Insalata di Arance [Orange Salad]

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Mediterranean Chicken Bulgur Salad

Most of these recipes were born on evenings when no meal was planned. That meant rummaging through the pantry and seeing how dinner might be contrived. A few favorite ingredients to have around the house for such nights: fresh herbs, raisins, nuts, seeds and onion. These can add texture, taste and nutrition to family fare when it’s too cold and rainy to go to the market.

Cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves baby and 2 adults*

2 cups of Bulgur
2 chicken breasts from Basic Chicken Breast for Baby Recipe [see Dec 16, 2008 post] shredded or cut into 1 inch pieces
Extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar
1/2 cup chopped scallion or red onion
1 chopped tomato
1 carrot, chopped
1 apple, chopped
8 pitted olives, chopped
1/2 cup seeds [like sesame and pumpkin]
1/2 cup shelled pistachio [optional]
1/2 cup of avocado [optional]
2 Tbsp sherry vinegar.
1/2 cup chopped coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
Coarse sea salt

Cook bulgur**, and while bulgur is cooking, prepare other ingredients as suggested below. 

For Baby: Remove half of the cooked bulgur, puree and set aside for baby’s lunch and dinner for the next 2 days. Bulgur should be served with protein and a vegetable. For older babies, no need to puree.

For Adults: Mix Balsamic vinegar with 1 Tbsp of lemon juice, drizzle over chicken breasts and set aside. Chop vegetables, and then add scallion, tomato, carrot, apple, seeds, nuts and olives to the cooked bulgur [better if added when bulgur is still warm]. Dress bulgur with remaining lemon juice, sherry vinegar and 1 Tbsp olive oil. Add salt to taste and a generous amount of freshly ground pepper. Add chicken, toss, sprinkle coriander on top, drizzle with olive oil and a few granules of sea salt. Serve at room temperature.

*To serve 4, add another cup of bulgur, two more chicken breasts, and double the seeds and vegetables

**Cooking bulgur depends on whether the grain is finely or coarsely ground. If there are no cooking instructions, start with 2-1 ratio of water to bulgur. Bring to a boil and simmer, but keep adding water if needed. Cooking time will be between 10-30minutes. Bulger should be soft and fluffy. It’s really hard to ruin Bulgur so if you’ve never made it, don’t be afraid to try. 

Fettucini with Chicken and Caper Ragu

Back in the days before we had a baby, my husband and I traveled to Italy at least once a year. Lured by the aesthetic wonders of Rome and Tuscan towns, what really kept us coming back was the food. Many dishes on this blog are inspired from those days, including this super simple pasta dish.

Active cooking time: 20 minutes
Total cooking time: 40 minutes
Serves 3 adults

3 chicken breasts from Basic Chicken Breast for Baby Recipe [see Dec 16, 2008 post] cut into 1 inch pieces
Olive Oil
3 garlic cloves
400 gm tomato paste*
2 cups water or broth
1 tsp fresh thyme leaves
2 Tbsp capers
1 Tbsp brine from the capers 
1 Serrano chili, chopped [optional]
Salt and pepper to taste

Preparation: Peel and crush garlic. Heat pan, add 1 1/2 tbsp olive oil.  When oil is heated, add garlic and saute until garlic starts to brown. Add tomato paste, chili, and then broth or water. Bring to a boil, lower heat, cover pot and simmer for 30 minutes.  Add capers, brine and chicken. Mix in chicken, wait until heated through, and serve over fettuccini.  

*In the summer, use fresh, pureed tomatoes instead of tomato paste, in which case you’ll need to use less broth or water.

8 ideas to turn the Basic Chicken for Baby recipe into dinner for you, friends and family

Many mothers I’ve met tell me they don’t have time to cook for their babies. But what if you cooked just once for baby and adults in one go, increasing the amounts but not the kitchen time? Try the Basic Chicken Recipe for Baby [posted December 16, 2008 on this blog]. You can make a huge batch, freeze it for many baby meals to come, and make a fabulous dinner for yourself and your partner while you’re at it. Try one of these and let us know how it turns out.

1. Mediterranean Chicken Salad [see recipe posted on Dec 16, 2008]
2. Fettuccini with Chicken and Caper Ragu [see recipe posted on Dec 16, 2008]
3. For a taste of Austria, coat chicken with horseradish and dijon mustard, then serve with potato salad.
4. Serve over rice or couscous with a fresh salsa of finely chopped tomato, onion, coriander and lemon juice.
5. Use in any chicken salad recipe
6. Chicken Masala [recipe to come on this blog]
7. Sesame Chicken with Sake [recipe to come on this blog]
8. Curry Chicken Lasagna [recipe to come on this blog] 

Basic Chicken Breast for Baby

Cai loves food packed with flavor. This recipe uses no salt but the leeks and root vegetables give the chicken a savory, succulent kick. When served pureed with the root vegetables and rice, he devours it as if it's doused in honey.

Active cooking time:  30 min
Total cooking time: 1 hour

Don’t cook twice. Cook one recipe for baby, and then turn it into dinner for you. Use this and one of the "8 ideas" posted on December 16, 2008. 

Olive oil
1 Leek
2 kilo [4.4 pounds] boneless chicken breast 
4 - 5 cups of water or broth
Root vegetables, peeled* and chopped. [carrot, kohlrabi, potato, sweet potato, onion, fennel, turnip]

Preparation: Chop leek into thin slices. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in large pot. Add leek and saute for a minute. Add chicken breast, root vegetables and enough broth or water to cover chicken. Bring to a boil and lower to simmer. Cover and leave until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken and  allow vegetables to cook until soft. 

Remove half the chicken, puree and set aside for baby. Chicken can be stored and frozen in batches for future baby meals.  
Prepare second half of the chicken for adults - see '8 ideas' blog posted Dec 16, 2008. Freeze whatever you have left for future meals. 

Puree root vegetables for baby. Serve chicken, root vegetables and a grain to baby for lunch or dinner.

As for the broth:
1. Refrigerate or freeze broth for future use
2. Serve to baby lukewarm with noodles
3. Add salt, pepper and a dash of sesame oil and serve as rich broth to adults

*In an upcoming post, I’ll offer ideas to use the vegetable peel. 

Monday, December 8, 2008

Insalata di Arance [Orange Salad] with pear peel

Prep Time: 15 minutes

This nutrient-rich salad is unexpected and addictive. Based on a Sicilian appetizer, it will excite the palate before any meal. 

3 large oranges
1/4 cup finely chopped red onion
1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/2 cup seeds [like pumpkin and sesame]
1/2 cup sultanas or raisins
1/4 cup puffed quinoa
1/2 cup pitted olives
1/2 unsalted almonds or cashews [optional]
Pear peel leftover from preparing baby's puree

Preparation: Peel and cut oranges into 1 inch pieces. Add onion and dress with olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. Add seeds, sultanas, puffed quinoa, olives, nuts and pear peel. Toss and serve. 

* For a light dinner, mix this salad with 2 cups of cooked quinoa or bulgur and serve.

Pear Peel Revisited

Everyone knows that pear makes an ideal first food for baby. But just because young babies aren’t ready for the peel, that's no reason to throw it away. There are perfectly good grown-ups in your home, ready and willing to eat this "baby leftover".

8 ideas for using pear peel leftover from baby’s puree:

1. Insalata di Arance [see Dec. 8, 2008 post on this blog]
2. Serve with yoghurt, pumpkin seeds and honey for iron rich breakfast or desert
3. Toss into any green vegetable salad
4. Add to any chutney recipe
5. Add to any Bichermuesli recipe 
6. Coat with ground cinnamon or ground cardamom and add to cake or muffin recipe
7. Add to pancake batter or saute lightly with butter and serve with cooked pancakes
8. Use as a layer in a ramekin desert [see Jan 11, 2009 post on this blog]