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Lidia's Family Table

Lidia's Family Table

4.5 14
by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich

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The best-loved and most-admired of all America’s television cooks today, Lidia Bastianich, now gives us her most generous, instructive, and creative cookbook. The emphasis here is on cooking for the family, and her book is filled with unusually delicious basic recipes for everyday eating Italian-style, as well as imaginative ideas for variations and


The best-loved and most-admired of all America’s television cooks today, Lidia Bastianich, now gives us her most generous, instructive, and creative cookbook. The emphasis here is on cooking for the family, and her book is filled with unusually delicious basic recipes for everyday eating Italian-style, as well as imaginative ideas for variations and improvisations.

Here are more than 200 fabulous new dishes that will appeal both to Lidia’s loyal following, who have come to rely on her wonderfully detailed recipes, and to the more adventurous cook ready to experiment.

• She welcomes us to the table with tasty bites from the sea (including home-cured tuna and mackerel), seasonal salads, and vegetable surprises (Egg-Battered Zucchini Roll-Ups, Sweet Onion Gratinate).

• She reveals the secret of simple make-ahead soup bases, delicious on their own and easy to embellish for a scrumptious soup that can make a meal.

• She opens up the wonderful world of pasta, playing with different shapes, mixing and matching, and creating sauces while the pasta boils; she teaches us to make fresh egg pastas, experimenting with healthful ingredients–whole wheat, chestnut, buckwheat, and barley. And she makes us understand the subtle arts of polenta- and risotto-making as never before.

• She shares her love of vegetables, skillet-cooking some to intensify their flavor, layering some with yesterday’s bread for a lasagna-like gratin, blanketing a scallop of meat with sautéed vegetables, and finishing seasonal greens with the perfect little sauce.

• She introduces us to some lesser-known cuts of meats for main courses (shoulders, butts, and tongue) and underused, delicious fish (skate and monkfish), as well as to her family’s favorite recipes for chicken and a beautiful balsamic-glazed roast turkey.

• And she explores with us the many ways fruits and crusts (pie, strudel, cake, and toasted bread) marry and produce delectable homey desserts to end the meal.

Lidia’s warm presence is felt on every page of this book, explaining the whys and wherefores of what she is doing, and the brilliant photographs take us right into her home, showing her rolling out pasta with her grandchildren, bringing in the summer harvest, and sitting around the food-laden family table. As she makes every meal a celebration, she invites us to do the same, giving us confidence and joy in the act of cooking.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Fans will appreciate this companion book to Bastianich's latest PBS series of the same name (after Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen), and it may win her some new admirers as well. It presents the food Bastianich prepares at home for her large family (which includes children, grandchildren, siblings and her 80-plus-year-old mother and her companion, who live upstairs), but it's also proof that home cooking need not be oversimplified, with plenty of projects for those who relish a challenge. There are also many photographic illustrations offering gentle guidance to readers attempting Grilled Tuna Rollatini under Tomato-Lemon Marinade, or Pasticciata Bolognese. Elegant recipes, such as Fresh Pear and Pecorino Ravioli, are sprinkled throughout, but the majority are for hearty dishes that lend themselves to serving family-style, like Zucchini and Country Bread Lasagna with day-old bread in place of pasta and Braised Beef Shoulder Roast with Venetian Spice, which incorporates cinnamon and coffee beans. As testament to both Bastianich's creativity and the endless supply of good food from Italy, there are authentic, unusual treasures here, like Riso Sart , which packs risotto into molds for individual towers. Bastianich is also generous with clever tips and brainstorms: Why not use poached garlic pur e for those with delicate digestion, or poach corn on the cob in tomato sauce? The range is impressive, the flavors strong. It's enough to make readers clamor to be adopted into the Bastianich clan. 85 color photos. Agent, Jane Dystel. (Dec. 1) Forecast: A 10-city tour, not to mention the visibility offered by the author's newest PBS series, to begin airing in March 2005, should win plenty of support for the 150,000-copy first printing. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
The companion volume to her new PBS series, this latest book from Bastianich is a delight. Some of her earlier cookbooks (e.g., La Cucina di Lidia) focused on the more complicated dishes served at her restaurants, but this one offers the simple but delectable Italian recipes she loves to make for friends and family-often with her grandchildren or other members of her extended family helping out in the kitchen. There are dozens of pastas and many easy-to-prepare "skillet dishes," such as Skillet Gratinate of Summer Tomato and Pork. And although the recipes are quick and uncomplicated, many of them are unusual, from Roasted Black Olives and Pearl Onions to Poached Whole Zucchini with Lemon and Olive Oil. Bastianich has a warm, reassuring tone, and she includes innumerable helpful tips, serving suggestions (many of her recipes are very versatile, suitable for a range of uses or presentations), and other invaluable information. Step-by-step photographs illustrate kitchen techniques, and charming photos of the author's grandchildren and other family scenes add to the appeal of this engaging, immensely practical book. An essential purchase. [With a first printing of 150,000 copies, the publisher is expecting big things.-Ed.] Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
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Read an Excerpt

Raw Summer Tomato Sauce for Pasta


This is the pasta “sauce” I make in August, when just-picked tomatoes in all shapes and colors are piled on our kitchen windowsills—and it is too hot to hang around the stove. It’s a fast no-cooking preparation, but it requires ripe and juicy tomatoes, preferably homegrown or heirloom tomatoes from the farmers’ market. Be sure to have them at room temperature. The sauce actually develops in the hour or two when it marinates: salt draws the juices from the tomatoes, and they become infused with the flavors of basil and garlic. Then all you do is toss piping-hot pasta with the tomatoes and enjoy one of the rare treats of the whole year.


Makes 3 to 4 cups, enough to sauce 1 pound of dry pasta


2 pounds ripe summer tomatoes, preferably heirloom varieties in a mix of colors and shapes

3 or 4 plump garlic cloves, peeled

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 large basil leaves (about 3 tablespoons shredded)

1/4 teaspoon dried peperoncino (hot red pepper flakes), or more or less to taste

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1 cup or more grated Parmigiano-Reggiano or cubed fresh mozzarella (optional)


Rinse the tomatoes, drain, and wipe dry. Cut out the core and any other hard parts. Working over a big mixing bowl to catch all the juices, cut the tomatoes—cherry tomatoes in half; regular tomatoes into 1-inch chunks—and drop them in the bowl.


Smash the garlic cloves with a chef’s knife and chop into a fine paste. This is easier if you add some of the salt as you chop; mash the garlic bits and salt with the flat side of the knife too. Scatter the garlic paste and the rest of the salt (1/2 teaspoon in all) over the tomatoes and stir gently.


Pile up the basil leaves and slice into thin strips (called a chiffonade). Strew these over the tomatoes, then the peperoncinoflakes. Pour in the oil, stir, and fold, to coat the tomatoes and distribute the seasonings.


Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and let it marinate at room temperature for 1 to 2 hours. Toss the marinated sauce with freshly cooked and drained pasta. Serve as is, or toss in 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano. For additional complexity, you could add 1 cup or more cubed fresh mozzarella.


<a name="iti4">Crostata with Chocolate, Hazelnuts, and Orange
A 9-inch tart serving 6 to 8

Recommended Equipment
A 9-inch tart mold, preferably a fluted metal ring with a removable bottom
A baking stone or oven tiles
A food processor

For the Tart Shell
1 batch (12 ounces) Sweet Tart Dough (recipe follows), chilled

For the Chocolate Layer
5 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped into chunks

For the Main Filling
1/3 cup hazelnuts, toasted in the oven, skins rubbed off
A medium-size orange, for zest (see recipe instructions)
2/3 cup sugar
6 tablespoons soft butter
2 eggs
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped in very small pieces (about 1/2 cup)
2 tablespoons orange liqueur, such as Cointreau or Grand Marnier

For the Sweet Tart Dough
1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour (1 cup plus 2 tablespoons)
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt (2 pinches)
2 tablespoons sugar
9 tablespoons cold butter (1 stick plus one tablespoon)
2 egg yolks

Making the Filling
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven with a baking stone on it, if you have one. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Roll and press the dough to form the tart shell, as detailed in the Sweet Tart Dough recipe. Put the shell in the refrigerator to chill.

Put the 5 ounces of chocolate chunks in a bowl, and set over a pot of very hot water (barely simmering). Stir as the chocolate begins to melt, enabling it to become molten at the lowest temperature. When completely smooth, pour the chocolate into the tart shell, and spread it to cover the dough bottom completely.

Put the hazelnuts in the food processor, and pulse to chop them into small bits—don’t turn them into a powder or paste. Empty the nuts into a bowl, and wipe out the food processor (you don’t have to wash it).

To prepare the orange zest for the filling, rinse and dry the orange, and remove on the outer, colored zest in strips, about 2 inches long, with a vegetable peeler. Stack up the few strips at a time and slice them lengthwise into very thin slivers with a sharp paring knife. Then cut the slivers crosswise into tiny bits, like glitter or small confetti; you should have about 2 tablespoons.

Now you’ll blend the main filling in the processor, adding the ingredients separately; frequently scrape down the sides of the bowl to make sure everything is processed evenly. First blend the sugar and butter, processing about 30 seconds, until smooth. With the machine running, drop in the eggs and process for a minute or more, until smooth and slightly thickened (be sure to scrape the sides). Drop in the flour and blend until smooth; scrape the bowl.

With the machine off, drop in the chopped orange peel, chocolate, and hazelnuts, and pulse for only a second or two to incorporate. Finally, whiz in the orange liqueur just for a second. Take the processor off the base, and scrape the filling from the sides and blade. Stir one last time, and pour it into the tart shell. Smooth the surface with a spatula to form an even layer.

Sweet Tart Dough
This dough is the one I use for both the apricot and chocolate tarts and other dessert tarts formed in a shallow tart mold. It has a delicate, cookie-crumb texture (with lightness from the baking powder) and great buttery taste. And it takes no time to make in the food processor.

Into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade, drop the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Process for a few seconds, to mix the dry ingredients.

Cut the butter into 1/2-inch pieces, drop them into the flour, and pulse the machine ten or twelve times, in short bursts, 20 to 30 seconds in all. The mixture should be crumbly, with only a few larger bits of butter visible.

Drop the egg yolks into the processor and pulse in bursts, just until the dough starts to clump together in bigger crumbs—it won’t form a single mass. Scrape out the wet crumbs, press them together, and knead just for a few seconds, to form a smooth, tight dough. Flatten it into a disk, wrap well in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 3 hours or up to a day before using. Freeze the dough for longer keeping.

Let the chilled dough sit at room temperature for 10 minutes or so before rolling. Thaw frozen dough completely, preferably in the refrigerator, before using.

Forming Sweet Dough into a Tart Shell
For the tart recipe here—or anytime you use this dough—follow these basic procedures to line a tart mold, turning the dough into a thin shell. I use a standard 9-inch metal tart mold with a fluted ring and removable round bottom, but this dough can line any 9-inch pan.

Let the chilled dough soften briefly, but don’t let it get too warm. Put the disk of dough between two pieces of wax paper or parchment (about 1-foot squares) and roll it out to an 11-inch circle: roll from the center, in all directions, trying to stretch the dough evenly. With 12-inch wide paper, roll to a circle that comes right to the edge.

Chill the dough circle in the refrigerator after rolling, inside the paper—this always helps. Peel the top paper off the dough, and center it over the tart mold. Peel off the other paper sheet; if the paper doesn’t come off easily, chill again, then remove. Press the dough gently down into the mold so it covers the bottom and comes up the sides.

If the dough is cooperative, it may line the shell perfectly, and all you will have to do is even out the sides. But if it breaks into pieces or is uneven, you can press it into shape with your fingers. Here are some tips that will help you:

Keep the dough cold: put it in the refrigerator whenever you have trouble.

Moisten your fingers lightly to press and push the dough without its sticking to you (but don’t drip water in the shell). Move the dough from thick spots to thin spots until the bottom is evenly thick all over.

To shape the sides, press the dough against the fluted rim with your index finger to form an evenly thick wall all the way around. Remove any dough that’s higher than the rim by flicking it against the sharp rim; put these bits back in the mold.

When the shell is finished, chill it in the refrigerator before filling.

Filling and Baking the Tart
Set the tart mold on the hot baking stone, if you have one, or on the middle oven rack. Bake for 25 minutes or so, and rotate the mold for even baking. As the filling sets, it will start to crack around the edges (when it starts to crack in the center, it is done). Bake 35 to 40 minutes total, until the filling is puffed, and firm in the center, and a cake tester comes out clean. The tart crust should be nicely browned as well.

Set the baked tart on a wire rack to cool. If using a tart ring with a removable bottom, remove the ring; slide the tart off the round mold bottom onto a platter if you want.

Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, with whipped cream, if desired.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Lidia Bastianich is the author of three previous books: La Cucina di Lidia and the best-selling Lidia’s Italian Table and Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen–also the names of her nationally syndicated public television series. She is the owner of the very successful New York City restaurant Felidia, as well as Becco, Esca, and Lidia’s in Pittsburgh and Kansas City, and she gives lectures on Italian cuisine throughout the country. She lives on Long Island in New York and she can be reached at her Web site, www.lidiasitaly.com.

From the Hardcover edition.

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Lidia's Family Table 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 14 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Lidia has a secret understanding of food. She knows how to combine the most simple ingredients and create something truly wonderful, knowledge which she shares in this book. I never liked brussel sprouts, but I happened upon a bunch of fresh ones, so I tried the recipe Lidia included in this book. Just fresh sprouts, butter, onion, salt, and a dash of red pepper -- WOW. She also shares tips on getting the most out of your food, like making vegetable stock from scraps. It's a delicious and cheap alternative to canned chicken stock. Like many Italian mothers, Lidia has a deep understanding of the relationship between our stomachs and our hearts. Preparing a meal for your family is an act of love, and she writes her recipes with this in mind. This is a great book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am usually not a fan of Italian food, but the recipes in this book always make my family smile. Ever since I gave this book to my wife, she won't leave the kitchen, and that suits the rest of our household just fine! The desserts in particular are unlike anything I have ever tasted. Truly out of this world! And, I am told the recipes are a delight to follow.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I tried a few recipes and the dishes came out tasty and were easy to make. I like the book and what it has to offer. Italian is on the menu in my home now.
IRISHDANCER0 More than 1 year ago
Lidia teaches you to have a touch of Italy in your home to share with your family and friends, enjoyable and tasteful meals to bring to the table. Highly satisfied you will enjoy every meal you make
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