Thumbs up — Annabel’s escalopes with tomato and basil sauce

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Veal escalopes with tomato and basil sauce 3638N-115626work

Those that read my blog regularly know that my children aren’t the best eaters and that I was slowly turning into England’s version of Eyjafallajokull: catering to children and adults and picky eaters was going to make ME explode.

Thankfully that all stopped last year. I now make one evening meal that we all enjoy together. I can’t tell you how much this has transformed my life. It’s worth it just to walk by the fish finger aisle and not mentally calculate how many boxes I need for the week.

So when Annabel Karmel asked me to try out some of the recipes from her latest cooking bible — Top 100 Pasta Dishes — I agreed. This book clearly was written for me. Pasta is an all time favourite, and the tagline is: 100 easy, everyday recipes for the whole family. This woman is after my heart (or my paycheck).

The shiny new book arrived last week (disclosure: I got it for free) and I gave it to my pickiest eater, six-year-old Alexandra, to choose something she would like us to try. Alexandra can sniff out a vegetable in a snow storm. After a few minutes minutes, she had dog-marked 15 recipes. We went through them together, and she prefaced the last one with “and I would like this without the vegetables”. She was pointing to julienned spring onions that looked like they had been curled with a wand. Fair enough.

So, our first one… Pork escalopes with tomato and basil sauce. OK, the recipe is actually for veal, but I don’t want to get a bunch of hate email and pork is cheaper, and I think has more flavour.

I went down to our local butcher and picked up five pork escalopes. He even flattened them for me for at no extra charge, so I didn’t have to cover with cling film and beat, as per the recipe. You dip the escalopes in eggs, and then coat in a breadcrumb/Parmesan cheese/parsley mixture. The cheese melts with the breadcrumbs and make a wonderful crunchy coating.

The Tomato Sauce bit has the usual olive oil, onion, garlic and canned chopped tomatoes. It also has some items I don’t usually include — sundried tomato puree, a bit of sugar and fresh basil. It’s a nice touch, a bit tangy, but also sweet at the same time.

The verdict:

Emily (8): Thumbs up.

Alexandra (6): This is good mummy, but I don’t like the green stuff (parsley and basil).

HM (5): You always make the best meals, mummy.

Hubby (not telling): This is good honey. Is it chicken?

Here’s the recipe:

Veal Escalopes with tomato and basil sauce

Suitable from 18 months

Makes 4 portions

Preparation time: 15 minutes/cooking time: 25 minutes

Not suitable for freezing

Tomato sauce:

3 tbsp olive oil

1 onion, chopped

2 garlic cloves, crushed

2 x 400 g(14oz) cans chopped tomatoes

1tbsp tomato puree

1tbsp sundried tomato puree

tsp sugar

1/2 tsp dried thyme or tsp fresh thyme

3tbsp fresh basil, chopped

250 g (9oz) spaghetti

salt and freshly ground black pepper

4 thin veal escalopes (about 80-100 g/3-31/2 oz each)

2 eggs, beaten

150g (51/2 oz) fresh white breadcrumbs

30g (1oz) Parmeasan cheese, finely grated

2 tbsp parsley, chopped

*Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a saucepan.  Add the onion and garlic and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add the canned tomatoes, purees, sugar and thyme.  Bring to the boil, cover with a lid and simmer for 20 minutes.  Whiz the sauce to a puree using a hand blender.

*Cook the pasta according the the instructions on the packet.  Drain and add to the sauce with the basil.

*If necessary, cover the veal with cling film and bash it out to a thickness of about 4mm using a mallet.  Season the veal and drip into the beaten egg.  Mix together the breadcrumbs, Parmesean and parsley. Coat the veal in the breadcrumbs.  Heat the remaining oil in a large non-stick frying pan. Fry the veal for 1 and 1/2 – 2 minutes on both sides until golden and just cooked through.  Remove from the heat and rest for 2 minutes.

*Spoon some spaghetti onto a plate and serve with the veal on top.

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  1. 10/06/2010 / 22:40

    Much easier and nicer than fish fingers/chicken nuggets!

  2. 02/06/2010 / 12:46

    Lovely review! Thanks so much! Annabel x

  3. A Modern Mother
    12/05/2010 / 06:50

    @mommytime the escalopes are yummy with their cruchy cheesy coating.

  4. A Modern Mother
    12/05/2010 / 06:11

    @metmum — this book is for you then! There’s a press event today, I’ll send you the details…

  5. A Modern Mother
    12/05/2010 / 06:10

    @iota he thinks everything is chicken

  6. 12/05/2010 / 01:10

    This sounds delicious, and I’ll bet even my “I don’t like meat” son would try it. (He doesn’t like PLAIN meat, but he eschews most sauces. It’s delightful, really.) Thanks for the idea!

  7. 11/05/2010 / 20:26

    I think I should get one of her books and give it a try. Little L could easily share one or the other meal with us, I am just blank as a canvas when it comes to ideas re cooking for the three of us. I love veal. The recipe sounds delish!

  8. Iota
    11/05/2010 / 17:29

    Come on, now, Husband. Shape up a little.

  9. A Modern Mother
    11/05/2010 / 16:25

    @lisa the recipes are for the whole family, you should try it. The first section is for babies and toddlers, but the rest are recipes everyone will enjoy. I think we are going to try the sweet and sour meatballs next.

  10. A Modern Mother
    11/05/2010 / 16:23

    @nixdminx we have that one too, I just love these books, they are easy to read and loads of fun.

  11. A Modern Mother
    11/05/2010 / 16:22

    @stigmum oooopps, thanks for pointing that out. All fixed now.

  12. 11/05/2010 / 15:50

    She sent us her book You Can Cook and it’s brilliant, I love her to bits – my daughter has been talking about Junior Masterchef – I mean, being a contestant – even though she can only make milkshakes and salmon fishcakes xx

  13. lisa
    11/05/2010 / 15:19

    Sounds delicious, even though I’m not a fan of veal lol. They reviewed her book for Silicon Valley moms but I didn’t chose it just because I thought my kids were too old (10 & 6)?
    I should try something like this for the older kid.

  14. 11/05/2010 / 13:12

    You superstar!! How did you guess I’ve been oh so struggling with ideas to cook? (For I don’t blog these dilemma’s!) Thick question, cos I’m a thick cook, you heat the escalopes in a frying pan or something yes?! Doh! Then dunk them in the sauce or pour the sauce over that and the pasta? (Told you I was thick, I’m too used to rolling out the same old thing and I’m just so bored!)

  15. 10/05/2010 / 20:23

    sounds yummy! I’m going to the launch on wed looking forward to it!