LittleJudeonFood

One kid's adventures in gastronomy


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Vesuvius!

This morning, I showed Papa how to make a smoothie with honey-vanilla Greek yogurt and a few apricot slices that Mama froze last summer specifically for this purpose. (It was delicious.) Then Papa showed me how to make a Vesuvius Bagel.

It’s much like the bird’s nest/toad-in-a-hole we’ve made before, except with a bagel!

I'm giving these eggs from a friend's farm bagel nests.

I’m giving these eggs from a friend’s farm bagel nests.

Papa calls it a Vesuvius bagel because it erupts, something like this volcano did a long, long time ago:

Mt. Vesuvius

First, Papa made the bagel hole a little larger, so there’s enough room for the egg to fit.

You can eat the part of the bagel you pull from the center.

You can eat the part of the bagel you pull from the center.

Then he buttered the top part of the bagel (so that when he flips it in the skillet, it’s all ready to go.) He melted butter in the skillet, set the bagels in it, and cracked the eggs. I was upset that I wasn’t allowed to do it, because I’m very good at cracking eggs without breaking the yolks (as you know), but Papa explained that the skillet is hot, and that it wasn’t a safe thing for me to do. (Thanks for looking out for me, Papa.)

The eggs fit perfectly in those bagel holes.

The eggs fit perfectly in those bagel holes.

The Vesuvius part is coming up!

The Vesuvius part is coming up!

Once he flipped over the bagels, he fried them just until set. (He cooked Mama’s longer because she likes her yolks “stepped on.” Silly Mama. She shouldn’t step on her food!)

And now comes the best part:

I had to hunt around a little bit to find where the yolk was.

I had to hunt around a little bit to find where the yolk was.

If you poke it just right, the egg will run all over the place, just like lava.

If you poke it just right, the yolk will run all over the place, just like lava.

I like the runny yolks.

“I want to use a big plate because I’m a big boy.”

Once I let all the lava flow from the bagel, Papa cut it up for me so that I could smear the bagel through the yolk. The bagel was toasty and buttery, and I love the creaminess of a farm-fresh egg. I wish all meals could be like this.

Love, Jude

I was really little when I visited Pompeii.

I was really little when I visited Pompeii.

 


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Break out the Grill

First, let me wish all the mamas out there a belated Happy Mama’s Day. We had a fun day, as the sun finally decided to grace us with its presence. We even wore shorts!

It was such a nice day that we took out our kayak for the first time.

Mama’s Day was such a nice day that we took out our kayak for the first time.

If you haven’t already, you should bring your grill out from wherever you’ve stored it for the winter. Please don’t wait until Memorial Day. Your grill deserves better than that.

Mama brought home some Idaho-caught rainbow trout from the fish market. Here’s what it looked like: fish heads/littlejudeonfood.com We’ve done whole fish on the grill before. Don’t fear it just because it has a head and eyes. If I can touch the fish, you can, too. Preparation is super simple: stuffed fish/littlejudeonfood.com Salt and pepper the flesh, add a few slices of organic lemon and whatever herbs you have on hand. We used dill, but tarragon, basil, or chives would have been equally good. Mama stuck a couple toothpicks through the bellies to help keep them closed, then she rubbed a little bit of olive oil on their bodies. Ready to go:

Up in the corner you can see Brussels sprouts in their cute little cages.

Up in the corner you can see Brussels sprouts in their cute little cages.

Set them on a hot grill and close the lid. Mama used medium to medium-high heat. It took about 10 minutes, turning them over once. The flesh will be opaque and flaky. easy grilled fish/littlejudeonfood.com The fish should slide out from the skin quite easily, but be careful of the bones. We enjoyed this fresh-tasting fish with grilled Brussels sprouts, chickpea salad, and cucumber salad (which I did not eat—no matter how often Mama tells me it’s “like pickles,” I know that’s just not true). So treat your grill to the way it wants to be treated, and put a fish on it tonight.

Love, Jude


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Ramp it up!

Mama decided a stir-fried rice bowl would not only be a fast dinner but also use up some veggies that had been lying dormant in the crisper. It also gave her an excuse to use the ramps she bought at the market today.

Ramps? Mama told me they’re generally considered a harbinger of spring, along with asparagus and rhubarb. You’ve probably seen them and not given them a second glance. They look sort of like a weak, skinny scallion, except with long leaves. Their main difference from scallions, however, is their strong oniony fragrance and flavor. Imagine eating a raw garlic clove and a scallion. And that’s just the leaves. (Or so I’m told, because I would not try them raw.)

These skinny little onions pack quick a punch.

These skinny little onions pack quick a punch.

Ramps’ flavor actually mellows as they cook, so don’t be afraid to try them in eggs, added into pesto, grilled to top meats, mixed into crab salad—or added to stir fries. Just trim the root ends and peel off the very outermost layer of skin from the bulb. Rinse them well. And ramps should have some purplish coloring to them, so don’t discard colorful stems.

For some reason, I didn't get my rice bowl in a bowl, which made it easier for me to pick out what I wanted.

For some reason, I didn’t get my rice bowl in a bowl, which made it easier for me to pick out what I wanted.

As it turned out, I didn’t know I was eating ramps. I ate the rice, the egg, the peas, and the leftover cooked chicken mama tossed in. There wasn’t an overly powerful garlic or onion taste. I took a tiny bite of squash but left the mushrooms. I don’t care how many times Mama says I have eaten mushrooms before; it doesn’t mean I’m going to eat them now. Mushrooms and squash aside, I declared this dinner “delicious”…although, I don’t know why I didn’t get mine in a bowl. (If you’d like to see what else I’ve helped Mama make along these lines, look here and here.)

Love, Jude

Veggie Rice Bowl with Ramps

Sesame oil (regular or toasted), or peanut oil
Seasoned rice vinegar (plain okay)
Tamari (or soy sauce)
Splash of orange juice (optional)
1 yellow squash, cut into matchsticks
6 oz cremini mushrooms (or mushroom of choice), sliced
2 handfuls sugar-snap peas
6 ramps, sliced (bulbs & leaves)
2–4 servings warmed cooked rice (any variety)
2 eggs, well whisked

In a large skillet or wok, heat a good swirl of sesame oil over medium-high heat. Add the squash and mushrooms and sauté a couple minutes, until they begin to soften. Add a few shakes of tamari, a few shakes of vinegar, and the o.j. (if using). Stir, then add the peas and ramps. Cook until peas are bright green and ramps are wilted.

Meanwhile (or beforehand), lightly coat a small skillet with oil over medium heat. Add the eggs and don’t stir; allow them to set, 2–3 minutes. If you can, flip it over and just sear the other side. (If not, don’t worry about it. The eggs are still cooked.) Remove to a plate or cutting board. When cool enough to handle, roll up the egg like a cigar, then slice cross-wise to make thin strips. (Cut these strips in half, if desired.) Toss into stir fry mixture to heat through.

Put rice in the bottom of a bowl, top with stir fry mixture.

Serves 2 adults and 1 kid

Note: If you’re cooking the rice from scratch, get it going before you even start chopping your vegetables. That way, it will be ready when you are. May also toss in some tofu or cooked pork or chicken, if you have it.


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Make this for dinner tonight (part 2)

If you have a bulb of fennel, some tiny tomatoes, and a few shrimp, you can have dinner ready pretty quickly. Mama says that tomatoes and fennel go together very well. I don’t know about that, but I did enjoy what they did to the shrimp. Though I didn’t devour the meal with nearly the gusto that Mama did, I picked out the shrimp, which were a bit tangy and sweet from the sauce. And it’s so much better when dinner is quick because then I get a lot of time to play afterward.

Love, Jude

It all looks so cozy, doesn't it?

It all looks so cozy, doesn’t it?

Shrimp Braised in Fennel-Tomato Sauce

1 small bulb fennel, cored and thinly sliced
A few slices of onion (optional)
½ pint (1 cup) cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1 or 2 cloves garlic, minced
Dill (or fennel fronds), roughly chopped
Butter
Olive oil
About 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined (need not be precise on the amount)
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
Few grinds of black pepper

In a large skillet with a big pat of butter, sauté the fennel over medium heat until it begins to soften and take on color. (If you want to use onion, cook it at the same time.) Add the tomatoes and continue to cook, stirring regularly, until the tomatoes become melty and the fennel is very soft. There should be a fair amount of liquid by this point—not soupy, but just wet enough. Add the garlic and cook another minute, until fragrant. Add a good swirl of olive oil to the pan, then add the shrimp, nestling it among the fennel and tomatoes. Cook for just a couple minutes, until the shrimp curls and pinks up. (You may want to turn the shrimp over.) Squeeze some lemon and grind some pepper over, then add the dill or fennel fronds. Serve with a good hunk of bread to sop up all the juices. May also serve over pasta or rice.

Note: Why did Mama use butter and olive oil? Because it’s delicious. If you have a large bulb of fennel and want to use up the entire pint of tomatoes, go ahead and use it all. You can’t hurt this dish.


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¡Feliz Cinco de Mayo!

In honor of this Mexican holiday, Mama cooked up a Mexican-inspired dinner. We had an appetizer of plantain chips and mojitos (Papa made me a special one with orange juice). Then Mama made corn pudding muffins, rice with black-eyed peas, and tacos. I helped put the tortillas in the pan to heat them up, and I grated some of the cheese. Mama said I had to be careful with the box grater, or I could cut myself. “Like a paper cut,” I said. “Exactly,” she said.

Mama wanted me to write about taco seasoning because making it is just about as easy as opening a packetonly not nearly as bad for you. You can control how much salt goes into it, and you know how fresh your spices are, so there are no preservatives cluttering it up. I like to smell the spices when Mama opens them, and I’m getting pretty good at naming a lot of them. Mama notes that you can use just a few spices and adjust them to your preference, but here is what she used:

1 tablespoon chili powder
1/2 tablespoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/4 teaspoon Mexican oregano
bunch of grinds of black pepper

Mix it all together then stir into ground beef (or soy crumbles, in Mama’s case) as it’s cooking. This amount is suitable for 1 pound of beef and will make it spicy but not overbearing.

The black-eyed peas and rice are hiding under my tortilla!

The black-eyed peas and rice are hiding under my tortilla!

Even though I sort of deconstructed my taco (it had cheese and avocado on it), I did sample pretty much everything on my plate. And Mama said that was bueno.

Love, Jude


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A Use for Easter Candy

A.K.A., candy Mama doesn’t want me to know about. The Easter Bunny, apparently, left a partial bag of jelly beans in a cupboard. Mama decided the quickest way to get them out of the house was to make a treat for my teachers. We’re calling it Bunny Bark. Isn’t that funny? Bunnies don’t bark!

It’s super simple to make. Mama melted white chocolate chips in something she called a double boiler then spread it out in a baking sheet.

I got to lick the spatula.

I got to lick the spatula.

After a minute or two, we scattered jelly beans over it. (I even retrieved my personal stash of Easter beans to help fill in some gaps.)

Isn’t that pretty? I had fun pointing out the matching ones.

Isn’t that pretty? I had fun pointing out the matching ones.

Once it cooled and hardened, we broke it apart…

I tried to get at least 1 jelly bean per piece of bark.

I tried to get at least 1 jelly bean per piece of bark. (Use more candy if you like.)

…and bagged it. (No need to store in the fridge.)

I looked for

I counted the number of pieces in each bag so they were all the same.

Not only is this a pretty gift, but it was fun to make (and yummy to eat).

Easy peasy, Easter breezy.

Easy peasy, Easter breezy.

Love, Jude

Bunny Bark

2 12-oz bags white chocolate chips (may also chop white baker’s chocolate)
½–1 cup jelly beans

Melt the chocolate in the top of a double boiler (or in smaller batches in the microwave in 20-second intervals). To set up a double boiler, simmer water in a medium saucepan and set a bowl over it (not touching the water). Be careful when you stir the chocolate and remove the bowl, as steam can escape from the saucepan, and it’s hot! When the chips are nearly melted, remove the bowl of chocolate and continue stirring until fully melted.

Pour the melted chocolate onto a jelly roll pan or baking sheet lined with waxed paper or parchment paper; our sheet is about 16” x 13”. Spread out the chocolate and then give the baking sheet a little shimmy or a tap to encourage the chocolate to smooth out. Allow to cool a couple minutes, then sprinkle jelly beans on top—in however dense a manner as desired.

Note: This recipe may be halved. You can use milk or dark chocolate—or swirl white and brown chocolates together. You may also substitute malted chocolate eggs in place of the jelly beans.

Bonus recipe! We made birds’ nests with other leftover candy. For a tutorial, see how this lovely lady does it. Mama melted a bag of mini marshmallows with ¾ stick of butter, then mixed in 2 bags of chow mein noodles. She rubbed a bit of butter on parchment paper so the nests wouldn’t stick and greased up her hands really well before diving in to the gooey mess. (I did all the measuring; she did all the forming.) Have someone else (like a little kid!) place the candied eggs in the nests while the marshmallow is still sticky, so that they stay put. If you miss your chance, then microwave a small cup of marshmallows for 10–15 seconds until they’re melty, then use that as glue to hold them in place. We made 2 dozen nests, and I still had Easter candy left over. (The Easter bunny was very generous with candy this year, as opposed to years past.)

 

We used peanut butter M&Ms and malted eggs, but jelly beans would’ve worked too…if we had any left.

We used peanut butter M&Ms and malted eggs, but jelly beans would’ve worked too…if we had any left.


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Make this for dinner tonight

It’s finally warm(ish) today! Very windy, though. Mama and I had to hunt the neighborhood for our missing decoration from the front of our house. Successful mission, but because of it, we needed dinner fast. Papa and I were hon-gree. And Mama did not keep us waiting long.

Because it feels like spring outside, she figured asparagus and peas were the way to go. She boiled water for pasta, and when it was nearly done, she added the veggies. Meanwhile, in another pan, she cooked bacon, and then made a sauce out of the drippings, veggie stock, and cream cheese. Hear me out: It was creamy with just the right bit of salty, and the veggies were brightly cooked and fun to eat! But as in all things Jude, however, I had to be convinced to try it.

IMG_1762[1]

“Awww… I didn’t want THIS dinner.”

One bite was all the convincing I needed. We even sopped up the extra sauce from the pan with bread. How often does that happen?

"I'm a bacon eater!"

“I’m a bacon eater!”

Love, Jude

Pasta with Bacon and Spring Vegetables

8–12 oz pasta of choice, preferably whole wheat
2–4 strips bacon, preferably uncured
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/2–1 cup vegetable or chicken stock
2–3 Tbsp cream cheese (Mama used what was left in a whipped cream cheese container, but use whatever you like)
1–2″ tips from 1 pound asparagus (reserve the stalks for roasting)
1/2 cup (or so) peas (add more if you like; frozen peas are okay)

Bring a saucepan of salted water to a boil. Add the pasta and cook 2 minutes shy of what the package directions suggest.

Meanwhile, heat a large skillet over medium or med-high heat and cook the bacon until nearly crispy. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 30–60 seconds. Remove the bacon to a plate lined with paper towel; crumble when cool enough to handle. Add the stock to the pan. Allow to bubble, then whisk in the cream cheese until thoroughly combined. (It may want to separate, so keep whisking.)

About 2 minutes before the end of the pasta’s cook time, add the asparagus and peas. When the pasta is cooked and the veggies are bright green, drain everything, then add the pasta and veg to the skillet. Use tongs to coat the pasta with the cream cheese sauce. Serve with bacon crumbled on top.

Note: For added flavor: squeeze a lemon, grind some black pepper, and/or sprinkle freshly chopped herbs over top. Also, you may substitute canola or olive oil for the bacon fat and serve the dish to any carnivores with torn prosciutto instead of crumbled bacon.