Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen
Lidia Bastianich, loved by millions of Americans for her simple, delectable Italian cooking, gives us her most instructive and personal cookbook yet. Focusing on the Italian-American kitchen—the cooking she encountered when she first came to America as a young adolescent—Lidia pays homage to this “cuisine of adaptation born of necessity.” But she transforms it subtly
Lidia Bastianich, loved by millions of Americans for her simple, delectable Italian cooking, gives us her most instructive and personal cookbook yet.
Focusing on the Italian-American kitchen—the cooking she encountered when she first came to America as a young adolescent—Lidia pays homage to this “cuisine of adaptation born of necessity.” But she transforms it subtly with her light, discriminating touch, using the authentic ingredients, not accessible to the early immigrants, which are all so readily available today. The aromatic flavors of fine Italian olive oil, imported Parmigiano-Reggiano and Gorgonzola dolce latte, fresh basil, oregano, and rosemary, sun-sweetened San Marzano tomatoes, prosciutto, and pancetta permeate the dishes she makes in her Italian-American kitchen today. And they will transform for you this time-honored cuisine, as you cook with Lidia, learning from her the many secret, sensuous touches that make her food superlative.
You’ll find recipes for Scampi alla Buonavia (the garlicky shrimp that became so popular when Lidia served the dish at her first restaurant, Buonavia), Clams Casino (with roasted peppers and good American bacon), Caesar Salad (shaved Parmigiano makes the difference), baked cannelloni (with roasted pork and mortadella), and lasagna (blanketed in her special Italian-American Meat Sauce).
But just as Lidia introduced new Italian regional dishes to her appreciative clientele in Queens in the seventies, so she dazzles us now with pasta dishes such as Bucatini with Chanterelles, Spring Peas, and Prosciutto, and Long Fusilli with Mussels, Saffron, and Zucchini. And she is a master at teaching us how to make our own ravioli, featherlight gnocchi, and genuine Neapolitan pizza.
Laced with stories about her experiences in America and her discoveries as a cook, this enchanting book is both a pleasure to read and a joy to cook from.”Italian-American food–what cuisine is it?” asks Lidia Matticchio Bastianich in Lidia’s Italian-American Cooking, a cookbook based on her eponymous PBS TV series. The author of two previous works, La Cucina di Lidia and Lidia’s Italian Table, and co-owner of three acclaimed Manhattan restaurants, Bastianich is ideally suited to explore all Italian fare. “Americans fell in love with Italian cooking first,” she says, thus enshrining a cuisine born of immigrant adaptation. In celebration of that affection, the book offers over 150 recipes for a wide range of dishes–traditional favorites like Baked Stuffed Shells and Lobster Fra Diavolo as well as personal adaptations such as Scampi alla Buonavia and canneloni made with roasted pork and mortadella. These easily done dishes benefit from Lidia’s subtle polishing; fans of her foolproof palate and her direct yet relaxed approach to Italian cooking will welcome the book.
In chapters that reflect the courses of a traditional Italian meal, from antipasti through soups, pasta and risottos, and dolci, Lidia presents a wealth of good everyday eating. In addition to exemplary renditions of Italian-American favorites, Lidia offers “new” Italian regional dishes, such as Long Fusilli with Saffron, Mussels, and Zucchini. Soups, a Lidia specialty, are enticingly represented with the likes of Potato, Swiss Chard, and Bread Soup. And of course there are splendid dolci–favorites like Ricotta Cheesecake, but also treats like San Martino Pear and Chocolate Tart. Throughout, Bastianich provides useful sidebars, such as one on scallopine, and fully illustrated technical instruction, detailing, for example, the best way to stuff a veal chop. With color photos of the mouthwatering dishes, tips, and other cooking insights, the book is a valuable guide to an oft-debased fare finally given its due. –Arthur Boehm
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