By Kit Waskom Pollard
For The Baltimore Sun
4:24 PM EDT, June 17, 2013
Gia Daniella learned to cook from her mother, Giovanna Blattermann, a first-generation American who moved from Sicily to Baltimore's Little Italy as a girl. Today, Gia passes along that knowledge to her children in the kitchen of Café Gia, the Little Italy restaurant she owns with her mom.
Gia's children, 4-and-a-half-year-old Luca and 10-month-old Giada, help her in small ways as she teaches them the ins and outs of Italian cuisine. "Luca loves setting the table while I do extensive cooking," she said. "I'll ask him to get me tongs or wooden spoons – he's my little gopher. And he likes to clean up – that comes in handy!"
Both Luca and Giada love pasta and meatballs. They help Gia form the meatballs, digging in (with clean hands) and creating different shapes with their fingers.
Gia is also a realist when it comes to kiddie cuisine. Giada is a great eater right now, she says, but Luca can be pickier. "My son is a very well-versed eater, but some days he'll want to eat only vegetables and other days, he won't want any." She gets creative, incorporating peas or finely chopped carrots into the meatball mix, to ensure he eats a balanced diet.
For busy parents, Gia recommends serving this sauce and meatballs over store-bought pasta – she prefers the Barilla brand (and Luca prefers the cheese tortellini). "There's so much variety in pasta shapes and meat choices these days," she says. "To mix it up, I cook farfalle, fusilli or any other fun shape. The kids just love it!"
Luca's Favorite Meatballs
Serves 4 to 6 as an appetizer
For the meatballs:
¼ pound ground beef
¼ pound ground pork
¼ pound ground veal
1 teaspoon garlic, minced
Dash of salt and pepper
½ cup Italian breadcrumbs
¾ cup Parmigiano cheese, divided
2 tablespoons dried Italian herbs, chopped (oregano, thyme, sage, basil, rosemary and marjoram)
1 large egg, beaten
½ cup milk
1 cup water
For the marinara sauce:
2 to 3 tablespoons olive oil
2 medium white onions, peeled and chopped
4 tablespoons garlic, minced
1 16-ounce can plum tomatoes
4 basil leaves, gently torn apart
About the Chef
Born and raised in Little Italy, Gia Daniella decamped to Los Angeles for a few years after college, but returned to open Café Gia (410 South High Street, Baltimore, 410-685-6727) in her home neighborhood with her mother, a native Sicilian who moved to Baltimore as a girl. At home they cook the traditional Italian food they grew up with.
For more information about Café Gia, visit www.cafegias.com
About the Club
To join the Maryland Family Kids' Cooking Club, follow a few simple steps:
1. Make each of the four recipes. As you make each, ask your kids to answer the following questions and record them in a journal or notebook:
What did you enjoy most about making the recipe?
What did you think of the taste?
What surprised you most while cooking?
What did you learn about cooking while making this recipe
2. If you want take a photo ofyour kids with the finished product.
3, Visit this site each week in June (every Monday) to get the newest recipe. There are four in total.4. Let us know when you've completed all four recipes. Email editor Kris Henry at email@example.com with “Kids Cooking Club” in the subject line. Once you've completed all four, we'll mail your child a congratulatory certificate.
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