“ANY career change is daunting, but I felt strongly my life had changed after having my daughter,” Miriam Cooper told Mini Vogue of leaving a successful career in fashion to launch Mimi’s Bowl. Of identifying a gap in the market and pursuing it, she explained, “I couldn’t find a relatable parent-voice with simple recipes and advice when introducing her onto solid food. There was a lot of conflicting information and I felt overwhelmed and confused.”
Now a fully-fledged “digital community for parents, with weaning advice and quick recipes that work for the whole family” Mimi’s Bowl is a forum for her to “blog about what we eat at home and what works for us as a busy family, in the hope it makes weaning simpler for other parents like me.”
So, what’s cooking at the Cooper residence? “Purées, mashes and seasonal meals that smell, taste and look delicious, and that are nutritious and comforting. Foods that parents would eat themselves. I simply don’t have time to prepare baby food and ‘grown-up’ food separately.”
Her favourite spiced apple purée (“delicious with yogurt and muesli for the whole family”) and salmon crispy fish fingers sound utterly appealing, but Cooper recognises that we can’t all make homemade breadcrumbs every day. “Be kind to yourselves, it’s so hard juggling it all,” she advised from her own experience. “In practical terms, batch cook recipes and fill up the freezer, so that you have quick homemade meals on standby. Buy key kitchen-cupboard ingredients that allow you to throw meals together quickly. And choose recipes with few ingredients and easy cooking processes.”
Herewith, are four Mimi’s Bowl recipes, which Cooper encourages parents to introduce early on, “so that your child is used to trying new tastes and textures” and to eat together – “meal times should be enjoyable and a chance to reconnect, even if only at the weekend.”
Her last morsel of wisdom? “Don’t give in to ‘baby food panic’. I wish I had been more relaxed when I started cooking for my daughter. Embrace it all, even the mess (and yes, there will be mess); enjoy watching them exploring new tastes and trying new foods – it’s a special time.”
Beef and Tomato Ragu
6 – 9 months +
Prep time 15 mins, cooking time 1.5 – 2 hours (leave to bubble away)
Suitable for freezing
Beef mince is a great source of iron, which is essential for brain development; especially for babies between the ages of 6 months and 2 years. At around 6 months your babies natural store of iron starts to deplete, so iron-rich foods such as red meat and green leafy vegetables are crucial.
This recipe is the chameleon of all recipes, as it can be used in so many ways: a brilliant one to have in your armoury. I don’t add salt, so that we can all enjoy the same ragu; for adults I offer seasoning at the table.
3 tablespoons butter, or olive oil (whichever you prefer)
2 large carrots
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
500g organic lean beef mince
1 bottle tomato passata (680g or standard bottle)
150ml water, or homemade chicken stock (200ml if puréeing)
1 large cooking pot, preferably ceramic or earthenware
Prep all the veg: wash, peel and trim. Blitz all the onions, celery and carrots in a food processor; or, chop into large pieces, which you can blend or mash, at the end of cooking. Avoid small dice that could be a choking hazard if unblended.
Melt the butter, or warm the olive oil, in a large ceramic pot and add the vegetable base; gently sauté for 10 minutes, until softened. Crush the garlic clove and add, cook for 2 minutes. Next add the mince, breaking it up with a spoon or spatula as you stir. You want the mince to get a little colour; then add tomato passata and water. Bring up to the boil and then reduce to a gentle simmer for around 1.5 – 2 hours. Stirring occasionally and adding a splash more water if needed. The sauce should reduce, thicken and intensify in flavour: remove from the heat.
For 6-9 months, blend until you have a smooth sauce.
Homemade Chicken Stock
6 months +
Prep time 10 mins, cooking time 1.5 – 2 hours (leave to bubble away)
Suitable for freezing
As a first step, homemade chicken stock is an easily digestible way of introducing meat into your babies’ diet. I use homemade stock as a nutrient rich foundation to baby purees and then later, homemade soups and sauces. It is full of minerals and benefits the gut, in terms of healing and soothing inflammation.
1 whole organic chicken, skin removed and jointed (ask your butcher)
3 litres of filtered water
1 large onion
4 large carrots
2 celery stalks
1 small handful of parsley (3-4 sprigs)
1 large cooking pot, preferably ceramic
Preheat your oven to 170C
Wash, peel and trim all the vegetables, use organic where possible. Cut each vegetable in halves or quarters, so you have large vegetable chunks. Place the jointed chicken pieces in a large cooking pot, add the vegetables and parsley; cover with 3 litres of water. Bring to the boil.
Once boiling, skim off any foam that rises to the surface and discard, (trying not to remove too much of the cooking water). Cover with a lid and simmer on the stove for 1.5 – 2 hours, or place in the oven, for the same length of time.
The chicken should be completely cooked, the vegetables will be collapsing and you will have a lovely stock. Stop cooking, or remove from the oven and immediately strain the liquid stock into a large bowl; removing all meat, bones and vegetables. You will be left with a delicious, fragrant and light golden stock.
When completely cooled, leave overnight in the fridge, a thin layer of fat will develop on the surface of the stock, skim off this fat with a large spoon and discard.
Crispy Salmon & Parmesan Fish Fingers
12-18 months +
Prep time 10 mins, cooking time 10-15 mins
Suitable for freezing
360g organic salmon fillets, skin removed and pin-boned
(3-4 fillets depending on size)
90g wholemeal bread
1 tablespoon olive oil (to help the fish fingers crisp in the oven)
1-2 free range eggs
freshly ground black pepper
Preheat the oven to 180°C. Cut the salmon fillets into 30g fish fingers. Then prep the fish finger assembly line:
• Blitz the bread, Parmesan, 1 tablespoon of olive oil in blender
• Spread the breadcrumb mix out on a large tray
• Take a second tray and crack the eggs into it, lightly beat and add x2 grinds of black pepper
Take a piece of fish, coat in the egg, then coat in the breadcrumb mix, set aside. Then repeat the process with each piece of salmon.
Place the fish on a lined baking tray and cook in the oven for 10-15 mins, or until cooked through (an extra 5-10 mins from frozen). Remove from the oven and drain on kitchen paper, then serve.
See the chic cookery books currently on the Vogue radar below.