If there’s one person who can get your pint-sized picky eaters to let loose and chow down, it’s renowned celebrity chef Mario Batali. His sons, Benno and Leo, love food so much they even took after their proud papa, publishing the adorable Batali Brothers Cookbook in May as a 50th birthday present to their dad.
So what’s his secret to teaching kids to eat more than just chicken fingers and french fries? “If you want your kids to eat the food you eat, invite them into the kitchen. By the time the food gets to the plate, they will have invested enough emotional energy into its production that they can’t help but try at least one bite.”
If you’re really in a culinary jam and the kids just won’t bite, Batali suggests this sure-fire recipe that’s become a favorite in his household. “My kids always love a grilled mozzarella sammie, or mozzarella in carrozza. They’re a jacked-up version of the classic diner staple. The whole game here is the choice of mozzarella, so don’t make these unless you can find, if not mozzarella from Campania, a comparable high-quality mozzarella di bufala. Or, totally change the recipe and use another great cheese, like Taleggio or even a fine American cheddar.”
Grilled Mozzarella Sammie
1 pound fresh buffalo mozzarella, cut into 4 equal pieces about 3 inches by 4 inches
Eight 1/2-inch-thick slices firm white sandwich bread
2 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
1 teaspoon salt
A grating of nutmeg
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
Makes 4 servings.
1. Place the mozzarella on 4 slices of bread. Cover with the 4 remaining slices to form sandwiches. Trim the crusts off to make from perfect 4-inch squares.
2. In a wide shallow bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the cream, thyme leaves, salt, and nutmeg and whisk until well blended.
3. In a 10- to 12-inch nonstick sauté pan, heat 2 tablespoons of the olive oil over medium-high heat until smoking. Add 1 tablespoon of the butter and cook until the sizzling subsides. Dip 2 of the sandwiches into the egg mixture, turning to coatm place in the pan, and cook until golden brown on first side, about 2 minutes. Flip over and brown on the other side. Transfer the sandwiches to individual plates and repeat the process with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon butter, and 2 sandwiches. Cut in half, and serve immediately.