I’ve been thinking about baby food a lot lately. My son, the aforementioned Mr. Moo, has some serious teeth coming in. So, I’ve been excited to try out new foods on him. But, I am lazy by nature. And, as I have already stated, I really believe that children should eat what their parents eat. Maybe a bit mushier, but still you cook one dinner and that’s it. You chew or gum what’s put in front of you.
Of course, I also live in our consumer society and couldn’t help but buy a baby cookbook. (Sadly, not a book with instructions for grilling children, but rather a cookbook filled with delightful treats for the toddler set.) If you have a child, you probably have one of the 10 zillion cookbooks by Annabel Karmel. She’s the one woman stop for all things baby food. I have The Healthy Baby Meal Planner which I bought because it had recipes for toddlers that sounded pretty yummy.
I also routinely look for “regular” recipes that Mr. Moo can eat. The criteria are:
- Is it mushy or mushable?
- Is it low in salt/sugar or can it be made as such and not taste like cardboard?
- Can it be eaten cold or at room temperature?
- Can it be frozen?
So, today, I bring you two recipes that you can feed a child with a limited number of teeth. The first comes from Karmel’s cookbook and the eggplant recipe comes from Lidia Bastianich’s Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen (as a half Italian-American I vouch for this cookbook… it really rocks).
The recipe says it makes 10, but I ended up with about 14.
- 1 medium white potato, skin on (I used two red potatoes)
- 3 oz salmon fillet (Really? Do they make fillet this small? You’ll probably end up doubling the recipe or, like me, eating half of a fillet for lunch and using the rest for this recipe.)
- A squeeze of lemon juice (I used orange as I was out of lemons)
- A pat of butter
- 2 scallions, chopped
- 1 t sweet chili sauce (optional… I used sriracha which is hot and spicy)
- 2 T tomato ketchup (the author is British hence the need to define ketchup as a tomato product)
- ½ T mayonnaise
- 1 T all-purpose flour
- 1 egg, lightly beaten
- ⅓ C dried breadcrumbs
- Oil for frying
Boil the potato in salted water for 25-30 minutes until tender when pierced with a table knife. Drain, and when cool enough to handle, peel and mash.
Cook the salmon in the microwave on high for 2-3 minutes with the lemon juice and butter.
OK, I am going to pause right here to give a little commentary. I don’t go in for name calling, but this is one of the most idiotic things I’ve ever read. Have you ever microwaved fish (to cook… not to thaw or warm)? In a nutshell, you will have explode-o fish on the inside of your microwave. A joy to clean up, I assure you. I suggest piercing the potato with a fork a few times and popping that in the microwave for a few minutes (rather than heating the kitchen for a half an hour just to boil a damn potato). Then, pan sear the fish with the butter and juice. Such a better use of your time. Back to the recipe:
Flake the flesh onto a plate and leave to cool slightly. Mix the potato with scallions, chili sauce, ketchup, and mayo. Fold in the flaked salmon, taking care not to break up the fish too much.
Take 1½ T of the mixture and form into a ball. Repeat until you have used up all of the mixture. Dust each ball in the flour, dip in the egg, then roll in the breadcrumbs. Heat the oil and deep-fry the footballs for 2-3 minutes. You can shallow fry them in 2 T of oil but they won’t keep their round shape so well. Cool slightly before serving.
I am opposed to deep-frying anything for my child. I pan fried them and they held their shape just fine. Oh, and since you are feeding them to a child, I would suggest letting the just-out-of-hot-oil footballs cool ENTIRELY before serving. Give me a break, Annabel.
Well, my adult palette gives this one a big ick. It’s the ketchup. The ketchup just throws it into an entirely new taste category. If I were to make it again, I think I would use horseradish or (if you’re afraid of giving a child something a bit spicy) maybe ranch dressing.
Having said that, Mr. Moo couldn’t get enough of them. Bonus: They freeze well. (The salmon balls, not your child.)
Melanzane Povere (Poor Eggplant)
- 4 small eggplants (1½ lbs)
- ½ C grated Pecorino Romano (I used Parmigiano–Reggiano since I was out of Pecornio)
- ½ C fine breadcrumbs
- 6 T olive oil, divided
- 2 T chopped Italian parsley (I had to leave this out as I didn’t have it on hand.)
- 1 T capers, drained and chopped
- 1 t dried oregano
- 3 T red wine vinegar
Before I get into this recipe, I’m just going to say that my instructions are re-ordered a bit from Lidia’s book. (Just to save time.)
Preheat the oven to 400°F. Wash the eggplants, cut off the stems, then cut the eggplants in half lengthwise. Cut each half into two or three wedges, depending on the size of the eggplant. (Wedges should be no more than 1 inch at their widest.)
Toss the eggplant wedges with 4 T olive oil in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper (I just did pepper since it was for the baby.) Lay the eggplant, cut side up in a 15×11-inch baking dish (or other dish into which they will fit comfortably in a single layer). Sprinkle vinegar over the eggplant, cover the dish with foil, and bake until softened and lightly browned, about 25 minutes.
Meanwhile, toss the cheese, breadcrumbs, 2 T of olive oil, parsley, capers, and oregano together in a small bowl until the crumbs are evenly moistened with the oil. (I found that it was easiest to mix all the ingredients except the oil and then drizzle in the oil as I stirred.)
When the eggplant are done, remove the foil from the baking dish and bake uncovered until it is tender and lightly browned, about 10 minutes.
Top the eggplant wedges with the seasoned breadcrumbs, dividing them evenly. Bake until the eggplant is tender and topping is deep golden brown, about 25 minutes. Let it cool in the baking dish and serve warm or at room temperature.
This is just a great recipe because the eggplant skin gets crispy, the top is nice and brown, and the middle is an easy consistency for babies. Even Paul (not a fan of eggplant) liked it. In testing Mr. Moo, I gave him some with the skin and some without. He seemed to prefer without, but ate all of it.