Sunday, November 3, 2013

Cooking for Babies


So you thought that I'd forgotten about this site, and it had gone by the wayside like thousands of other well-intentioned blogs.

OK, that's true. BUT. I've been writing recipes and sending them to people, so I thought that it was awfully silly to let all that typing go to waste, and since I have a venue, I might as well post them.

As part of preparing for the impending visit from Thumper as well as cooking for other recently reproduced couples, I've been making a few freezer friendly recipes. Hence the vegetable stew below.

The pancakes are a favorite of K's so I have been making them frequently, and also took them over to make breakfast for another recent arrival a few weeks ago.


Vegan Vegetable Lentil Stew with Wheat Berries

1 stalk celery chopped fine (I usually put in more, but that's all I had)
2 Onions
6-10 cloves of garlic (about half a head)
2 qts vegetable stock (you can substitute chicken stock)
4-6 Red Potatoes (I like red potatoes, since the seem to hold texture longer/better than russets in this application)
1 1/2 C Green (French) Lentils
1 1/2 C Wheat Berries (Barley also works well)
3-4 Bay leaves
8-10 stalks fresh thyme
2-3 T Dried Tarragon
2 T Bouquet Garni (a mixture of Savory, Rosemary, Thyme, Oregano, Basil, Dill, Marjoram, Sage, and Tarragon)*
4 large carrots chopped into rounds about 1/2" thick
1 Head of Cauliflower chopped into bite sized chunks
1 Bunch of Broccoli chopped into bite sized chunks
3-4 Cubes Veggie bouillon (This is an easy way to add umami in vegetarian soups. If you sub chicken stock, you may choose to leave these out.)
salt to taste
olive oil
I was making this for millions (well three families to have 2-3 meals each from it) so it makes about as many gallons as fit in my largest soup pot (about 2).

*Herb notes

I often use herbes de Provence, but couldn't find it this time. Of the ones in bouquet garni, the important ones are rosemary and thyme, I think, but any combination should work. You may have to try a few times. The tricky part is that the flavor develops over the boil, so it's a little hard to taste/adjust. I've found that it's hard to over-season, though, so be adventurous here.

Heat 4-6 T olive oil in a soup pot.

Dice onions and mince garlic and add to the oil along with the celery. Stir until the onions get clear and start to caramelize.

Add stock and use a wooden spoon or spatula to scrape the sides of the pot and get any browned stuck onion bits knocked back into solution.

Add the bay leaves, spices, potatoes, lentils, and wheat berries next (I added the wheat berries a little late in the process for this version, but I think sooner is better). Cook until the potatoes are just getting soft.

Add all the rest of the veggies (carrot, cauliflower, and broccoli), along with bouillon and you may need to add water to just cover. At this point (once the bouillon cubes have dissolved) taste and add salt. This soup will take a bunch of salt so you'll probably add 2-3 T. You can under salt it a little, though and add more at the table.

Cook until the veggies and potatoes are cooked to your liking. Broccoli and cauliflower are tasty when they still have a little texture, but are also good when they're cooked to death, so in this regard, you can kind of pick your own adventure. Once you reheat it a few times everything ends up more or less mush, hence my preference for red potatoes which resist that better than most.

Cottage Cheese Pancakes

170g Self Rising Flour (I use Gold Medal, but any brand should work)*
5 Large Eggs (~240g)
260g Milk
80g Cottage Cheese
20g Butter 
*A note on self-rising flour:
If you don't have self-rising flour, you can add your own baking powder, salt, and (optionally) baking soda to the batter. If you decide to go that route, I highly recommend that you mix the flour, salt (about a teaspoon/C of flour), and baking powder (2 teaspoons/C) to the flour in a separate dish, and then add it to the batter to reach the desired stiffness. This prevents having to guess how much more baking powder to add to a batter as you go.

If you use softened or melted butter that seems to be the easiest. Butter's not required, though I think it makes them slightly tastier.

Beat the eggs together and add the cottage cheese and butter to that. On the butter, again, you can use as much or as little as you like to get the flavor you want. I find that they are so buttery that I don't add butter at the table (though K does, so you can go either way).

Next add in the flour to form a thicker batter (close to or thicker than normal pancake consistency).

Finally, I add the milk to get back out to a batter thinness somewhere between traditional pancakes and crepes.

I always cook them in butter instead of oil. If you chose to use oil, I recommend corn over canola (canola has a slight flavor that I don't love in these.) If you use a non-stick or cast-iron skillet, you'll need very little extra cooking fat per batch. I tend to add a little more butter (about a pat) every three to four batches through the skillet.

You can also usually extend the batter with more milk and flour too, since these are so eggy, you can get more out of them with more milk and flour.

Today, for example, though I used 6 eggs, I probably doubled the recipe for everything else, so just play around until you find the texture and flavor that you love.

As a note, the cottage cheese can be sticky on the second side (after they have been flipped) so you may need to practice getting the first few out of the skillet.

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