A French classic… Salmon with sorrel

When I was about four years old, my uncle had a community garden where he grew various vegetables. Memory works strangely, doesn’t it? I don’t have a linear recollection of the garden or the time I spent there, only flashes, experiential stills if you will. Unearthing radishes to be bit into with butter and salt. The sun hitting us and the soil. And the tangy taste of sorrel. He would let me pick it myself and chew on it, and I remember vividly its wonderful lemony flavor.

Sorrel isn’t very well-known here and can be hard to find. So when I found some planted sorrel at a farmer’s market a few months ago, I was very excited to plant some along with my other herbs, thrilled to have history repeat itself (in a good way in this case) and see the look on Pablo’s face while chewing on a sorrel leaf.  I guess that’s one of the things food can do for us. Help us come full circle, infuse some of who we are and our past, into our children, via their taste buds. It is such a visceral meaningful way for different generations to connect. In the garden, in the kitchen or at the table.

But moving on from the nostalgic, childhood, soulful part of this post to its practical side…
When I first started looking into baby food in the US, I was baffled at the lack of variety available in baby food jars in stores, even high-end stores. Hoping to find ready-made Brussels sprouts puree? Never mind… And those strange mixes of ingredients (how is baby supposed to get familiar with the subtle flavor of vegetables if they’re always overpowered by apricot, which seems to be sneaked into the ingredients of most baby food brands?), and the absence of fish. In any French supermarket, you will find baby jars with “Cod with spring vegetables”, “Salmon with green beans” (sans apricot), and many others. And it actually tastes good! This is one of the reasons why I knew I would have to cook everything myself for Pablo. Had I been living in France, I might not have… Necessity is the mother of invention, so yay for the apricot flavored veggies, because this adventure in cooking for baby has been so fulfilling and interesting!

Numerous nutritional books and experts will tell you the many health benefits of fish (especially the right kind, the smaller fish, low in mercury), it is rich in omega 3, DHA and all kinds of great nutrients and vitamins. Yet some ob/gyns advise against eating fish at all during pregnancy. I had a pediatrician tell me not to eat fish while nursing, and then some even say to avoid giving it to baby the first year. It has been shown that fetuses start “tasting” what mom eats around 21 weeks of pregnancy (interesting story on this at http://www.npr.org/2011/08/08/139033757/babys-palate-and-food-memories-shaped-before-birth). It’s hard to expect our children to like fish if we don’t try to expose them to its flavor early on (plus it’s so good for them!)

I started Pablo on fish and meat at the same time (one at a time, of course), around 8 months. I try to make sure he has it at least 2 to 3 times a week, and that he eats a good variety of fish (mostly I use salmon, Dover sole, cod, and sardines).

The tart sourish flavor of sorrel (which, by the way, is extremely high in vitamin C and A, as well as in iron and fiber) complements the fattiness and richness of salmon very nicely. (Salmon in a creamy sorrel sauce is a standard in most traditional French restaurants.) So give this very simple recipe a try and see if it wins over your child! Can’t wait to hear all about it 🙂

Salmon with Sorrel Puree

Age: Around 8 months depending on when you started solids, check with your pediatrician. (If your child hasn’t had salmon nor sorrel yet, you can start with a Salmon with Kale puree for example, provided you have given him kale puree by itself beforehand.)

This recipe makes approximately 4 x 2-oz jars, which you can then freeze and feed to your baby later.

1 salmon filet of approx 100 g / 3.5-4 oz** (I try go get Sockeye or Coho wild caught and fresh if possible. Even if you find it previously frozen, you can refreeze safely once it has been cooked)

Wash the sorrel (you can even leave the stems), peel the potatoes and cut them up.
Place the sorrel, potatoes and salmon fillet in your steamer and steam for about 12-15 mn, until the potatoes are cooked through. (I use the Babycook from Beaba, which steams and mixes. If you use that, it’s water level 3).

Mix all the ingredients in a food processor, with a bit of the cooking juice to obtain the desired consistency. You can make it very smooth or chunky depending on your baby’s taste and age. Enjoy! (Or freeze…)

*For an older toddler, you can make the sorrel potato puree (steam together and mix with a bit of the cooking juices to get the desired consistency), add pieces of salmon on top.

** A quick note on protein quantities: researching various French nutritional sites and literature for babies, I found it is usually recommended to start off with about 10-15 g (1/3 to 1/2 oz) of fish or meat per meal at 8 months, and then slowly work your way up to 25 g (0.8 to 1 oz) per meal at 12 months. Adjust the weight of the salmon fillet you use according to your baby’s age.

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Eva’s Classic Greek Tzatziki Sauce

Tzatziki is a popular Greek sauce that is often used as a dip with pita bread or enjoyed with various types of meat dishes such as souvlaki and gyros. It is best made with yogurt, but if you prefer not to use yogurt you may substitute it for sour cream. Keep in mind that the yogurt needs to strain for about 8 to 10 hours, so it’s best to begin the preparation the day before you plan to serve it. Some tzatziki recipes call for a bit of chopped dill or mint, but in this video Eva shows us how to prepare her version of this delicious sauce.

1 tub of plain yogurt
2 cloves of garlic crushed
Half a cucumber
1 tablespoon of olive oil
a pinch of salt (or to your taste)
1 tablespoon of fresh lemon juice

To begin you need to strain the yogurt. Place a cheese cloth or a few sturdy paper towels on a strainer and place the strainer in a bowl. Scope out the yogurt into the strainer and allow the water to strain for at least 8 to 10 hours in the fridge. Once the yogurt has been strained, discard the excess water and place the yogurt in a medium-sized bowl. Add the crushed garlic to the yogurt. Peel the cucumber, slice it in half, remove the seeds, and shred the cucumber using a cheese grater. Squeeze out any excess water from the cucumber and add it the yogurt mixture. Add the olive oil, salt, and fresh lemon juice. Stir the mixture well. Garnish with an olive or a slice of lemon.