Monday, September 27, 2010


Bella thinks crème fraiche is "awesome."

She loves salads.

She lives to use the Global chef knife.

Bella has redefined vegetarianism. She won't eat anything that comes from a fish, chicken, or cow. But pigs are fair game. We've been having a lot of prosciuitto, bacon, guanciale, serrano ham, and chorizo.

If Bella makes her own dinner, she eats more of it. 

Considering these current requirements/restrictions/tendencies, we came up with a plan last Saturday night that worked quite well. Bella was to make a salad all by herself that included bacon, lettuce, tomato, crème fraiche, and lots of herbs. I set out the mise en place, asked her to make a salad large enough for the 3 of us, and stepped back.

Dash wanted to join in. When he tried to juggle the tomatoes we sent him to the other end of the house to watch Wallace and Gromit.
Dash and I have had our peaceful moments cooking together, but in general he is a very physical cook. He climbs up and down the stool 20 times, the fridge flies open constantly, and there's lots of yelling, sweating, and swearing coming from me. Cooking with Bella is a much slower and more meticulous experience. She is cooking at a whole new level now since she is starting to taste and adjust dishes to her liking. This give her a lot of control. Bella likes to be in control.

Bella's neutral face is very serious. She inherited this from me. I swear she was having a great time.
I'm teaching Bella that cooking involves all of your senses. Smell and taste the dressing several times as you make it. Taste the salad several times as you dress it. Mix the salad with your hands so you can feel if the leaves are evenly coated. It's also more fun.
Bella has always said that she hates pepper. But she kept picking up the pepper mill and adding more and more to the dressing. Maybe it was just fun to turn the thing. Or maybe when kids are involved in cooking, the part of the brain that normally says "no" and "ew" and "I hate that" can start to shift.
I really wanted to crumble some blue cheese on top of the salad. Bella said, "Hell no." It was her creation so I didn't push it. I asked her if she could define deconstructed and she said, "Taking one thing apart to make another." You go, girl. So here's Bella's Deconstructed BLT Salad with Crème Fraiche and Herb Dressing.

This recipe includes the ingredients and approximate measurements. I recommend making it the way Bella did. Taste as you go along. Add and subtract ingredients as you wish. It's a very forgiving salad.

15-20 stale 1" baguette slices, grilled and rubbed with a garlic clove while still warm 
8 pieces of bacon, cooked the way you like
2 tablespoons crème fraiche
2 shallots, peeled and diced
2 green onions, thinly sliced
1/3 cup chopped herbs (any combo of mint, parsley, and/or basil)
2 tablespoons sherry wine vinegar, white wine, or champagne vinegar
2 teaspoons lemon juice
1 teaspoon lemon zest
6-8 tablespoons olive oil
1 head of butter lettuce (or hearts of romaine, baby gems, arugula, spinach)
4 medium-sized tomatoes, cored and cut in wedges

Make croutons and cook the bacon. Set aside.

Place crème fraiche in a bowl. Whisk in shallots, green onions, herbs, vinegar, lemon juice, and lemon zest. Slowly whisk in about 5 tablespoons olive oil. Taste. Add more olive oil if necessary. But make sure the dressing is tangy enough because otherwise the salad will be bland. Place lettuce and tomato wedges in a bowl. Drizzle over some of the dressing, salt, and pepper. Mix with your hands. Taste. Add more dressing, salt, and pepper if needed. Place cooked bacon and baguette croutons on top of the salad. Drizzle over some more of the salad dressing. Sprinkle more herbs on top. Serve immediately.

more things to add:
blue cheese
hard-boiled eggs 


  1. Sounds delicious, and looks beautiful! Thanks, Bella!

  2. Wonderful salad - I love BLTs. I think blue cheese would be awesome too, Mom :)

  3. thanks, you two. i barely had hit publish when your two comments came up. thanks for all the support. and yes, blue cheese is going to be on my salad tonight!

  4. wow. that looks so unbelievably good. especially since i have zip energy to cook anything tonight ;)

  5. I need to have a kid just so he or she will cook for me. Isn't that why people used to have kids, for extra labor?

  6. exactly, jen. except they're terrible at doing dishes. kids are SO MESSY!!!! but i'm hoping they will be cooking and doing dishes for me all the time in their teens. then i can kick back and finally watch all seasons of the wire.

    btw, is this jen d, jen b, jen m? i know a lot of jen's...or are you a jen i don't know yet?

  7. good job Bella!!!
    the salad looks so yummy and colorful,
    love the idea of herbed creme fraiche dressing

  8. as a dietitian, this post made my night! i love seeing kids in the kitchen, getting their hands dirty, enjoying the process and eating every last bite of what they made! your kids are very lucky... and adorable.



  9. Way to go Bella! That looks so good I just might have to make it for lunch tomorrow. And I am seriously impressed with her knife skills. Awesome!

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  11. bella and i (this is jen d) have these same things in common: it, too, love creme fraiche. just bought some last night which we had with smoked salmon, capers, red onion but now i have something to do with the rest of it. i, too, love salads and should be eating more of them given a recent shift my body seems to have made. and i love, love, love my global. the timiing of this post is puuurfect. and your photos are beautiful.

  12. I made this for dinner last night, it was so hot, salad was the only option... added some bleu cheese, cherry tomatoes and pncetta, it turned out so delicious :)

  13. That looks so good. I love to see kids that are interested in real food. Seems so rare these days.

  14. my mouth started to water looking at that delicious salad!

  15. I appreciate your description of Dash as a very physical cook. i have a 2 1/2 year old son that i often include in meal prep and that hit the nail on the head; especially the swearing, sweating and yelling ;) Its wonderful sharing with him but it has its moments (like half a dozen eggs on the floor). Love the blog (gorgeous photos). Love the recipes (gorgeous food). Bella's salad is on this weeks menu!

  16. Reading this makes me feel like I am right there tasting this yummy salad with you guys. That serious face of Bella's is too cute!
    Missing you guys here in Fiji.... barely any internet etc... going through tech withdrawal. I'm sure it is good for me ;)
    Sending much love,

  17. Bella did an amazing job as did the photographer. Nice work. My kids will also love her definition of vegetarianism. Thanks for sharing.

  18. This salad looks absolutely delicious. And I never get over seeing your kids in the kitchen. They're so adorable.

  19. You are a fantastic mother! I'm hooked on your blog now, and can't wait to make some of these recipes.


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