You know those holy grail recipes – the quick, easy, tasty recipes which everyone loves and that you make time and time again to unanimous and glorious praise? I am always in search of those – who isn’t? – and a couple of days ago stumbled across Jamie Oliver’s chicken dim sum. It had chicken – leftover chicken, even, which is always great – a spicy and savoury sauce and it looked impressively exotic but sounded relatively simple to make. I managed to make the whole thing during a very interrupted nap time and as I was doing it I was mentally congratulating myself on a wonderful find, perfect for my big blog comeback piece. They look fabulous and impressive, are pretty healthy and once prepared take just 12 minutes to steam and serve. And bonus: with a slightly modified sauce they are fun and great for babies. Why isn’t everyone making these?
Well, for the simple reason that they are grim. The chicken filling was okay but the pastry was in part uncooked, in part gloopy, in part stodgy: in sum, yuck. I probably did it wrong – Jamie is all, just squash it out, fling it around, etc and usually that sort of minimal instruction, though annoying, is fine for me, but this time it failed or I failed and they were just unpleasant pasty puffs, some of which were sitting in pools of orange where the sauce had seeped through. I made 15 of them from one (very large) chicken breast and steamed 7 of them enthusiastically for supper which Jon ate and I picked at and then had something else. As you may know, there is nothing Jon likes less than wastage of food so although I would have happily binned them all, he declared them an acceptable lunch and has valiantly chewed his way through 4 each on two successive days. So although they are gross, rest assured that they have not been wasted and they are still better than a Pret sandwich.
Anyway, this post isn’t about the horrible dim sum but about the thing I made in the 12 minutes that they took to steam: a true holy grail recipe which I make for Joe’s breakfast. If you also have a toddler you’ll know that you can’t just ask a 2 year old to do something like get dressed and come downstairs for breakfast. Well, you can, but you will probably hear the word NO a lot and then end up chasing a naked child round the house while you try and throw a t shirt over his head like a hoopla. And all of this while answering a neverending stream of questions that begin with “why”. Parenting a toddler means becoming a master in the art of distraction and a nebulous and ever-changing concept called “making things fun”. So no, Joe can’t put his shoes on to leave the house BUT if his shoes should get hungry they may try to eat his feet and in so doing he may end up shod. And no, Joe can’t come upstairs to have his bath BUT if there were to be a whale in the bath who was calling Joe to come and scrub his back then Joe might go and have a look and in so doing get washed. On mornings when he goes to nursery, the simple tasks of getting him up, dressed, breakfasted, teeth brushed, hatted, scarfed and booted can all be an incredibly frustrating and lengthy exercise. Anything that makes this process easier at any stage is immediately latched onto and exploited until the life is wholly sucked out of it. For breakfast, for some reason at the moment it is often fun (and therefore quicker and easier) to go on a Crumble Hunt. The object of a Crumble Hunt is to find crumble at the end (of course), but sometimes we go on the hunt and we come back empty handed (or with a bowl of porridge), for such is life. When we do find crumble, we find something that is loosely based on a standard dessert apple crumble but can be made with almost any fruit (I like to use plums, but apples, peaches, berries, etc all work), covered with a not too sweet granola-ish topping. There are no quantities in the recipe below because it’s just to give you an idea of the basic principle which you can adapt to your tastes. I make this most weeks, as on days when there is crumble at the end of the Crumble Hunt, getting Joe through breakfast and out the door is just a little bit easier.
- Fruit – I used about 8 red plums
- Honey, brown sugar or maple syrup
- Whole rolled oats
- Oat flour
- Ground flax (linseed)
- Other seeds of your choice, such as chia
- Coconut oil, or other fat of your choice
- Cut the fruit into small pieces and put in a baking dish. Add cinnamon, sugar, honey or maple syrup to taste and mix together.
- In another bowl combine the oats, oat flour and seeds and add a spoon or two of applesauce, maple syrup or honey, and coconut oil until the consistency of the oats is moist and sticky.
- Put the oat mixture on top of the fruit, press down and then bake for around 40 minutes.
- Serve cold or warm, on its own or with a dollop of yoghurt.