I've been reading Barbara's posts over at Tigers and Strawberries with extreme envy lately. I seem to have missed the boat in getting our Toddler to eat adult food. Maybe he would have been this picky even if I had introduced him to curries and spicy sausages at an earlier age. Then again, maybe he's just inherited his father's food conservatism. Whatever the reason, he's very suspicious of new foods and in particular anything that his mother tells him is really tasty. Last year I had just about despaired of getting him to try fresh peaches when he finally smelled a particularly juicy sweet one I was eating myself and demanded a bite. The secret, it appears, is never to seem to suggest he try something new. He has to come up with the idea himself.
So when I served him a lovely plate of fluffy mashed potatoes, sausages and warm sauteed apples and onions I wasn't actually expecting him to gobble it up and ask for more. I hoped he'd try each of the elements. And perhaps remember they weren't that bad. And accept them next time. Sure enough, he tasted the apple and made a face. Ate one piece of sausage and rejected the rest. And had his usual typical dinner of cheese, buttered toast fingers, chunks of cucumber and banana for dessert. The next day, he agreed to eat an entire leftover sausage, but again rejected the (delicious) buttery apple.
On a more positive note, the Critic and I enjoyed our portions enormously. And Rome wasn't built in a day, as they say - I still have hopes of seeing the entire family eat the same meal at the same time one day. Of course by the time they are all willing to eat the same meal, the boys will probably be scattered to the four winds with football practice and music lessons and sleepovers and whatever else growing boys can find to amuse themselves...
Sausage and Mash for the Whole Family
I adapted this recipe from one in Nigel Slater's appropriately named Real Good Food. The main change I made was a practical one: cooking all the elements in the same pan to save washing up. I am both lazy and environmentally conscientious. I also have, on occasion, thrown a small handful of thyme leaves into the sauce with great results. This time I kept it simple in the hopes the Toddler would like it.
2-4 sausages per person (I used some herb chipolatas from our local Franprix, though English sausages are even nicer - especially the ones with apple in them)
2-3 potatoes per person
1 small apple per person
1 onion per person
1 Tbs crème fraîche per person
optional: a few sprigs of thyme
milk and butter to taste for the mashed potatoes
salt and pepper
Peel and chop the potatoes and set them to boil in salted water.
I usually grill sausages so that the fat drains away and they are (slightly) less unhealthy, but in this case the fat adds to the overall flavour so into the pan they go. You can add a smidgeon of butter first to keep them from sticking to the pan, but if your sausages are fatty you probably won't need it. While they start sizzling, start slicing the onions in half rounds (or rounds - as mentioned, I'm lazy and the halves are easier to slice quickly). Wash and quarter your apples, cut out the cores and cut each quarter in half. While you are preparing the apples and onions, keep an eye on the sausages, turning them from time to time. When the sausages are brown and glistening on all sides, remove them to a plate and keep them in a warm oven while you finish the dish.
Drain all the fat from the pan and then add a pat of butter. Throw in the onions and a pinch of salt and cook over a fairly high flame. Once they start to soften and even brown a little on the edges, add the apple slices. They will only take a few minutes to brown and soften; turn them when they do and turn down the heat.
By now your potatoes will be ready for mashing. Drain them, add butter, milk, salt and pepper to taste and mash them until fluffy and delicious.
Add the crème fraîche to the apple and onion mixture, and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pan. Pile mashed potatoes on each plate and then a serving of apple and onions. Top with sausages and drizzle any remaining sauce over the sausages.
You'd have to be a toddler not to like it.