Hot mackerel & chickpea pate with courgettes & basil (page 296)

Practical Playtime / Jobs For The Kids

  • Open the tin with as much supervision as they need. (Jake started doing this at 4 1/2.)
  • Peel the garlic. Jake and James love banging it to loosen the skin first.
  • Squeeze the lemon. (Explain to your kids why they need to steer clear of any cuts or nicks on their fingers.)
  • Grate the cheese with as much supervision as they need.
  • Separate the baby gem leaves, wash and dry them.
  • Take the skin off the mackerel.
  • Measure the mackerel sauce.

My Cooking With Kids Recipe Diary

Jake 5 years 1 month, James 2 years 5 months


I sit across from Jake at our table and I love watching him eat. It begins as he prepares to eat. His eyes light up as he looks around his plate, he tells me the parts he recognises and asks about those he doesn’t. He keeps his favourite bits for last like Jess does, I eat my favourite bits first and so does James. The only difference at the moment is that James just doesn’t eat bits he doesn’t like.


Jake and James loved the toast. Jake loved the mackerel brandade too. James didn’t eat it but I am sure he would have done had I made it into a smoother puree. I made a rough puree that Jess, Jake and I liked, but we'd have liked a smoother version too. Because I am trying to be so firm about cooking the same thing for everybody, I need to make sure that wherever possible I make any adaptations at James’s level rather than at ours. I keep feeling as if I need to start again. Just being strict is no good. Every mealtime I need to re-think slightly, or maybe I just need to stop thinking so much. James ate all of his toast and all of his mackerel filet as well as some of mine. They’ve had so much mackerel lately that I thought that was a good enough effort and I helped him to eat his courgettes and baby gem so that he could have some fruit.


Jake is at the age where he likes things cut into shapes. I have always resisted this, because… 'Food shouldn’t need to look like something else!' But in reality I'm going to an unnecessary extreme for the sake of an unnecessary principle. This is a type of snobbery and silliness that means I've cut some of the fun out of our cooking together. Jess cut Jake’s toast into a lifeboat this morning. He ate the surrounds then wanted to look at the raspberry jam covered lifeboat for a while rather than eat it. In the end he ate it all, and had some extra fun thanks to his mum.


His grumpy old silly food snob dad took note.