Friday, October 19, 2012

It's all about the herbs... and a savory custard

First I wanted to thank everyone for the wonderful response and feedback to my four-course family meal post, I'm so happy if it can be useful to families. We're all in the same boat of wanting our kids (and ourselves while we're at it) to eat well and healthy!

Speaking of which, I wanted to share this amazingly simple custard recipe. These basic ingredients made into a savory custard, result in a delicious, subtle appetizer. I would think this would be a great way to get picky eaters to try herbs.  This is one of those "It looks fancy, but it really isn't" French recipes.

I am a big fan of herbs, and a big believer in introducing them to children and babies very early on. (I must have started around 6 months for Pablo, adding one new herb at a time to his purees). Their subtle taste brings out the flavor in dishes and enhances it, not to mention their high vitamin and mineral content, so we use them a lot, not only in cooked dishes, but in our salads as well (for example, I add 4 or 5 different kinds of chopped herbs to our plain butter lettuce salad, with a shallot and some vinaigrette. Delicious!)

I started a little herb garden of my own last year and it has been such a pleasure to go pick our fresh herbs for cooking. It's also so much easier to be able to use just the quantity you need and have it always handy (the herbs I buy at the store always seem to go bad before I can use them all...) The herb garden has been a wonderful way to get Pablo involved. He helps water them, he smells their different fragrances, even takes a bite sometimes. (I'm thinking of devising a "scent guessing game" when Pablo is a bit older, with different herbs, to get him to recognize the smells.)


The idea is to make herbs fun, interesting and familiar as early as possible. Well, this custard is certainly one way to do just that. We made it twice in one week it was so good, and so easy to make.
I hope you give it a try, and tell me what you think! And it would definitely be fun to make the same custard experimenting with different herbs. 


Savory Herb Custard

Recipe inspired from the Best Of edition of the French magazine Gourmand.

For 4 custards

Prep time - 10 minutes
Cook time - 40 minutes + cooling time

Age for babies: 10 months and above, because of the whole eggs. This is a great way to expose baby to the subtle flavor of herbs.

1/2 bunch of Italian parsley
A good handful of chives
1 clove of garlic, peeled and minced
3 eggs
2/3 cup of milk
2/3 cup of heavy cream
Salt & pepper

Preheat the oven at 300° F.

Peel and mince the garlic clove. In a saucepan, pour the milk and cream, and add the garlic. Bring to a boil and remove from heat.

Wash, dry and chop finely the parsley and chives (I used a small Cuisinart to do the chopping for me).

In a bowl, beat the eggs lightly. Slowly pour the milk/cream/garlic mixture into the eggs, while whisking. Add the herbs, a pinch of salt & a dash of pepper.

Pour the custard into oven-safe ramekins or jars. Place the ramekins in a deep baking pan, and place the pan on the oven rack. Add enough hot water to the pan to come halfway up the sides of the ramekins, to cook in a water bath.

Bake about 40 minutes until center is set (see if a knife comes out clean).

Remove from the water bath, let cool and serve lukewarm or at room temperature.

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  1. Helene, seriously, I just have to say how much I love that you started introducing herbs to Pablo at such a young age. You are my inspiration! If, someday, we are blessed with children, I want them to learn new tastes early on. So nice to know someone who's doing it well.

    1. Thanks so much, Shanna! I have no doubt you will know how to pass on your love of good food to your children :-)

  2. Helene, another question... what's italian parsley? Can't seem to find it in the UK. Is it flat parsley instead of curly (because then, I know where to find it...) Hope it is as I can't wait to try this!

    1. Hi there, yes, Italian parsley is the flat leaf parsley, which is a bit more flavorful than the curly one. Let me know how you like the custard! :-)

  3. Tried the recipe and love it: simple, flavorful, and nutritious.
    Found out about your blog from Karen Le Billon's book. Have been learning about how to raise my first baby to love a variety of food and it's been quite a success with your help.
    Thank you!


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