A day of French-inspired food

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I’ve been reading a book called French Kids Eat Everything by Karen Le Billon – it was recommended on a parenting forum I read. The descriptions of the food and the culture the French have around food inspired me so I decided to try what the book says is a traditional French breakfast: baguettes with butter and jam.

I thought about this before going to bed, and looked up a recipe for baguettes (of course) in Mark Bittman’s How to Bake Everything. I halved his recipe (sort of) and didn’t quite follow his direction (he didn’t indicate using a pan of water to help steam the bread, but in looking up a video on YouTube for the shaping technique I came across that tip) but the whole family was extremely pleased with the results. The recipe below is what I actually ended up doing.

French Baguettes

Yield 2 mini baguettes (or in our case, 4 micro baguettes, roughly 100 cal/piece.)

Ingredients

  • 1/2 tsp active dry yeast
  • 1/2 tsp salt + 1 pinch
  • 1 1/4 cup all purpose flour + 1 cup flour
  • 3/4 cup water + more water as needed
  • 1/4 cup semolina flour

Directions

Combine 1 1/4 cup flour with 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 tsp of active yeast in a mixing bowl. When ready, combine with 3/4 cup of water. I used a stand mixer with dough hook. Once the ingredients are fully combined, they should form a pretty thick and sticky ball of dough. Cover bowl and leave in fridge overnight.

The next morning…. add an additional 1 cup of flour to the bowl and combine, adding additional water as needed until you have a nice ball of dough. We made 4 micro baguettes, so we cut the dough into 4 portions and shaped into baguettes.

Line a cookie sheet (we used a silicone pad) and sprinkle semolina on top. Place the baguettes on top. Snip the top of the baguettes with scissors on the top if you like. Cover and place on top of oven (for heat) for 30 minutes.

Grab a baking dish and fill with water, placing on bottom oven rack. Preheat oven to 465F. Heat from the oven will help the dough rise more.

Once 30 minutes are up, uncover and stick the baguettes in the oven for 15 minutes, turning the pan halfway.

Let cool for at least 5 minutes. Enjoy with butter and jam. 🙂

Turns out today was a lucky day as our monthly local winter farmers’ market was on starting just before lunch and our supply of fresh food was dwindling. After a leisurely breakfast of baguettes, fresh cut strawberries and blueberries, and homemade whole plain yogurt, we cleaned up and headed out, arriving 5 minutes before opening. 

We started by visiting a vegan food booth, where we shared a bean and rice chili and a veggie burger on naan with a Swedish hot citrus drink (Limca.) Then, Ray took the kiddos to the kids play area while I picked up the food.

The produce prices, unlike other farmers’ markets I’ve been to, were really reasonable. I stocked up on broccoli crowns and carrots, also picking up a large head of cabbage, fresh mesculin, 4 bulbs of garlic, and a dozen eggs. All of the food was grown / produced in MA (grernhouse grown.) The kind farmer who helped me out waa impressed by my roll of $5’s and reusable bags. 🙂 Ray also picked up a bottle of hickory syrup for me, something I’d been wanting to try. There was no milk so we picked that up at the supermarket.

One of the things Le Billon’s book suggests to help picky eaters expand their palates is do dinner in 3 courses – soup, main, and dessert – and for the soup essentially make pure vegetable purees to allow the kids to experience one vegetable at a time, unadulterated. I was interested in trying it because I had hope it might work – she had tried everything I’d tried with the same exact results and yet this technique worked for her. 

Happy to report it did for us too, so far! M ate spoonful after spoonful of her carrot until it was all gone, and C gave it a real try. 
Carrot Puree

Makes enough for 4 very small (1/4 cup) tasting portions

Ingredients

  • 1 medium carrot
  • Water

Directions

Peel and chop the carrot into even-sized pieces. Steam on the stove for 10 minutes. Since the next dish has pasta, I cooked pasta in a covered pot of boiling water and used a steam rack from my crockpot with perforated tin foil on top to steam the carrots.

Pop the carrots into a blender or food processor with about a half cup of water. Blend, increasing water as needed for desired consistency. 

We had new produce we’d picked up but I also had a head of cauliflower that I’d gotten last weekend that I forgot about until I saw it today and I wanted to cook it off. I found a recipe on the New York Times cooking site that ended up pretty amazing because of a secret ingredient Ray thought to add – homemade whipped butter. He had picked up a pint of heavy cream when he grabbed our milk so C could to try to make her own butter with it, like in Eric Carle’s pancakes book.

Rigatoni and Cauliflower al Forno

We followed the Times’ recipe here, with some minor mods:

  • We substituted about 3/4 shredded mozzarella for the fontina, and didn’t use romano.
  • We used dried sage and parsley because it was what we had.
  • Per serving we used a 1 Tbsp dollop of freshly made whipped butter. 
  • I had a small mesculin and bell pepper salad on the side which seemed to go really well.

It was so good. The “OH MY GOD, where has this flavor combination been my whole life??!!?” kind of good. 

You can also premake it and freeze it easily, and have it on the table in 20 minutes some future night.

That’s all for tonight. Enjoy!

Jackfruit and Jicama Slaw Tacos

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Since I made Cooksmart banh mi tacos the other night, I’ve been wondering what to do with the 3/4 head of cabbage I shredded for it that was left over. Ray had also picked up a jicama and guacamole on a whim, as well as this prepackaged texmex jackfruit stuff made by the Jackfruit Company (found at Whole Foods):

I searched around for recipes with jicama and cabbage and found a lot of slaws. So I made a cabbage-jicama slaw, while Ray heated up some corn tortillas and the jackfruit. We assembled everything into tacos and it turned out great, so I figured it’d be worth blogging!

Jackfruit and Jicama Slaw Tacos

Ingredients

  • 1 jicama, peeled and julienned (if you can’t obtain one, apple works!)
  • 1/2 head of cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bell pepper (or a few mini bells), sliced thinly
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1.5 Tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp lime juice
  • Salt
  • Corn tortillas (we used 3 per person)
  • Guacamole
  • The Jackfruit Company texmex jackfruit
  • Shredded cheddar (optional)

First, prep all of your ingredients as noted above. Then whisk together the shallot, canola oil, rice vinegar, sugar, and lime juice, adding salt to taste. Combine jicama, cabbage, and bell peppers and toss to coat in dressing.

Next, heat up the jackfruit in a skillet. Heat up your tortillas (we wrap in a wet paper towel and put in the microwave for 1 minute.)

Finally, assemble your tacos. Use a spoon to coat the tortilla in guac, then add the slaw, and top with jackfruit. Add cheese if you like (so flavorful, not necessary unless you love cheese.) Enjoy!

Bonus recipe: Pineapple Banana Smoothie Bowl

I didn’t make the pineapple banana smoothie from the aforementioned banh mi taco Cooksmarts recipe because I didn’t have any bananas. We picked some up today. I am not feeling well today, though, so I didn’t want to have to clean the blender. I enjoyed it as a bowl instead. 🙂

Ingredients

  • A couple of pineapple slices, chopped (we used fresh, but canned will do!)
  • One banana, sliced
  • 1 cup plain yogurt

Combine and enjoy, blender cleanup guilt-free!