What Chefs Feed Their Kids

IMG_7678I distinctly remember the first time I saw this book. Classic case of book envy. It was in January 2013 and I was hanging out with a friend for a playdate with our kids and I spied this book on their counter. I flipped through it and fell in love. It’s a beautiful book. Clean layout, lots of great stories about the featured chefs and their kids, tips about cooking with her own child – I was sold. I’ve used it occasionally over the past two years but this was the first time I really focused on the recipes themselves.

H picked the book this week, which I found particularly appropriate since my ego was feeling a bit out of hand after I helped cook for a charity dinner. Of course I can be a chef at home! And you’re my child – so you’ll eat like a chef this week! Easier said than done. Nothing like your own children to dish out the humble pie when you need it.

The Recipes
Turkey Meatballs with Orecchiette Pasta and Tomato Sauce
Cannellini Bean Dip
Simply Leafy Greens
Carrot Salad with Ginger
Curried Chickpea Salad
Deviled Eggs with Tuna
Cannellini and Yellow Wax Bean Salad with Shaved Radish
Spaghetti Pancakes
Broccoli with Olive Oil and Sea Salt
Broccoli and Cheese Curds

The Good
I love the book organizationally. The chapters are broken into age based sections for kids, starting with infancy, then purees, preschoolers, big kids, and then adolescence. I decided to cook through the preschooler chapter since my kids are 3 and 5. And considering the author/recipe collector is an art director, it’s no surprise that the book is beautiful. All the recipes are shared by chefs who make this food for their own kids – and I was familiar with some of the featured chefs in the book. (Not personally, but I’ve wanted to eat in their restaurants!) H and C LOVED the Turkey Meatballs and H loved the Deviled Eggs with Tuna. She ate four of them – and I began to worry about an egg yolk tummy ache. My favorites were the Cannellini Bean Dip and the Broccoli and Cheese Curds – I haven’t tried roasting broccoli and it was really delicious. I’ll do it again with less cheese, more green. My friend (same friend who had this book before me!) liked the curried chickpeas. Lots of veggies in the book and definitely diverse flavors – asian, mediterranean, and twists on classics.

The Bad
The kids didn’t really like this chef’s work. Presentation-wise, the recipes looked like what they should, and for the most part, I thought they tasted ok. There were some screw ups on my end – I oversalted the water for the leafy greens; I subbed spaghetti for orecchiette, and I didn’t have fresh yellow wax beans for the salad….because I live in Minnesota, and we don’t see beans until July. They tried everything, but other than the turkey meatballs and the deviled eggs, no big winners. Ingredient wise, there were a number of things that are either not easily available or not practical for weeknight cooking. I can’t appreciate the benefit of cooking your own dried beans. I now have white balsamic and zinfandel vinegars in my cabinet…..when regular champagne and a good red wine vinegar should work just fine. And I’ve never heard of piccolo fino verde basil, even at our awesome summer farmers markets. Perhaps my palate isn’t advanced enough to tell the difference, but there were some chef tricks that initially seemed like a good idea until I realized – oh yeah, I’m NOT a chef!

The Ugly. (Not really)
I think my biggest issue with this cookbook is that I thought my kids would really like some of this stuff, and they just didn’t. The Spaghetti Pancakes were not quite an epic failure, but I was SURE the kids would like them. Pasta and cheese! H looked at them, wrinkled her nose, and said “I don’t like the design.” C avoided the question entirely and just talked about cucumbers. I didn’t make two recipes that I’ve already done – Ratatouille with Balsamic Vinegar, Honey and Basil….DELICIOUS….and the Banana Bread recipe is pretty great also – so there may more here than what I experienced this week. Then again, the kids are 3 and 5, so what they hate today they’ll probably love next week.

What Chefs Feed Their Kids – Recipes and Techniques for Cultivating a Love of Good Food
Overall Cookbook Rating – 3.5 out of 5
If I was only looking at this week’s food performance, it would probably be a two. While the cookbook is lovely to look at, it was abundantly clear that 1) I am not a chef and 2) I don’t live in California. Some of the ingredients you really have to look for – and when I’m shopping with kids, I’m not exactly moving at a leisurely pace. No time to search – unless it’s for C hiding out in the bakery. If you’re looking for a great looking cookbook that tells stories and offers some kid-friendly food tips along with the recipes, give this one a try. It would be an awesome baby shower gift for the foodie new parents who still believe they’ll maintain the same level of cuisine after having kids. And hey – I’d take reading a beautiful cookbook over opening my 37th “so cute” onesie any day of the week.

Oh – and check out the daily update on Tumblr. 1cookbook-1week.

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