It rains a lot in the Fens, and even if it isn't raining, it can often be too damp to let the kids outside for long. Fen mud is essentially peat, and turns to slop all too quickly. Today it has been hailing on and off, and once son's friend had gone home, there was a long indoors afternoon to fill. I can only stand reading "The mole who knew it was none of his business" so many times, or indeed, watch the "Come Outside" sewage episode for so long. Son is poo obsessed at the moment and find farts incredibly hilarious.
I therefore decided to create his favourite meal, designed espcially for the sweet palate of my children, and their inevitable amusement as they start to fart.
I present you with Meditterranean "Shepherds" pie, a.k.a "blow-off pie" and the failproof Banana Fart Muffins, to be eaten with custard.
Everyone knows how to make Shepherds pie. This version is constructed the same, but is altered for the sweet tooth- gravy hating children of my family. You'll need: lamb mince, 2 cans of tomatoes, chopped, selected veg (I like pepper, courgette and carrot, but you can do it with anything. Aubergine is nice), garlic, herbs, about twice as much squash as potato. If there's too much squash, it somehow doesn't mash as nicely, too runny. Feta cheese, or any nice crumbly cheese. Lancashire is nice too. Splash of wine for the gravy. In my house there's always a bottle open, or about to be opened that night anyway.
I don't actually like the finished dish, too sweet for my palate, but when I need them to eat vegetables, this is how they get them. You know how big the dish you always use for this sort of thing is, so you know what amounts you need. I usually use 500g mince and eye judge the rest so I know i'm getting a nice balance of topping and meat.
Fry up your mince with a couple of cloves of chopped garlic, add rosemary and thyme. To that, add chopped (and as for me, I need to disguise those veg, so for chopped read "grated") courgette, carrot, and red bell pepper. I also add a little onion powder as my two won't eat actual onions. My two go through olive loving phases, so I add these when they are in phase. Once softened, add two cans of chopped tomatoes, a splash of red wine and leave to simmer. The essential "blow-off" element is provided by the addition of some butter beans, either ready cooked from a can or lovingly soaked, cooked and made by yourself. You can use any beans, even baked beans. I know it seems odd giving both a carb topping and a bean underneath, but my two love it.
Then boil up a mixture of butternut squash and potato to use as your topping. The squash makes it sweeter than usual, you can also use sweet potato if you want. When mashing, add a little pepper, olive oil, and feta cheese. Plonk it on top of your meat mixture, bake for 30 /40 mins, gas mark 6 with a sprinkle of extra cheese on top if you like. You don't need to serve it with anything, it's a meal by itself.
The Foolproof banana Fart Muffin is a delicious "afters" smooshed up with a bit of custard. The kids can easily help with this and it is essentially kid-proof if they "help" too much. You will need:
200g plain flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of bicarb (The fart powder. Or is it just my two it does it to?)
3 mashed old bananas
150g caster sugar
1 medium egg
75g melted butter
pinch of nutmeg, cinnamon and ginger
It's what I call a "2 bowl" do. Sift the dry ingrediants together. In another bowl, mash the bananas, and add to it the beaten egg, and melted butter. Get the kids to smoosh it about for however long. It doesn't matter if some lumps of banana are left, I quite like the bits chunky. Add the sugar and give it all a good stir. Then add it to the "dry" bowl, mix to a batter like mess (it's quite sludgy looking, like a thick batter). Add to the muffin cases and bake at Gas 4 / 180 degrees for 25 to 30 mins (less for a fan oven). They do store well, but act more like a banana bread than muffin, getting progressively stickier, and denser. I like them that way. You can add chocolate, fruit, anything to this receipe, it all works.
And then sit back and wait for the farting to start. It's a laugh a minute at my house.