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Dish DINING GUIDE 2013

Local food Bean-to-bar Kid-friendly past midnight PAGE 4

chocolate makers PAGE 10

grown-up food PAGE 16


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If there is a theme to this edition of Dish, it is “starting early.” Each of the three features in our annual dining guide refers to that concept in one way or another. Dayna Papaleo’s feature on Tōcōti Chocolate profiles the Walworth-based small business that takes the chocolate-making process all the way back to its roots — or, rather, its beans. The couple behind the product starts each small batch of chocolate from scratch and creates that dark, sweet treat the old-fashioned way. City Food Critic James Leach explores the “early” concept from a totally different perspective. He recently had a new addition to his family, and as he looked at his food-friendly 8-yearold son and at the mass-produced baby food awaiting his infant daughter, he reflected on how the ways parents feed their children can have a big impact on what kind of eaters they become. He talked with child nutritionists and psychologists, and then offered up a few kid-friendly recipes of typically grownup cuisine. Why not try putting away the hot dogs and feeding your 2-yearold greens and beans instead? Finally, Jason Silverstein’s piece on late-night dining options goes so late, that it arguably becomes mega-early. When you think about grabbing a bite at 1 a.m. your thoughts likely lean toward the greasy end of the spectrum. But Rochester has many after-midnight dining options to please any palate.


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ASSISTANT TO THE PUBLISHERS: Matt Walsh EDITORIAL DEPARTMENT: (themail@rochester-citynews.com) Editor: Eric Rezsnyak Contributing Writers: James Leach, Dayna Papaleo, Jason Silverstein ART DEPARTMENT: (artdept@rochester-citynews.com) Art Director / Production Manager: Matt DeTurck Designers: Aubrey Berardini, Mark Chamberlin

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Eat great, even late A guide to local restaurants that serve food past midnight Round-up by JASON SILVERSTEIN

e’ve all been there. It’s almost midnight — or maybe around 1 a.m., or after 3 a.m. — and you’ve got a craving that can’t be kicked at home. Maybe you want a place where your friends, roommates, or co-workers can go grab an off-hours bite. Maybe you’ve worked up quite the appetite after having a little too much of your preferred, uh, substances. Or maybe you’re just seeking something a little more substantial than a bowl of Lucky Charms with milk that’s two days past the expiration date. You’re hankering for better options than whatever your fridge and cupboards can provide, but your favorite places have already closed, and you can’t even think of any not-sofavorite places that might still be open. Where are discerning Rochesterians supposed to drag themselves when hunger strikes after midnight? Every day of the week, and at every hour of the day, there’s somewhere in Rochester that can satisfy your postmidnight munchies. Whether you desire pizza and wings or burgers and fries, sandwiches from a pub or sushi from a hospital (yes, a hospital), your dream dish is waiting for you somewhere in the night in Rochester. Here’s a roundup of the places that can accommodate your after-hours appetite. Did we miss your favorite late-night haunt? Post it in the comments section of this article at rochestercitynewspaper.com.

4 CITY • DISH 2013

Anglophiles and food fans are fond of the fish and chips at The Old Toad; the restaurant’s kitchen is open until 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. PHOTO BY MATT DETURCK

If you’re not willing to venture

outside, there’s always the easiest option: delivery. For Chinese food, you can count on the Yummy Garden location on 345 Meigs St. (288-2888, yummygardenrestaurant.com), which will plant all your stir-fried and sweetand-sour favorites at your doorstep until 2:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. For pizza — and wings, and mozzarella sticks, and all the other wonderful things that go with it — you’ve got your pick of places. The Mark’s Pizzeria location at 619 Monroe Ave. (256-

1040, markspizzeria.com) delivers until 2 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. The 19th Ward’s Menezes Pizza (445 Chili Ave., 256-1040, rochesterpizza. com) will provide pies until 12:30 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays, as will the South Wedge’s Little Venice Pizza (742 South Ave., 473-6710, littlevenicepizza.net), which specializes in NYC-style thin crust pizza. But Rochester has two reigning champions of late-night delivery. The first is the deceptively named Hong Kong House (985 S. Clinton Ave.,


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244-5569), which offers and delivers a baffling mix of Chinese food, pizza, subs, wings, tacos, and even Italian and Greek dinners until 3 a.m., seven days a week. “Don’t let the name throw you off,” says owner Ricky Lei, who chose it “on impulse” when he opened the restaurant in 2008. “When people think [Hong Kong House], they think Chinese foods. That’s our specialty, but there’s much more than that.” The latest of the late is Big Deal Pizzeria (475 Monroe Ave., 5442144, bigdealpizzeria.com), which delivers all the pizza-place basics until 4 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. (It’s open for sit-down service until 2 a.m. on those days, too.) Pat Marrapese, the manager of Big Deal, says that the Wratni family — which opened the business in 2009 — “loves Monroe Avenue and [its] nightlife scene,” and wanted to “give something back” to the area by delivering so late into the night. When it gets close to 4 a.m., Marrapese says, Big Deal gets “crazy” with orders from college students, graveyard shift workers, and the weekend bar crowd: “a mix of drunk people, and sober people who are surprisingly still out and about,” he says.

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But the drinking crowd doesn’t

have to rely solely on delivery. And, thankfully, it doesn’t need to drive for food, either. Throughout the week, there are several bars that can fill your empty stomach with something more substantial than beer. Jeremiah’s Tavern (jeremiahstavern.com) has a location in Rochester (1104 Monroe continues on page 6 ROCHESTERCITYNEWSPAPER.COM 5


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Local wing king Jeremiah’s (left) serves until 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays; grab a slice at Acme Bar and Pizza (right) until 2 a.m. seven days a week. FILE PHOTOS

Ave., 461-1313) and Gates (2200 Buffalo Road, 247-0022), both of which serve appetizers, sandwiches, and some of the Rochester’s most beloved wings until 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. The delightfully dive-tastic Acme Bar and Pizza (499 Monroe Ave., 271-2263) has a full bar menu with pizza, wings, calzones, and more until 2 a.m. seven days a week, while Dragonfly Tavern (725 Park Ave., 563-6333, dragonflytavern.com) offers a limited menu of pizzas and fried foods from midnight to 2 a.m. every day. If you’ve got a game to watch — and want to stick around for a few hours afterward — The Distillery (thedistillery. com) sports bars in Rochester (1142 Elmwood Ave., 271-4105), Greece (300 Paddy Creek Circle, 621-1620), and Henrietta (3010 S. Winton Road, 339-3010) go into extra innings with a line-up of burgers, wings, sandwiches, pizza, and more until 1 a.m. Mondays through Saturdays. 6 CITY • DISH 2013

Or you can take a trip across the pond — actually, just to Alexander Street — to The Old Toad (277 Alexander St., 232-2626, theoldtoad. com), an authentic British pub, where you can get stuffed until 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. In this decidedly unAmerican atmosphere — there are no TVs, no games to watch — you can opt for bangers and mash or fish and chips instead of a burger and fries, or get shepherd’s pie to go with your ale of choice. “You can get street meat or deepfried stuff or pizza everywhere [else],” says general manager Jules Suplicki. “This is a place where you can just come in and sit with your mates and have a home-cooked meal.” So far, you may have noticed a pattern:

lots of greasy, gluttonous selections that are likely to keep you up even later than you want as they refuse to settle down. And we didn’t even mention that the good


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ol’ Dinosaur Bar-B-Que (99 Court St., 325-7090, dinosaurbarbque.com) keeps slinging its deep-fried delights until 1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays. A few places, though, can serve you up the things you might not expect to find in the odd hours. The Elmwood Inn (1256 Monroe Ave., 271-5195, elmwoodinn. net), right next to The Distillery in Rochester, has burgers and steaks and such until 1 a.m. daily, but it can also keep you cozy with lighter comfort foods like chicken dishes, salads, and soups. Banzai Sushi and Cocktail Bar (682 South Ave., 473-0345, banzairochester.com) rolls out sushi platters and dim sum until 1 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays (plus homemade sake, if you want to have one of those nights). For true variety, however, there is no option more surprising — or continues on page 8 ROCHESTERCITYNEWSPAPER.COM 7


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Banzai Sushi rolls out rolls and more until 1 a.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN

more offbeat — than Cafe 601, the recently renamed and renovated cafeteria in Strong Memorial Hospital (601 Elmwood Ave., urmc. rochester.edu, 275-8762), which opens daily for a 1:30-3:30 a.m. We know, a hospital isn’t exactly the liveliest — or the most ideal — place to kill some time indulging with your friends. But Cafe 601 offers a variety of food that is almost unparalleled during these hours. There are stations for pasta, paninis, self-serve pizza, and home-style meals, a deli, a fresh fruit and salad bar, and a selection of grab-and-go snacks, from yogurt to sushi to Pellegrino’s cold-cuts subs. Al Caldiero, director of food and nutrition services for Strong, says that the variety and the late hours are intended to accommodate the hospital’s overnight staff, but all of the food services are available to the general public. (The cafeteria is


a popular hangout for students at the nearby University of Rochester.) “Vending machines just weren’t cutting it,” he says. If your sleepless food dreams still haven’t been fulfilled — if you need pancakes at midnight, or want dinner at 5 a.m. — there are several 24-hour diners that have got you covered for any and all occasions. Mark’s Texas Hots (487 Monroe Ave., 473-1563) is a staple of the Monroe Avenue area, catching the bar crowd, the party crowd, the stray stragglers, and anyone else who happens to hang around there at who-knows-when. The diner will whip up breakfast, lunch, dinner, and desserts at all times, as well as its own variations on that quintessential late-night delicacy, the garbage plate. (Note that Monroe Avenue’s other 24-hour diner, Gitsis, was closed for renovations and rebranding at press time, and was scheduled to re-open as the The Avenue Diner in May.) At Jay’s Diner (2612 W. Henrietta Road, 424-3710), you can travel back in time with a retro boxcar atmosphere, booth jukeboxes, and an assortment of old-fashioned milkshakes to go with the full-service, all-day menu. Those are all exemplary features of a place that’s been a standard of late-night dining in Rochester since 1966. “I talk to people who are 30 years older than me,” says Michael Mihalitsas, late-night manager at Jay’s and son of the owners, “and they say, ‘Oh, I used to go to Jay’s after a night of drinking 30 years ago.”

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A single-origin story Walworth’s Tōcōti Chocolate transforms bean into bar How it’s made by DAYNA PAPALEO

ale and Ellen Montondo’s home in Walworth, just northeast of Penfield, is a cute, cedar-sided number that sits amidst a gaggle of tall pines. The place would seem warm and inviting even without the unmistakable aroma of chocolate that hugs you as you cross the threshold. It’s a scent that scientists claim can relieve stress and elevate your mood, and in the Montondo house it’s also the scent of art converging with gastronomy, and of a dream come to life. The Montondos’ company, Tōcōti Chocolate, is the Rochester area’s lone micro-batch, bean-to-bar chocolate maker, and one of what Ellen estimates to be only about 50 in the United States. But before you start envisioning Oompa Loompas and big glass elevators, maybe dial it back a bit. “The world’s smallest chocolate manufacturer” is how Ellen laughingly describes Tōcōti, based in the Montondos’ home and occupying a couple of surprisingly compact rooms that have been tricked out with equipment that takes the humble cacao bean and transforms it into the luscious sensory experience so many people crave. The seed for Tocoti began

germinating back in 2008. Ellen had developed a taste for high-quality

10 CITY • DISH 2013

Tocoti Chocolate starts with actual cacao beans (bottom right), which are then refined into a liquid (top photo) and injected into molds for chocolate bars (bottom left). PHOTOS BY MARK CHAMBERLIN


chocolate during her trips to Europe working for a biotech company, but once the travel portion of her job ceased, she was without a source of good chocolate. “‘Maybe we should make our own,’” Ellen recalls saying to her husband. “‘How hard could it be?’” So Dale ordered five pounds of cacao beans; fast-forward past one burned-out blender, Ellen had her artisanal chocolate fix, and Dale was hooked, too. Cacao trees, which bear around 30 usable pods a year, only grow within 20 degrees to the north and south of the Equator. Once harvested, the football-shaped pods are split open so that the cacao beans found within the pods’ sugary pulp can sit in the sun and begin the fermentation process that results in that peerless chocolate taste. Between 20 and 45 beans are typically found in a pod, and it takes about 500 beans to make a pound of chocolate. The beans that eventually become chocolate under the Tōcōti banner are sourced through direct trade between a cooperative of chocolate makers and growers in Latin American countries like Peru, Belize, Venezuela, and Bolivia, the Dominican Republic in the Caribbean, as well as points further east, like Madagascar and Ivory Coast. Each region imparts a distinct flavor profile to its particular bean (in the wine world it’s known as “terroir”), which Tōcōti showcases through its single-origin bars to better appreciate the nuances and complexities of the different beans. To make chocolate, Dale roasts the cacao beans in a convection oven

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Single-origin story continues from page 11

Left: tasting samples of Tocoti’s chocolates. Middle: evaporated cane juice is used to make the chocolate. Right: the chocolate must be tempered before it is finished. PHOTOS BY MARK CHAMBERLIN

and then transfers them to a winnower, where the papery shells fall away from the beans, exposing the nibs. Grinding is the next step, which reduces the cacao nibs to the thick paste known as chocolate liquor. (Spoiler alert: there’s no actual alcohol in it.) The paste gets combined with organic evaporated cane juice and cocoa butter and then conched, a process that agitates the chocolate liquor until Dale determines that he’s achieved what he’s looking for in terms of flavor and texture. At this point the chocolate undergoes tempering, which heats the chocolate to a specific temperature that will ensure a pleasing gloss and snap to the finished product. There’s actually not too much available in terms of equipment for micro-batch chocolate makers, who typically don’t have the space or financial resources of a mega-batch behemoth like Nestlé or Hershey’s.

12 CITY • DISH 2013

So Dale, who spent many years as a technician in the semiconductor industry but wanted his own business, put his mechanical skills to work. He tweaked existing designs of machinery to suit Tōcōti’s purposes, and five pieces of Tōcōti’s equipment he built outright. “If I need something, I just make it,” Dale says.

“I’m excited to wake up in the morning and make chocolate. It’s a real reward.”

After a couple of years spent honing

eliciting a public response that Ellen remembers as “overwhelming.” Tōcōti’s chocolate is processed as minimally as possible, shunning the use of additives and incorporating organic and locally sourced ingredients, like the Joe Bean coffee in Tōcōti’s Espresso-Love bar, whenever feasible. It’s the relatively subtle Venezuelan chocolate that Dale uses for Tōcōti’s truffles, which allows the flavors of fillings like Valencia peanut butter and fresh mint to be the stars.

the craft of chocolate making, Dale and Ellen officially began their company in the fall of 2010, settling on the name Tōcōti — pronounced “TOE-koe-tee”; the name comes from three Aztec drum syllables — in the opening months of 2011. An online store and word of mouth allowed Tōcōti to start out slowly, creating wedding favors and offering its wares at a few select retail outlets. Tōcōti made its high-profile debut September 2012 at Foodlink’s Festival of Food,

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Single-origin story continues from page 12

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Currently Tōcōti’s products — the 1.7-ounce bars are $6.50 apiece through tocoti.com — are available at places like the Casa Larga Vineyards gift shop in Fairport, the Cocoa Bean Shoppe in Pittsford, and Village Bakery & Café, also in Pittsford. The Montondos also sell Tōcōti at a few local farmers’ markets, including Brighton; check Tōcōti’s Facebook page for the full schedule. Unlike major manufacturers, which are required to traffic in uniformity, artisans working on a smaller scale are able to embrace the quirks attendant to handmade goods. “Each batch is unique because we can’t do it the same way twice,” says Ellen, who works the business side of Tōcōti and spearheads

its lovely design — each bar is wrapped in Thai marbled momi paper from Rochester Art Supply — but also revels in educating Tōcōti’s customers about chocolate, often with some much-appreciated samples. And as the buzz about Tōcōti grows, the focus for Dale and Ellen is maintaining the integrity and quality of their brand. “That’s the point of it,” Ellen says. “We’re trying to make something that’s a real experience. By the way, if you’ve always suspected that spending your days surrounded by chocolate would be completely awesome, well, you’re right. “I’m excited to wake up in the morning and make chocolate,” Dale says. “It’s a real reward.”


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Updating the kiddie menu Move beyond chicken nuggets and PB&J by making child-friendly versions of grown-up food Recipes by JAMES LEACH

couple of weeks ago, my family got carry-out from one of our favorite Asian restaurants. We ordered Chinese-style chicken curry, fish stir-fried with garlic and scallions, a dish made with crushed tofu and mushrooms, and a plate of salt-and-pepper squid — a tangle of tiny deep-fried tentacles that looked very much like the climactic scene of a horror movie just before the hero tosses a bomb and runs away. My 8-year-old went, as he always has, right for the squid. We didn’t set out to raise a junior foodie, a youthful gourmand who when asked to name his favorite food couldn’t decide between seaweed salad and stewed pig ear (to be fair, he’s also never seen a chili dog he didn’t like, and he would sell his soul for a bag of Doritos). It just happened that way. And now we have a second child. We started talking about what foods she might be eating in a few months, and I realized that maybe we hadn’t been completely passive actors in turning my son into the wunderkind of East Avenue Wegmans, where he has a reputation with the demo folks of being The Kid Who Eats Everything, including the sorts of cheeses that bring to mind rotting feet. Various factors determine what kids will and will not eat. But research by child nutritionists and psychologists suggests that a big part of it has to do with what

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Make a traditional dish like beans and greens more palatable to kids by cutting the ingredients into larger chunks, and putting the liquid into a sippy cup. PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN

parents feed them — and what those parents eat themselves. You don’t need to infantilize your child’s appetite. Read on for some kid-friendly takes on adult dishes that will keep your kids well fed and poised to appreciate more interesting cuisines as they get older. Like all babies, our son’s first food was breast milk. He nursed pretty much exclusively until he was 5 months old. He then transitioned to rice cereal, the

first solid-food stop for pretty much every baby. And then we entered the uncomfortable world of baby food — mashed-up carrots, sweet potatoes, pears, extra-fine apple sauce, and things I really don’t want to think about, like greygreen mashed peas and long-ago-green beans. I wasn’t surprised to realize that I’d blocked most of that period out of my memory, choosing instead to remember the moment when feeding my thentoddler son started to get interesting.


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It started with an avocado. When it comes to a perfect “transitional food,” as it’s called in the language of nutritionists, there is simply nothing better for moving kids from smooth pastes to chunky foods than avocado. It’s a great food for young children, offering fiber, protein, a fair amount of several vitamins, and lots of the right kinds of fat to help your baby’s brain grow. The coolest thing, though, is that avocados can be served mashed into a smooth puree or in finger-friendly chunks. And let’s not forget that avocado is the central ingredient in guacamole — a side dish that the whole family can love. Human beings, especially toddlers, eat with more than their mouths. Smells are important, as are textures, but there’s a growing body of evidence that suggests that what an infant or toddler sees may be more important than any other factor in getting her to eat and enjoy a new food. Research published by child psychologist Kristin Shutts in the Journal of Cognition in 2009 suggests that infants display a marked indifference to the sort of things they will put in their mouths — as any parent who has watched their child gnaw happily on DUPLO blocks, mittens, and the dog’s tail will attest. According to Shutts, social cues — that is, hearing a familiar adult endorse a specific food and watching them eat and enjoy that food — are more important to getting a 12-month-old to eat a new food than any other factor. Child nutritionist and current child-feeding guru Ellyn Satter puts it a bit differently. “It generally takes children time and repeated neutral exposure to learn to like new food,” she says. She advocates “matter-of-factly including the food in family meals continues on page 18

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Kiddie menu continues from page 17

and enjoying it yourself without applying outside pressure of any kind.” More simply: “Eat with your child, don’t just feed him... Children will learn to eat the food their parents eat.” But as Donna Quinzi, outpatient pediatric dietician at the Strong Memorial Hospital, explains, getting children to eat what you eat is sometimes easier said than done — especially when parents turn feeding their children into a job rather than a social occasion or a bonding opportunity. Too often, Quinzi says, parents will come to her office “looking for rules and portions” for their children after trying to force or coerce their toddlers into eating things that they themselves don’t like to eat. She echoes Schutts when she says toddlers “should be eating what you are eating. It should be a natural thing. It should be interactive. Relax. Ignore behaviors. And don’t fight with your child.” Parents, in Ellyn Satter’s estimation, are responsible for when and where a child eats, and what food is offered. But the children decide how much of that food to eat. And that, as Quinzi pointed out to me, is where frustration sets in. A child who eats a wide variety of fruits, or pasta with a creamy tomato sauce, among other things, does not have eating issues just because he won’t eat Brussels sprouts. And turning it into a fight can impact the rest of the child’s eating habits as well. “Often,” Quinzi says, “you may have a child who has particular likes and dislikes, and families default to foods like chicken nuggets in pursuit of family harmony.” Hoping for quiet meals and happy children, parents unintentionally create the situation they come to abhor: their children “won’t eat anything else because their parents don’t offer anything else,” Quinzi says. 18 CITY • DISH 2013

PHOTOS BY MARK CHAMBERLIN

Satter claims that a cook is likely to stop making a dish — or offering it — after it has been rejected three times. Children, and adults for that matter, often have to be exposed to a new food somewhere between five and 20 times before they accept it into their repertoire. As the parent holding the spoon, or the cook standing at the stove, this disconnect can be hugely frustrating — and many parents and cooks fall prey to the desire to please their audience. Capitulation, bribery, or threats aren’t the answer. As Satter points out, and Shutts’ research indicates, toddlers are remarkably observant. “Your child,” Satter says, “thinks, ‘If they have to do all that to get me to eat it, it can’t be good.’” What you need is a good propaganda campaign and solid cooking technique. So, back to that avocado. Delicious by itself, it’s even better as guacamole, but there’s only so much of it that you can eat. Parents need a repertoire of dishes that have enough curb appeal to get little Megan and Devon to eat them while also satisfying the rest of the family — again, selling a new food to your kid only works if you show them that you like it, too.

Satter suggests that parents “develop strategies for using high-fat, high-sugar foods,” along with toning down “strong tastes with salt, fat, sauces, bread crumbs, herbs, and spices.” In sum, the key to getting toddlers to eschew Happy Meals and prepared foods is to learn to cook. Learn to build flavors and use tasty “hooks” like fat and sugar and salt to introduce less-familiar flavors, scents, and textures over time. But, you say, I work all day. I don’t have time to cook for a couple of hours when I get home at the end of a day. Leftovers, combined with a couple of pantry items and good technique, are your best friends. The recipes offered here are “starter” recipes for young children; tamed versions of robustly flavored dishes that can be scaled up over time as your child’s palate expands. All three dishes start with a crowd-pleasing starch combined with fresh vegetables, and just enough protein, fat, and salt to make them interesting to both you and your budding gourmand. Included in the notes are suggestions for augmenting these dishes over time. For instance, you can add more garlic to your beans and greens, or switch up the baby spinach for escarole or


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arugula. Only the posole calls for any advance prep work, and even that can be eliminated if you start with a very mild jarred green salsa and use only a tiny amount of it. A few words of advice are in order. First, do not attempt to feed any of these dishes to children who are less than 18 months old: they simply aren’t ready to eat solid food like this. Second, I cannot guarantee that your child will eat these dishes, but all three were staples at my table when my now 8-year-old budding chef was just under 2 years old. And he now eats the grown-up versions of these dishes (I still pull the spice punches because he’s not quite there yet). Third, don’t give up. Be creative and develop recipes of your own based on foods you know your kid will eat — hackedup chicken nuggets could make some interesting fried rice, for instance. Above all, eat with your children. If they don’t see you eating what you are trying to feed them, the battle is already half lost. Eat with them. Talk with them. And when they are old enough, cook with them. You won’t regret it.

Baby Beans and Greens Beans and greens is a quintessential Rochester dish, so it seems logical that kids should be introduced to it early on. This version uses baby spinach instead of bitter escarole. Spinach is a nutrition powerhouse — and one of those vegetables that routinely tops the lists of foods kids hate. Placing it in the background in a dish full of kid-friendly beans, bacon, and pasta is almost a nobrainer. As kids get older, escarole or continues on page 20

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Kiddie menu continues from page 19

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arugula can stand in for spinach, garlic can be doubled (or quadrupled), and sweet or hot Italian sausage substituted for bacon. Serve this with crushed red pepper on the side for those with lesstimid palates. 2 strips of bacon, chopped fine 1 small onion, chopped (or 1 large shallot, in which case eliminate the garlic) 16 oz. (2 cups) chicken stock 1 clove garlic, peeled and minced 16 oz. can white beans (cannellini or navy) drained 3 oz. baby spinach (roughly half of a 6 o.z bag), chopped 8 oz. kid-friendly pasta (nuggets, tortiglioni, rotini, fusilli, etc.) cooked according to package directions and drained.

1. Place bacon in a frying pan over medium heat. Cook, stirring frequently until fat renders and bacon begins to crisp. 2. Add onion or shallot and cook until translucent. Add garlic and cook until just fragrant. 3. Increase heat to medium high. Add half (1 cup) chicken stock to the pan, scraping up any browned bits. Bring to a boil. 4. Add beans and remaining stock. Correct seasoning — add salt and/or pepper as needed. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until sauce begins to thicken.

5. Stir in chopped spinach, cover and cook until spinach is thoroughly wilted (five minutes or less). Stir in half of the pasta (you’ll have “clean” pasta for your little darling even if she’ll eat nothing else). Correct seasoning. Serve.

Baby Fried Rice In my house, this was often a default dinner, in part because we almost always have a box of leftover Chinese take-out rice knocking around. The vegetables here are suggestions, as is the meat. If you happen to have tofu around, feel free to substitute it for the meat, but be sure to stir it in gently at the end so that you don’t end up with scrambled tofu with rice. The selling point for kids here is the rice and the sweet soy sauce — there are few kids who don’t like the combination of sweet and salty, and here we use it to sneak all kinds of good-for-you stuff under the radar. 1 strip bacon, chopped fine 1 small onion, small dice 1 medium carrot, small dice 1 cup broccoli florets, cut small (the idea is to have little florets, not chopped up broccoli) 1/4 red bell pepper, chopped 1 cup chopped cooked chicken or pork 1 clove garlic, minced continues on page 22


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Kiddie menu continues from page 20

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4 tsp sweet soy sauce (or 1 tsp soy sauce mixed with 1 tsp brown sugar) 1/4 cup chicken stock 2 cups cooked white rice

1. Place bacon in a sauté pan over high heat, allowing bacon to render and begin to smoke a tiny bit. Immediately add onions and carrots. Stir fry until onion is translucent and carrots “brighten” — you will see them get more orange as they cook. 2. Add broccoli and red bell pepper. Continue stir frying until broccoli brightens. 3. Add meat and garlic. Stir fry until garlic is fragrant. 4. Add 2 tsp sweet soy sauce, and mix thoroughly to coat all ingredients in the pan. Do not worry about smoking or sauce burning on the pan at this point, just work efficiently and quickly. 5. Remove pan from heat and immediately add chicken stock, scraping up any browned bits from the pan. 6. Return the pan to high heat and add rice. Stir to combine and allow to fry for a few minutes. 7. Drizzle with remaining sweet soy. Serve with scallions and chopped cilantro to garnish.

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This is the most complicated of the three dishes here, but it’s arguably also the best. Posole is a Mexican stew of sorts in which hominy (a kind of white corn) soaked in lye plays a starring role (don’t worry, it’s thoroughly rinsed before you buy it, and you’ll rinse it some more before we are done). You can substitute a jarred mild salsa verde for the baby salsa verde included here, but making it from scratch is worth the 20 minutes it will take you


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The “baby posole” recipe calls for a mild salsa verde. Find a recipe to make your own by checking out this article at rochestercitynewspaper.com. PHOTO BY MARK CHAMBERLIN

on a weekend, and you’ll have plenty left over to dip chips in once the little nipper has gone off to bed. Use a slotted spoon to dish out some of the posole (it looks a bit like popcorn, which is part of its appeal), shred some of the meat into bite-sized pieces, drizzle a bit of the broth over it, and you’ve got a very toddler-friendly meal. Serve the soup itself in a sippy cup. As your kids grow up, you can add roasted poblano peppers to both the soup and the salsa, ramp up the garlic and cumin, and serve the whole thing together rather than in parts. 1Tbsp olive oil 2 chicken thighs 1/2 tsp cumin 1 small onion, chopped 1 clove garlic minced cilantro or Italian parsley, chopped (to taste) 1 16 oz. can posole, drained and rinsed 1 cup Baby Salsa Verde (see recipe at rochestercitynewspaper.com, or substitute a jarred mild salsa) 32 oz. chicken stock

1. Season chicken thighs and dust with cumin. Heat olive oil in a heavy pan over medium high heat. Add chicken and brown thoroughly on all sides. Remove to a plate. 2. Reduce heat to medium. Add chopped onion and cook until translucent. Add remaining cumin and minced garlic, cook until fragrant. 3. Add salsa, scraping up any browned bits from the pan. Add 8 oz. chicken stock and bring to a steady boil, stirring frequently. 4. Reduce heat to medium low. Return chicken and any accumulated juices to the pot. Add remaining chicken stock, cilantro, and posole. Stir to combine. Correct seasoning. 5. Simmer stew over medium low heat for as little as 10 minutes or as long as a half hour (whatever time and patience will allow). Serve grown-up portions garnished with cilantro and lime wedges.

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