Children who are good eaters have been trained to taste things from a very early age. This is what experience has taught us and today it’s also discussed in a book, Babbo Chef, grande cucina per piccole donne e piccoli uomini, which just came out in Italy. It contains 100 recipes created by some of Italy’s best-known chefs, all of whom have become dads. Here are a few of them to prepare together— and raise little gourmands.
Matilde’s gnocchetti by chef MORENO CEDRONI
Recommended age: 6–12
Ingredients for 4 children:800 g (28 oz) baby clams
1 unpeeled garlic clove
50 g (1/4 cup) white wine such as Verdicchio
200 g (7 oz) chopped tomatoes
chopped fresh parsley
For the gnocchi:
500 g (17.5 oz) potatoes
100 g (7/8 cup) flour
Put the unpeeled garlic in a skillet with the extra virgin olive oil and cook on low for about 10 minutes. Remove the garlic and add the carefully rinsed clams. Add the wine and reduce, and then cover and cook on medium until the clams open. Remove the clams with a slotted spoon and add the chopped tomatoes and 1/2 cup of water to the skillet. Simmer for 10 minutes. Remove the clams from the shells and add them to the sauce with a tablespoon of chopped parsley. For the gnocchi, boil the potatoes, peel and put them through a ricer. Add the flour and blend quickly. Roll into finger-sized strips. Cut the strips into pieces (I prefer smaller pieces because they collect the sauce better). Cook the gnocchi in salted boiling water and remove as soon as they float to the surface. The rest of the procedure is very easy. Put the red sauce in a skillet, add the hot gnocchi and stir over a medium flame. Amalgamate the sauce off the burner so it doesn’t cook off too much liquid, which would leave evident traces of oil.
Fish sticks and pasta by chef FABRIZIO FERRARI
Recommended age: 4–8
Ingredients for 4 children:300 g (10.5 oz) fresh hake
100 g (3.5 oz) breadcrumbs
100 g (3.5 oz) eggs
50 g (heaping 3/8 cup) flour
100 g (3.5 oz) sun-dried tomatoes soaked in water overnight
200 g (7 oz) whole-wheat pasta (penne or sedani)
20 g (0.7 oz) grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese
100 ml (1/2 cup) extra virgin olive oil
Put the sun-dried tomatoes in a small pot with some of the water in which they were soaked and a drizzle of olive oil. Cook until soft and then blend with a stick blender until smooth. Cut the hake into diamonds to make 12 even pieces and dredge them first in the flour, then the beaten egg and lastly the breadcrumbs. Heat some oil in a frying pan and fry the fish until golden. Cook the pasta in salted boiling water, drain when done but still al dente and toss with the sun- dried tomato sauce. Spoon into bowls and dust with the Parmigiano. Serve with three hot fish sticks.
Cream of honey, milk, almonds and apples by chef FILIPPO LA MANTIA
Recommended age: up to 2 years
Ingredients for 1 child:
50 g (1.7 oz) crushed almonds 1 apple
Blend 2 tablespoons of milk with 1 teaspoon of honey, the crushed almonds, and the peeled and cored apple. When smooth, heat gently bain-marie and feed your little gourmand!