Wednesday, July 14, 2010

BILLIE BITES ALL

We're more than half way there, and it's not even four months.

The main premise of this blog when started in April was to create tasty, healthy meals without meat for our family. As in ONE evening meal, not one for baby Billie and a second installment for ma and pa. I wanted Billie to embrace food and eating with the passion of her parents. To yearn for different textures, colours and flavours.

Well, Billie must have been listening. And watching.

On Saturday we took Billie to her first big festival. It was the perfect introduction - the very baby-friendly Chicago Folk and Roots Festival. Put on by the Old Town School Of Folk Music, the $10 admission was the best tenner ever spent.

Despite coming prepared with the ubiquitous banana, Billie grew bored after a few mouthfuls and wanted some of the black bean cakes with mango salsa that mama was chomping on. And a bit of that red beans and rice that dadda was downing. Thumbs up to the festival organisers for inviting Wishbone restaurant, and keeping food vendors to a limited quality few.

But Billie's bean feast wasn't that surprising - she asserted her fondness for handling beans (unmashed please) the previous weekend while staying with her Italian Great Grandfather. (STAY TUNED FOR AN INCREDIBLE ARRAY OF RECIPES SWIPED FROM GREAT GRANDMA EVE).

No, it was the STUFFED SPINACH PIZZA that did it.

Our festival party stared wide-mouthed as Billie demolished most of a large slice of this Chicago institution. If you haven't been here you probably don't know what I'm talking about. At first I was reticent when Miles tried to take me out for stuffed pizza on my first Chicago visit. But it's not like that Pizza Hut stuff. Chicago stuffed pizza is more like a pie.

We've yet to try Billie on regular thin crust pizza, but something tells me we couldn't keep her away.

My mission has caught up with me sooner than anticipated. There's no more slipping Billie some mush while the adults dine on a smorgasbord of dishes.

Recipes to come...

Below: Billie tonight after sampling soft-shelled crab at local Oak Park restaurant Poor Phils

Friday, July 9, 2010

FRITTER MAD- SPINACH AND COTTAGE CHEESE

Did I mention how much Billie loves fritters? Well, we're onto a winner so now it's all about creating new ways to turn vegetables and other healthy ingredients into the fritter form. I was very happy with the immediate success of these little invented numbers. Billie scoffed four in one sitting.

Spinach and various forms of cheese are high on my priority list. Throw in some eggs, herbs etc and a bit of flour...and a tasty vegetarian lunch or dinner you have.

Now that we're almost fully into the 'self-feed' scenario - thankfully Billie still lets me spoon-feed her brown rice and date porridge - I'm on a mission to create items easily handled by baby hands and mouths.

SPINACH AND COTTAGE CHEESE FRITTERS

1 bag/large bunch English spinach, washed
1 cup cottage cheese (look for a variety with low salt and minimum ingredients)
1/2 cup grated cheddar
1-2 spring onions, finely chopped
1-2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 eggs, whisked with fork
1/2 cup wholemeal flour
handful fresh basil, chopped or torn
black pepper
olive oil for frying

Cook spinach in large pot with just the water left on the leaves from washing and 1 T butter in bottom of pan. Cook on medium for few minutes, shaking pot frequently and stirring once. Remove immediately and cool before chopping. Use liquid left in pot in fritters (don't wanna waste that goodness).

Saute spring onion and garlic lightly in oil. Add to spinach, with whisked eggs, cheeses, flour, herbs and seasonings. Add little bit of salt if necessary. Mixture should be wet, but eggs will hold it together.

Heat generous quantity of oil in fry pan. When hot place tablespoons of mixture into pan and turn to low. Cook slowly for few minutes until ready to flip. Other side won't need as long.

Place on paper towels, if needed, and serve immediately. Lemon juice worked to cool fritters down for eager Billie, and tasted nice too.
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