This Japanese Udon Noodles with Miso Carbonara recipe has become the breakfast of choice for my daughter and I, and we’ll have it 2-3 times a week.
Before you go “ugh”, this is not a cheesy dish.
We kind of made it up ourselves, and it was born from solving a problem: Despite our daughter generally being a very unfussy eater, eggs were something she didn’t like – whether fried, scrambled, boiled or as an omelette.
This was annoying because I really liked eggs for breakfast, and is was also a really convenient joint breakfast. While I could still make them for myself, making separate breakfasts for you & your toddler is a real pain. So how to get her to eat eggs again?
I was probably inspired by this recipe for Miso Scrambled Eggs, but the eggs in this dish are not scrambled – like a traditional Italian Carbonara, they are a thickening agent for the sauce to bind it all together. Y’know, like the force.
This dish has been great for a) Enabling us to have a convenient and tasty joint breakfast of eggs, b) Getting her to eat chilli*, c) Getting her to eat with chopsticks**.
Japanese Udon Noodles with Miso Carbonara recipe
Serves: 1 adult and 1 toddler/preschooler
1 small red chilli/tsp chilli flakes
portion Udon noodles
sachet/portion of miso (approx 25g)
Cook noodles as per packet instructions.
In a large frying pan, fry the chilli on a low heat.
In a bowl, mix miso with a little water. Add eggs, and lightly whisk.
Pour egg & miso mixture into the pan, then add drained noodles.
This is the crucial part. This needs to gradually thicken into a sauce, not cook into scrambled eggs. Start on a low heat, then whack it up for short blasts of high to get it going. Keep stirring all the time, to make sure the eggs cook evenly.
Divide into bowls (we go 2/3 adult, 1/3 child) and serve immediately.
Eat with lightsaber chopsticks (Pictured. Optional, but cool).
*How to get your kid to eat chilli
As a kid – and even a young adult – I never ate chilli. I hated it. Didn’t see the point of it. But once I finally embraced it, I loved it and realised what I’d been missing. So when I had a kid, I knew I wanted to get this chilli indoctrination out of the way early.
So I started gradually at about 2. It clearly wasn’t pleasant for her, but I offered an incentive – a piece of chocolate afterwards. And eventually, she stopped asking for the chocolate and started to enjoy it. One time, I forget to put chilli in this, and she got very upset, crying “ButI want the tingle!”
I also championed the soothing power of eating chilli when you have a cold, and she agreed. Now she requests chilli in her food whenever she has a cold.
**How to get you kid to eat with chopsticks
This was also something I learned late in life, so I wanted to try and get my kid in the habit early. Easier said than done I though, but I had a great ally in the films of Studio Ghibli.
These Japanese animated movies have frequent scenes of people eating with chopsticks, so I merely encouraged her to eat with chopsticks like her favourite characters in My Neighbour Totoro, Whisper of the Heart, etc. and this was motivation enough. She is now completely at ease using them.
It also helps to have an awesome pair of Lightsaber chopsticks, that we picked up in Japan. My daughter and I take turns in who gets to use them. 🙂
This Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake (with Cherry Tomatoes and Chilli) is a ridiculously easy family meal, that can be put together with store cupboard ingredients if needs be.
This is a vegetarian dish that should satisfy most meat eaters. I tend to have meat or seafood with every dinner, but find that iron rich spinach is one ingredient I prefer in vegetarian dishes only (such as Spinach & Feta pie and Fiorintina Pizza).
The key to a good pasta bake is to undercook the pasta prior to baking in the oven, where it will finish cooking.
Spinach and Ricotta Pasta Bake Recipe
400g pasta (large tubes such as Rigatoni work best)
250ml tub of ricotta cheese
500g frozen spinach (thawed and drained)
Grating of nutmeg
1 tbsp Olive oil
3 cloves of garlic (finely chopped)
500-700ml sieved tomatoes (Passata)
1 tsp chili flakes, or finely chopped red chilli
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp rosemary (finely chopped)
250g Cherry Tomatoes
Parmesan (to taste)
Breadcrumbs (from a slice or two)
Salt & pepper
In a large saucepan, cook the pasta to 2 mins less than al dente – usually about 4 mins under packet instructions.
Mix in Riccotta, spinach, and nutmeg, then add the cherry tomatoes.
At the same time, in a medium pan on a medium heat, fry the garlic and chilli in a little olive oil for a couple of minutes.
Add the Passata and herbs, stir in, and keep on the lowest heat.
Place the pasta mixture in a baking dish, and then spoon over the tomato sauce to completely cover.
Top with breadcrumbs and grated parmesan.
Bake at 180c/350F for 25-35 mins.
Remove from oven, and leave to settle for a few minutes. The pasta will absorb more flavour and liquid, and will lead to a firmer texture of pasta bake.
While our family may confound a number of gender stereotypes (breadwinning mum, at home dad, girl who loves lightsaber fights – oh hang on…), some remain – such as my wife being the baker of the house.
A regular weekend activity she shares with our daughter is baking biscuits and cupcakes. So it was rather apt that Dr. Oetker asked my daughter and I to try out a recipe from their Bake Mum’s Day recipe booklet, so we could bake some biscuits for the mother of the house.
The recipe provided was for GBBO finalist Ian Cumming’s Decorated Biscuits. It’s simple and easy to follow, which was great because a) I am a novice biscuit baker, b) There were plenty of opportunities for my daughter to help with the process – especially useful as she is less of a novice baker than I am.
My daughter is increasingly keen to help out in the kitchen. If you’re trying to get something done quickly/efficiently, I won’t deny it can be a pain – I can’t even make a cup of tea without her wanting to ‘help out’ (“Can I put the teabag in?”, “Can I put the sugar in?”, “Can I stir?”, etc.).
But if I treat it like a joint activity, rather than ticking off one of a long list of things to do during the day, making things in the kitchen can be fun – and not too messy either.
I involved her as much as I could. Certain elements such as zesting a lemon are tricky enough for me, let alone a 4-year-old. But all the measuring, sifting and mixing were part of the process she was eager to help with.
Out of the kitchen, it turned into more of a child led craft activity. As a Playdough fan, rolling the dough and cutting the shapes was second nature for her.
Then we moved onto the decoration. I admit I took a controlling hand in this part – however, she was directing me about what designs she wanted. I was more like a sous chef. But she did have a go…
And we finished up with a pretty looking collection of biscuits.
I’m not usually a fan of icing on biscuits, but in this case it really complemented the lemony flavour nicely.
– If the dough is a little soft after rolling out, give it a blast in the freezer. Anywhere between 5-10 mins should firm it up for using cookie cutters.
– The biscuits can be cooled overnight to be iced the next day. This is especially useful if you’re baking in the afternoon, and don’t want your little helper to have one of these sweet biscuits too late in the day when finished.
Mother’s Day – for working mums and stay-at-home dads
Mother’s Day, and how it is framed for consumers, is an interesting one. Although about two thirds of mothers are employed, with a third being the main breadwinner – the offerings around Mother’s Day still tend to be about giving mum a break from family life.
For working mothers such as my wife – especially ones with a stay-at-home partner as I am – ensuring she spends time WITH her daughter is the main point of the day, in a manner of her choosing.
So while making her some biscuits would be a lovely Mother’s Day gesture, making sure they have the chance to spend the day together – possibly even baking more biscuits – would be an even bigger one.
Cooking up a Mother’s Day family feast for the mum in your life is easy with this delicious slow cooked pulled pork recipe.
I don’t cook pork that often. Don’t get me wrong, there’s plenty of cooked pig in my diet – it’s just usually in ham, bacon, or sausage form. And I don’t know why I don’t as I quite like pork. So I was glad when I was asked to make a special roast pork Mother’s Day feast.
We were sent a lovely hamper of ingredients – amusingly presented to me as a ‘Mums Day Off’ pack. My wife is the breadwinner of the house, and is more likely to spend a day off in the kitchen, while I – a stay-at-home parent – am the one who wouldn’t mind a ‘day off’ from normal cooking and other domestic/family duties.
But engaging with the spirit of the task, I happily set about creating a Pulled Pork Mother’s Day family feast. If you’re hipster parents (or children) this dish is perfect – slow cooked pulled pork is seemingly the only way trendy youngsters eat pork these days. So given I don’t know how to cook pulled pork, I was glad of the challenge.
I was pretty happy with my first attempt at making slow cooked pulled pork. The prep was pretty minimal, the cooking a suitably laid back affair, and while the final timings took a little mental arithmetic to get right, it was no big deal to do so.
While my wife liked it, my daughter was the biggest fan. As well as the spicy pulled pork, my daughter loved the griddled plums, couldn’t get enough of the fruit compote (with everything), and most miraculously of all these potatoes broke her lifelong disgust of them (at age 4).
We’ve come back for leftovers on subsequent days, and I also found myself picking at the pork (and the crackling) throughout the next few days. We also made pulled pork sandwiches, refried with rice, and even with beans on toast!
The joint really went a long way, so it is great for a family meal.
Sweet Spiced Slow Cooked Pulled Pork, with Plum Compote
Serves 6, with leftovers
Cooking time: 6+ hours
1.6kg (3lb 4oz) shoulder of pork (remove the rind and set aside)
2 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp each ground cinnamon and ginger
11/2 tbsp dark brown sugar
For the compote:
175g plums, stoned and chopped
175g cooking apples, cored, peeled and chopped
25g (1oz) butter
25g (1oz) light brown sugar
1kg (2lb 4oz) new potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to drizzle
12 plums, halved
500g (1lb 2 oz) purple sprouting broccoli
A knob of butter
1. Preheat your oven to 220°C (fan 200°C), Gas Mark 7. Line a roasting tin with foil, large enough to cover the pork later. Remove the string from the pork, and carefully trim the rind from the joint (*see crackling tip, below). Set aside. Unroll the pork joint and pat dry with kitchen paper. Place in the roasting tin.
2. Mix the salt, pepper, cinnamon, ginger and sugar together in a bowl. Rub all over the pork and put it in the oven for 30 minutes so the pork brown beautifully. Reduce the oven to 150°C (fan 130°C), Gas Mark 2. Pour 300ml (1/2 pint) hot water into the foil, then wrap the foil around the joint and seal tightly.
NB: Instead of wrapping in foil, I used a cast iron dish with a lid – I covered the pork with foil, then more foil on the top of the pan placing the lid on top of that to seal it in.
Cook for at least 5 hours or until tender. (Your cooked pork joint will eventually be sitting in a vat of liquid – mostly fat!)
3. Increase the oven to 220°C (fan 200°C), Gas Mark 7. Uncover the pork then put it back in the oven to crisp for 10 minutes. Take it out of the oven, cover with foil and rest for 30 minutes. Then shred with two forks.
NB: There are a lot of timings to get right for serving the finished meal. Read through the below, and work back from your intended serving time.
4. At least 40 minutes before the pork is ready, parboil the potatoes. Drain well. Drizzle the olive oil into a roasting tin, then add the potatoes and season well. Roast for the remaining time the pork is in the oven, first on the low temperature then on the high temperature until they’re golden.
5. For the compote, put all the ingredients into a pan with 25ml (1oz) water, cover with a lid and bring to a simmer. Turn the heat down low and cook for around 5 minutes until the fruit has cooked down and softened. Season with a pinch of salt and give everything a good stir.
6. Brush the plum halves with oil and griddle the cut-side only.
7. Steam the broccoli until just tender, drain then toss with butter and season.
8. Serve the pork, potatoes, griddled plums, buttered broccoli with the compote.
*For the crackling
Place the rind in a shallow roasting tin and pour over boiling water. Leave for a few minutes, then pour off the water and pat dry with kitchen paper. Rub with a little oil and salt. Cook in a hot oven for 30 or so minutes until crackled. Roughly chop the crackling into small pieces to serve.
For this and more slow cooked pulled pork recipes, please head to the Love Pork website. This is a sponsored post.