Homemade Ricotta & Fava Beans for Isabella + Other Weekend Food

My friend Amy’s daughter Isabella turns one this week and we celebrated her birthday on Saturday. She’s exactly one month older than Enzo and a much better eater than him.
Don’t get me wrong, he will try anything you put near his mouth. Even things I don’t intend for him to eat, such as the edge of a table, coasters, the handle of a shopping cart, the soles of our shoes. Enzo still wants his foods mashed and pureed. Real solids get hamstered into his cheeks until he can’t hold them any longer, and then they end up in random places around the apartment. Or else he sprays them all over the himself, the table, into his crotch. The seat of his booster & high chairs are constantly in need of scraping.
Isabella is able to stuff her mouth with food and eat it like a regular human being.
I made her ricotta and fava beans, which is a pretty classic combo.
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For the ricotta you need good quality whole milk, vinegar, and salt.
About 1 quart of milk = 1 cup of cheese.
Bring milk to a simmer and add salt.
Add vinegar, about 2 Tbsp per quart. This is purely a guess, I have no idea how much I usually use.
Give a quick stir and let sit for about a minute, then strain through cheesecloth.
I stupidly tossed the leftover liquid, called whey, but you should save it as it’s super healthy and can be used for a variety of things.
Enzo did not like this concoction. However, I did roast some beets, and then I mashed them with some Martone cheese that we got in our Quinciple box this week. It’s a cheese made from goat and cow milk and isn’t that great on its own, but it’s a good “food” cheese to eat in a dish. He ate it up because beets are sweet. Surprise.
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That is my sandwich on the side, a healthy “California” sammy made with beefsteak tomato, avocado, sprouts, Gruyere, and mayo on multigrain toast. And an IPA to wash it down with.
On Sunday mornings, I let dad sleep in. Today I tried to let Enzo feed himself something other than Cheerios.
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The situation deteriorated quickly. Apparently this involves smashing all the fruit onto the tray, putting his mouth on the edge of it, then sweeping them onto the floor. Not wanting to waste the fruit (nectarines are so sweet right now!) I quickly salvaged some and fed him by hand.
For lunch we got pho at Thai Son. I ordered the Pho Ga (chicken noodle soup) because I figured shredded chicken would be easy for him. I chose poorly. The chicken I got was the pre-boiled old man ear chicken and he hated it. The broth was tasteless and I was mad for making us stray from our usual spot.
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We went to Chinatown Ice Cream Factory afterwards and I fed him black sesame & pandan ice creams because I’m a good mom.
We also got spicy cucumbers from Xi’an Famous Foods, which have a slight kick. So of course the kid ate some of those. What a weirdo.
Because we are moving out of our neighborhood in a few weeks, Ryan wants to do a “bucket list” restaurant tour of our favorite spots. We LOVE Speedy Romeo so we headed there tonight.
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To start, we ordered the grilled octopus in romesco sauce & housemade mozzarella crostini with watermelon gazpacho, grape tomatoes, and pickled cucumbers. I know what pickles are, these were pickled cucumbers.
Though the octopus was super tender & lightly smoky and the mozz was very soft, the kid wouldn’t swallow anything. He kept letting me feed him, but after a few minutes he’d SPPFFFFFFT all over himself and the seat.
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Then he tried to play ring toss with my pizza.
I don’t eat my crusts, so I gave them to him. He enjoyed the crap out of these until it came to swallow time. And then he spit them in his crotch.
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For dinner we were given white chocolate mousse with balsamic amaretti cookies at the bottom, topped with cherries. Also an olive oil cake with raspberry-rhubarb & orange zest. Kid ate all the fruit product and some of the cake. Of course. But at least he ate fruit, including the raspberry seeds.
I fear he is a little behind in the whole eating thing. I’m scared to let him really try to feed himself mostly because if he decides to throw something, it will land on books, photos, sofa, rug, and anything else within infant-tossing distance because our living room/dining room/play area are one and the same, and about 10×10. In short, there is just not enough room to make a food mess. Also, he is going through this casserole of nonsense right now. For real, they should call them wonder months and not weeks. We had a puke-mergency last night.
We are moving in a few weeks to a much larger apartment. I will have a real kitchen with real storage (there is ONE drawer in our kitchen right now) and real counter space. There’s a separate area for eating and a separate area for hanging out. There is room to put a GD tarp down to catch all the baby mess. We can eat together like a real family instead of placing the high chair in between our TV trays as we eat from the couch. Cannot wait, but I will be sad to leave this quiet, beautiful neighborhood, where I have been the past 8 years.
Until next time, keep grindin!

Carrots & Lentil “Hummus”

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I have been wrestling with the best way to get ET to eat solids. We are doing kind of a combo between traditional purees and baby led weaning. I’ve found that he eats best when we eat as a family, but our normal schedule is to put him to bed at 7:30/8pm and then finish making dinner and eat.

We changed it up this weekend and I started making dinner at 6pm, and he ate with us. It made a huge difference. We also went out to brunch and he ate everything we gave him: grits, pancakes, eggs, andouille sausage, chicken.

Things we have tried that he has hated:
1. Alphabet pasta with marinara sauce. Sucked all the marinara sauce and then spit out the pasta.
2. Cold mashed potatoes and skirt steak. Even I wouldn’t want to eat that.
3. Lentils, not mashed or pureed. Also, I only cooked these in water and added lemon.

I inadvertently made him an all orange meal last night, which he destroyed:

1. Mashed carrots: Boil water and lightly salt. Add peeled carrots and boil for about 15 minutes, until they are tender. Add vegetable stock and puree. I did a rough puree with an immersion blender so he still had something to “chew” on somewhat.

2. Lentil “hummus” (for lack of a better word): Saute minced onions (I used spring red) in olive oil until translucent. Add vegetable stock and bring to a simmer, then add red lentils. Simmer until softened. Add white wine vinegar or lemon juice, salt, and whatever other spices you’d like. I tried Mexican tarragon because I had it. When lentils are fully cooked, puree. You can add water or more stock to adjust the consistency.

I used all non-animal products because that shit congeals. Our nanny has him out all day and this is a good way for him to have real food + protein. When he’s a little bigger, the lentils would be a good dipper for carrots and other veggies.

For dessert, he had some really juicy, sweet nectarines.

Here’s some other fancy shit he ate this weekend, pickled green tomatoes and fresh mozzarella. I ate it off his high chair, which also doubles as my desk. Cry.

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And today, Ryan brought me lunch and baby and we ate under the arches. I usually get the falafel special sandwich from Heights Falafel, which has baba and hummus in it. Enzo ate that shit up.

I haven’t really been checking out a lot of baby cookbooks but I did pick up Bebe Gourmet, which is written by Jenny Carenco. She is the creator of Les Menus Bebe, a French brand of all-natural baby food. The photos are simple and fun, and she takes you from first purees through first meals at the dinner table. She suggests combinations with different sides/purees, and also explains how to make it into a meal for adults. In the back of the book, she explains the different nutritional values of each ingredient. A really well-rounded, simple book to follow. I borrowed it from the library, but am going to purchase my own copy.

All Children Love Alphabet Soup

We just got back from a trip to visit Ryan’s family. I’m not sure what happened, but ET seems to have grown up quite a bit in those four days. We surprised Pop Pop (ET’s great grandpa, who he was named after) for his 90th birthday. I didn’t know he was so active on social media, but when he saw the kid he exclaimed, Oh my, it’s the stomachmonster!!

He’s pulling himself up and really trying to walk and can crawl properly now (ET not Pop Pop), though he still prefers the soldier crawl as it’s faster. AND he’s eating. Finally! I think being around an older cousin was good for him. He will now those horrid snack puffs and freeze-dried yogurt bites. I could only find Gerber brand at the store we went to but was able to find some sweetened only with fruit juice (Happy Tots).

Also, we learned he is not allergic to nuts! There’s no time like vacation time to see if your baby is allergic to anything. They were baked into Great-Grandma’s pumpkin bread. Oopsy!

He loves Cowgirl Creamery’s Mt Tam. Also shredded white cheddar, which I was making pimento cheese spread with. This is my kid.

And, like most airborne Americans, lil ET loves bloody mary mix. Spicy. I let him taste it off my finger, then used a cocktail straw to give him some more. He loves that stuff. So I’m going to make him some tomato soup tonight, made from better ingredients. Recipe below.

Canned tomatoes
Fresh tomatoes
Tomato paste
Olive oil
1 Can coconut milk

Pasta (I have alphabet pasta from Raffetto’s but any small shape will work – orzo, stars, ditalini, etc.)
Cheese garnish
Basil garnish

1. Heat oil in a saucepan and add garlic, minced.
2. Add tomato paste and saute until fragrant.
3. Add diced fresh tomatoes, then canned tomatoes.
4. Add coconut milk.
5. Puree with immersion blender when cooked through.

I am going to add alphabet pasta to this, so I will overcook a small batch of it for the kid so it’s easier to eat. This will freeze nicely for future eating. I realize it’s getting too warm now for soup, but he doesn’t eat his food hot anyway. So there.

Blue Hill & Blue Food

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Last weekend, we went back to Blue Hill for a spring lunch. We left the kid at home with the nanny and felt guilty the entire time, especially after seeing all the families touring the farm. Next time we will come for the lambs and not the food.

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We had a stellar meal, and even got to eat a few courses in the kitchen. My favorites were the mussels, barely poached to creaminess and the coppa served atop the first maple tap of the season.

As for the more substantial dishes, I loved the smoked scallop and fried pig ear tacos with rutabega tortillas and the venison three ways.

As you’ve read, I’ve been trying to make Enzo food but with little luck. I’ve finally realized that he still can’t really deal with textures, and that I need to puree and then strain his food before feeding it to him.

It’s now spring, but the offerings at our farmers market are still root veggies and cellar fruits. So I’ve had to supplement with frozen fruits and vegetables.  Trader Joe’s has an okay selection, and I bought some blueberries and spinach. I’ve been trying to go once a week to stock up on nanny snacks and other groceries since it is close to our butcher.

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Here’s a quart container with frozen blueberries (about a cup), 5 apples that I skinned, cored, cubed, and made into apple sauce from cameo & pink lady market apples, and frozen spinach (about half a cup). I added Bob’s Red Mill 10-grain cereal and split it between two containers, then used the immersion blender to puree the shit out of it.

THEN I strained it so any errant pieces of spinach stalk, apple skin, and chunky cereal bits didn’t make it into the emperor’s food.

And guess what – Mikey likes it!
Score 1 for mommy. Put it in the freezer, I’m done.

I also bought some purple and yellow carrots from the market that I skinned, quartered, and steamed. He’ll have those tomorrow. I try to do the finger food thing at least once a week.

I didn’t get to pickle the green tomatoes I bought. It’s a bit early for any kind of tomato, but I got excited. They’re good on BLTs and also with buratta.

I hate WordPress’s auto image editing. But I’ve been super lazy about uploading to Flickr.

In which Enzo learns to smash food

Last week I steamed some vegetables and apples for Enzo. We have been feeding him purees and food pouches, and I want him to experience more textures and also to feed his own damn self.


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And after:

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Let me tell you that steamed broccoli florets are not fun to clean out of a yoga mat. He got some of it into his mouth, but mostly he wanted to smash it on his table and then into his crotch.

The carrots were sweet, pale yellow carrots from Quinciple, which he seemed to like.

This morning we went to the farmer’s market but there wasn’t much more than roots and mealy apples, which have been disappointing the past few weeks. I had some baby zucchini that I’d bought last week and some bananas:

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Again, these ended up mostly in his crotch and on the ground, but he did try to eat more. I also fed him some nori and put oolong tea in a sippy cup.

As far as food pouches go, he has certain ones that he really likes, so I’m going to try to recreate them in “real” food format. I also bought some 10-grain cereal to mix with pureed fruit/veggies to give him more protein.

Meanwhile, I made myself a farmer’s market salad for lunch.

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Trader Joe’s honey chevre topped with roasted scarlet turnips and some Japanese greens tossed in olive oil and rosé vinegar. Fuck you already, winter.

I don’t really have a recipe to post for this; if you can’t roast vegetables and assemble a salad, I can’t really help. It’s in the latest issue of Saveur, which has a lot of great recipes and articles in it.

Also, thanks so much to Le Gamin for giving Ryan food poisoning. Otherwise I’d be eating a heavier lunch.

I have a mini Stomachmonster

His name is Enzo, he’s 7 months old, and we are just starting him on solids.

So that’s where I’ve been the past year and a half.

We started him on Ella’s Kitchen & Plum Organics fruit pouches and it took about a week for him to figure out how to swallow those. I’ve been slowly making him pureed foods and will let him taste things as I eat.

Here’s what has worked and what hasn’t:

Avocados: no dice
Sweet potatoes: he’s not sure of this yet, it was too thick in the beginning and most recently we tried it with some butter and very finely minced pioppini mushrooms from the green market. He ate about 3-4 spoons.
Broccoli: I just got word today that he barfed it up all over himself. We will try again.
Butternut squash + lacinato kale: HELLLLL NO.

I’ve basically just started giving him tastes of whatever I’m eating at the time. Congee and dan tat at dim sum, a tiny piece of beef from a Shack Burger, an orange slice, a castelvetrano olive. He really likes the olives. He’ll also gnaw on a raw apple.

With solid food of course comes solid poop. We had our first this weekend. We were playing on the yoga mat (he is almost crawling) and all of a sudden he went quiet and put his head down. I thought he was passing out so I went to pick him up and smelled something foul as hell. Turns out he was just squeezing a log out. Baby boy!

Now that I’m starting to try to emerge from my babby k-hole I’m going to try blogging here again so stay tuned.

EATING: The Scorpio Birthday Edition

What do you get for your chef boyfriend who never really asks for anything? Except maybe for FIFA 2014 which I refused to get him? Well you have an entire weekend of gluttony, of course.

Friday night Ryan bought some clams, shrimp, and cod to make a tomato-based seafood stew. Garlic, onions, and fennel went into it, and stock was made using shrimp shells.

Saturday morning, we went to the Grand Army Plaza Farmer’s market to gather ingredients for a full English breakfast. Also some sourdough bread which I sliced and froze and some tiny round Lakemont (green) and Mars (dark purple) grapes. The books are from the library – I’ve been inhaling them.

Grand Army Plaza Haul

I cooked breakfast mostly in the oven:

Full English
The potatoes I cooked in a cast iron skillet – in duck fat on the stove first, then finished in the oven. Baked beans came from a can. Tomatoes and sausage got the olive oil-salt-pepper treatment and went in the oven. The portobellos got the same, but also a drizzle of balsamic vinegar. Mushrooms are like sponges, so I had to salt them a lot.

We had been wanting to see Gravity, so we picked UA Court Street in downtown Brooklyn because we wanted to eat at PokPok. Food first, always. So we biked out to PokPok and got a few salads – eggplant and duck. But the real winner was the pork belly & pork shoulder curry. It’s got roots in Burma, which tends to have a tangy-er and not overpowering curry flavor. Suuuuper good. Unfortunately we sat next to an uber high maintenance girl on a date, who was asking such things as “Is your coconut juice in a real coconut?” and “Is your Thai tea sweetened?” and “Can you wait like 20 minutes before bringing our soup?” “Can you wait like 5 minutes more? I just want it to be hot.” and “Can you leave the crispy noodles off?” and “What’s in a whiskey sour?” Girl. Just be quiet and enjoy the food! Anyway just order the pork belly curry when you go – it is delicious.


After dinner we went to Whiskey Soda Lounge for more drinks and the fried pig ears. Which are better in Portland, where they are not fried to shit. But they were still tasty. I also had the rice whiskey which was infused in-house with fresh pineapple. It was like drinking juice! Delicious!

Gravity was a good film. Fraught with tension of course, but also frustration at having to listen to Sandra Bullock’s awful panting and whinging, especially after learning that she was using up her O2 faster by said panting and whinging. I would’ve preferred an epic non-dialog soundtrack like Explosions in the Sky or Music for Airports. But hey, I am not the filmmaker, nor the vox populi.

On Sunday we did our usual dim sum excursion, then dinner at Minetta Tavern. This time we strategized properly and did not leave hurting. For our appetizer we had the bone marrow fort.

Bone Marrow Fort at Minetta Tavern

Ryan got the Black Label Burger, and I had the seabass special which had brussels sprouts, chanterelles, leeks, and shaved black truffle. Also a very light cream sauce.

Birthday Dinner

We finished every bite then shared the chocolate souffle for two. They have Innis & Gunn again, my favorite beer. So next time I’m having some steak, marrow, and a shitload of I&G. Last meal status!

As for presents, I tried not to go too crazy:


Yup, those are meat socks.

Happy birthday, other stomach.