Saturday, September 22, 2012

My Sous Chef is a Rat

When my kids were younger, getting them to try new things wasn't always easy. I wouldn't pull out my tap shoes and top hat to get them excited, but there was definitely more song and dance involved with mealtimes than I care to admit. Even now, when they are more open-minded and have less fussy palates, adding vegetarian dishes to their menu takes a bit of persuasion.

So when my lovely neighbor-with-the-big-vegetable-garden gave me three zucchinis, each the size of my calf, I knew I had some work ahead of me. The zucchini bread was a big hit. A recipe from my brother-in-law's ex-wife, it's full of cinnamon, sugar, butter and other cake-type ingredients that likely all but cancel out the benefits of the zucchini. But I figured it was a start. Next up, I tried the zucchini and spinach gratin recipe I found online. No sugar, more savory and a perfectly acceptable vegetable side dish, the kids were willing to try a bite. One. Thank you, one is enough.

So tonight, I'm enlisting the help of a dear, animated friend. He has the utmost respect of my children; in fact, they quote him often. For those of you who are not acquainted with Pixar, I am speaking of Chef Remy, the culinary whiz of a rat from the movie Ratatouille. His experimentation/spin on the dish of his kitchen hero, the movie's title, saves the day. So I was thrilled when I found Ratatouille's ratatouille recipe online. I was even more excited when I told my kids I was making it for dinner and they actually cheered.

OK, so we'll probably watch the movie tonight for the umpteenth time, just on principle. And we'll probably even eat dinner in front of the television, a special treat usually reserved for Superbowl Sunday and snow days. These are small concessions, in my opinion.

The good news is that, even if they don't love the dish, they're likely to be so engrossed in the movie that they'll continue to munch away until--look at that!--the dishes are clean and it's popcorn time.

Cheers, Remy. Here's hoping your ratatouille saves the day at dinner time in my house too.

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