One of the first things we did in preparation for making this dish was to discuss the term “coddled”. After discussing its meaning, we decided that the more modern name for these coddled eggs is “Helicoptered Eggs”.
Now, although, you will have to treat these eggs with special care to not break the yolks, all of the mini-chefs, even the two-year-olds, were able to break the egg into the ramekin without breaking the yolk. If a little shell drops in, carefully pull it right back out again with your fingers. No biggie.
With the Littles, we made polenta in the rice cooker, something I highly recommend if you have a rice cooker sitting around and would like to break that baby out on a more consistent basis. The older mini-chefs practiced making polenta the old fashioned way: stir, stir, stir. Both turned out creamy and delicious. It is worth noting, too, that if you do not like or do not eat dairy, then you can make this dish dairy-free by stirring in olive oil instead of the butter and adding a tablespoon or two of organic virgin coconut oil instead of the cream. The spilled soft egg yolk will make either version luscious to eat and, of course, very rich.
While our eggs were cooking in the afternoon class, the Yummies decided to get to work with some impromptu physical fitness. Jumping jacks, push ups, and sit ups ensued. Well, you do need to be strong to be a coddler!
Coddled Eggs with Cheese Polenta
- 1 c. dry polenta
- 2 c. water
- 1 T. butter
- 1/4 c. creme fraiche, sour cream, or heavy cream
- 1/4 c. grated parmesan cheese
- 1/4 c. grated Romano or gruyere cheese
- a dozen eggs
- freshly chopped herbs (parsley, thyme, chervil, etc.) or some extra cheese to top the eggs
- To make the polenta: Bring the water to a boil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Stir in the polenta, and keep stirring as you add the butter, cream, and cheeses. Stir and stir some more till the polenta is soft and creamy, about 30 minutes. If using a rice cooker instead, place all ingredients into the rice cooker, stir, and cook on the white rice setting. Open up the rice cooker a couple of times to stir the ingredients as the polenta cooks.
- While the polenta is cooking, preheat your oven to 350 degrees F. Boil a big pot of water in a pan with a pour spout or in a kettle.
- Scoop the polenta into the bottoms of 12 ramekins. The polenta should come about 1/3-1/2 way up the side. Pat it down a bit to create a bed on which to place the egg. Carefully crack an egg on top of each bed of polenta. Sprinkle with a little more cheese or some herbs if you like. Place each ramekin in a large baking pan (you will need two 9×13 Pyrex type pans). Very slowly, taking care not to get any of the water in the ramekins themselves, pour the water into the baking pans so that it comes up about 1/2 way to the top of the ramekins. Place in the oven and cook for 25 minutes, or until the white is fully cooked and firm but the yolk is still runny and soft.
- Using oven mitts to protect your hands, place each ramekin on a plate, let cool a minute or so, and serve. Remind the eater that the ramekin is very hot!!! Enjoy!
In cooking class, we are always trying to walk that fine line between making something with a good shot of being eaten by the mini-chefs, especially the two year olds who have often sworn off most foods, and being adventuresome. Harira, a Morrocan tomato and chickpea dish, straddles both worlds. On the one hand there are familiar favorites, like the tomatoes and the chickpeas. On the other hand we’re embracing the fact that onions and garlic, things that might be the tiniest bit stinky when raw, end up being delicious when we work the magic of cooking on them.
We do an extra step of roasting the tomatoes with a bit of brown sugar before chopping them and putting them in with the rest, and I, no nonsense chef that I am, will swear to you that roasting your tomatoes in this way adds depth of flavor to the soup. It’s also a really fun part for the mini-chefs. However, if that step is a little too TOO for you, skip it, chop up your tomatoes and get on with the soup.
Here we made a vegan, gluten-free version of Harira. It is simple and hearty and lovely. You can add many things to it: cooked chicken or lamb, greens, rice, and even raisins can be part of this traditional dish. As always, feel free to consult your mini-chef and play with ingredients to make this dish your own.
- 28 oz. whole tomatoes with their juice reserved
- 1 T. brown sugar
- 2 T. olive oil, plus a little more for oiling the baking sheet
- 3 medium cloves garlic, peeled and woody ends cut off
- 1 medium onion, cut into large chunks
- 2 stalks of celery, leaves included, cut into large chunks
- 1 T. flour (gluten-free fine here)
- 1 heaping T. tomato paste
- 1 t. cinnamon
- 1 t. ginger
- 1 t. paprika (sweet, smoked, or spicy, as you like)
- pinch of cloves
- 4 c. stock (vegetable or chicken work well)
- 4 c. cooked chickpeas
- 1/4 c. parsley
- optional: 1/4 c. cilantro, lemon wedges, 1/4 c. white wine vinegar
- Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, pour a bit of oil onto the foil, and have your mini-chef finger paint the entire surface of the foil. Place a fine-mesh sieve over a large bowl, pour in your tomatoes, and, using your hands, try and get as many of the seeds off of each tomato before placing it on the baking sheet. When all tomatoes have been placed in one layer on the sheet, sprinkle them with the brown sugar and place them in the oven to cook for about 20 minutes, or until the juices of the tomato have dried out completely. Let them cool and, once cooled, chop them up.
- In a large heavy-bottomed pot, glug in 2 T. of olive oil. Turn the heat on low to warm the oil.
- With the motor off, add the celery, garlic, and onions to your food processor fitted with the shredder attachment. When you have replaced the top and all fingers are out of the way, turn the machine on and let it shred the vegetables. Add the shredded vegetables and the spices (cinnamon, paprika,clove, and ginger)to the pot and cook, stirring, for a few minutes, till the vegetables are very soft. Turn up the heat to medium, add the flour and stir constantly for a minute. Add the tomato paste and stir another 3o seconds. Pour in the stock, chickpeas, chopped tomatoes, and the reserved tomato juice and bring the soup to a boil. Have your mini-chef tear the parsley with their hands, and add that to the pot. Turn the heat back down to low and simmer for 30 minutes.
- At the very end, stir in the white wine vinegar or serve with lemon wedges and a side of cilantro for anyone who wants it to tear into their bowl. Enjoy!
My mini-chefs are back in the kitchen this semester, and we began our session with what has become a major favorite with our own family and our friends: Chilaquiles! As I explained to the kids yesterday, it’s like a Mexican lasagna, layered with tortillas and a vegetable and black bean mixture, and topped with cheese.
Both of my classes made the dish, and both the littlest chefs and the biggest chefs seemed to be sneaking a LOT of that cheese. So, perhaps while the official recipe says to use 12 oz. of grated cheese, you had better supply yourself with just a bit more. We all agreed that squishing the squash with a fork was both fun and therapeutic.
Use whatever vegetables are available to you. In the summer time, we might add zucchini, fresh tomato, and a finely chopped bell pepper while in winter, we choose boxed tomato, pre-steamed pumpkin or butternut squash, and locally grown winter greens. You have a wide range of what would taste delicious in this dish, so swap out as you like, but always add the beans, the salsa verde, the lime, and the yogurt. They are what really make the chilaquiles tasty.
Chilaquiles freezes well and could be make ahead of time for a pot luck or when you’re having guests for dinner and want to spend your time hanging out with them instead of whirring around the kitchen. It’s also such a great dish to add to a lunchbox if you happen to have leftovers and only gets better a day or two after it’s cooked.
In the afternoon class, except for one student who took immediate offense to the sweet potato while we were assembling the dish, everyone had seconds and a few asked for thirds. That, of course, always makes my day.
Black Bean and Vegetable Chilaquiles
10 eight-inch corn tortillas, dried out on your counter or in a low-heat oven
6 c. black beans (or three 15-oz. cans)
1 cup diced tomato
2 c. corn
2 c. squash or pumpkin, finely chopped or steamed and mashed with a fork
1 c. very finely chopped or grated sweet potato
1-2 c. greens(Swiss chard, spinach, kale, bok choy, beet greens, etc.) chopped
1 1/2 c. yogurt
1 1/2- 2 c. salsa verde (mild or spicy depending on your preference), reserving 1/4 c. for topping the finished Chilaquiles
juice of 2 limes
1 1/2 t. cumin
12 oz. Mexican cheese or Monterey Jack, grated
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
Have your mini-chef tear the tortillas into pieces about the size of a tortilla chip; set aside
In a large bowl, pour all the rest of the ingredients and and stir until everything is mixed in well.
Begin Layering your Chilaquiles in a 9×13-inch pan: Spread a half inch layer of the black bean and vegetable mixture on the bottom of the pan, then a single layer (with no overlaps) of the tortilla pieces, another layer of the gooey mixture, another layer of the tortillas, and finish with a last layer of the gooey mixture. Top with a layer of cheese sprinkled all over the top of the black bean and vegetable mixture.
Big Person: Place the pan in the oven and bake for 30-45 minutes, or until the cheese is browned to your liking. Let cool for at least five minutes before cutting into and serving. Top with reserved salsa verde.
A week ago, as a friend who has no children and I were walking through the icy streets, I pulled her into Purl Soho with a specific fabric and color in mind. My girls had set me to whipping up a pair of Little Pink Riding Hood capes for them, and the body and the shade of this hot pink canvas, I knew, would be just the thing.
When I pulled out the bright, bright pink from among the other fabrics in the store, my friend Lisa raised her eyebrows and commented, “That certainly is pink.”
What she does not understand is the Power of Pink. The dearness and fabulousness and the joie de vivre!
Pink is once more the reigning color in our household now that Genevieve is 2 and Mira has gone through her too cool for pink stage- no matter that we saw her secretly loving pink all along. Liev will even wear it once in a while to make his sisters happy.
Each girl got to choose her lining fabric for her Red Riding Hood Cape from Oliver + S’s Little Things to Sew, and while Mira took nearly a week to decide, Gigi knew right away, with a sweep of her tiny finger what she was choosing: one of the prints from Sarah Jane’s Children at Play. She was already letting us know who each girl and stuffed animal and baby doll on the print was. This way she can have all of her best friends traveling along with her when she wears this. How smart is that?
We’re still working on Mira’s cape, but Genevieve put on and styled her look with some hot pink rhinestone-accented sunglasses. She instructed me to go get my camera and take a picture of her, “look”. I mean, who wants to be Little Red when you could be Little PINK?
My niece, now nearly 5, received these Sailboat Pants as a 2nd birthday present. When I make things for the kids in my life, I usually really try and find something that they-and their parents- will like and that looks good on them. The fabric, which sports green tomatoes, popped out at me as soon as I saw it, and I knew that the print would suit my little niece.
As the clothing gets sent from New York City to Upstate to Chicago and back to Tribeca again, we get re-surprised with favorite pieces that have made it through the paces. These pants are one of the first things that I made for one of the cousins before we knew we would have another girl, and it is particularly sweet to get a turn wearing them.
What’s more, these pants really seem to appeal to Miss Genevieve. She was totally working it the other day when she picked them out to wear.
What about you? Do you recycle your clothing? Do you have a chain of cousins or friends that the clothing gets passed down? Do you cut up old things and give them a second life?