good food is good baby food

pancetta wrapped chicken breasts for dinner
Pancetta wrapped chicken breasts. It can be tricky to cut thin slices of pancetta suitable for wrapping the meat. I would love to have a slicer for this. My wife doesn't understand why we need a slicer. I asked her to cut the pancetta for this recipe. Now we will see who wants the slicer.

Almost every week, we have chicken for dinner at least once. It is an easy choice for weeknight meals because it cooks up fast.

Last week I got a little fancy: I pounded the chicken breasts flat, stuffed them with goat cheese and fresh herbs from the garden, wrapped them in pancetta from Parma Sausage in the Strip, and cooked them up on the stovetop. It was good. My only complaint is that the pancetta is a little too salty. It has a great flavor overall, but next time I use it I might soak it first.

Anyway, you might ask me what the babies ate for dinner that night. They ate the same thing, of course! No chicken nuggets here. Some people are surprised that our daughters eat grownup food, dishes with flavor and texture. Is it because we don’t offer them “kid food” like chicken nuggets, or simply their natural tendency? I don’t know the answer. I just enjoy sitting down to a meal with my family at the end of the day, sharing the same food together. It is very important to me.

Recently we finished reading Pamela Druckerman‘s “Bringing Up Bébé,” a book that talks about different approaches to parenting in America and France. Everybody is reading this book. Among other things, it talks about picky eating. Americans might tend to see it as the child’s individuality, just personal choice. French parents would think the child is missing an important experience by not learning to appreciate that food. French parents would probably think chicken nuggets are child abuse! I am not sure what the author would think of Spanish culture, but I remember having meals with multiple courses and eating the same foods as adults.

My friends Rob and Sarah told me that their first son ate everything from goose liver to artichokes–before kindergarden. Once he was in kindergarden, he only wanted pizza and nuggets. Peer pressure!

 

goat-cheese stuffed chicken breast wrapped in pancetta
Goat-cheese stuffed chicken breast wrapped in pancetta. On the left, the "grownup" preparation, and on the right, the "baby food" preparation!

6 de Mayo Demo

 

join us for cinco de mayo
"Cinco de Mayo... on May 6!"

Yesterday afternoon was hot and humid: perfect weather for spicy foods, some chips and salsa, and anything else that might remind you of a classic Mexican feast. With the Mexican theme in mind I headed for the Market District to prepare a few Mexican dishes.

Keep in mind that most of these dishes are a product of working in the kitchen side by side with all my Mexican counterparts. As a Spanish chef I had never before encountered these flavors in Europe until I came to the U.S. and worked with South Americans and Mexicans. These experiences and flavors have greatly enriched my life and menus.

I prepared a traditional refried bean dip. Also a grilled pineapple and red onion salsa and Arroz con Pollo. This chicken and rice dish is probably one of my favorite South American meals.

Alba Flamenca was also there at the Market District. They provided Flamenco music and dance. So we celebrated a Mexican holiday weekend with a Spanish chef, Spanish musicians, and Spanish dancers, but hey–just like everybody is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, I guess everybody is Mexican on Cinco de Mayo. 😉

It was great fun!

Chef Daniel conducts a cooking demonstration at the Pine-Richland Giant Eagle Market District grocery store on Cinco de Mayo weekend
I do some of my best work behind a plexiglass shield