Mother's Day Meals and the Batali Bros.


Mother’s Day is in sight, and I’m getting hungry. Come Sunday, my kids and husband will hit the kitchen to sizzle up some soft-shell crabs in carrot sauce, a favorite recipe from the Union Square Café Cookbook and a Mother’s Day tradition in my house.

It’s no accident that my sons both love to cook. My husband and I make family meals a priority, even on busy weeknights, and we spend lots of time entertaining and enjoying food. We appointment-watch cooking shows together. The kids get competitive about picking the Chopped winner by round two, and they’re big fans of Anthony Bourdain and Bobby Flay.

They’re less familiar with prolific celebrity chef Mario Batali, though they won’t be after I show them the cookbook written by two other boys comfortable in the kitchen: Benno and Leo Batali penned The Batali Brothers Cookbook (Ecco; available May 14) to mark Mario’s 50th birthday, and it’s presented here as a full-on family affair. The Batali boys, 16 and 14, developed the kid-friendly recipes in the first section, accompanied by yummy photos shot by mom Susi Cahn. (The grilled Italian corn and Triple P salad with purple potatoes, peas and pesto look especially delectable.) Finally, Chef Mario himself chimes in, with a (sadly photo-less) chapter of tried-and-true recipes he felt young cooks would like.

The brothers’ recipes are meant to appeal to kid tastes (meatballs, sloppy Joes, cinnamon swirl French toast) yet stretch their palates (kale salad with lemon dressing, blackberry and peach cobbler). A simple basil, tomato and mozzarella Caprese is designed to sharpen knife skills. (Watch those fingers!) Directions are scaled down so kids can attempt to make the dishes mostly on their own. For basic stuff like scrambled eggs, that might work. For the vast bulk of the recipes, though — homemade pasta, lamb shanks with leeks and grapes, Chicken Cooked Under a Brick — serious supervision is called for. So while the cover image of the brothers wearing toques and wielding utensils is geared to kids, parents should give the book a good read and devise a game plan before letting those junior sous-chefs loose in the kitchen.

No matter what you end up cooking or eating this Sunday, your friends at MetroKids wish you a happy, healthy Mother’s Day.


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