Paul Flynn: Three family-friendly dishes to keep everyone happy

A hot pot, spice bag and orzo treat to fill your kitchen with nice smells and happy children

Orzo with mushrooms, spinach, lemon and Parmesan. Photograph: Harry Weir

Orzo with mushrooms, spinach, lemon and Parmesan. Photograph: Harry Weir

 

It can be very frustrating trying to feed a family. Some days I feel like throwing the toys out of the pram and telling mine to cook for themselves. But we all tend to be softer these days and give in to our little darlings’ every whim. I too am guilty of being a helicopter parent.

I’m constantly trying new dishes at home, as they are often the foundation of my recipes here. That’s not to say that they always get eaten. This week’s recipes are three dishes that are among my family’s current favourites and hopefully will be popular with yours too.

Pasta is big in our house. After all these years of eating my cooking, an ordinary bowl of spaghetti Bolognese remains my girls’ favourite. I roll my eyes in frustration at the mundaneness of it all. Then I join in and finish the lot.

Orzo is easier to get now than it used to be. It’s a dinky little rice-shaped pasta that makes for a very delicate dish. You could use any small pasta, but I urge you to try it. The field mushrooms, spinach, lemon and Parmesan are easily familiar, so it’s a lovely crowd-pleaser.  

Betty’s hot pot was a feature in our house when I was growing up. Not so much on the table but on the telly. I pricked my ears when it was mentioned in the Rovers Return. I imagined a steamy bowl of Lancashire lamb nestling under juice-drenched but crisp potatoes. I wanted to visit Coronation Street just to eat it. This version uses beef with a hint of chorizo. It is given depth and stickiness by the abundant chutney. The layered spuds on top give it a delicious texture that’s just a little bit different from your average pie.

I’m a sucker for a spice bag. I almost wish I had never discovered that addictive blend of spices. This simple tray-bake will fill your kitchen with the most delicious smells imaginable. The chicken thighs and sweet potatoes soak up the oily juices like a magical sponge. If I were to be bold, I would say eat it with sour cream on the side, but I won’t as I’m trying to be good. However, you don’t always have to listen to me.

Recipe: Orzo with mushrooms, spinach, lemon and Parmesan

Orzo with mushrooms, spinach, lemon and Parmesan. Photograph: Harry Weir
Orzo with mushrooms, spinach, lemon and Parmesan. Photograph: Harry Weir

Recipe: Crunchy potato, beef and chorizo hot pot

Crunchy potato, beef and chorizo hot pot. Photograph: Harry Weir
Crunchy potato, beef and chorizo hot pot. Photograph: Harry Weir

Recipe: Sticky spice bag chicken tray-bake

Sticky spice bag chicken tray-bake. Photograph: Harry Weir
Sticky spice bag chicken tray-bake. Photograph: Harry Weir
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