It was hard to pick the 'first' recipe for the new blog. I felt it should be something super exciting and fancy.
So I chose a stew.
Or rather, a casserole. There is a difference, you know.
The point of this blog is to write about the food I cook for my (greedy) family. Not to pretend that an ordinary day sees me whipping up a quick batch of macarons in between taking my son to his swimming class and collecting the dog from the vet.
Yesterday was an ordinary day and I made this casserole. And so here it is!
I am a huge fan of batch cooking. I am always happy when I know my freezer if full of homemade 'ready meals'. There is nothing better at the end of an exhausting day when you don't feel like spending hours in the kitchen than knowing you can still eat something utterly delicious. If it wasn't for my freezer stash, my little boy might well live on a diet of mini Babybels and rice cakes. A couple of times a week, I made a big batch of something-or-other and freeze in small toddler-sized pots ready to whip out for his meals. This was one such dish although it is delicious for all the family and I rather wished I had made enough for us too (I usually make casseroles big enough for us all but I only had a relatively small amount of meat on this occasion).
You could use any combination of vegetables for this seasonal dish. I just used what I had to hand but any roots or squashes would work well. Using parsnips and/or vegetables such as butternut squash make this an appealing dish for babies and toddlers due to the natural sweetness. This could be pureed for small babies (over 6 months) or chopped for those a little older. My son is 14 months and managed well with a little chopping.
*A note on stock:
Babies under one year of age should eat very little salt indeed. Stock cubes are generally high in salt. I choose to use very low-salt stock cubes (Kallo) and sometimes just use half a cube when cooking for my son. If you prefer to avoid salt altogether, you can simply substitute stock with water when cooking for babies. Be sure to flavour with plenty of herbs instead!
Autumnal Beef Casserole
Serves 2 adults and 1 child or 4 toddler portions
1tbsp olive oil
350g braising steak, cubed
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 medium parsnip
100g squash (e.g. butternut)
1 tbsp plain flour
500ml low-salt beef stock, or water*
1 tsp dried thyme
1. Pre-heat oven to 170C.
2. Finely chop the onion and chop all the other vegetables into bite-sized pieces. Set aside.
3. Heat the oil in a medium casserole and brown the meat in batches. Set aside whilst you start the vegetables.
3. Add a touch more oil if necessary. Sweat for five minutes until translucent but not golden. Add the other vegetables and cook gently for a further five minutes, adding the garlic right at the end and cooking for just a minute or so.
4. Return the meat to the pan and sprinkle over the flour. If cooking for adults only, season well with salt and pepper (omit salt for babies under 1 year and go easy for toddlers too). Give a good stir to combine and then pour over the stock or water. Add a bay leaf and the thyme and then cook in the oven for two hours or so until meltingly tender. Check after an hour and a half and add a little more water if it looks as though it is drying out!
5. Enjoy as it is or chop for toddlers/puree for babies over 6 months.