Friday, September 13, 2013

Cheese sauce

Homemade baby foods. From top to bottom they are squash and sage pasta, chicken with peas and red pepper in cheese sauce, and carrots and broccoli in cheese sauce.
Lately the only way I can get the twins to eat vegetables is to smother them in cheese sauce! This post is all about the cheese sauce, but here's how I use it. Once you have cheese sauce, add finely diced boiled vegetables and a finely diced cooked meat, such as pork tenderloin or chicken breast. Mix together with the cheese sauce. Voila — baby food. 

Cheese sauce
(recipe given to me by a friend)

2 Tbsp butter

2 Tbsp all-purpose flour 
1/8 tsp dry mustard
1 cup milk
1 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Slowly melt the butter in a saucepan and whisk in the flour and mustard powder.  Cook this for a minute or two while stirring, until smooth. Slowly add the milk, whisking out any lumpy bits after each pour until smooth and combined.  Gently cook over medium heat until the mixture has thickened.  Take off the heat and gradually add in the cheese, stirring until smooth.  Stir in the Worcestershire sauce. Freeze in quarter cup measures for later use. 

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Chicken stock

Seasonings for chicken stock
I made a batch of chicken stock using bones from ready-made grocery-store rotisserie chickens. This is a favourite sequence of meals of late that all start with a rotisserie chicken: a quarter-chicken dinner with fries and Swiss Chalet dipping sauce from a packet. I love eating this in front of the TV on Friday nights! Then I freeze all the bones and make chicken stock when I've got a decent amount. I pick the meat off the bones and save them for chicken soup or for making a baby food casserole, and then I use the chicken stock to make French onion soup.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Baby's first cod casserole

Our babies are finally done with purees! Hooray! Now we can move on to real recipes (although still in mushy form, but that's okay). One-year-old babies can officially join in on family meals, but I find I'm still cooking their food separately because they like everything well cooked and still quasi-mushy. No tender-crisp veggies here, thank you very much!

I made this cod casserole with cheese sauce, peas, broccoli and cauliflower. In three separate pots I poached fish, made cheese sauce and boiled vegetables, then assembled everything together at the end. It's a bit of an effort, but so worth it. First of all, they ate it (always a triumph) and they got three dinners each out of this batch, so I didn't have to cook again for the next couple of days.

Since the babies discovered fruits, veggies have been poo-pooed something serious. But cheese sauce does the trick! They loved this dish.

Baby's first cod casserole

cod, one fillet
1/2 cup frozen peas
one head broccoli
half a head of cauliflower

cheese sauce
1/2 cup grated cheddar cheese
1 1/4 cup milk
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp butter

court bouillon (poaching liquid for cod)
4 cups water
1 Tbsp cider vinegar
1 onion, sliced
1 celery stalk, sliced
1 tsp salt
2 bay leaves
2 thyme sprigs
2 parsley sprigs
8 whole black peppercorns

To poach the fish, put all the ingredients for the poaching liquid in a pot and bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer for 15 minutes uncovered. Add the fish and simmer for 10 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Remove the fish from the liquid and break into bite-sized pieces. You can strain the poaching liquid and freeze it for the next time you poach fish.

To boil the veggies, bring a pot of water to a boil. Chop the broccoli and cauliflower into baby bite-sized pieces and simmer for 20 minutes until soft. Add the frozen peas during the last five minutes of cooking time. Drain the vegetables and set aside.

To make the cheese sauce, melt the butter in a saucepan and add the flour. Stir in the flour and cook it, while stirring, for a couple of minutes. Whisk in the milk and whisk away any lumps of flour. Bring slowly to a boil, and then turn down to a simmer until thickened. Remove from the heat and stir in the cheddar cheese.

Combine the veggies with the flaked fish and cheese sauce. Serve immediately and refrigerate the rest for future meals.

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