Sunday, August 1, 2010

Petit Appetit cookbook: mother tested, baby approved

As you may know, I get a bit overwhelmed in the kitchen and much prefer to eat my husband's amazing cooking than try to whip anything up myself. However, Ruby is going through a phase where she's not interested in eating anything besides mama's milk. Even though Jude's been making her purees and foods for months now, she just up and decided that she would refuse everything but the boob.

So, I pulled out Lisa Barnes' The Petit Appetit Cookbook today because it promises: "easy, organic recipes to nurture your baby and toddler." I wanted to see if there was anything that was simple enough as to not scare me off from making it and delicious enough to coax Ruby out of this new habit of avoidance. I was so pleasantly surprised to see recipe after recipe that I felt confident I would have the time and energy to try! I made two of them today ("bananafanas" and "baked ricotta cake"), chosen based on what was already in my fridge and cupboards, and both were incredibly simple and delicious (for Ruby and, admittedly, myself)!

Here's what I made:

Baked Ricotta Cakes
First, I whipped up these little baked ricotta cakes. It is essentially more of a souffle than a cake (it puffed up and then crashed down after coming out of the oven before I could snap this pic), but incredibly simple to make. I only had half a cup of ricotta left in my fridge (I get this delicious Salvatore Brooklyn ricotta from the market every weekend that is handmade around here), so I did only a half recipe. You'd get four little ramekins (rather than my two) if you made the full recipe. Here is the whole recipe:

1 cup whole-milk ricotta
2 cage-free, organic egg whites
4 tablespoons honey* (I actually think this is too much--would have been just as good half as sweet, but maybe it was because I used really yummy raw organic honey?)
2 cups mixed fresh berries (seasonally, of course!)

*Remember that honey should never be given to a baby under one year in age (because of risk of infant botulism), so leave this out if you're making this for an infant.

Preheat oven to 350 degree. Place the cheese in a bowl and break up with a wooden spoon. Beat egg whites in a small bowl until soft peaks form (I had to ask Jude about this because I don't know what this're basically making it start into a meringue-like consistency...once you can lift the spoon and the egg whites stand up on their own). Add egg whites and honey to cheese and mix thoroughly until smooth.

Lightly grease four ramekins. Spoon ricotta mixture into ramekins. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until cakes are risen and golden.

Cool, turn out of ramekin, and top with berries, if desired. Or enjoy warm out of the ramekin (that's what we did).

TIP (this is also from the book, not mine):
Ricotta is recommended for babies because of the mild flavor and creamy texture. It also has less sodium than cottage cheese, used in similar recipes. Ricotta comes in whole-milk, low-fat, and skim-milk versions.

I mean, Ruby loves bananas on their own, too, which is the simplest of all...but these were fun and easy and she loved them as a special treat. Plus, they are a good way to use up browned bananas that are yucky to eat by themselves. The book suggests for older kids to top them on yogurt, waffles, or pancakes, etc.

2 large, ripe organic bananas
1 tablespoon organic orange juice
1 teaspoon maple syrup
Cinnamon, for sprinkling

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease a glass baking dish. Cut bananas in half crosswise and lengthwise, so there will be 8 pieces. In a small bowl, combine orange juice and syrup. Place bananas in greased dish and spoon syrup mixture over each banana. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake bananas for 15 minutes, or until soft and golden.

Clearly I'm not a very precise sprinkler of the cinnamon. These taste better than they look!

Mmm...ricotta souffle!

Yum, mama! Thanks!

Finish up the meal with some milk from daddy. Love the creamline whole milk from Ronnybrook Farm!

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