Lidia’s Italian Table: More Than 200 Recipes From The First Lady Of Italian Cooking
Lidia’s Italian Table LIDIA MATTICCHIO BASTIANICH “Let me invite you on a journey with me from my childhood …” beckons Lidia Bastianich, hostess of the national public television series Lidia’s Italian Table. And what an incredible journey it proves to be. Lidia’s Italian Table is overflowing with glorious Italian food, highlighted by Lidia’s personal collection
Lidia’s Italian Table
LIDIA MATTICCHIO BASTIANICH
“Let me invite you on a journey with me from my childhood …” beckons Lidia Bastianich, hostess of the national public television series Lidia’s Italian Table. And what an incredible journey it proves to be.
Lidia’s Italian Table is overflowing with glorious Italian food, highlighted by Lidia’s personal collection of recipes accumulated since her childhood in Istria, located in northern Italy on the Adriatic Sea. Hearty and heartwarming Italian fare is what Lidia understands best, and each chapter of this gorgeous cookbook is infused with Lidia’s warm memories of a lifetime of eating and cooking Italian style.
Since good Italian food is based on good ingredients, Lidia includes an eloquent discourse on those products that are the cornerstones of Italian cuisine: olives (and their green-golden oil), Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, salt, porcini mushrooms, truffles, tomato paste, and hot peppers. She also explains the importance of regional wines and grappa (in flavors from honey to dried fig) in the Italian food experience. Her recipes are filled with these Italian delicacies–Fennel, Olive, and Citrus Salad; Tagliatelle with Porcini Mushroom Sauce; Seared Rabbit Loin over Arugula with Truffle Dressing; Asparagus Gratin with Parmigiano-Reggiano Cheese-, and Zabaglione with Barolo Wine.
Lidia explores every corner of Italian cuisine: from fresh and dry pasta to gnocchi and risotto to game and shellfish, all of which Lidia transforms into exceptional Italian dishes. But that is only the beginning. There are Italian soups to savor, like hearty minestre, bread-enriched zuppe, and the light and flavorful brodi. Polenta’s delicious versatility is revealed through Polenta, Gorgonzola, and Savoy Cabbage Torte and White Creamy Polenta with Fresh Plums.
And Lidia’s luscious dolci, or desserts, invite your indulgence with Sweet Crepes with Chocolate Walnut Filling, Blueberry-Apricot Frangipane Tart, and Soft Ice Cream with Hazelnuts.
Lidia attributes her passion and appreciation for Italian food to her family. Lidia’s Italian Table is filled with stories of learning to make Easter bread with her Grandma Rosa in the town’s communal oven; touching and smelling her way through the food markets of Trieste with her great-aunt Zia Nina; fishing for calamari with her uncle Zio Milio; and collecting briny mussels and sea urchins along the Istrian coastline with her cousins.
This gastronomic adventure is more than just a cookbook: It is an exploration into the heart of Italian cuisine.
Lidia Bastianich moved to the United States in 1959 from Trieste in northern Italy. She was 12 years old. Her actual home was over the line, in what became Yugoslavia after World War II. So food, for Bastianich, was both what made her family different from everyone they lived around in their new home in New York State and the anchor that held her family together. Bastianich calls this visceral sense of food “Lidia’s Italian Table.” It’s the name of her PBS series and of this book, which accompanies the series.
In sections that include antipasti, soups, pasta, risotto, gnocchi, polenta, vegetables, game and chicken, meats, fish and shellfish, and sweets, Lidia sweeps readers up into her arms and hugs them with the likes of Baked Onions with Butternut Squash Filling; Sauerkraut and Bean Soup; Bow Ties with Sausage and Leek Sauce; Shrimp Risotto; Fennel, Olive, and Citrus Salad; Braised Venison with Polenta; Baked Squid and Potatoes; and Zucchini Cake. Notice how most of these dishes have a familiar “Italian” ring, yet stretch beyond whatever that notion typically includes–the soup with sauerkraut, for example. Lidia’s table is set in a part of Italy that doesn’t get a lot of ready play. It’s Italian, but then some. A little extra. If you try it, you may find it difficult to get up from Lidia’s table. You may just want to stay. –Schuyler Ingle
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