Mastering mealtimes – recipes

Who says you can’t please all of the people all of the time? Annabel Karmel shares the secrets of fuss-free family mealtimes.

Catering for a family’s varied tastes can be a nightmare, with hardworking parents often having to serve several dishes to make sure everyone gets a filling meal.

After her own research found that some mums are producing up to 63 meals a week, bestselling cookery writer Annabel Karmel has whipped up a sizzling new recipe book packed with dishes that everyone can enjoy.

The children’s food guru, who has previously written 37 books about feeding toddlers and babies, has branched out with Annabel’s Family Cookbook, which features 100 easy-to-follow recipes that will appeal to tots, teens and time-stretched parents alike. Annabel says that mealtimes are supposed to be pleasurable – not a pitched battle.

“Meals are the one time when you all sit down together and communicate, find out what’s going on in your children’s lives, and talk to them about what’s happening to you,” she says.

Here are three of Annabel’s top picks to turn your mealtimes into occasions to relish.

Posh fish fingers (Serves 4)

fish fingers

Ingredients

  • 400g lemon sole, cod, plaice or hake fillets, skinned
  • 85g cornflakes
  • 30g freshly grated Parmesan
  • 100g plain flour
  • 2 medium eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4tbsp sunflower oil, for frying

Method

Cut fish into strips. Blitz cornflakes in a food processor. Place in a bowl. Add Parmesan and mix to combine.

Place flour in a bowl. Season. Beat eggs in separate bowl.

Strip by strip, dip fish in flour, then eggs, then cornflake mixture.

Heat two tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan. Fry half the fish for four to five minutes, turning regularly until cooked. Drain on kitchen paper.

Add remaining oil to pan. Cook second batch of fish. Drain. Serve with chips or salad and lemon wedges, if you like.

Sweetcorn and broccoli fritters (Makes 12)

sweetcorn and broccoli fritters

Ingredients

  • 150g broccoli, cut into florets
  • 150g can sweetcorn, drained
  • 150g self-raising flour
  • 1 medium egg, beaten
  • 2tbsp milk
  • 2tbsp chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2tbsp sweet chilli sauce
  • 75g cheddar, grated
  • 2tbsp finely chopped spring onion
  • Sunflower oil, for frying

Method

Steam broccoli for about eight minutes. Chop into small pieces.

Blitz sweetcorn in a food processor. Mix all ingredients together, except oil. Season to taste.

Heat oil in a large frying pan. Drop spoonfuls of mixture into pan. Fry for about two minutes each side, or until golden.

When cooked, transfer to a plate lined with kitchen paper. Serve warm with tzatziki, if you like.

Vanilla cheesecake (Serves 8)

cheesecake

Ingredients

  • 200g digestive biscuits
  • 100g unsalted butter
  • 1tbsp caster sugar
  • 600g full-fat cream cheese
  • 2 medium eggs, beaten
  • 125g caster sugar
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 300ml soured cream
  • 3tbsp seedless raspberry jam
  • 250g mix of raspberries and strawberries (halved)

Method

Preheat oven to 180C/350F/Gas 4. Base-line a loose-bottomed springform tin and grease sides.

Place biscuits in a freezer bag and crush with a rolling pin to fine crumbs.

Melt butter in a large saucepan. Stir in biscuits and sugar. Press into the base of the tin. Set aside in the fridge to chill.

Meanwhile, whisk cream cheese in a bowl. Add eggs, sugar, vanilla and soured cream and whisk until smooth. Pour into the tin and level the surface.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until puffed up and set around the edges, but with a slight wobble in the centre. Leave to cool in the tin, then place on a serving plate.

Gently warm the jam in a saucepan. Arrange strawberries and raspberries on top of the cheesecake. Drizzle with the slightly warm jam.

Annabel’s Family Cookbook by Annabel Karmel is published by Ebury Press, priced £20.

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