Grated carrot salad — French style!

Several readers have written to me asking for this recipe. Enjoy!

Grated carrot salad is a favorite dish for French kids. They eat it regularly for school lunch, and it’s popular at home as well. Even adults enjoy it as a starter. As a testament to its popularity, you can even find grated carrot salad pre-packaged in supermarkets (as one of the few salads which you can buy pre-prepared).

The fresh version is infinitely better, because the secret of this salad is in the texture: finely grated raw carrots that are simultaneously crisp and melt-in-your-mouth. They more finely grated the carrots, the more the natural sweetness of the carrots will dominate the flavor of this dish. For kids who have a hard time with crunchier textures, this might just be the dish that convinces them they love carrots.

8 large carrots
2 tablespoons olive oil
Juice of one orange
Juice of half a lemon
One bunch flat leaf parsley
Optional: a dash of Dijon mustard
Pinch of salt

Dressing: Mix the orange and lemon juice with the olive oil and the salt. Store separately until just before serving. You may want to add more oil, or lemon, depending on your tastes. But don’t overdress this salad! It should be nicely coated, but not swimming in the dressing.

Carrots: Peel the carrots. This is important, because the skin is often more bitter than the interior! Grate the carrots in fine shreds using a hand grater or machine. (These food mills are popular in France, and make fine, delicate shredded carrot—if you have one, use it!) The finer the strands, the more delicious the salad.

Parsley: Chop a quarter bunch of flat leaf parsley, in fine, small (I mean teeny, tiny) pieces. Make sure you don’t include any of the stems—just the leaves. Note: you don’t want dried parsley, as the fresh parsley offsets the texture of the carrots perfectly, whereas dried parsley tends to taste a bit crunchier and, well, dry.

Combine the carrots, parsley, and dressing just before serving. Best served slightly chilled or at room temperature.

Bon Appétit!

Ps Funny French Fact: Carrots are one of the few vegetables that French people regularly eat raw. For some reason, they tend to prefer most of their vegetables cooked (raw broccoli, even when served with a ‘vegetable dip’ is not something my mother-in-law approves of, for example!). I’ve never found a satisfactory answer to the question of why this is so. If you have an explanation, let me know!

Tender chicken with ‘sauce chasseur’

I am very excited, and honored, to be doing this guest post for Karen. Her work is so worthwhile. I am a French mom living in LA,  writing my FrenchFoodieBaby blog about my journey in educating my son’s taste buds and teaching him to be a healthy eater.

Here is one of Pablo’s favorite recipes when he was 12 months old. Adults can eat this dish too – it’s that tasty!

Tender Chicken with Sauce “Chasseur”

 

Serves 4

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 15 + 10 minutes

Serving to babies: 12 months and up in small quantities, pureed as appropriate. For babies who are already chewing, the mushrooms make a good finger food.

 Note that you can use the sauce with any poultry dish; for toddlers, you could also serve it with a morsels of chicken, or a even a whole roasted chicken.

 

4 pieces of skinless chicken (either breast or thigh)

1 lb mushrooms, washed and sliced

6 tbsp of butter

4 shallots, peeled and minced

2 heaping tbsp flour

1/2 cup white wine (or white grape juice, or juice from canned mushrooms, if you want to go alcohol-free)

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 tbsp of tomato concentrate

1 bouquet garni (in a piece of hollow celery rib, put some thyme, parsley, sage, 1 or 2 bay leaves, cover with another piece of celery rib and tie with kitchen tie.)

Salt & pepper

5-6 sprigs of fresh chervil (if you can find it, I’ve had a hard time finding it in LA), stem removed, minced

5-6 sprigs of fresh tarragon, stem removed, minced

 

Cut the chicken in strips and set aside.

 

For the sauce:

In a saucepan, melt the butter and sauté the mushrooms. Add in the shallots, and cook for a few minutes.

Sprinkle flour, stir and let it get a bit of color.

Stir in the wine and broth. Add the tomato concentrate, bouquet garni, salt & pepper.

Stir and bring to a boil. Cover and let simmer over medium low for about 15 minutes.

 

At this point, you can keep warm, covered, on very low heat, while you cook the chicken.

 

In a frying pan, heat some olive oil over medium heat. Sauté the chicken strips until cooked. Salt & pepper to taste.

 

Before serving the sauce, remove the bouquet garni, and incorporate the minced chervil and tarragon.

 

Pour sauce over the meat and serve immediately!

Sneak preview from my new book: Party Pasta!

I’m so excited to post this recipe – the first ‘sneak preview’ recipe from my new book (Getting to Yum), which will be out on May 6th! My ‘test families’ have been working hard: tasting, testing, suggesting improvements. They LOVED this recipe, and I hope you do too. I’d love your comments–from you and especially your kids!

The recipes are designed to be simple, fast and easy to make–but to have a ‘twist’, introducing your family to new tastes, as a means of expanding their palates. This recipe combines the perennial favorite–pasta–with something unusual: anchovies.

Now, don’t be alarmed. Some of my test families were a bit hesitant, but they all loved this recipe! Trust me, this is a flavor combination worth trying! The anchovies add a salty flavor that really livens up the broccoli, balanced by the fresh taste of lemon. Plus anchovies, like other small cold-water fish, are incredibly nutritious.

I often serve this at informal dinner parties (hence the name); it’s delicious enough for adults, but easy enough for kids (particularly those who are still learning to like their greens – they can focus on the pasta while nibbling the occasional bit of greenery or fish).

Anchovies are considered relatively safe to eat by the US government, because they are lower down the food chain, so don’t concentrate toxins to the same extent as other fish (like mercury—which is found in other types of fish that children and pregnant women should avoid).

Equipment: 1 medium cooking pot, 1 large cooking pot

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 15 minutes

Servings: 2 adults and 2 children

 

2 cups broccoli florets (about ½ of a head of broccoli), cut into bite-size pieces

About 5 anchovies (double if you really like anchovies) – Note: Anchovies are preserved in brine, and then canned with oil (my preference) or salt (too salty for my taste). If you do use those packed in salt, rinse them well first. 

3 tbsp olive oil

juice of 1/2 a lemon (about 2 tbsp)

¼ cup breadcrumbs

¼ cup grated parmesan (fresh is best! But I often used the pre-grated kind)

Pasta for 4 (I like penne or farfalle best with this recipe) – about 8 ounces

Optional: garlic, 1 tsp pepperoncini (spicy red pepper flakes – for the more adventurous eaters in the family!)

Timesaving tip: Set two pots of water on the stove to boil. While these are heating up, chop the broccoli into small florets. By this time, the water should be boiling: add the broccoli to one and the pasta to the other, and reduce heat to simmer. Set your timer or check your watch for the pasta!

Heat oil in a frying pan (optional: at this stage, add garlic and fry until lightly golden, then remove garlic and set aside). Add anchovies, and a ¼ cup of the pasta cooking water. Cook on high heat for 3 minutes, until anchovies are so soft that they melt. Reduce to very low heat and cook until liquid has reduced into a sauce (about 3 more minutes).

Drain pasta when ready, then toss pasta with anchovy sauce. Drain broccoli, and add lemon juice, toss lightly, then add to the pasta. Serve topped with parmesan and breadcrumbs (adding optional pepperoncini if desired).  

Bon Appétit! And please DO let me know what you think. Your comments might even make it into the cookbook! ;)

Note: if making this in advance, do not toss the lemon juice with the broccoli (because anything acidic will make the broccoli turn brown). Keep the broccoli and lemon juice separate; toss together and then add to pasta just before serving.

 

Green Machine Puree

Green Machine Soup with mouseHere’s a sneak peak at one of the new recipes in Getting to Yum: Green Machine Puree!

This dish has a melt-in-your-mouth flavor that kids tend to accept easily. I serve it warm in little cups as a starter (following our “veggies first” rule that we usually apply at dinner).

Bonus: The purees in the book are designed to double as delicious blended soups for adults – saving time for busy parents. They freeze easily–so they’re our family’s “go to” fast food — just reheat straight from the freezer!).

Does your family eat a lot of blended soups?

Holiday Recipe: Roast Squash with Maple-Sage Dressing

Long Live Squash! My farming relatives had a bumper crop of squash this year, and we’ve been experimenting with squash recipes for weeks. I’m hoping this recipe will appear in my cookbook (out next year) and would love your thoughts!

 

Equipment: 1 baking dish or roasting pan, grater, blender
Preparation Time: 5 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 to 40 minutes
Servings: 4 adult servings

This is a great dish to make for babies who are transitioning to more solid foods, but who aren’t really ready to chew hard foods or chunks. My younger daughter (who took a long, long time to start chewing solid food) loved this dish, and we still love to make it on winter nights.

The ‘taste training’ element is in the dressing: the sweetness of the maple syrup and the acidity of the orange offsets the hint of sage—which pairs wonderfully with the squash.

As with the recipe for Butternut Squash Puree (above), I’ve calculated adult servings, as I am assuming you will want to enjoy this yummy dish along with your child!

1 large butternut squash
¼ cup water
1 tbsp butter, plus a few extra dabs of butter for the squash once baked
¼ cup maple syrup
¼ cup orange juice
½ tsp cinnamon
tiny pinch of sage (dried) — just a pinch!
optional: 1 tsp kosher (or sea) salt, sprinkled over squash just before serving

Preheat oven to 350F.

1. Preparing the squash: Halve the squash lengthwise and remove the seeds and strings. Rub the insides with butter (or a vegetable oil, to stop the squash from burning). Place on baking dish (or roasting pan) with ¼ cup water, skin side down. Bake in preheated oven (350 degrees) for 30 to 40 minutes or until tender when pricked with a fork. Remove from oven, sprinkle with salt (optional) and allow to cool. Place additional (optional) dabs of butter inside to melt.

2. Making the dressing: In a small pot, combine maple syrup and orange juice, heating gently (low-medium heat) for about 5 minutes. When warm, add the cinnamon and sage. Reduce heat to low, and cook (stirring occasionally) for about 5 minutes. Bonus: this will make your kitchen smell wonderful!

Serve warm, with warm dressing drizzled over top (kids love to drizzle their own dressing!).