From mini sausage rolls to ripple lollies: Yotam Ottolenghi’s recipes for cooking with children | Food

In my experience, anyone who gives advice on how to cook with kids doesn’t have kids. The vision – that it’s all going to be fun, relaxed and bonding – does not, of course, always pan out. The only rule I’d stand by is the “whatever works for you” school of thought. That said, there are a few things I do believe when it comes to children and food. One is that few things aren’t improved by the addition of a baked egg, melted cheese and/or a squeeze of ketchup, or by being wrapped in all-butter puff pastry and eaten by hand. Second, colour is a big draw: to a little person, beetroot and yoghurt lollies, say, are not beetroot and yoghurt lollies – rather, they are a magical, colourful, kaleidoscopic swirl of pink and white.

Middle Eastern sausage rolls (pictured above)

This recipe comes thanks to my colleague Claudine Boulstridge, who is always on the look-out for easy, hand-held foods for her children for the simple reason that “it means less washing up”. Swap the lamb for beef or pork mince, if you prefer, and play around with whatever spices you have to hand. Leave out the harissa in the dipping sauce, if that won’t win the kids over, or ditch the sauce entirely and swap it for some yoghurt (or ketchup) instead.

Prep 20 min
Cook 50 min
Makes 16 mini rolls, to serve 4-6

1 x 320g sheet ready-rolled all-butter puff pastry
1 large egg
, beaten
1 tbsp mixed white and black sesame seeds

For the filling
400g 15-20% fat lamb mince
½ tsp allspice
2 tsp ground cumin
1½ tsp baharat
3 tbsp barberries
, soaked in 100ml hot water for 20 minutes then drained
½ red onion, peeled and grated
100g Greek feta, crumbled
1 tsp lemon zest
2 garlic cloves
, peeled and crushed
1 tbsp tomato paste

For the dipping sauce (optional)
1 tbsp rose harissa (optional)
2 plum tomatoes
1 tbsp lemon juice
1½ tbsp olive oil

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7 and line a large oven tray with baking paper.

Use your hands (gloved, if need be) to mix all the filling ingredients in a large bowl with half a teaspoon of salt.

Cut the pastry in half lengthways (leaving you with two long strips). Form half the meat mixture into a long sausage shape and lay it on one side of one of the pastry strips. Brush the free edge of the pastry with a little of the beaten egg, then fold over the pastry, overlapping the pastry slightly so it sticks together, and roll it up neatly, finishing seam side down. Brush the pastry all over with half the egg, sprinkle with sesame seeds and, using a serrated knife, cut into six to eight pieces. Place these on the lined tray and repeat with the remaining filling and pastry.

Bake for 25-30 minutes, until golden, then transfer to a cooling rack and leave to cool completely (this will help avoid soggy bottoms).

While the sausage rolls are in the oven, grate the tomatoes on a box grater and discard the skins. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the other sauce ingredients and a pinch of salt, and serve with the sausage rolls.

Eggs in filo nests with cheesy leeks and za’atar

These are really versatile, so customise them as you like: use different cheeses or add cooked sausage or ham, say. They pair really well with tomato sauce (or ketchup), too.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s eggs in filo nests with cheesy leeks and za’atar.

Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr
Serves 6 children (or 2 small ones and 2 big ones)

For the filo nests
40g unsalted butter, melted
2 sheets filo pastry
Salt and black pepper

For the cheesy leeks
25g unsalted butter
250g leeks
, trimmed, split in half lengthwise and cut into 1cm-thick half-moons
¼ tsp salt
1¾ tsp za’atar
, plus extra for sprinkling
2 tbsp chives, finely chopped
3 tbsp soured cream
85g mature cheddar, finely grated
6 medium eggs, fridge-cold

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Use some of the melted butter to grease a deep (at least 4cm) six-hole muffin tin.

Take one sheet of filo pastry and lay it on a clean work surface with the long side facing you. Brush with half the melted butter, season with a pinch of salt and a couple of grinds of black pepper, then lay the second sheet on top and brush with the remaining melted butter. Using a sharp knife, cut the pastry into 12 squares.

Take one square and place it in front of you. Take a second square, give it a quarter turn, and lay it on top of the first square, so you have a kind of star shape. Put the pastry star into one of the muffin holes, pressing it firmly into the base and up the sides. Repeat with the remaining filo squares.

Bake for 10-12 minutes, turning the tray once halfway through, then transfer the tin to a wire rack and leave to cool.

Meanwhile, make the leeks. Melt the butter in a medium saute pan over a medium-low heat. Add the leeks and salt, and sweat, stirring occasionally, for 12-15 minutes, until softened but not coloured. Take the pan off the heat and stir in the za’atar, three-quarters of the chives, the soured cream, 60g of the grated cheese and a good grind of black pepper.

Divide the mixture evenly between the cooled filo nests and press it into the bottom and slightly against the sides, creating a hollow well in the middle of each one. Crack an egg into each well and bake again for 10 minutes. Remove, sprinkle the remaining cheese on top, and return to the oven for three to five minutes, until the egg whites are set but the yolks are still runny.

Leave to cool for a few minutes, then carefully slide the nests out of the muffin tin, sprinkle over the remaining chives and za’atar, and serve.

Beetroot, vanilla and yoghurt lollies

You can simplify these by blitzing everything together, but I like the two-colour swirls of pink and white.

Yotam Ottolenghi’s beetroot, vanilla and yoghurt lollies.
Yotam Ottolenghi’s beetroot, vanilla and yoghurt lollies.

Prep 10 min
Cook 10 min
Freeze 4hr+
Makes 4

For the beetroot base
40g cooked and peeled beetroot (ie, about 1 small one), roughly chopped
60g Greek-style yoghurt
2 tbsp maple syrup
1 tbsp grenadine syrup
1 tsp vanilla bean paste

For the yoghurt base
200g Greek-style yoghurt
75ml double cream
1 tsp vanilla bean paste
3 tbsp maple syrup

Make the beetroot base by putting everything in a blender or food processor, and blitzing until completely smooth (scrape down the sides as necessary).

Make the yoghurt base by whisking everything in a medium bowl until smooth.

Spoon a tablespoon of the yoghurt base into four lolly moulds, then divide all the beetroot mixture between the moulds. Top with the remaining yoghurt mixture, then use the back of a small spoon gently to swirl around the bases, to create a ripple effect – you can swirl as much or as little as you like. Insert half a popsicle stick into each of the bases, then freeze for at least four hours, or overnight, until solid.

To release the lollies, dip the moulds into hot water to free the sides and base, and gently pull them out.