So you’ve ordered the turkey or ham for the Christmas lunch, loaded up on gourmet goodies, Xmas puddings and cakes and are ready to mix up some party drinks for a festive feast in Singapore – but what are the kids going to eat? Modern family food should be achievable and enjoyed by the whole family, especially on special occasions. Keep the little people happy over the holidays with these easy peasy kid-friendly Christmas recipes everyone can get into…
This shortbread (pictured top) is made in minutes in a food processor so it’s a good bet if you fancy a quick cooking project to entertain the kids over Christmas. It works well for different age groups too: very small kids can just press rounds of the mix down into a muffin tin with their fingers (hence the kidproof bit), while older children can try their hand at rolling out different shapes.
Makes 12 rounds
200g plain flour
100g caster sugar
150g butter, softened
a few drops of vanilla essence
Takes 40 minutes
1. Preheat the oven to 160°C/325°F/Gas mark 3. Grease a muffin tin or, if you’re cutting out shapes, grease and line a baking sheet or two.
2. Get the kids to weigh out all the ingredients and put them straight in a food processor. Whizz to combine.
3. Spoon the mix into the rounds of your tin and get the kids to press down firmly with their fingers and/or the back of a spoon. Prick with a fork. If you’re making shapes instead, roll out the dough on a floured worktop and carefully transfer onto your prepared baking sheets. It is quite a crumbly dough so you’ll need to keep re-rolling and be gentle. Prick the shapes with a fork too.
4. Bake for 30 minutes or until just taking on some colour; smaller thinner shapes eg. stars will take on more colour than the bigger rounds in tins. Allow to cool for a few moments then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely (the easiest way to get the rounds out of the muffin tin is to run a spoon under the edge – they should just pop out). Best eaten the same day.
POTATO, PARSLEY & PANCETTA CROQUETTES
If you have some lone rashers of pancetta or bacon going begging in your Christmas fridge, these bite-sized croquettes are a nice way to use it up. A potato ricer makes lovely smooth mash but little ones will probably have to watch you do it as they won’t have the muscle to do the job alone. Good for nibbles or Christmas buffets and easily doubled if you’re feeding a crowd.
6 rashers pancetta or bacon
1 tbsp flat-leaf parsley
salt and pepper
Takes 30 minutes
1. Boil the kettle, peel the potatoes and chop into equal-sized pieces. Simmer in the boiling water over a medium heat until soft (about 15 minutes).
2. While the potatoes are cooking, drizzle a little oil in a frying pan over a medium heat. Finely snip the pancetta or bacon up with kitchen scissors and fry in the oil until crisp. It will crisp right down to croquette-friendly crumbs – don’t panic, that’s what you want.
3. Once the potatoes are cooked, drain really well in a colander. Spoon into a potato ricer and show the kids how to make the potato rain through it into a large mixing bowl (or pound with a masher). Show them how to crack in the egg then tip in the bacon (keep the frying pan out to use again in a minute). Get them to finely chop the parsley (kids find this easiest using multi-blade scissors). Finally get them to add a good grinding of black pepper. Give it all a really good mix.
4. Wet the kids’ hands (and yours) under the tap then roll the mixture into golf-ball sized rounds. You should make about 16. Get the frying pan back on a medium heat and dry-fry the croquettes (there will be some residual bacon fat in the pan). Shake on and off to stop them sticking and cook, turning with tongs until brown all over (5-10 minutes).
LITTLE LAMB SKEWERS
These skewers are very easy but look thoughtful despite taking no time at all. Serve with a mild mint yoghurt dip for the kids and a spicy harissa dip for the grown-ups. The recipe is easily scaled up to feed a crowd.
10 wooden skewers
250g lamb mince
50g dried apricots
1 tbsp mint leaves
For the mint yoghurt dip:
3 tbsp natural yoghurt
1 tbsp mint leaves
salt and pepper
For the harissa dip:
a 465g jar of roasted red peppers like this one
1 tsp harissa paste
Takes 15 minutes
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Line a baking sheet with foil and soak your wooden skewers in water to prevent them from scorching.
2. Get the kids to weigh out the lamb and apricot and put them straight in a food processor. Pick the leaves off the mint, add to the processor and whizz to combine. Make sure the apricot and mint are finely chopped. The mixture will come together into a ball.
3. Wet everybody’s hands and shape the lamb onto your skewers. Place on the baking sheet and cook for 10 minutes or until cooked through.
4. While they’re cooking, get the kids to make the mint dip. Pick the leaves off your second batch of mint and snip it up with kitchen scissors (kids find this easiest with multi-blade scissors like these). Stir the chopped mint in to the yoghurt in a bowl and season with salt and pepper.
5. Show the kids how to drain the jar of peppers. Clean the food processor bowl and blade and whizz up the peppers and harissa for the spicy dip. Decant into a second bowl and serve the skewers with the dips. Leave a spoon in the dips so that people can spoon the sauce over the skewers.
Modern Family Food has yet to meet a baby, child – or grown-up – that doesn’t like cheese straws. This sesame and poppy seed version is a cinch and teaches kids to separate eggs and rub butter into flour to make an easy dough. They freeze well and can be warmed through in the oven for finger food, birthday parties or after kids’ bedtime with a g&t.
SESAME OR POPPY SEED STRAWS
Makes about 20
50g plain flour
50g wholemeal flour
100g butter, at room temperature
a handful of sesame seeds
a handful of poppy seeds
Takes 20 minutes
1. Preheat the oven to 200°C/400°F/Gas mark 6. Lightly grease a large baking sheet and cover it with baking parchment. Grate the cheddar – kids find this easiest to do in a box grater (IKEA does a great version).
2. Mix the cheese together in a big bowl with both types of flour. Cut the butter into cubes and show them how to rub it into the flour mix with their fingertips until it looks like breadcrumbs (if you want to speed things up, you can do this with a pulse in a processor).
3. Show the kids how to separate an egg. Reserve the egg white for glazing then add just the yolk and mix (still in the processor, if using) until it forms a dough. Flour a surface and roll the dough with a rolling pin until it’s about 5mm thick. Cut into straws with a sharp knife (adults only) and use a slice to transfer to your baking sheet.
4. Brush with a little of the egg white and sprinkle with sesame seeds, poppy seeds or some of both. Press them down a little with the back of a teaspoon so that they don’t fall off and bake for about 10 minutes until golden. Cool on a wire rack then store in an airtight tin for 3-4 days or freeze and reheat from frozen.
Photography: courtesy of Modern Family Food