Casserole and Potato Gratin made by Baby Boy

Baby Boy loves to pretend to cook, he has a huge selection of play food, play pots and pans and plates and cutlery. He normally makes some quite good and balanced dishes, although I am always worried by the plastic Strawberry in a glass that he gives me to drink! Baby Boy had been asking to do some real cooking with me, not baking cakes, but real cooking like making dinner. We had made Pizzas a few nights earlier, but that didn't count as real cooking according to Baby Boy so we decided that we were going to have Casserole with Dumplings for dinner.

I started peeling and cutting the vegetables (Swede, Carrots, Parsnip and an Onion) and Baby Boy was pleased to be able to get his hands dirty by moving the peelings into the Green bin and we chatted about what each vegetable was and were it grew. Whilst I trimmed, cubed and seared the beef, Baby Boy put the vegetables in to the pot we were cooking the casserole in and told me a story whilst I was quickly frying off the onions.

Baby Boy was really pleased to actually be allowed to do "cooking" with me, and I loved that he wanted to cook with me. We were doing really great, but I knew that we were going to need an easy side dish that was tasty and everyone would eat. Having had the worlds surplus of potatoes I knew that a potato gratin would be great and easy to do. This time Baby Boy wanted to help me with the peeling.

We have an OXO Y peeler and so I wasn't worried about him helping, and together we managed to peel the potatoes and use my Mandoline to slice the potatoes with no loss of fingers to Baby Boy or myself! Even the pouring of the milk and the sprinkling of the cheese was done by Baby Boy without any tears.

At dinner that night, Baby Boy told Daddy and Top Ender so proudly that he had made dinner, and because he had helped with everything in the preparation of the Gratin he made sure that everyone tried it so he could see if they liked it!

It was so nice that Baby Boy was able to really take ownership of the meal and that he was able to see and understand the preparation that goes into a meal and that he was proud of what he had made. And because it tasted so nice and I seem to be giving recipes all the time these days, here is the recipes for the two dishes!

Beef Casserole


500g Braising Steak
Can of chopped tomatoes
Four carrots
Half a swede
A Parsnip
An Onion
750ml of Stock or Gravy
Worcestershire sauce

For the Dumplings

250g Flour
125g Cold Butter
Salt and Pepper
Splash of Cold Water

Method for Casserole

Peel and chop the carrots, swede, parsnip in to bite size chunks. Be careful not to make them too small or they will turn to mush when you casserole them. Put in to the casserole dish.

Finely chop the onion and put to one side.

Trim the braising steak into bite size pieces, and trim any excess fat, but remember to keep some fat as it makes the casserole taste lovely! Gently toss the meat into Use a teaspoon of oil and sear the meat over a high heat, use any liquid in the pan to enhance the stock, but add the meat to the casserole dish.

Using a further teaspoon of oil, slowly fry the onions so that they soften, add these to the casserole dish. De-glaze the pan and add this to the stock too.

Add the can of chopped tomatoes, the seasoning and a few shakes of the Worcestershire Sauce and the stock to the casserole dish, and give it a good stir.

Put into the Oven at Gas Mark 4 for two hours.

Method for the Dumplings

Grate the butter and then rub into the flour, until it looks like breadcrumbs. Add a shake or salt and pepper (or a grind!) and then using the splash of the cold water bind the mixture together. Divide into twelve little balls and add to the casserole. Make sure that around half of the dumplings are submerged in the gravy and

Add the dumplings to the stew, increase the heat to Gas Mark 5 and cook for a further thirty minutes.

Potato Gratin


4 large potatoes
100ml Milk
A few handfuls of Grated Cheddar Cheese


Peel the potatoes and thinly slice them.

Grease an oven proof dish and Add the sliced potatoes in rows (well that's how I like it) and pour over the milk. Sprinkle the cheese over the top of the potato and milk mixture and add to the oven for the last sixty to ninety minutes of the Casserole.


Casserole does taste nice the next day, so if there are any leftovers have them for lunch with a bit of bread to mop up the gravy... not that there will be a lot of leftovers!