One kid's adventures in gastronomy

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Salmon and Eggs, Anyone?

So, even though I ate a whole bunch, we had some leftover salmon. (No, not that Leftover Salmon.) Tonight, Mama pulled together an even faster dinner: She soft scrambled some eggs from my friend Walter’s farm, flaked and heated the salmon, then sprinkled on some chives from our garden. She considered making a salmon omelette, but when you have a 2-year-old saying, “I want dinner now,” over and over (and over), I think you’d opt for scrambled, too. And boy, was it good. You know how much I like eggs, so that’s saying something. Mama said this would have made for a fine breakfast over toast, but I was just as happy to eat it for dinner.

Love, Jude

I couldn't wait to dig in to my dinner.

I couldn’t wait to dig in to my dinner.

Soft-Scrambled Eggs

Melt a healthy pat of butter in a skillet over medium heat. Crack a few eggs (up to 6) into a bowl and vigorously break them up with a fork. When the butter’s melted, pour in the eggs and with a wooden spoon or fork begin pulling them in from the edge of the skillet to the center, dragging the utensil along the bottom of the skillet. Work around the skillet, pulling the eggs in and allowing the remaining runny parts to fill in. (At some point here, give them a good sprinkle of salt and pepper, if desired.) When almost all the eggs are gathered in the center and look like a soft pile of silky pajamas, remove from heat. (They will continue to cook once they’re out of the pan, and then they’ll be perfect!) Top with snipped chives. Serve to kid (that’s me!).

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“Nice dinner, daddy!”

You might have noticed two things about this post’s title: 1) I actually came right out and complimented a parent on dinner, and 2) I’ve started calling Papa “daddy.”  We’re not really sure when that second thing happened, but let me tell you how the first one came about.

Papa and I had a busy day. We were ultimately chased from the pool by an approaching thunderstorm, and because we were going to beat Mama home from work, Papa decided he wanted dinner done pronto. Lucky for us, Mama had made tabbouleh yesterday–that’s a Middle Eastern salad made of bulgur and parsley (we’ll show you how to make it another time). All Papa had to do was pick a protein, and he decided on Alaskan salmon, which is currently in season.

Jude on food: Mama says it’s better to choose Pacific (or Alaskan) salmon, as it’s wild caught, versus Atlantic salmon, which is always farmed.

Due to the rain, Papa chose not to grill it and instead opted for the broiler. He lightly oiled the fish with olive oil, laid it on a sheet tray lined with aluminum foil (to minimize cleanup), sprinkled on some lemon pepper seasoning, then sent it into the oven for just under 10 minutes. Mama said the fish should just barely be firm to the touch (if you gave it a squeeze–but be careful! it’s hot!) and opaque nearly through to the center.

I'm about to dig in to my 2nd piece of salmon.

I’m about to dig in to my 2nd piece of salmon.

I ate all my tabbouleh while the salmon cooked, but I wasn’t too full to have 2 pieces of fish. It was really yummy, and I told Papa so. The lemon pepper cut through the richness of the salmon, and it had its own kick, which I like. The broiler added a bit of a crisp crust, as well. And you can’t get much faster than 10 minutes, now can you?

Love, Jude

Easy Oven-Broiled* Salmon

1 pound salmon fillets (skin off), cut into 2″-wide portions
Olive oil (about a tablespoon)
Lemon pepper seasoning (about a teaspoon)

Preheat the broiler, setting the rack 6″ from the heat source. Lin a sheet tray with aluminum foil. Set the fish on the tray, brush lightly with olive oil. Sprinkle with the lemon pepper, or any other seasoning you prefer. Place under the broiler for 7-10 minutes. Check it at 7 by giving the fillet a gentle squeeze or flaking a tiny portion with a fork. It should feel firm (not mushy), flake easily, and be just cooked through (opaque).

*Note: Mama says you can just as easily cook this fish on the grill.

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You can have your fun and eat your dinner too

Because it was so warm and sunny outside when Mama picked me up from daycare, she took me to the river so I could throw rocks in it. (I like to pick up the biggest rocks I can carry.) Needless to say, it was already past dinnertime by the time we walked in the door, wet feet and all. Mama chose to make a dinner that practically cooked itself.

First, she put a pot of salty water on the stove to boil and set the oven to 400°. Then she rinsed and prepped the veggies: snapped the bottom ends off the asparagus, cut the broccoli into florets, cut some basil into ribbons, and sliced the colorful little tomatoes in half (I helped). She put the tomatoes and basil in a large bowl and the broccoli and asparagus on a baking sheet and tossed them with olive oil and salt & pepper.

I sure love teeny tomatoes.

I sure love teeny tomatoes.

Then she showed me the funny little pasta we would be eating, called Israeli couscous. It looks like couscous that grew up to be big and strong. Mama said that even though it looks like a grain, it’s really just a pasta. I ate a few of them raw—crunchy! Once the water came to a rolling boil, Mama poured in the couscous and gave it a good stir. Did you know that the proper way to cook pasta involves plenty of boiling water for the pasta to move around in? She also put the asparagus & broccoli in the oven, on the lower rack.

You would think Mama would’ve stopped there, but instead she took out a pound of beautiful Pacific salmon. She gave it a quick rinse, then set it on a baking sheet, skin-side down, and patted the flesh dry. She drizzled olive oil on it then sprinkled it with salt and pepper, and into the oven it went, on the upper rack. While dinner cooked, we had time to wash our feet in the tub. Do you have any idea what a river does to kid feet?

I'm trying to eat around the basil.

I’m trying to eat around the basil.

Israeli couscous cooks quicker than regular pasta (it’s really small), so when that was tender, Mama drained it and added it to the bowl with the tomatoes. She added—you guessed it—olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice, a bunch of freshly grated Parmesan (I helped), and some leftover roasted garlic. (This is even easier to make: Cut off the top of an entire garlic bulb, drizzle about 1/2 tsp olive oil over it, wrap it in foil, then bake at 375°F for about 45 minutes, or until very soft and oh-so-yummy.) Gently, she mixed it all up and set it out for yours truly to devour. I loved those little baby balls of pasta, but I had to pick around the basil, which slowed me down. The fish and veggies were done at about the same time (veggies starting to brown, fish just opaque in the center), about 10 minutes all told.

This was my plate! (Just kidding.)

This was my plate! (Just kidding.)

Do you think I tried everything on my plate? You bet I did. The fish was succulent, almost creamy. The veggies were toasty and fragrant and full of flavor (and Mama grated some more cheese on them). Then I discovered how fun it was to toss the Israeli couscous….and that was the end of my dinner.

Love, Jude

Israeli Couscous with Tiny Tomatoes

1 cup Israeli couscous
1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
4 or 5 cloves roasted garlic (or 1 or 2 cloves fresh, minced)
5 or 6 basil leaves, chiffonade (cut into ribbons)
Juice of 1/2 lemon
Salt & pepper to taste
Olive oil
Parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and add to a bowl, along with the tomatoes, garlic, basil, and lemon juice. Add salt and pepper to taste, along with a healthy drizzle of olive oil. (Mama says you don’t want to drown your pasta, you just want to moisten it.) Top it with freshly grated Parmesan cheese, if desired. Serve warm or cold.

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“I want more lima beans.”

It’s true. I really said it. I can’t tell you why I like them so much, but I gobble up lima beans. And green beans. But not cauliflower, as you know. Mama bargained with me that she would prepare more lima beans (I had eaten them all by this point) if I ate more salmon, which I liked, so that was an okay deal. What can I say? Some kids like jelly beans. I like lima beans.

I have to keep this short. Papa’s back in Italy this week, and Mama and I have worn each other out. We are both sooo sleepy.

Love, Jude