I’ve encountered my greatest critic. The Hungry One is a judicious and fair audience for most of what comes out of this kitchen. I know when he reaches for one of the slim scarlet bottles of hot sauce that line the fridge door like a twee game of skittles that what I’ve cooked could use a little more punch. Mainly if he doesn’t like something, he just won’t go back for seconds.
But the newest hungry one has developed a whole other technique of feedback. It involves grabbing his portions in a pudgy hand, lifting it above his head, lowering it back down with a fiercely clenched fist, decimating the contents and then raining the remains over the side of his high chair like glum confetti.
For someone who loves nothing more than feeding people, I’ve come to dread meal times. Mainly dinner. The chaos. The carnage. The capricious tastes. Yesterday, we were fine to meditatively pick up chickpeas, one by one and transfer them to his mouth. Today? All my offspring wants to do is thump on the plastic table and watch them reverberate and bounce all over the floor. Cause; effect. Fascinating.
It’s at times like this that I wish we had a dog.
Thank god for eggs.
Egg was a red zone for a while -a trace of egg white and his face would mottle like a bowl of Eton Mess. I turned to banana, chia seeds, ricotta and flax to help bind small bundles of food together (small solid masses seem to have a better hit rate in this I-now-just-want-to self-feed caper). But luckily, he seems to have grown out of it. Which makes frittatas like this a blessing in this house.
The recipe below has become a new standby.
It smuggles in a good hit of green veg; here I’ve gone for blitzed kale, broccoli and mint, but swiss chard, courgette, spinach and pea would all work, as would coriander and parsley.
It’s rounded out by a little bit of rolled quinoa for a flourless version, though plain flour, or rolled oats, finely blended would also work.
And it’s given a bit of life with feta or goat cheese (the tart flavours are something which Will seems to strangely adore), though mozzarella or tasty cheese would also be fine substitutions.
I can whizz it together in five minutes. It means there’s a high protein, slow carb meal on the table in less than 40- one that works just as well for him as it does for me. I’ll often lob in the oven a separate baking dish with a punnet of cherry tomatoes and a head of garlic to roast along side. Add some fresh leaves (or crisped bacon) and it’s brunch, lunch or a lazy dinner sorted.
By baking it in a dish (as opposed to the traditional method of a frittata of starting in the pan and finishing in the oven) I don’t have to babysit it on the hob. It also makes for easy bulk catering; it cuts up neatly into little cubes for canapes or on-the-go snacks. (It’s another good option for breadless kids’ birthday party fodder- it cooks well in well greased muffin tins, though it will probably only need 25 minutes baking).
And since I’ve just discovered the easiest way to entice the smallest Hungry One to eat something is for it to come directly off my plate, with this, I’ve finally cracked something that works.
Baked Kale, Broccoli, Mint and Goat Cheese Frittata
2 double handfuls of kale (100 g)
Half a head of broccoli (150 g)
1 small bunch of mint
2 spring onions/shallots, roots discarded, roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated
2 tbsp rolled quinoa (or rolled oats, or plain flour)
2 tbsp Greek yoghurt
good pinch of salt and pepper
70 g feta/ goat cheese
Here’s how we roll
1) Preheat the oven to 180 C/350 F.
2) Line a large (30 cm x 20 cm) baking dish with greaseproof paper (this will make it easier to lift the frittata out). A little bit of butter or oil underneath the greaseproof paper will help it stay in place.
3) Add the broccoli and kale to a powerful blender/food processor. Blitz until it is finely chopped. Alternatively, chop very finely.
4) Add the chopped spring onions, garlic, quinoa, yoghurt, salt, pepper and 3/4 of the mint leaves. Blend or mix to combine.
5) Add the eggs and blend or whisk once again to form a smooth batter.
6) Pour the batter into the prepared baking dish,
8) Top with the crumbled feta/goat cheese and the remaining mint leaves.
9) Bake for 35 minutes, until a knife comes out clear of raw egg. Allow to cool, then carefully lift it out of the baking dish. Either cut into small squares for portable snacks for you and small people, or into large wedges to eat with roasted tomatoes and garlic and a splodge of yoghurt for a light lunch/ brunch or easy dinner.