Reviewed by Katy Killilea
Gastrokid.com has been hoisting families out of chicken nugget ruts since 2006. On the site, two professional foodie dads offer recipes and meal ideas for family members of all ages to enjoy together. The Gastrokid ethos is that every person is born with hunger, curiosity, and taste buds, and that every kid can be an adventuresome eater. The site is now available in book form.
The Gastrokid Cookbook has the chalkboards and melty cheese aesthetic of the site, but the chit-chat, archive and blog lists, and ads have of course been pared away, so what we’re left with is, ahhh–how refreshing: useful recipe after useful recipe. Although this is a snug little volume, it covers a lot of territory. At one end, the Get Your Kids to Eat Their Vegetables Dressing, at the other, Littleneck Clams with Guanciale (guanciale being cured pig cheeks, which readers are encouraged to replace with pancetta or prosciutto if they’ve run out.)
The thing about Gastrokid’s kid-friendly food is that it’s never dumbed-down. No cookie-cutter shapes are employed to make foods more enticing to the wee ones. Instead, the Gastrokid seduction tool kit includes browned butter, smartly-aimed squeezes of lemon, and bacon. And not just bacon, but also the revelation of a magical ingredient that makes everything taste like bacon: smoked Spanish paprika. Mmm. The foundation for these recipes is that there should be no “kid food,” only good food for all to enjoy together. And yet there is much sympathy here, as well as a list of ways to doctor up your Annie’s Mac and Cheese.
Torn in its entirety from the pages of The Gastrokid Cookbook, this recipe is quick, yummy, nutritious an inexpensive. And if you’ve gone to the trouble of heating up your oven and getting out your can opener, you might as well make it a double. Any leftovers are scrumptious cold or at room temperature.
ROASTED CHICKPEA BRUSCHETTA
When it comes to coaxing your kids into eating legumes, you could do worse than taking inspiration from a chef who named his flagship restaurant the Italian equivalent of “Daddy.” (The restaurant would be Babbo. The chef would be Mario Batali.) This is a rip-off (or what I prefer to call a “riff off,” as I didn’t have the recipe and tweaked it a bit) of Babbo’s freebie amuse bouche (and if Babbo is giving it away to each and every diner, that’s the first sign that this is an incredibly cheap dish to make). The kids love this. The adults love this. The wallet loves this.
Makes 4 Servings.
2 15-ounce cans chickpeas (aka garbanzo beans), drained and rinsed
Freshly ground black pepper
A handful or two chopped parsley
1â„2 cup finely chopped olives (I used a mix of some good green ones filled out with super cheap, jarred, martini-style green olives and kalamatas)
2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 baguette loaf, sliced and toasted
Preheat the oven to 450ËšF. On a cookie or baking sheet, spread out the chickpeas and drizzle with a bit of olive oil. Season with salt and pepper and mix it all up. Roast for 20 minutes or so, or until golden brown. In a large bowl, mix the chickpeas with the chopped parsley, olives, garlic, and balsamic vinegar. Serve on toasted slices of baguette. The spherical little beans tend to roll off the bread if you’re eating too hastily, but chasing down stray chickpeas makes it all the more fun.
The Gastrokid Cookbook
By Hugh Garvey and Matthew Yeomans
2009 Wiley $22.95
The publisher provided a review copy for this article. Neither the publisher nor Kidoinfo has received any monetary compensation for this review and we have no undisclosed relationship with the publisher.