As a society, we have tried to encourage kids to eat healthy foods by hiding them, disguising them as something else, or pouring processed cheese sauce on them, and I think that we do a disservice to children by doing so. Children don’t come into the world eating only chicken nuggets, pizza, and french fries. They will eat the food that they are given. That’s the food that they will become used to and like.
So, if we feed them only “kid” food, those are the tastes they will develop. If, however, we feed them all sorts of foods, they will eat them as well. Our daughter, Shorey, eats almost everything. Now, though, at ten years old, she doesn’t like asparagus, tripe, polenta, sweet potatoes, or head cheese. We’re okay with that — and her grandfather says that she will change anyway.
When I was approached to write a book to inspire children to cook, I thought I couldn’t possibly do this project. I don’t cook kids’ food — I just cook good, fresh food; and I’m not a chef, although many people think I am. I’m a home cook — a fairly good one I think — but just a home cook. My father is a chef, and I’m married to a chef as well, so in our home, food is ever present. The idea of “kid food” disturbs me. It’s fine to make a dish simpler or less spicy when kids are going to eat it, but we cannot decide what they will like and what they won’t.
A few years back, my husband and I were having some friends over; we happened to be using white anchovies for something, and our daughter asked if she could have one. We said, “Sure, go right ahead.” She loved them and still does. Growing up, I was always given the same food that my parents and their friends were having, albeit I might have eaten earlier and a smaller portion.
Many of the recipes in my book are the dishes that I grew up eating and the ones we cook at home for our family. That includes this simple dish, which my French grandmother used to make as a fun and unique deviled egg. Flat-topped, browned in butter, and topped with a bit of sauce, these eggs are great on top of a salad for lunch. Make your own variations including meat, fish, shrimp, or vegetables. Just be sure all the ingredients are cooked before stuffing!
6 large hard-cooked eggs
2 tablespoons milk
2 cloves garlic, chopped fine
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 tablespoons peanut oil
Approximately 2 tablespoons leftover egg yolk mixture
2 teaspoons Dijon-style mustard
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 tablespoon water
Dash kosher salt
1 or 2 grinds freshly ground black pepper
1⁄4 cup (60 ml) olive oil
For the eggs:
Cut the cooked eggs in half lengthwise at the widest point. Remove the yolks, place them in a flat-bottomed bowl, and mash the yolks with a fork.
In the same bowl mix the egg yolks with the milk, garlic, parsley, salt, and pepper. The mixture should be moist and hold together.
Using a small spoon and your fingers, gently re-stuff the whites with the yolk mixture only until it is flat, and reserve approximately 2 tablespoons of the mixture for the dressing. You may need to scrape the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula.
Heat the peanut oil in a nonstick skillet. When the oil is hot, put the egg halves, stuffed side down, in the skillet and fry over medium heat for about two minutes until the stuffed side is beautifully brown. You can use a fork to lift them and check.
Remove the eggs from the skillet and arrange them on a platter.
For the sauce:
Put the remaining ingredients except the olive oil in a food processor and, with the motor running, add the oil slowly.
Pour the sauce on top of and around the eggs and serve.
If you don’t have a food processor, mix everything together except the oil, as above, and add the oil slowly while whisking.
Reprinted with permission from Kids Cook French, published by Quarry Books.
Claudine Pépin often appears with her father, world-renowned chef Jacques Pépin, in preparing delicious meals and sharing cooking techniques on public television.