it works for a baby doing baby-led weaning because you can just choose which veg they like or which veg you want them to try, and decide what size of chunks they are confident with when adding ingredients, starting with bigger pieces (maybe not kidney beans like in this recipe straight away). The pea pesto adds a lovely flavour, a sweetness that makes it appealing to kids I think, and a lovely bright colour, which is also appealing, maybe even more so to kids than adults!
And of course using the slow cooker meant I could prep earlier in the day (it took about 10 minutes) and the risotto was ready for dinner at 6.30pm. Easy PEAsy…. have a go yourself if you like!
- 2 carrots
- 1 tin kidney beans
- 200g long grain rice
- 2 tbsp cornflour
- 800ml hot stock (I use low salt)
- 100g frozen peas
- 50g Parmesan cheese
- Glug of olive oil
- Chop the carrots into chunks.
- Put the carrots, kidney beans, rice and cornflour into the slow cooker pot.
- Add the stock and stir.
- Cook on low for 3 hours.
- After you’ve put the slow cooker on, make the pesto. Start by cooking the peas for 2 minutes in the microwave or in a pan of boiling water.
- Put the cooked peas, cheese and a glug of olive oil in a blender and whizz until a smooth paste – add a bit more oil if it’s too thick until you have the right consistency to stir through the risotto.
- When the slow cooker is finished, stir the pesto through the risotto until evenly distributed.
- Serve immediately; any leftovers can be frozen for a quick tasty meal another time.
Thursday is the right day for me to post a picture of a vegetable (or six), as this is the day we get our weekly box. This has just been delivered, full of fresh organic veg and fruit. Yummy! Now I need to decide what we’re having for dinner…..