One of the challenges I face when cooking for my family nowadays is trying to cooking something that my 8.5 month old baby will eat. My almost-three-year-old has always been a great eater and cooking for her is a pleasure. The baby has been a challenge from the moment we tried to introduce purees a couple months ago. She wanted no part of it so we backed off and then tried again about 3 weeks ago with chunks of food (rather than purees or mashes). That was the trick. My mom jokes that she went from breastmilk directly to baby-back ribs.
Aside from making their food less salty or less spicy (hot) that we would eat it, the girls eat exactly what we eat. I rarely make either of them an entirely separate meal. I use all the herbs and spices (except chilis) in their food that we use in ours. There are two reasons for this:
- We eat flavorful, highly-seasoned foods (from Indian to Korean to Mediterranean) and I want to raise my girls to eat the same. I mean, do you like to eat chicken with absolutely nothing on it? I sure don't.
- I'm far too lazy to cook separate meal. Seriously, who has the time? They will eat what we eat and like it. Or they can eat yogurt or applesauce.
Today the market had garlic scapes or spears, golden beets, and fingerling potatoes. All yummy, all baby-friendly. The weather turned out to be beautiful so I was inspired to make a "sunny" meal.
ROASTED GOLDEN BEETS WITH CHEVRE AND "NEW" OLIVE OIL
- 3 golden beets, trim greens leaving a 1 inch stem and "tail", scrub well *reserve greens*
- first-press, Tuscan extra virgin olive oil (or just regular ol' extra virgin olive oil)
- sea salt
- chevre (one o' dem small disks)
Preheat overn to 400 degrees. Place whole beets in a lidded Pyrex roasting dish with a splash or two (about 2 tablespoons) of water. Cover. Roast for approximately 40 minutes.
Remove from oven and let cool. Carefully remove skin (if you want), and cut into quarters. (Reserve a couple of quarters and chop for baby. Freeze leftovers.) Place in a bowl and drizzle with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt. Dot with chevre. Serve. Here are our beets (sans chevre) and Wallie's:
Actually, J. hates beets (as does Bunny). Wallie, however, devoured them. Which left J. to claim that Wallie may not be his daughter after all. When I make beets at home, I usually make them for me, but now I have a partner in (beet) crime in Wallie.
GARLIC SCAPE OR SPEAR AND FINGERLING POTATO SOUP WITH GOLDEN BEET GREENS
Here's where a stick blender comes in handy. And you don't need to measure anything.
- 1 asparagus-sized bunch of garlic scapes, rinsed, trimmed, and chopped into 1 inch pieces
- 1 bag of fingerling potatoes (about 1.5 lbs.), washed and chopped into discs
- olive oil
- 1 box of free-range chicken broth
- reserved beet greens from above washed and chopped
- half-and-half (optional)
- butter, a couple pats (optional)
- salt and pepper to taste
Saute scapes and potatoes in olive oil over medium-high heat until scapes are tender, about 12 minutes. Pour in chicken broth. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to medium-low. Cook until potatoes are soft about 10 minutes. Add beet greens and continue cooking a further 5 minutes.
Now, whiz the entire mixture with your stick blender until pureed to your liking, leaving chunks or not. The soup is pretty much done at this point. You can season with salt and pepper and be done with it or add a couple of glugs of half-and-half and a couple of pats of butter to enrich the soup. I think it makes a difference—the soup becomes silkier and richer-tasting, but it isn't at all necessary.
So, along with some tandoori-spiced chicken I grilled yesterday and a green salad tossed with vinaigrette, this was our dinner tonight. It didn't take long. I roasted the beets earlier in the day and while the soup was cooking, I assembled the beets and chevre, warmed the chicken, and made a simple salad. Start to finish the whole meal took about 30 minutes to put together.
And Wallie ate everything.