Sunday, March 31, 2013

Home made Baby Food

I've mentioned the many allergies in my family before, so we were quite careful introducing new foods to our daughter.

She doesn't like the jarred baby food and it was a real struggle to get her to eat it. Our nanny, who is middle eastern, said that in her home country, everyone just boiled bone in chicken, carrots and potatoes together and then mashed or pureed it to make baby food.

It doesn't sound very appetizing does it? But have a taste of any of the jarred food available and you'll see how awful it tastes.

We did try our nanny's recipe with our daughter at 8 months and she loved it. Since she is now almost 11 months, we're being a bit more adventurous and adding more vegetables. Here's a picture of the food we made for her today:

Baby Food before Being Mashed up. It had carrots, celery root, leeks, potatoes and chicken

and here it is pureed:

Pureed! Looks less appetizing now, but baby will love it!

Here's the recipe:

1 skinless chicken drumstick (I buy organic packs and freeze them in individual sandwich bags)
1 medium celery root diced into 1/2 inch cubes
1 medium carrot diced
1 medium potato diced
1 stalk of celery, chopped
1/2 a small leek chopped
pinch of salt
pinch of pepper
1/2 teaspoon butter or olive oil
2 cups water (You may need more if you want a thinner consistency

Put the 1/2 teaspoon butter in a non stick sauce pan and drop in the chicken drumsticks in the pan and allow them to brown a little. Season them with the salt and pepper as they are browning.
Add a couple of tablespoons of the water and add the chopped leeks. At this point, you may also want to add another 1/2 teaspoon of butter. The idea is to sweat the leeks and get them really soft.
Add the rest of the chopped vegetables and stir to prevent from sticking to the bottom of the pan for 2-3 minutes.
Add the rest of the water and bring to boil.
Cover and simmer until chicken and vegetables are soft. The chicken should be falling off the bone at this point. Shred the meat and pull out the bone once cooled.
The food should be thick from the starches in the vegetables. You can now puree it and store it in jars in the fridge for up to 3 days and in the freezer for a month (use ice cube trays as an easy way to store the pureed baby food).

Since our baby is older at the time of the post, I also added a few spices like a clove of garlic chopped fine and a little coriander powder for flavor. You can experiment with different herbs. Thyme and bay leaves are a good addition to this kind of food.

If you like, you can also replace the water in the recipe with a low sodium, organic chicken stock. This will make it even more tasty, but make sure you use a low sodium stock, because baby's kidneys are not yet equipped to deal with a lot of sodium!

You can also add various kinds of vegetables as a variant. I did green beans and kale as well the last time and our little one loved it! The broth from the chicken leg makes all the vegetables taste yummy!

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Gluten and Peanut Free Mussaman curry

I did find a way to get my mussaman curry creamy without using peanut butter. While Cashew and Almond butters are a little too sweet, sunflower seed butter is just perfect, adding the saltiness and creaminess that this dish usually gets from peanuts ground to a paste

The curry is simple to make especially if you use the ready mussaman curry pastes. I highly recommend doing this because it is unlikely that you will have all the ingredients for this curry in your spice shelf. Believe me, it's true, I have an incredibly stocked spice shelf (see picture below) and even I don't have all the ingredients.

My rather disorganized but well stocked spice cupboard

Anyway, here goes... this is the recipe:

  • Meat of Choice: Chicken, beef or Lamb work best. For beef, pick brisket, for chicken pick thighs and for lamb, pick Lamb shoulder. If you can, use bone in chicken pieces for more flavor.
  • 1 13.5-ounce can good quality coconut milk
  • 1 lb of waxy potatoes (red potatoes work best here)
  • 8 ounces white or yellow pearl onions, peeled. You can also use quartered yellow onions
  • 80gms of Massaman curry paste or you could use a half and half mix of yellow and red curry
  • 2 tablespoons of prepared tamarind paste
  • A splash of  fish sauce (1-2 tablespoons)
  • 1 tablespoon Palm or brown sugar
  • 1/4th cup of Sunflower seed butter
  • 7-8 lightly toasted cardamoms, optional
  • 1 teaspoon of lightly toasted cumin seeds

    1. Pour out 1/2 a cup of the top, creamy part of the coconut milk and put in a large  pot along with the curry paste. Fry the paste in the coconut cream over medium heat until it turns creamy and the oil from the coconut starts to separate out.
    Here's what it looks like at this stage:
    Notice the oil from the coconut cream separating...
    1. Add the meat into the pot; stir to coat and then add the rest of the coconut milk and just enough water to cover it.
    2. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and cook, covered for about 1 hour. If you're using a tougher cut of meat, cook longer.
    3. The meat should be kept submerged, so if the liquid dries up, add a little more water.
    4. Add the onions and potatoes to the pot along with 2 tablespoons of fish sauce. This should be done when you have about 15 minutes for the meat to be tender.
    5. About 10 minutes before the potatoes and onions are ready add the tamarind paste cardamom and cumin.
    6. Add the sunflower seed butter and stir to mix in.
    7. Remove the pot from heat and serve the curry over rice.

    Here is what it looks like. I should have plated it!

    A new allergy discovered for my already picky eater

        Last Saturday was a scary one for my 4 yr old son. He hasn’t shown any signs of an alergy in the past, but got a severe allergic reaction after breaking into a stash of my protein bars. We think it may be peanuts, but he has had peanut butter before without any issues.
    Anyway, we spent the rest of the weekend going through the cupboards getting rid of all the nuts in the house.
    Note to self… “Need to come up with alternative recipe for Mussamann curry.”
    It’s going to get a little more difficult. Nut flours were a great find when my wife discovered her gluten allergy.