Merrill's baby Clara is finally old enough to eat solid foods. Armed with her greenmarket bag, a wooden spoon and a minimal amount of fuss, Merrill steps into the fray.
Today: The tenderest meatballs for little fingers and mouths.
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Once your baby decides she doesn't want to be fed anymore, you don't have much of a say in the matter. After getting more and more interested in feeding herself, about a week and a half ago Clara started refusing to swallow anything she hadn't put into her own mouth. If we somehow managed to jam a spoonful of orzo or soup in there, out it came.
As she's exerted her independence at the table, we've gotten a lot more expansive with our definition of finger food. As I mentioned a few weeks ago, chicken thighs are great. Ravioli is messy, but it gets the job done. And meatballs are always a hit.
Clara tends to spit out anything she finds dry or tough, so when I first made meatballs for her I turned to my favorite meatloaf recipe, a miracle of tenderness and flavor, for inspiration. These call for ingredients (mayonnaise, Worcestershire, Dijon mustard) you probably wouldn't expect to find in a meatball. As a result, even though they're finished in the oven, denied a warm bath of savory sauce, they stay tender and juicy. Just the way Clara likes them.
A New Way to Dinner, co-authored by Food52's founders Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs, is an indispensable playbook for stress-free meal-planning (hint: cook foundational dishes on the weekend and mix and match ‘em through the week).