June 13, 2013

A No-Compromise Family Dinner

I've followed all of the advice out there about feeding your kid what you eat. Yea yea, okay. Done. And the advice about feeding them things that will stretch their horizons. Check. My kid wanted (or so I guessed) tikka masala for her first birthday dinner.

But sometimes there are just practical limitations. I'm obviously going to be careful about how spicy something is before I give it to my 12 month old. And some things are just too hard, crunchy, chewy, or skin-y for this 2-teether. It's actually a little bit harder than everyone pretends it is.

So, bottom line: I don't always feel like I'm making things that I would have made for dinner pre-Lola. For example, I'm using my Weelicious book a lot more than I ever thought I would. Are the recipes good? Yes, most are a solid good. But are they amazing? No. Do they feel special and inspired? Definitely not. 

But once in a while, we come upon a meal that is Lola-approved and mom-approved. And then I get excited. And I start to see a glimmer of hope that we'll move past the toddler-friendly-ish fare that I feel like we eat most days.

Last night's meal was one of these perfect moments. Sweet Potato Cakes from Plenty and Curd Rice from Canal House Cooks Everyday.

The Curd Rice has become a favorite in our house. It's pretty simple. So simple in fact, that it leaves you wondering why you hadn't thought of it before. It's just cooked jasmine rice mixed with a good dose of plain yogurt, a splash of milk, lots of fresh ginger and cilantro. Lola almost loses her mind over it. Yogurt in rice, Mama?! YES! Bonus that it helps the rice stick together and is easier for her to pick up. 

The Sweet Potato Cakes were a new recipe for us, and they were delicious. Even Zach, who has grown weary of all of the sweet potatoes we eat instead of white potatoes these days, loved them. I got a little sad when Lola put a cut-up piece of one in her mouth and spit it out to go back to the curd rice. But after she polished off two helpings of the rice, she started picking up the sweet potato cakes whole and loved them.


The roasted tomatoes I served on the side? Not so much for Lola. But I'll take a solid two of three. Vegetables (and fruits) in their plain state can remain her nemesis for now. She won't break my spirit yet.

Curd Rice, adapted very slightly from Canal House Cooks Everyday

1 c jasmine rice
1 tsp salt
2 c water
1/4 c milk
3/4 c whole milk yogurt
1 1/2 tsp grated fresh ginger
2 tbsp chopped cilantro

Combine rice, water, and salt in medium saucepan. Bring to boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until cooked, about 20 minutes. Fluff rice and let cool to room temp.

Add the rest of the ingredients and stir until combined. Add more salt to taste if necessary. Serve at room temp.

Serves 4.

Sweet Potato Cakes, adapted very slightly from Plenty

2 1/4 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
2 tsp reduced salt soy sauce
3/4 c flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp sugar
3 tbsp chopped scallions
Butter for frying

3 tbsp whole milk yogurt
3 tbsp sour cream
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the sweet potatoes in boiling water until soft. Drain and let hang out in colander for about an hour to remove any excess water.

Mix together the sweet potatoes with the rest of the cake ingredients, using your hands to break up the sweet potatoes and mash them up.

Heat up a non-stick frying pan over medium heat. Add about 1 tbsp butter to coat the pan. Add rounded dinner tablespoons of the mixture into the pan and flatten with the back of the spoon. I could fit about 6 in the pan at a time. Cook until browned on the first side, then flip, and cook until browned on other side.

Repeat with remaining batches, adding 1 tbsp butter for each batch. If the left over butter starts to get dark, just take a paper towel and wipe it out between batches.

(This process took me 3 batches. I drained each batch of cakes on paper towels for a few minutes to remove excess grease and then placed in warm (170 degree) oven to keep them warm.)

To make sauce, combine all sauce ingredients.

Serve cakes warm or at room temp.

Makes about 18 cakes.