Tuesday, April 27, 2010


 Returning from the cinema with a friend in the early evening I phoned home to see what the kitchen needed. Happily, I reported back to Jane that in my absence the groceries had been purchased, Billie was mid-mouthful and my portion of dinner awaited. Mush on cous cous it was. "Oh, so you're all eating mush now,'' laughed Jane. Uh huh, and I haven't quite figured out how to turn it around.

Last night was Miles' very soft pumpkin and courgette cooked in an iron fondue pot on the stove and dressed with fresh coriander. Billie's was pureed, ours was served on a bed of cous cous.

I escaped cooking duties again tonight (oh no, what will I blog about?!) as the clock struck 6.00, Billie's teething strengthened her impatience, and I rummaged for the quickest dinner solution. Thankfully she is not quite at the age of pounding her fists on the table and demanding something a little more exciting than polenta porridge. Miles then once again took over the apron strings and cooked up a storm. Mmmmm, gnocci with tuna and caper red sauce. Billie's not on wheat yet, but when she is I'll have a good excuse to start practicing hand made gnocci.

'Tis the season to be leeked. And souped. Leek and Potato Soup has already made an appearance here. On Sunday I woke up with an urge to soak up Saturday's couple of glasses of champagne, which were somehow making me feel a little wretched.

The Alternative Sunday Mash-up below was well received in a more pureed form by Billie when she awoke from her morning nap. Initially I was wary of Miles' egg stand-in, but it turned out mighty fine.

ALTERNATIVE SUNDAY MASH-UP (for when the egg cupboard is bare)

2-3 thinly sliced leeks
3 sliced courgettes
1 large tomato, diced
Bunch of spinach, picked and washed
1/2 block of firm tofu
1/8 cup of milk
Large handful grated cheddar cheese
Good bread to toast 

Slowly saute leeks in olive oil and butter until soft and golden. Add courgettes and cook for few more mins. Meanwhile place spinach in large pot with a small knob of butter and cook over medium heat for a few minutes, or until wilted. (It cooks mostly in the water contained on the leaves, so don't bother drying it too well). Fry up tomatoes in olive oil in a separate pot. While all this is going on, get the toast going (optional). Meanwhile, blend tofu with milk and cheese and pour into oiled hot pan. It will look like a thick pancake. Cook on medium heat until starts to congeal, then stir until it looks like scrambled eggs. 

Billie loved the leeks, courgettes and spinach blended together. I squeezed fresh lemon juice over it to give her a vitamin C kick, needed to absorb the iron in the spinach. But it also tastes great - spinach and lemon make great friends.

A NOTE ON TOMATO: We kept the tomato to ourselves as it's the only food so far that Billie turns her nose up at. Too acidic it seems - a common response in babies.

A few hours later I was ready for more leeks. But Billie needed dinner too, so...soup it was again. I created this on the hop and it went down a treat. It's VERY quick and easy.

Coconut cream - sounds a bit rich and somehow naughty for a baby perhaps. But if you think about it a wee while longer, it's probably better for babies than cows milk. It's just from a plant, after all. Apparently, coconut is the first food Thais give their babies. It's a distinct flavour, and I had a moment of concern after pouring a tin into the soup below, but Billie gulped it back. And again for lunch yesterday.

It's the perfect accompaniment to many Billie-dishes I think - often I'm searching the kitchen for a liquid ingredient to moisten and flavor her various forms of mush. Just make sure you choose a straight-up good quality coconut cream (preferably organic, just to be safe) as there are some nasty versions watered down with stuff that has nothing to do with coconuts. And don't bother with the light varieties - if you're worried, just use less.

This soup comes out a lovely light purple -  use purple sweet potatoes and leave the peel on.


2-3 leeks, sliced
2 kumara (sweet potato) chopped, don't peel
1 can organic coconut cream
2 cups cold water
1/2 lemon

Heat large pot with 2 tblspns olive oil and a knob of butter (optional). Saute leeks for 5 mins. Add chopped kumara, stir, and add water. Place lid and bring to boil. Simmer with lid on until kumara very soft (about 20 mins). Blend well. Add coconut cream (start with half, taste before adding rest). Reheat and serve immediately. Squeeze little lemon over and stir. Salt if desired.


  1. This sounds good. I make a really yummy soup that is leek, kumara, cumin and yoghurt. Also pear and parsnip soup is great baby and adult food.

  2. Pear and Parsnip?! WOW. Pears are always in my kitchen but I can't say parsnips make a regular appearance. Perhaps I'll encourage a comeback.
    Do you cook the yoghurt in the other soup, or just add at the end?

  3. Sorry I missed this reply. The pear and parsnip soup was in a Cuisine and it was one of those recipes that someone had written in and requested from a cafe. It was actually really nice but I have only made it once. I often forget to get parsnips and they are such a great taste. A bit like Jerusalem artichokes which Petrina loves and I just bought some in the weekend.

    The yoghurt in the kumara and leek soup is just a spoonful as you are serving it. I love the cumin flavour in that soup.

    On Mothers day night I made a huge pot of the Julie Biuso minestrone. It was soo good and the next night I made a lentil and mushroom soup. I did not have enough fresh mushrooms so used some dried and soaked them and finely chopped them in the food processor. It was a lovely earthy soup with a bit of chew from the mushrooms.

  4. hmmmm, I have never used mushrooms in soup. Do you pulp it? Billie seems to swallow them whole otherwise

  5. Well often mushrooms are sliced or a bit chunkier like in that recipe I sent you. That lentil and mushroom soup was supposed to pureed but I just mashed it because I wanted it chunkier. It had potatoes in it too.