Louise is now 15 months, she walks around like an independent little person, and she eats what her older brothers eat. The days of puréeing are already over, and as such my days of “baby food” posts. But since the children usually eat separately, especially during the week, this will be the transition into the world of children’s dinners.
As much as I oppose the concept of children’s food, in particular as it implies anything yellow and battered, I do believe in adult meals. This means that our children have dinner together, earlier, and go to bed at eight. It’s not about a different kind of food, it’s about timing. Ideally, children’s dinners should be easily prepared on a weeknight with homework and soccer and a toddler who really should be in bed by seven puttering about resignedly.
So as a bridge away from baby food here is the ultimate anytime any-age family meal – frittata.
It is ideal because it basically consists of staples and anything else that happens to be in the kitchen: eggs; an onion or leftover leek, garlic; cheese (gruyère, manchego, parmesan, ricotta, mozzarella); perhaps diced ham, pancetta, or some smoked salmon; peas, cherry tomatoes, asparagus, spinach, potatoes; herbs…
The possibilities are endless, and the result not only very tasty but a full meal in one dish that the children always like.
This quantity makes a lunch frittata perfect for one adult and one toddler. Adjust the quantities as desired. I usually count 2 eggs per adult, 1 per (young) child, plus an extra one overall “for the pan.”
A small knob of butter
1 clove garlic
Manchego cheese, a piece approximately 1 inch (2.5 cm) cube
Preheat broiler (grill), or oven to 425°F (220°C).
Trim leeks on either side and remove one or two layers of the tougher dark green outer leaves. Wash off excess grit under running water. Slice the leeks into slices 1/2 or 1/4 inch (1 or 1/2 cm) thick. Wash well in cold water to remove any persistent dirt, and strain.
Thinly slice the garlic clove. Thinly grate the manchego.
In an ovenproof skillet, heat a little olive oil and small knob of butter, enough to comfortably coat the pan once the butter has melted. Add the leek and cook over medium heat for 3 to 4 minutes, until it softens and becomes translucent but before it gets brown. Add the thinly sliced garlic and cook for just another minute.
Meanwhile, break the eggs into a bowl and beat lightly with a fork. Add the cheese and a little pepper if desired (manchego is very salty so no additional salt is required).
Stir the cooked leeks and garlic into the eggs, just enough to combine, then return the egg/vegetable mixture to the pan (there should be enough oil left but if not, add a dash).
Cook on the stove over low heat, loosening the eggs at the sides with a spatula from time to time (don’t go anywhere, this will just take a few minutes).
When you can see the eggs starting to set underneath, but the top is still quite runny, place the pan in the hot oven. Leave it for barely a minute, just enough for the top of the frittata to set but no longer.
Cut into wedges (or cubes) and serve with a large green salad.