I recently read the book French Kids Eat Everything: How Our Family Moved to France, Cured Picky Eating, Banned Snacking, and Discovered 10 Simple Rules for Raising Happy, Healthy Eaters by Karen LeBillon. I quite enjoyed the book, and—when it comes to preparing food for Alma—it gave me lots of “food” for thought. (Sorry!)
There are a number of interesting observations LeBillon makes in the book, but I’ll save them for another post. Today, I wanted to focus on the idea of starting dinner with a simple pureed vegetable soup. LeBillon says that the French start their meal with a soup several times a week. This soup is almost always a vegetable soup, and often a simple pureed vegetable soup. These soups supposedly make great starters for babies and toddlers, as they’re an easy way to introduce them to a lot of different vegetables. Also, it gives them a vegetable at the start of the meal, when they are most hungry. Finally, they’re really fast to make. Just saute some aromatics, throw in your veggies and broth, simmer briefly, and puree. All in all, that’s pretty easy, which is definitely a plus when it comes to cooking with a busy toddler underfoot. Finally, they freeze really well. You can freeze the soups in small jars and then defrost them quickly when needed—no need to scramble to put something healthy on the table at the last minute.
I thought I’d give it a try. I started with LeBillon’s simple French carrot soup with dill recipe. Although most toddlers seem to like carrots, Alma usually does not, I’m not sure why—maybe a texture issue? I thought pureeing them was worth a try. The first time I served it, Alma ate one very tiny bowl of it (a mise en place bowl), without too much complaint. She didn’t love it, but it helped that she’s just learned how to use a spoon, and so anything that requires a spoon is therefore very exciting. I had made quite a bit of soup, so I decided to take half of the leftovers and add in some roasted red bell pepper and jarred tomatoes, and pureed the soup again. I refrigerated a little bit of each soup, and froze the rest in small glass jars. The version with red bell pepper and tomato was definitely a bigger hit (with both Derek and Alma) than the straight carrot soup, but over the last several weeks Alma has eaten the plain carrot dill version several times, sometimes enthusiastically, sometimes less so.
When we visited my Mom in June, she made a simple chia pudding with almond milk, which I really liked. It’s also vegan and raw. I liked it so much that when I got home I bought some chia seeds. But then of course I never got around to using them. When my mom came to visit in August, she discovered the unopened package, and made homemade almond milk and then used it to make me some more of her chia pudding. It was delicious. But making the almond milk was a pain, because my almonds didn’t peel easily. So for a second batch she tried making a version with hemp milk instead of almond milk. It was also good, but the hemp milk adds a pretty sharp grassy note. Alma ate both versions, but seemed to prefer the one with almond milk. Once my mom left I didn’t have the energy to make almond milk, so I bought some at the store and made another batch of chia almond milk pudding. Alma really liked it. So I tried to find some more recipes using chia seeds, and I came across this recipe for pumpkin pie chia pudding. Read the rest of this entry »
I bought a large kohlrabi without having any specific plans for it, then found a recipe on thekitchn.com for a kohlrabi and carrot slaw. I used the recipe as a jumping off point, altered it based on what I had in the fridge, and ended up with a kohlrabi, carrot, fennel, and apple slaw with a cilantro jalapeño lime dressing. It was a little spicy and a little sweet, and both Derek and I liked it a lot! I didn’t measure anything, so below is my best guess at what I did. Read the rest of this entry »
I say what we’ve been cooking instead of what I’ve been cooking, because with the new baby, Derek has been doing about as much cooking as I have, if not more. In the first few months he was mostly just making old standbys, but in the last week or two we’ve finally started to branch out and try some new recipes. I don’t have time to write full blog posts about each one, so I’ll write a short blurb here for each. Read the rest of this entry »
Alma is six weeks old tomorrow, and I’m finally finding a tiny bit of time to do some cooking. Derek brought home a savoy cabbage and a bunch of scallions, and I decided to try this Cook’s Illustrated recipe, even though it calls for green cabbage not savoy cabbage. The recipe recommends soaking the cabbage briefly to reduce bitterness / sulfurous and provide extra moisture to help the cabbage steam. I wasn’t sure if the savoy cabbage needed this step, but I did it anyways. Read the rest of this entry »
I wanted to use up some brussels sprouts and cilantro, and found this recipe for a tofu, sprout stirfry on 101cookbooks. It looked interesting, and we had all the ingredients on hand, so Derek and I gave it a try for lunch yesterday. Read the rest of this entry »
This was another pantry-cleaning-inspired selection. I wanted to use up some whole (unhulled) barley, and Derek and I chose this refreshing-sounding recipe for a barley salad from the 101 cookbooks website. Read the rest of this entry »
I’m doing an end-of-the-year pantry cleaning, and wanted to use up some risotto rice. Derek and I looked at a couple of different recipes and finally decided on this pumpkin risotto recipe from the Union Square Cookbook. The recipe first has you make a pumpkin broth using standard vegetable broth ingredients (onion, leek, celery, carrots, etc.) as well as 2 cups canned pumpkin puree, maple syrup, and sweet spices like cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice. Once the broth is made, you make the risotto, adding diced winter squash along with the rice, and then tossing in fresh sage, arugula, and mozzarella right before serving. Read the rest of this entry »
I was looking for a recipe to use up some teff flour, and I came across this recipe for chocolate, teff, banana bread on the Cannelle Et Vanille blog. I vaguely recall making a different chocolate, teff, banana bread earlier this year (this recipe from the gluten-free-girl blog) and not being so excited about it. I’m not usually a fan of chocolate in banana bread—I normally prefer adding nuts and spices, as I find that adding chocolate or chocolate chips overpowers the pure banana-bread-y-ness. With this recipe, however, I absolutely loved the final product. I’m not sure what made the key difference (maybe it’s just the pregnancy talking?), but I adored this cake. It’s very sweet and very moist and very banana-y, with a tender crumb that is neither overly delicate nor overly gooey. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve seen this Yotam Ottolenghi beet dip recipe show up on several blogs lately, and although beets and goat cheese is a standard combination, I’ve never tried beets and goat cheese with Zaatar before. It sounded interesting, so I thought I’d give it a try.
I used pre-cooked, pre-peeled beets, and so the recipe was pretty easy—just put everything but the garnishes in the food processor and blend. The puree tasted okay, but I could barely taste the za’atar, which was the reason I had picked the recipe in the first place. I ended up adding quite a bit more as a garnish on top of the puree. as well as more hazelnuts and goat cheese and scallions. (The garnishes seemed to disappear much faster than the beet dip.)
We ate the dip with pita bread, but it seemed to last an awful long time, given that it was only made from 6 beets. (Normally Derek and I could polish off 6 small beets in one or maybe two sittings.) Derek liked the dish more than me, but after we finally finished it I asked him if we should make it again, and he said no.
I think my main problem with the recipe is that it’s a dip. I just didn’t know what to do with it. I couldn’t figure out what to dip into it other than pita bread, and I didn’t really want to eat a massive amount of pita bread. I think I would have liked it better as a salad with sliced beets.
My sister loves this recipe for a yam and peanut stew with kale, and has recommended it to me several times. She mentioned it again last week and coincidentally I had (almost) all the ingredients on hand (everything but the roasted and salted peanuts and the scallions). Hanaleah said that I could leave off both, since they’re just garnishes. So I decided to make it for dinner.
For my next zucchini recipe, I chose this simple recipe from Sara Moulton Cooks at Home. Jack Bishop has similar recipes in his Italian Vegetarian cookbook. The idea is to concentrate the zucchini flavor by tossing the grated zucchini with salt and letting it drain, then squeezing out a lot of the moisture. Read the rest of this entry »
Even after making two zucchini breads, I still had a ton of zucchini left. I cooked some up with carrots and onions and used it as a topping for pasta along with fresh tomatoes and basil. It was tasty but for my next recipe I wanted to try something a little bit different. When I was looking for recipes that call for coconut flour, I had bookmarked this recipe for almond meal and zucchini falafel from the divaliciousrecipesinthecity.com blog. Unfortunately, I didn’t go back and re-read the head notes before making the recipe, I just started with the ingredient list. I saw “almond meal” and thought it was supposed to be ground almonds, but it turns out the recipe is actually calling for the fibrous, low-fat almond meal leftover from making homemade almond milk. Whoops! Maybe that’s why my falafel were such a disaster. But a surprisingly tasty disaster… Read the rest of this entry »
A friend gave me a ton of zucchini from her garden, and I had to figure out what to do with it. I’d never made zucchini bread before, but I was in the mood for something sweet, so I found two recipes online for reasonably healthy-looking zucchini bread. One is for a “regular” zucchini bread, just modified a bit to be lower calorie. The second is for a chocolate zucchini bread. Read the rest of this entry »
I came across this recipe for saucy Italian baked eggs on a random blog, and immediately started drooling. I’ve been craving tomato sauce lately and this recipe is basically an egg baked in a big ramekin of marinara sauce with a little mozzarella and basil for garnish. It even looked easy enough that Derek could make it himself. Read the rest of this entry »
I wanted to use up some buckwheat flour, and so I went straight to the buckwheat section of The Splendid Grain by Rebecca Wood. The first recipe we picked was a very simple recipe for Sarrasin Crepes, the buckwheat crepes that are typical in Brittany. The recipe looked pretty typical, except that it calls for ground coriander. Read the rest of this entry »
I wanted a quick way to use up some bok choy last week, and choose this recipe from Cook’s Illustrated. Normally I stir-fry bok choy, so I was curious how it would taste braised instead. Read the rest of this entry »
I found some small red beans in the Turkish store near my house last week. I snapped them up, excited to add something a bit different to my usual rotation (black beans, cranberry beans, kidney beans, white beans, lentils, various kinds of dals, chickpeas, and split mung beans). I cooked up a big pot of red beans, then had to figure out how to make a full dinner out of them. I searched all my cookbooks for recipes for red beans (with the convenient eatyourbooks.com website) and found this 101cookbooks recipe for a farro and bean stew. Amazingly, I had (almost) all the ingredients.
The recipe looked pretty plain. It’s just veggies and beans and grains without any spices or herbs, not even garlic—the only seasoning is salt. So I decided to use the Bärlauch I had in the fridge to make a Bärlauch pesto. I tried to look up what Bärlauch is called in the states, and found a number of translations. Wikipedia says “Allium ursinum – known as ramsons, buckrams, wild garlic, broad-leaved garlic, wood garlic, bear leek or bear’s garlic – is a wild relative of chives native to Europe and Asia.” It’s a broad, bright green leaf that tastes strongly of garlic, and (as I discovered this week) lasts quite a long time in the fridge! I had it in a plastic bag in the fridge all week and it didn’t seem at all the worse for the waiting. Read the rest of this entry »
When I first moved to Germany I couldn’t find acorn squash, and then last year they suddenly started turning up, but I had forgotten how to cook them. I tried baking them several times but they always ended up with burned skin and dried-up insides. Clearly I am not good at winging it. So this time I followed an actual recipe! Well…, sort of. As much as such a thing is possible. Read the rest of this entry »
I was going to be home late on Tuesday, and so I asked Derek to bake some sweet potatoes, so that they’d be ready to eat when I got home. He asked me how and I said I didn’t remember exactly, but that they’re pretty forgiving. When I got home I found that he had rinsed them off, pricked the sweet potatoes with a knife in a few places, and put them on an (unlined) cookie sheet. He had been baking them at 375 for about an hour and they were not even close to being soft. I was surprised, as I feel like sweet potatoes are usually done after an hour in the oven. They were were quite large, but I think that even large sweet potatoes shouldn’t take much longer than an hour to get soft.
After 20 more minutes the potatoes were still hard. I poked the sweet potatoes a few more times and turned the oven up to 400. I also turned the sweet potatoes and added some water to the cookie sheet, to keep the skin from burning before the flesh got soft. After another 30 minutes or so they were finally done, but the cookie sheet was covered in burnt sweet potato juice. What a mess.
Clearly this wasn’t the optimal way to cook sweet potatoes. So what is? I did some quick internet research to try to figure it out. Read the rest of this entry »
I made a spur-of-the-moment chopped salad (i.e., no greens) yesterday for breakfast, and it turned out delicious, so I’m going to try to write down what was in it.
- Two carrots, grated
- Half of a kohlrabi, peeled and then julienned (actually I used a spiral slicer)
- About half a jar of hearts of palm, sliced
- A handful of florets of raw cauliflower, which had been marinated in a very ginger-y, vinegary dressing overnight
- One stalk of celery, sliced
- A couple handfuls of chopped parsley
We dressed the salad with my homemade Annie’s tahini dressing. The salad was very tasty, but what I liked most about it were all the different textures. Everything except the parsley was crunchy, but each ingredient offered a distinct type of crunch. Read the rest of this entry »
So far I’ve been doing pretty well on my elimination diet, except for my one “cheat” with a bit of oatmeal. Also, I forgot that lemon is citrus and I ate it several times. It’s so hard to cut out lemon that I’ve decided to leave it in. Could anyone really be allergic to lemons? I haven’t actually noticed any improvements in my allergies yet, but it’s only been a week and a half, so maybe it just takes more time.
The hardest part for me so far has been the nightly desire for a sweet snack of some sort. I said I was going to try to cut out added sugars as much as possible, and instead I’ve been eating Lara-type dried fruit and nut bars as a post-dinner dessert. They’re very tasty but a little bit too big for a dessert before bed. Also, they’re quite expensive (about 2 euros each). So I decided to try making my own. There are a million recipes online and I picked two to try: gingerbread bars and coconut cranberry bars. Read the rest of this entry »
Derek was very skeptical about my allergy-free diet. He can still eat wheat and dairy and soy, of course, but still—I’m the one doing the cooking. But he was surprised to find that he loved both dinners I’ve made since he got back from Berlin. On Friday I just made a simple stir-fry, but it came out way better than most stir-fries I throw together. Then last night I made these sauerkraut patties from the click clack gorilla blog, and he absolutely loved them.
For the stir-fry Derek chopped up a bunch of garlic for me and I got out some leftover minced ginger. I sautéed both in a bit of olive oil along with a big handful of cashews. Then I added two heads of broccoli, some sliced shiitakes, and some more olive oil and sautéed everything briefly. I covered the broccoli with a layer of frozen stir-fry veggies (including bell peppers, carrots, bean sprouts, bamboo, leeks, etc.) and added a bit of water, salt, and pepper, then covered the pan and let everything steam until soft. When just about done I mixed a few teaspoons of Thai red curry paste with a tablespoon or so of coconut milk, just until dissolved, then threw that into the stir-fry along with some chopped scallions. Delicious. Both Derek and I really loved it.
The sauerkraut patty recipe looks pretty weird, but the title was quite persuasive (“sauerkraut patties will save your life”). I figured they were worth a try. The recipe is not really a recipe as much as an idea. (There are no measurements for anything.) I used:
- one bag of sauerkraut from the farmer’s market
- about 1/2 cup of cooked steel cut oats (okay, I cheated a bit on the no-grain front, but at least oats don’t have gluten)
- some ground almonds for “flour”
- one large carrot, grated
- one large zucchini, grated
- 1/2 red onion, grated
- a couple ladlefuls of pinto beans
- salt and pepper and a bit of red thai curry paste
The batter still looked pretty wet but I didn’t want to add any flour so I figured I’d just try it as it was. I added some oil to my cast iron skillet and fried the patties up until brown on both sides. The patties didn’t hold together great, but they were certainly recognizable as individual units, which was better than I expected. I found them a little odd. They were very sour from the sauerkraut and the (inside) texture was soggy and a little stringy. They weren’t unpleasant, but I don’t know that I’d rush to make them again. Derek, however, absolutely adored them. He spread them with more thai curry paste and really liked the combination of the spicy curry paste and the sourness of the sauerkraut. I think he likes sauerkraut more than me.
He ended our meal by saying, “I don’t know how this allergy-free diet has done it, but somehow your cooking has really improved lately!”
I’ve decided to go on an elimination diet for a month, to see if it helps my allergies. I chose the foods to eliminate based on how allergenic they seem to be in general, as well as the results of a skin-prick test I had years ago. I decided to eliminate the three big allergens—soy, dairy, and gluten—as well as a number of other foods.
Today was my first day of what I call my “allergy-free” diet and I got home from work quite late and found very little in the fridge, since we were out of town all weekend and I didn’t get a chance to do my normal Saturday morning shopping. Normally I would throw together a pasta dish or a stir-fry with veggies and tofu, but today I had to be a little more creative. I found some sweet potatoes and a jar of giant white beans in the pantry, and so I improvised what turned out to be a quite tasty dinner of sweet potato fries and white beans with leeks and dill and parsley. (I had chopped herbs in the freezer.) Read the rest of this entry »
Kimdo, a local Japanese restaurant here in Saarbruecken, has a braised daikon steak dish that I really like. I thought I’d try to make something similar at home. I started out with this recipe from the Nobu Vegetarian cookbook. I didn’t make the salsa topping, but I did cook the tofu in kombu broth. I screwed up the second step, however. I was supposed to add mirin, salt, and pepper to the kombu broth, bring the liquid back to a simmer, and then let the daikon cool down in the broth. But I just added the mirin to the already cold broth, which was clearly a mistake. Also I don’t think that I cooked the daikon quite long enough. The final daikon ended up being a tad too raw tasting and underseasoned, but still pretty tasty. I definitely want to keep working on this recipe! Read the rest of this entry »
Jessica and I had a “fermenting afternoon” last week in which we made sauerkraut, kim chee, and these lacto-fermented ginger carrots. I was skeptical about the carrots for some reason, but ended up loving them. The carrots are not particularly sweet nor are they particularly gingery, but they add a nice crunch, a bit of salt, and a hit of brightness (both colorwise and flavorwise) to whatever you eat them with. They only ferment for three days, so they’re not particularly funky tasting, just very slightly acidic / vinegar-y / pickle-y. And they are quite versatile. They seem to go well with everything. Okay, maybe not oatmeal. But if it was a savory oatmeal made with miso and scallions and sesame seeds … Read the rest of this entry »
I wanted to title this post “Oven-baked autumn latkes with beets, carrots, sweet potatoes, and fennel seeds,” but that seemed like a mouthful. In any case, these latkes are striking—they really show off the jewel tones of autumn. Plus, they’re tasty and satisfying. The sweet potato adds lots of natural sweetness and the beets contribute their great earthy depth. And I’m always a sucker for fennel. The original recipe is from Veganomicon, and is, as you would expect, vegan, but I un-veganified it because I generally think of latkes as having eggs in them. Read the rest of this entry »
Derek loves spinach, and he loves Indian food, and he loves rich, decadent food. Hence, he is always excited about having saag paneer for dinner. We had a version at a friend’s house last year that used tofu instead of paneer. I asked him for the recipe and he sent me this one from Atul Kochhar’s cookbook “Simple Indian: The Fresh Taste of India’s New Cuisine.” We’ve made it several times now, sometimes with paneer, sometimes with tofu, and sometimes with a mix. I’ve modified the instructions below based on some of the changes we’ve made. Read the rest of this entry »
We were trying to think of a quick appetizer that would work well with a summer squash, basil, tomato pasta salad. I suggested a chickpea salad and Derek instead suggested making chickpea bruschetta. He’s had the dish several times at Babbo in NYC and always liked it. He didn’t follow the recipe amounts too carefully and he used minced garlic instead of sliced and chopped kalamata olives instead of tapenade. Nonetheless, he said it tasted quite similar to the “real thing.” The rosemary was essential, as without it the chickpeas seemed just a little one note. I thought that a dash of cumin would be nice as well, but Derek didn’t want to risk messing up a perfectly nice recipe. Next time!
To use up the vegan cashew “cream cheese” I made last week, I’ve been eating a lot of raw veggies (or crudité, if you prefer the more sophisticated French term). A number of my friends have been surprised at some of the veggies I like to eat raw, so I thought I’d share a list with my blog readers. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve tried a number of bagels in Germany, both here in Saarbruecken and a few in Berlin. Every time I’ve been wholly (hole-y?) disappointed. The German bagels I’ve had are nothing like a true bagel. They’re essentially just a tasteless white fluffy bread abomination, which—by virtue of having a bagel’s shape—attempt to deceive the bagel-ignorant. I decided that if I wanted to eat real bagels I would need to make them myself. Read the rest of this entry »
I can’t believe it, but I haven’t posted a proper recipe to this blog since Spring 2013. At this point my list of recipes to blog about has grown so long that I have despaired of ever posting them all. So instead I decided to just do one quick smorgasbord post. Read the rest of this entry »
Derek came back from Berlin in February with some spicy almonds from the restaurant Little Otik. The nuts were smoky and garlicky and just a little sweet—he adored them. I looked for a similar recipe and couldn’t find anything quite the same, but I did come across this one for Italian spiced almonds. It doesn’t have the smoke, but it has the garlic and the Italian herbs. Read the rest of this entry »
This recipe is from another cookbook that I “borrowed” from Spoons and Kathy: Vegetarian Suppers from Deborah Madison’s Kitchen. When I returned home from California, my fridge contained (in addition to sauerkraut) a pack of eggs. And there were some soon-to-be-seeing potatoes in the pantry. So this recipe seemed like a good fit for a welcome home dinner. Read the rest of this entry »