When I was pregnant, people were constantly asking me to imagine what kind of child I was going to have. “What if he doesn’t have all of his limbs?” my fellow pregnant friends would worry. “What if he is ugly?” others would wonder. But for me, the most troublesome and scary thought of all was: “what if he doesn’t like food?!”
That dreadful idea was banished from my mind as soon as my son started eating solids – not only was he not refusing anything outright, he was a voracious and adventurous little palate to cook for. And I am more than aware of how lucky I am to have a child who actually cries because he wants to eat vegetables!
The same was not entirely true when it came to our finned friends however – for some reason, my son who is at least a quarter from the French island Ile de Ré, was not really into fish. That is, not until I realised that a lot of it was down to the presentation of the food. After a few different attempts at disguising the fish in sauces or mixing it up with veggies, I realised that minimal tampering with the fish worked best in terms of enticing him to eat it. The tampering is basically restricted to cooking it until it was cooked and soft enough for him to eat it with his fingers. Pairing it with just the right amount of colour and mash vegetables on the side also made a huge difference.
Now that my second son is here, I am back to making all sorts of purees and mashed up combinations to develop his own tastebuds and palate, and this little recipe works every time. My elder son is now 2½ years old and will gladly gobble this, with the fish chopped into larger chunks; and my younger at 9-months old happily munches up every mashed up spoonful I give him.
Broccoli baby mash with white fish crumble
Feeds 1 little munchkin from 7 months up
1 small head of broccoli
1 little potato
50g white fish fillet (cod, plaice, seabass, whatever you have to hand), deboned of course!
a little parsley
Wash the broccoli and break it down into small florets. Peel the potato and dice it up.
Steam both vegetables for about 10 minutes, or until tender but still bouncy, and not over mushy. Use the same basket to steam the fish for about 5 minutes or until just cooked.
Add the parsley to the vegetables and mash with a fork until you reach the consistency your children enjoy, or will accept.
Arrange and display the mashed vegetables and fish as best you can, preferably with the mash at the bottom and the fish “crumbled” on top to develop a keen eye for beautiful dishes and gem-like colour presentation!