A Shared Tradition

Posted online: March 2012

by GINA Z. TERLINDEN  photographs by AMY NEUNSINGER

 

De Laurentiis and her daughter, Jade, putting the finishing touches on her crepes with peanut butter and jam.

For a full-time working mom—as is celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis—there’s no better way to savor the day than whipping up yummy creature comforts with the little ones. “I like to celebrate by having lunch with my mom, my sister, my daughter, my nephew, and myself—all the generations. The kids help me make lunch and we enjoy it together,” says the Italian-born, Emmy Award-winning personality who frequently spends weekends in Santa Barbara with her daughter, Jade, and husband, Todd Thompson. “One of my favorite things about coming up is that there is a farmers market any day of the week—in Montecito, Carpinteria, downtown, you name it. If you’re in the mood for farm-fresh ingredients, you can always find them.”

For this close-knit bunch, the day might begin with peanut butter and jam crepes. “You can fill them with virtually anything, and they are very easy for kids to handle,” De Laurentiis writes in Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner (Clarkson Potter Publishers, $35), her latest book that shares dozens of easy child-friendly recipes that mom and dad will be happy to eat as well.

Wagon wheel pasta with pancetta and peas—fun for kids but sophisticated enough for adult palates. Weeknights with Giada is available at Chaucer’s Bookstore, 805-682-6787, chaucersbooks.com.

For lunch, the little ones will be excited to dig into imaginative wagon wheel-shaped pasta with pancetta and peas. “Getting kids involved in the cooking process gets them interested in food and healthy eating,” she says. “That’s what I do with Jade—I bring her with me to the store and let her choose ingredients that look yummy.” And for the moms, a fitting brunch-type dish is her satisfying toasted pita topped with a tangy mascarpone spread, salty prosciutto, spicy arugula, and a fried egg.

“We always serve something fun for dessert—and we all love chocolate, so you can bet it will be a decadent treat this Mother’s Day,” says De Laurentiis. Similar to Italian wedding cookies, her chocolate-hazelnut drop cookies—a favorite of all three generations—get their delicate flavor from the smooth, velvety melted gianduja. “It’s the stuff that makes my mouth water,” she says, “and brings me back to my childhood.”

 

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