this for her 3pm snack, following a recipe in her Silver Spoon for Children cook book.
She used a mandarin instead of lemon, vanilla yogurt instead of mascarpone. It not only tasted good but was easy enough for her to do everything on her own.
This is a lovely cook book. Highly recommended.
When I lived in Italy years ago for my post graduate studies, I had an opportunity to visit a couple of Italian families, one in Piemonte and another one in Puglia. My Italian was very bad (and still is), and I don’t know how I even communicated with them. Fortunately however, I do remember this amazingly tasty meals they served for me. From what I understood, at both families, they didn’t prepare anything special but something they would eat on a daily basis. Still, it blew my mind and made a strong impression on me. I loved watching the Italian mammas cooking at their cozy kitchens, infused in this delicious aroma from the food in the making. They tried to explain every little detail to me, who was vigorously taking pictures and taking notes, but I probably got less than half of what they tried to convey. Nevertheless, I remember the scenes very fondly and the warmth I felt. I often use the mamma’s recipes to this date, feeling grateful how incredibly lucky I was to have an experience like that.
Fast forward to the present Tokyo, my daughter and I were visiting our dear friends’ house for a play date one Sunday afternoon. The lovely host suggested that we make Gyōza, Japanese-adapted Chinese dumplings, together for early dinner. There was another family and a newly arrived au pair from England who was kind of forced into our cooking spree. While the kids were playing and minding their own business, we began to make the dumplings, each of us spontaneously taking a different task to work in a highly efficient manner. We enthusiastically chatted and laughed as we moved about, chopping cabbage in high speed and mixing ground meat with our bare hands. The room started to get filled with the complex aroma of garlic, shiitake mushrooms and freshly cooked rice, with the kitchen counter and floor covered in white flour. All of us gave Gyōza cooking tips to the humble, seemingly overwhelmed au pair, encouraging her to join us for the Japanese cooking routine.
After nearly two decades since my encounter with the sweet & lovely Italian mammas, I seem to have become one myself too, but the Japanese version of it. At that time in Italy I never knew, that being a “mamma” is such a special thing: being surrounded by the people you love, who appreciate the food you cook.
Photos by courtesy of A.C. & M.T.
Spaghetti aglio & olio with broccoli & bacon
Leftover gratin (pumpkin/potato/green beans/edamame) – used milk instead of cream
Despite my continuous effort on cooking healthy yet time consuming Japanese dishes on a daily basis for our daughter, if we ask her what her favorite food is, she always instantly answers, ‘pasta!’.
For busy morning, I place halved 8- 10 cherry tomatoes, a small can of tuna, little bit of chopped onion in a medium sized frying pan, with a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil, a pinch of salt, pepper & oregano to taste, and just let it cook with the lid on while pasta is being boiled in a separate pot. I usually add a small ladleful of pasta water when the sauce gets a bit dry. Drain the pasta once it’s ready, and toss it in the sauce and mix them well.
As simple as it may be, this pasta is quite tasty.
Incidentally when I finished packing my daughter’s bento this morning, I realised that the colours of autumn was everywhere. Tangerine, mustard, forest green, burgundy…
Usually, I would have put a bit more green to make it brighter (afterall this is for a small child), but thought that I would keep it as it was, hoping she would get my intension to teach her the subtle expression of a changing season.
Menu: Macaroni Amatriciana with broccoli, Boiled egg, Mashed pumpkin & cucumber salad
Japanese “Mikan” orange & Kyoho grapes for dessert
Menu: Penne Amatriciana, Spinach omelet, Cucumber sticks
Banana & Mandarin mikan for dessert
On Sunday evening I realised we had run out of rice. In a Japanese household this almost never happens and is unheard of. I failed to stock up our daily staple… To make matters worse, I even didn’t have time… agh… actually forgot to buy fresh meat or fish… Yes, I had a busy weekend.
This means I had to improvise something out of whatever we had in our fridge and pantry on Monday morning for our daughter’s bento. Luckily, there were some tomatoes and bacon in the fridge, which I magically turned into so-called Amatriciana sauce (tomato, bacon & onion). Served with penne pasta & parmiggiano, it is a perfect pasta dish to kickstart a good week. With the help of egg and spinach, it rather became a nice Italian bento box for our ever so hungry princess.