What's Gaby Cooking? The Cookbook Author and Entrepreneur Shares Her Weeknight Dinner Strategies
Gaby Dalkin, the cookbook author, chef, and entrepreneur behind What's Gaby Cooking, was a picky eater as a child, so she wanted her daughter Poppy to experience foods with lots of textures and flavors early, in the hopes that she'd be more adventurous. Dalkin, who already ate fish at least three times a week, balanced baby-led weaning with purées and simple, delicious seafood recipes she and her husband could also enjoy.
"We try to sit down as a family every night for dinner and whatever we're eating Poppy's going to try," said Dalkin. "We have fish at least three nights a week, so it was important to me that she was into that, so she could have fish tacos on Tuesdays when we have them."
More than a year later, her daughter still enjoys fish. We spoke to Dalkin about making weeknight dinners easier, the ingredients she keeps on hand, and the fish dishes that are her dinnertime staples.
How She Makes Weeknight Dinner Work
To keep the evening meal as low-stress as possible, Dalkin says she keeps a well-stocked fridge and freezer. She does one big grocery store trip each weekend where she gets all of her produce. "That way weeknight dinners aren't as stressful as if you have to run to the store before it's time to cook and everyone's screaming at you," she says.
The Ingredients She Keeps on Hand
You'll find different cuts of salmon and cod in her freezer, already portioned out, so they won't take a ton of time to thaw. Besides fish, she says she always has avocados, tortillas, and fresh herbs in her kitchen.
The Cooking Tools She Relies On
The four cooking tools Dalkin uses religiously are:
- Chef's knife
- Giant wooden cutting board
- Plastic cutting board she can pop in the dishwasher
- Heavy-duty garlic press
What You'll Find on Her Weeknight Table
Dalkin's go-to dishes are easy fish-based recipes that work for the whole family: herself, her husband and their toddler, including steamed salmon, fish tacos, and baked fish.
"I make a bed of onions, nestle some Alaskan salmon on top, some herbs, and a little bit of wine, wrap it in parchment paper and bake it," said Dalkin. "The wine cooks off and leaves this really yummy sauce and the salmon is incredibly moist. If you're doing a baby's first foods it's excellent because it's so easy for them to kind of gum."
How She Gets Her Child to Try New Foods
Dalkin starts by cooking only foods she loves. "If you're jazzed about it, it's really helpful for your kids," said Dalkin." If you love baked fish and do it with a shakshuka based tomato sauce and making mmm sounds and are just so excited you're eating it, that goes a long way." She also keeps things simple. "Learn how to make one [dish] really well and then build on it," she advises. "So learn how to bake fish, just a plain filet of salmon or cod of whatever you're into, and then once you feel really comfortable with that, learn how to make a pesto and you can slather that on top or learn how to make tomato confit, that sounds fancier than it actually is, but something like that. Then learn how to make rice and at the end of a week or two, you're like, 'Oh my gosh, I can make this incredible rice bowl with baked salmon and pesto, and steamed rice.'"
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