Lifestyle

Kiddies' New Year Treats

Emma Sharp Dalton-Brown

Thursday, January 02, 2014    

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Happy New Year Kids. That's right our focus is on you today! Christmas Day may be over, but the Christmas holidays for our children lives on for 10 more days (at least), so you are going to have to come up with some bright ideas to keep their interest at meal times. To boot, you will probably have exhausted your budget for the season, so the cost of your creations has to be able to compete with the little remaining money there is. Not to mention that school fees for next term are also due soon (sorry, I had to remind you!).

Children love pancakes. My four-year-old asks for them every Saturday, and he still wants them again on Sunday. If there's leftover ham, why not chop some up and add it to your pancake batter? And throw in some sweet corn while you're at it because kids love corn. Feel free to add whatever meat and vegetables your child may like, or maybe even what they don't like. When they hear they are getting pancakes, it may be just the incentive to get them to eat those healthy greens that they usually refuse. Speaking of healthy food, I decided on the individual lentil and sweet potato pies because it was a good way to pack in a whole lot of goodness in a ramekin dish. Additionally, as it's 'winter' it seemed appropriate to include a dish that conjures up some warming comfort!

Many children, of course, adore toasted cheese sandwiches, so I thought why not include plantain in them because plantain is a Christmas food and its sweetness complements the saltiness of the cheese. And then there's an obsession that my kids have with French fries, so I decided to do a mix of vegetable fries.

Obviously there was no way I was getting away with a menu that did not include some sweet treats. As my son asks me regularly, between bites of broccoli, "Mummy, what's my treat today after dinner?" Well, my dear Finn, as you know, Mummy does not like to disappoint, so I made some mini chocolate fudge cakes with mint frosting and others sandwiched with sorrel compote and topped with red vanilla frosting.

Finally, I threw together mini Victoria sandwich cakes with sorrel compote, homemade coconut ice cream, and meringue, to make a few small Baked Alaskas!

I do hope that your children will enjoy these creations as your family enjoys the season's celebrations. Happy New Year to all!

Menu:

Ham & Corn Pancakes

Plantain & Cheese Toasted Sarnies (Sandwiches)

Individual Lentil & Sweet Potato Pies

Vegetable Fries

Mini Victoria Coconut & Sorrel Baked Alaska

Mini Chocolate Fudge Cakes with Mint Frosting & Red Vanilla Frosting

Ham & Corn Pancakes: Serves 8

Ingredients:

1 cup flour

2 tsps baking powder

2 eggs, lightly beaten

8 fl oz milk

1 tin of sweet corn, drained, washed and drained again

3 oz leftover baked ham from Christmas Day, cut into very small cubes

Salt

Vegetable oil for frying

Method:

1. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and whisk them into the flour.

2. Slowly add the milk as you continue to whisk the batter, until the batter is smooth.

3. Mix in the sweet corn, ham and a little salt to taste.

4. Heat a little vegetable oil in a frying pan and fry spoonfuls of batter on both sides, until lightly golden and cooked.

5. Serve warm to your kids for any meal!

Plantain & Cheese Toasted Sarnies: Makes 3 sandwiches

Ingredients:

1 ripe plantain, sliced on the diagonal _-inch thick

2 tablespoons vegetable oil

3 oz Cheddar cheese, cut into thin slices

6 slices of white bread

2 oz butter

Cheese toastie maker or frying pan

Method:

1. Heat the oil in a frying pan and fry the ripe plantain on both sides until just golden.

2. Plug in the cheese toastie maker, or heat a large frying pan.

3. Butter one side of each slice of bread and make three sandwiches with the butter on the outside.

4. Open the sandwiches and divide the fried plantain between them, as well as the cheese slices.

5. Close the sandwiches and cook in the cheese toastie maker, remembering that the buttered side of all the bread is on the outside so the sandwich doesn't stick while cooking. Alternatively, cook on a hot frying pan until golden, then flip over to cook the other side.

6. Cut each sandwich on the diagonal and serve on a platter.

Individual Lentil & Sweet Potato Pies: Serves 14

Ingredients:

1 pack brown lentils

3 escallions, smashed

2 garlic cloves, peeled and smashed

3 large sprigs fresh thyme

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/2 lb carrots, peeled & sliced

1 tin of tomato paste

1 tsp of your favourite savoury spice (I use 7-spice)

A dash of ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves

4 fl oz water

Salt to taste

Sweet Potato Topping:

Ingredients:

3 lbs sweet potatoes

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons water

Salt to taste

Method:

1. Place the lentils, smashed escallions and garlic, and 2 sprigs of thyme in a large pot and cover well with water. Bring to the boil and cook for 20 minutes until the lentils are soft. Drain the lentils, remove the escallions, garlic and thyme. Split the lentils into two halves. One half can freeze.

2. Preheat the oven to 400F. Bake the sweet potatoes for 45-60 minutes, until cooked.

3. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large saute pan, add the carrots and fry for a few minutes over a low heat.

4. Stir in half the cooked lentils, tomato paste, 7-spice (or other), cinnamon, thyme water. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring often (add more water if needed).

5. The end result should have the consistency of minced meat that you use in a Shepherd's pie. Season to taste with salt.

6. When the sweet potatoes are cooked, remove from the oven, split in half, and scoop the flesh out with a large spoon into a bowl. Crush with the olive oil and water, season with salt.

7. Using a half-cup measuring utensil, divide the mixture between about 14 ramekins.

8. Top each ramekin with the sweet potato mash.

9. Place the ramekins on a large baking tray and bake in an oven set at 400F for 15-20 minutes when you are ready to eat.

Vegetable Fries: Serves 12

Ingredients:

1 lb Irish potatoes, cut into fries

1 lb sweet potatoes, cut into fries

1 lb carrots, peeled & cut into fries

1 large (about 12 oz) cho-cho, peeled & cut into fries

3 tablespoons olive oil

Salt

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 400F.

2. Place the potatoes on one baking tray, along with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil, and the carrots and cho-cho on another baking tray, along with 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil. Season both sets with salt and ensure all the vegetables are coated with olive oil.

3. Place in the oven and roast for 20-25 minutes until cooked and lightly golden.

Sorrel Compote: Makes 2 cups

Ingredients:

1 lbs sorrel

1/2 lb white sugar

Juice from 2 limes

Method:

1. Place the sorrel into a large pot along with the sugar and lime juice, cover with water and slowly heat until the sugar is dissolved.

2. Turn the heat up and cook for about an hour, stirring occasionally, and topping up with water if it gets dry.

3. The end product should be the consistency of jam, so cook for longer than an hour if still too runny. Place in sterilised bottles in the fridge.

Mini Victoria Sorrel & Coconut Baked Alaskas: Makes 24

Ingredients:

4 oz butter

4 oz white sugar

2 eggs, beaten

4 oz flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

A little water

Sorrel compote (see above)

Coconut Ice Cream:

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups milk

1 cup coconut milk

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup freshly grated coconut

1/2 cup white sugar

Meringue:

Ingredients:

6 egg whites

18 tablespoons white sugar (3 tablespoons per egg white)

Method:

1. Whisk all the ice cream ingredients together in a bowl, and either place in an electric ice cream churner to freeze, or in a bowl in the freezer. If doing the latter, remove from freezer every couple hours and beat to break up the icy bits. Once frozen, keep in a lidded plastic container in the freezer until ready to use.

2. Preheat the oven to 350F.

3. Grease 2 x 12 cup mini muffin pans, line with 2- inch x 2-inch wax paper squares (which you make yourself).

4. Beat the butter until pale in colour, add the sugar and beat again until light and fluffy.

5. Sift the flour and baking powder into a bowl.

6. Add the eggs, while beating, along with 2 tablespoons of the flour/baking powder mixture.

7. Pour in the remaining flour, beat for a few seconds, then add a little water to make the cake batter have 'dropping consistency' (just falls off a spoon when picked up). Add more water if needed.

8. Fill the mini muffin pans 2/3 full, place on a baking tray, and bake for 10 minutes.

9. Remove from the oven and cool. Peel off the wax paper.

10. Split the cakes in half crossways (like a sandwich), fill with sorrel compote and sandwich the halves back together.

11. Top each cake with 1 tablespoon of heaped coconut ice cream, wrap each in plastic wrap and place on a tray in the freezer.

12. When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 450F. Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then add the sugar one tablespoon at a time, whisking continuously, until a meringue mixture is formed. It will look wet but the peaks will stand up.

13. Remove the cakes from the freezer, unwrap each cake, and place on baking sheets, or ovenproof platters, a few inches apart. Coat each cake well with meringue, forming little 'igloos' almost. The meringue insulates the ice cream and stops it from melting in the oven.

14. Place these Baked Alaskas in the oven for about 4 minutes until lightly golden on the peaks. Please note the meringue is supposed to remain wet and soft.

15. Serve immediately.

16. Any leftovers, keep in the freezer! Also, feel free to halve the amount of meringue you make, use only half the cakes (keeping the rest in the freezer in a plastic bag or container until you wish to use them).

Mini Chocolate Fudge Cakes with Mint Frosting & Christmas Red Vanilla Frosting: Makes 24

Ingredients:

4 oz butter

4 oz white sugar

2 eggs, beaten

1 oz rice flour

4 oz flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 oz Roma cocoa powder

Mint Frosting:

4 oz butter

2 oz icing sugar

1 tablespoon milk

1/4 tsp peppermint essence

Green food colouring

Christmas Red Vanilla Frosting:

Ingredients:

4 oz butter

2 oz icing sugar

1 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon vanilla essence

Red food colouring (you'll need quite a bit to get a red rather than a pink)

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 350F.

2. Grease 2 x 12 cup mini muffin pans, line with 2-inch x 2-inch wax paper squares (which you make yourself). You may use bigger muffin/cupcake pans if you desire.

3. Beat the butter until soft and pale, add the sugar and beat until light and fluffy.

4. Sift both the flours, baking powder and cocoa powder together in a bowl.

5. Add the eggs, a little at a time, to the butter, beating well between each addition. Keep adding the eggs, along with 2 tablespoons of flour mixture to prevent the eggs from curdling with the butter.

6. Add a little water to this cake batter to form a 'dropping consistency' (falls off the spoon when picked up).

7. Fill the mini muffin pans 2/3 full, place on a baking tray, and bake for 10 minutes (15 minutes if making bigger cupcakes).

8. Remove from the oven and cool. Peel off the wax paper.

9. Making frosting: beat the butter for both frostings well, sift all the icing sugar into the butter and beat until very pale and light. Split this frosting mixture in two. To one half, beat in the peppermint and the milk, and colour with the green food colouring. To the other half, beat in the vanilla and milk, and colour with red food colouring.

10. Ice half-cooled cakes with green frosting in a piping bag. Clean really well in boiling hot soapy water, dry and then ice the remaining cakes with red frosting.

11. The frosting freezes well, so leftover can be stored in plastic containers.

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