So I heard this pathetic story once about this woman who was delaying starting her second child on solids. Here he was, already six months old, fueled solely by breast milk, while his older brother, the first born, had started the mashed banana and rice cereal at the tender age of five months. Finally one day, this poor child's mother decides to stop stalling and bite the bullet.
So she picks a few carrots from her kitchen garden, (no pesticides for baby) peels and slices them and puts them in a pot with just a little water to steam them until tender. At least that was the idea, only she forgets about them completely and they scorch horribly. In fact they are black and the pot requires some serious work to return it to it's normal state. The mother decides she can put off starting solids for another day, maybe two.
A good start to homemade baby food? I think not! (She did recently turn 30, which is pretty old so we could attribute her absent mindedness to that. )
.....OK, OK, so that happened to me today. Yes, I'm a big fat loser!
Sure I once used to control the timing of a fine dining professional kitchen and now I can't even make baby food without burning it beyond recognition. What gives??
Oh well, there is no rush, Mateo can't quite sit up yet and you can tell just by looking at his chubby thighs, he's doing just fine on mama's milk!
Starting solids with the second baby is certainly anti-climactic compared to with the first child. I couldn't wait to cook for Noah--and then he spat out (or vomited) virtually everything I sent his way except yogurt.
Of course, that rejection eventually became the inspiration for this blog. (Just read "What's in a name?", my second ever blog post for the full story and to see a cute picture of Noah as a chubby baby in the infamous high chair...)
Making my own baby food is going to be a piece of cake the second time around, though. It's all been done before and is so familiar--just like this fresh fruit tart that has already made a few appearances on this blog in different guises.
I can't help it, I love this dessert so much!
This tart usually comes together when collection of fresh fruit that is fast ripening on my counter starts waving at me and I check my freezer for leftover pie dough. Not a very glamorous start, but what makes it extraordinary is the creme patissière.
Speaking of baby food, I think my mother started me off on pastry cream. Forget the rice cereal, she was probably spooning the cool, vanilla custard between my toothless gums to get me started on this road as a foodie. How else can I explain my infatuation with it, eating it right out of the fridge with the door open?
"It's a childhood thing, you know. My mother....." (and here I gesture helplessly as I dip my spoon in for another taste.)
So this tart was some left-over whole-wheat quiche dough (can't remember how I threw that together), classic pastry cream, and as you can see, fresh figs, raspberries and cherries. You can use whatever fruit you have on hand or love very much. I glazed some of the fruit with a little crabapple jelly, warmed up until it was runny, and then brushed on the cherries and figs.
Here is my go-to recipe for pastry cream, republished. Better make a double batch, because it pretty amazing poured warm over some sliced bananas and you may want to try that. Right now.
(from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)
2 cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in two
4 large egg yolks
¼ cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
In a medium saucepan, combine the milk, ¼ cup sugar, vanilla and salt. Cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a simmer. In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining ¼ cup sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about ½ cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg mixture. Continue adding milk mixture, ½ cup at a time, until it has been incorporated. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove vanilla bean, scrape pod with the tip of a knife to remove seeds. Add seeds to custard and discard bean.
Transfer to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add butter, and beat on medium speed until butter melts and the mixture cools, about 5 minutes.
Cover with plastic wrap, pressing it directly onto the surface of the pastry cream to prevent a skin from forming. Refrigerate until chilled, at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining ¼ cup sugar. Whisking constantly, slowly pour about ½ cup of the hot-milk mixture into the egg mixture. Continue adding milk mixture, ½ cup at a time, until it has been incorporated. Pour mixture back into saucepan, and cook over medium-high heat, whisking constantly, until it thickens, about 2 minutes. Remove vanilla bean, scrape pod with the tip of a knife to remove seeds. Add seeds to custard and discard bean.