Wednesday, July 31, 2013

kale! (and cannellini)

My love of kale is well-documented. Given that, it's perhaps strange that I've waited this long to introduce the cruciferous green to the little one. That was remedied last night.

I had been thinking earlier in the week about combining kale with garbanzo beans for Avery. But then an even better bean entered my head: cannellini. Specifically, I thought of kale and cannellini crostini - a lovely appetizer with kale that is one of my favorite recipes. On Monday night, the grown ups in the house enjoyed these for dinner along side a big salad. Last night, Avery tried the pureed version of the topping from his carseat perch in the busy french bistro where Randy and I dined. He devoured it.

The kale and cannellini crostini recipe can be found here. Knowing that I was going to sequester some of the topping for Avery, I omitted the red pepper flakes entirely and seasoned the assembled crostini with salt and pepper (rather than the topping) to avoid spicing or salting up Avery's meal. I opted for low sodium vegetable stock. No pecorino for the little one, either.

Puree the topping (adding a little more stock if needed for desired consistency) and viola! Who knew that a tasty appetizer could double as baby-meal?!?

Thursday, July 11, 2013

a new chapter: cooking for baby (and us)

I can hardly believe that Avery is 6 months old already. It seems to have happened in the blink of an eye, and yet we've been through so much together since he arrived. One of the latest adventures in babydom has been the introduction of solid food. I had been looking forward to this for quite some time, excited to see his reaction at each new taste.

It has been a very fun adventure so far. I've been making the food (hubby gifted a fun contraption that both steams and purees the food; we've also been mashing what can be mashed and finding lots of great uses for the immersion blender on things that have been stewed on the stovetop or roasted in the oven). Over the past few weeks, Avery has enjoyed a range of veggies and fruits: yams, peas, carrots, green beans, avocado, banana, apples, pears, watermelon and mango. More recently, we've started combining single foods into medleys and also incorporated yogurt (pictured above!) and oatmeal.

Avery is a great eater. The avocado and green beans (individually) that didn't go so well the first time around turned out to be more a function of his mood than his taste, with subsequent trials being successful endeavors. We've been warned not to get too excited about Avery's accepting palate (some say that infants this age mostly eat everything and that it's when they get a little older that it becomes challenging), but I am hopeful that the varied diet I ate while pregnant and now eat while breastfeeding plus an early emphasis for Avery on fresh, organic fruits, veggies, and whole grains (plus the necessary dairy and, soon, meats) will help Avery keep his already emerging love of real food through childhood and beyond.

It occurred to me that a fun way to resurrect this blog (which has been dormant since longest break from it since inception) would be through a slight change in focus: cooking for baby and us. The idea is that variations of the main dish will be able to feed the whole family (6-month-old inclusive).

I'm excited for the day that Avery will be able to routinely eat what we eat. In the meantime, I'll be cooking for us with him in mind, making meals and using components for baby. These are the recipes I'll share with you here. Fret not if you aren't feeding a baby currently, I'll make sure the main dishes are tasty enough to stand on their own. First up: peaches. Enjoy!

For us: cornmeal peach cobbler
For baby: roasted peaches

For filling:
10 ripe peaches (reserve 1-2 for baby)*
2/3 c. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
the juice of half a lemon
*A good-sized peach will result in about 4 ounces of food for baby.

For dough:
1 1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. fine ground cornmeal
1/3 c. brown sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. cold butter, sliced
1 c. buttermilk**
**I rarely have buttermilk on hand, this case being no exception. Instead, I used a cup of milk whisked together with the juice of half a lemon, a trick learned from hubby.

Note: I don't mind my peaches with skin on them, but baby does, so I peeled the peaches for baby but not the ones for the cobbler. If the skin bothers you, go ahead and peel them all.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Slice all peaches except the 1 or 2 for baby and put into a large baking dish (I used an 11x13 glass dish). Meanwhile, heat a pot of water to boiling on the stovetop. Cut through the skin of the peaches for baby, making an 'x' on one end. Put in boiling water for 1 minute. Remove, allow to cool enough to be handled, and peel. Slice the peeled peaches and place in a small baking dish. Add a dash of cinnamon (optional) and set aside.

To the cobbler peaches in the large baking dish, add brown sugar, flour, lemon juice, a couple dashes cinnamon, and a pinch of salt. Mix well.

In a bowl, combine the dry ingredients for the cobbler dough. Cut in the butter with a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Stir in milk. Spoon the dough onto the prepared cobbler peaches in the large baking dish (none for baby!).

Place both the large and small baking dishes in the hot oven. Remove the small baking dish after 15 minutes. Puree in a food processor or using an immersion blender (for older babies, you may even be able to mash directly without the need for electronics). The cobbler will cook for another 5-10 minutes, until golden on top.

We enjoyed our cobbler with friends and family and a big scoop of Milwaukee frozen custard. Baby enjoyed his roasted peaches with a big spoonful of organic whole milk yogurt.

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