Good Food Does The Trick or: Why You Have to be a Magician at the Kitchen When Your Child is Sick
When I got sick as a child, my mother used to prepare arroz caldo (chicken congee) for me. The arroz caldo is just perfect; warm and tasty rice porridge with tender chicken sprinkled with toasted garlic. She then squeezed some kalamansi (Calamandarin) and added a dash of patis to give the arroz some zing. When my own kids got sick, I tried to replicate my mother’s elixir but with mild success. Fellow dad, Robert, recommended Vanjo Merano’s recipe here his arroz caldo recipe was easier to prepare** and tasted good as well.
The past week has been challenging for us because our kid was recommended to have a soft diet for a week. Although I’ve somehow mastered preparing arroz caldo, I could not risk asking her to eat it every day. Initially, I thought of having different toppings; like what one Chinese restaurant in Manila offers but it might just be too expensive and arduous to prepare. So my wife and I thought of some dishes that will be good and nutritious for our kid; some of which we’re sharing below. These two dishes were what I call as accidental as I realized that the goto (beef congee) for instance, was borne out of feeling tired with eating arroz caldo so a beef variety would probably make a difference. The potato dish was supposedly baked so I rehash (no pun intended) my wife’s baked potato recipe where she boiled the potato first before baking it so it would come out softer. It’s the addition of mozzarella cheese that made the difference.
Finally, because a kids’ palate (like most of us) taste funny making it more challenging to eat when they’re sick, I thought of making it more tasty and fun for her by buying “soft food” to come up with a good and healthy menu: applesauce, hot chocolate with marshmallows, soft bread with cheese, crushed strawberries with milk, bananas with crushed ginger cookies and oatmeal with Dino eggs (this one proved to be really fun as she watched the “eggs” hatch in warm water)! 😀 Truly, we’ve come along from my mother’s arroz caldo but I must admit that good ol’ mom’s recipe still works!
BEEFALICIOUS CONGEE* (GOTO)
2-3 pieces of beef shank, precooked and shredded
1 cup of rice
2 beef bouillon cubes+
1 ½ liters of water
2 tbsp. safflower (saffron), washed
3-4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 medium sized onion, chopped
1 thumb size ginger, julienned
1 egg, hardboiled
2 tbsp. canola oil
Chopped spring onions (scallions) for topping
Patis (fish sauce) and kalamansi/lemon for flavouring
*Some of the ingredients were based on Vanjo Merano’s arroz caldo recipe.
**For example, Merano said that it was okay to use ordinary rice-the one we used for cooking-so this saved me some money from buying glutinous (malagkit) rice.
+ An alternative would be 1 ½ liters of beef stock
1. Prepare ingredients.
2. In a preheated pan, sauté garlic, onion and ginger in oil.
3. Add bouillon cubes into the mixture until it’s dissolved in oil.
4. Add shredded beef shank and rice. Continue sautéing for 3 minutes.
5. Add water and cook for 30 minutes, stirring constantly to prevent rice from sticking at the bottom.
6. Before serving, add safflower and hardboiled egg.
7. Top it with toasted garlic, scallions and serve with a dash of patis and squeeze lemon over it. Serve warm.
POTATO MOUNTIES (BAKED POTATO WEDGES WITH MOZZARELLA CHEESE)
1 medium sized potato (Russet or Yukon brand)
2 tbsp olive oil
A dash of salt and pepper
Mozzarella cheese for topping
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Celsius.
2. Meanwhile, boil the potato for about 10 minutes or until fork tender. You can check for tenderness if the tines of the fork pierce on the potato. Remember not to overcook since you would still be baking the potato.
3. Once done, slice the potato into bite size wedges.
4. Mix olive oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl and toss the potato wedges.
5. Place the potato pieces in a baking tray lined with foil. This would make cleaning the pan easier when the cheese melts.
6. Sprinkle the potato wedges with mozzarella cheese. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes.
7. This dish is good if served with baked meatballs. Enjoy!