Share Thanksgiving meal with infants

Sunday, November 20, 2005

NEW YORK -- It's nice to have the whole family together at the Thanksgiving table -- and that includes the youngest members.

But it wouldn't be nice to expect those celebrating their first Thanksgiving to just sit and coo while everyone else chows. James Boyce, the executive chef at Studio at Montage Resort & Spa in Laguna Beach, Calif., developed a recipe that gives the flavor of the season in a form even infants can enjoy.

Boyce's own 6-month-old daughter Alana will get a taste of roasted butternut squash and carrot puree at this year's feast. He'll serve it in a carved-out miniature pumpkin.

"My daughter is just being introduced to food, so I want to give her something interesting but not too overpowering. Carrots and squash are sweet but not too strong," he explains.

"Kids tend to like creamy consistencies. In the restaurant they order pasta with cream sauce or chicken with gravy. A lot has to do with how foods are introduced," Boyce says, noting that infant cereals is creamy enough to stick on a spoon.

Roasted Butternut Squash and Carrot Puree

1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise and seeded

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 tablespoon light brown sugar

1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon

2 cups vegetable stock or broth

8 ounces carrots, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch pieces

2 teaspoons unsalted butter, softened

1/8 teaspoon vanilla extract

Set the squash cut side up and brush with olive oil. Sprinkle with the brown sugar and cinnamon. Wrap the halves of squash in aluminum foil, place on a baking sheet and bake for 30-40 minutes until easily pierced with a toothpick. Remove from oven and let cool.

In a medium saucepan, bring the stock to a boil. Cook cut carrots in stock until tender, 8-10 minutes. Remove from heat, strain carrots and reserve the cooking liquid.

Unwrap squash from foil and scrape the flesh from its peel and place in food processor. Add cooked carrots, butter and vanilla then blend adding the reserved cooking liquid until mixture is creamy.

Serve warm.

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