Spring has finally arrived, and what better way to welcome in the warmer months than by tucking into deliciously light family meals from children’s food expert Annabel Karmel! Annabel’s tasty ingredient combinations are packed full of flavour and bursting with those all-important nutrients to put a spring in your family’s step:
2 garlic cloves, peeled
1 tbsp chopped fresh root ginger
3 tbsp peanut butter
2 tbsp rice wine vinegar
3 tbsp light soy sauce
3 tbsp dark brown sugar
1 small chilli, deseeded
3 tbsp lime juice
1 small shallot
salt and pepper
1 tbsp groundnut oil
2 chicken breasts, cut into strips
sweet chilli sauce, to serve (optional)
- Put all the ingredients except the groundnut oil, chicken and sweet chilli sauce into a mini food processor, and blend until smooth. Transfer to a bowl, add the chicken and marinate for a minimum of 30 minutes, or up to 4 hours – the longer, the better.
- Heat the groundnut oil in a frying pan. Remove the chicken from the marinade and fry until it’s cooked through and the surface has caramelised. Alternatively, the chicken can be put on to skewers and barbecued. Serve with a dipping sauce, such as sweet chilli sauce.
*40 min preparation, 10 min cooking; yields 2 portions
225g/8oz risotto rice, such as Arborio
1½ l /50½fl oz hot vegetable or chicken stock
1 onion, finely chopped
1 small leek, finely sliced and thoroughly washed
1 medium courgette, halved lengthways and thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, crushed
55g/2oz Parmesan, grated, plus extra to serve
55g/2oz frozen peas
15g/½ oz butter
1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
2 tbsp olive oil
salt and freshly ground black pepper
- Sauté the onion and leek in the oil for five to six minutes until soft. Add the garlic and rice and cook, stirring, for two minutes until the rice turns translucent around the edges. Add a ladleful of the hot stock and cook, stirring frequently, until the stock has been absorbed then add another ladleful and cook, stirring frequently until it too has been absorbed. Continue to add stock and stir in this way for 20 to 25 minutes, until the rice is tender and not chalky in the centre if you bite into a grain.
- Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large frying pan and sauté the courgettes until softened and slightly golden at the edges.
- Add the peas two minutes before the rice is cooked. Once the rice is just cooked, add the Parmesan and leave to stand, covered, for two minutes then stir in the lemon juice and courgettes. Season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with extra Parmesan.
*20 min preparation, 25 min cooking; yields 4 servings
Spring Chicken Casserole
1.5kg/3¼ lb chicken, jointed into 8 pieces
2 tbsp olive oil
2 shallots, thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, roughly bruised but still whole
300ml/11fl oz dry white wine (I used a dry white Rhône)
400ml/14fl oz chicken stock
1 bay leaf
2 sprigs thyme
8 baby carrots, scrubbed but left whole
8 baby leeks, trimmed
100g/3½ oz frozen petit pois
Salt and freshly ground pepper
- Pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season well with salt and pepper. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-based and lidded casserole. Brown the chicken on both sides, then transfer to a plate and set aside. Pour off any excess fat from the casserole (do not wash the pan), then return to the heat and sauté the shallots for five minutes until soft.
- Add the garlic and cook one minute, then add the wine (or extra stock) and bring to the boil, stirring with a wooden spoon to dissolve any of the golden residue in the bottom of the pan, which will add flavour to the casserole. Boil the wine for three to four minutes until it’s half of its original volume.
- Return the chicken to the pan along with any juices that have gathered on the plate, then add the stock and herbs. Brick back to the boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer, cover and cook gently for 40 minutes. Add the carrots to the casserole and cook for a further five minutes, then add the leeks and cook for a further four to five minutes until the vegetables are tender.
- Transfer the cooked chicken and vegetables to a large bowl and keep warm in a low oven. Skim any fat from the surface of the sauce in the casserole, then remove and discard the garlic and herbs. Bring the sauce to the boil, and boil for five minutes until reduced by approximately one-third. Add the peas and cook for one minute. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Put the chicken and vegetables onto warm plates and spoon over the sauce and peas. Serve with mashed or boiled new potatoes.
*10 min preparation, 55 min cooking; yields 4 servings
Lemon Soufflé Pudding
100 g (31⁄2 oz) butter, softened
100 g (31⁄2 oz) caster sugar
4 eggs, separated
50 g (2 oz) plain flour
finely grated zest and juice of 2 large lemons
300 ml (1⁄2 pint) milk
- Preheat the oven to 180°C/350°F/Gas 4. Grease a 1.5 litre (21⁄2 pint) ovenproof dish.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Add the egg yolks, flour, lemon zest and juice and whisk again. Slowly add the milk to make a thick batter. It will look curdled at this stage.
- Whisk the egg whites until stiff, then fold into the lemon batter. Pour into the prepared dish. Bake for 30 minutes, until well risen and lightly golden on top.
- You could also make individual portions using ramekins.
*20 min preparation, 30 min cooking; yields 6 portions
For more springtime recipes for your little one, see Annabel’s app ‘Annabel’s Essential Guide to Feeding your Baby & Toddler’ available on iTunes.