With most of us parents home during this coronavirus quarantine, we are finding ourselves in the kitchen — a lot! For us who are finding ourselves spending our time cooking, we asked cookbook author Jenny Rosenstrach for recipes that are not only delicious but are the comfort foods that kids (and us parents) need right now. Jenny, who also founded the popular food blog Dinner: A Love Story has always shared how food brings families together. Cooking is not only about mom serving up the dishes — kids are welcome and encouraged to be part of the process. So roll up those sleeves, and let’s get cooking!
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For the Dipping Sauce
- 1 ⁄ 2 cup sour cream
- 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
- 1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon sugar
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
For the Fish Cakes
- 3 firm flaky whitefish fillets, such as cod or orange roughy (about 1 1⁄4 pounds total)
- 1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon chili powder
- 1 ⁄ 2 teaspoon dried oregano
- Salt and pepper
- 1/3 cup mayonnaise
- 1 egg, lightly whisked
- 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
- 1 large baking potato, baked and flaked (bake it in the microwave for 10 minutes, so it’s quick)
- A handful of cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 1/2 cups bread crumbs (panko or regular), seasoned with salt and pepper
- 3 tablespoons vegetable oil lime wedges, for serving
Preheat the oven to 450°F. To make the dipping sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together the sour cream, lime juice, sugar, and cilantro and set aside.
To make the fish cakes: Sprinkle fish fillets with the chili powder, oregano, and salt and pepper and roast 5 to 7 minutes, until cooked through. Let cool, then using a fork, flake into pieces.
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the mayonnaise, egg, and lime juice. Add the fish to the bowl along with the potato, cilantro, and more salt. Toss and, if you have time, refrigerate for 30 minutes. (This will make it easier to pack the mixture into patties, but it’s not a do-or-die move.)
Pack the fish mixture into patties and coat each in bread crumbs that have been spread on a dinner plate. (If you haven’t had time to chill the mixture, the patties will be delicate, so do this carefully. Also: I find wetting your hands helps to prevent sticking.)
Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Fry the patties in batches of four and cook until the crusts are golden brown, about 5 minutes per side. Serve with the lime wedges and dipping sauce.
Photo by Jennifer Causey
Tomato-White Bean Soup
Makes four servings. Serve with crusty bread or focaccia.
- 3 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for garnishing
- 1 slice smoky bacon (optional)
- 1/2 large onion, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
- 1 stalk celery, chopped (optional, about 1/2 cup)
- 1 large carrot, chopped (about 2/3 cup)
- kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- red chili flakes
- 1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
- 4 1/2 cups cooked white beans (3 15-ounce cans, drained)
- 3 cups broth (vegetable or chicken)
- parm, for garnishing
In a medium soup pot or Dutch oven, add olive oil and bacon, if using. Add onion, celery, carrot, salt, pepper, and a pinch of red pepper flakes. Cook until vegetables are soft, about 6-8 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and all but 1/2 cup of beans.
Remove the bacon, chop into small pieces, and add back to the pot. Add broth (it should just cover beans) and bring to a boil. Using an immersion blender, puree the soup, adding water or broth until it reaches desired consistency. Stir in your reserved beans, warm through, and serve with lots of parmesan, olive oil, more freshly ground pepper, and crusty bread or focaccia.
It’s all about the toppings, really. None of which (except those tortilla strips) need to be cooked. Makes four servings. Feel free to substitute store-bought chips for the homemade ones.
- 1 small onion, diced (a little more than 1/3 cup)
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1/2 jalapeno, seeds and pith mostly removed, minced (or a few shakes of chile flakes)
- 1 garlic clove, halved
- 3 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tablespoon tomato paste
- 2 large uncooked salted and peppered chicken breasts (or rotisserie chicken or any kind of cooked chicken)
- 5 cups chicken broth, preferably homemade
- 3 flour tortillas, cut into 1/2-inch, wide-ish strips
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 lime, quartered
Any or all of the following toppings: Sliced avocado, chopped cilantro, sour cream, shredded sharp cheddar, chopped scallions.
In a medium-large soup pot, over medium heat, cook onions, salt, pepper, jalapeño, and garlic in olive oil until onions are slightly wilted, about 3 minutes. Stir in tomato paste, so it coats everything and let sizzle for a minute or so.
If using uncooked chicken breasts, add them to the pot, along with the chicken broth. If using rotisserie chicken or already cooked chicken, just add broth. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer about 12 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. If you are not cooking your own chicken, you only have to simmer for a few minutes, until the broth is warmed through.
Meanwhile, add vegetable oil to a heavy skillet (preferably cast iron) and turn heat to medium-high. Fry strips in batches until golden and crispy, about 30 seconds a side. Remove to a paper-towel-lined plate. (Suggestion: Cover them with paper towels, too, so they are not visible, or else you run the risk of passers-by, not naming any names, stealthily pilfering them, leaving you to wonder why you never seem to have enough no matter how long you stand there frying the dumb things.)
Remove chicken, shred with two forks and add back to the pot. (If it’s not entirely cooked through, let it simmer another few minutes.) If using rotisserie chicken, add to pot now. Fish out the garlic halves.
Add all toppings, including tortilla strips, to a platter or cutting board and place on your table. Ladle soup in bowls, squeeze the juice from one lime quarter into each serving and have everyone customize his or her own bowl.
Heat oven to 425°F. Cut two baking potatoes, or about one potato per diner, into wedges as shown. Toss them in a bowl with olive oil, salt, pepper, and a splash of water. (To upgrade to spicy mega fries, add a pinch of cayenne, paprika, and garlic salt. Make sure spices are evenly distributed.) Lay down foil on a baking sheet and spray with a little cooking spray. (Crucial. They will be hard to remove from foil otherwise.) Line up your fries in rows as shown and bake for 25 minutes or until they are crispy and golden looking. Sometimes, I turn a piece of parchment paper into a cone and let the girls carry their stash around.
Frozen Chocolate Bananas
2 ripe but firm bananas
6 ounces dark chocolate or semisweet chocolate chips
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 cup granola, chopped pecans and walnuts or sprinkles (optional)
Line a baking sheet with nonstick foil or parchment paper. Cut the bananas in half and insert a popsicle stick into each half. Can also use wooded kebob or chopstick — whatever you have on hand. If you break chopstick in half, use the smooth part of the stick. Place bananas on the baking sheet and freeze for 15 minutes. Meanwhile, melt the chocolate with the oil in Pyrex measuring cup in the microwave (check it every 30 seconds) or in half-full pan of simmering water. Stir until smooth. Dip and roll each banana half in the chocolate, then quickly sprinkle with your toppings (if using).
Freeze until the chocolate sets, 30 minutes. Serve, or store in the freezer in an airtight container for up to a week.