Lidia's Italian Table

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Overview

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 ...

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Overview

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 was named Best Chef: New York City in 1999 by the James Beard Foundation.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
In Lidia's Italian table, Lidia Bastianich shares with her readers the journey from her childhood, "to see how my love for food and my desire to share it has developed," she says. Just as she does in her restaurants and in conversation, Lidia takes you on an extraordinary culinary trip with her marvelously traditional but somehow quite modern recipes, an absolute wealth of kitchen lore and cooking tips, and the gracious hospitality of a loving and classically Italian home.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Manhattan restaurateur Bastianich (La Cucina di Lidia>o?, 1990) brings an infectious exuberance to this tie-in to a 26-part PBS series starting in September. While not breaking new ground, she presents an enticing selection of favorite dishes combining traditional flavors with simple gusto. Appetizers include Braised Peppers with Anchovies and Buffalo Mozzarella Poached in Tomato-Basil Sauce. The signature dish Frico, a Friulian specialty of Montasio cheese cooked in a skillet until it melts and crispens, that gave the name to FricoBar, the restaurant run by Bastianich's son Joseph, takes a place of honor here, served either alone or with a savory like Potato and Crabmeat Filling. Bread soups, fresh pastas with sauces, dried pastas and their appropriate sauces stir both the appetite and longings for a time when good taste was valued over trendiness. Rice dishes include the classic Creamy Risotto Milanese Style, golden with saffron, and, from the Piedmonte, Risotto with Barolo Wine on a Bed of Carrot Puree. Meats and fish range from Roasted Guinea Hen with Balsamic Glaze to Veal Ossobuco with Barley Risotto and Red Grouper in White Sauce Served with a Side Dish of Pasta. Nestled within dessert recipes for tarts and semifreddoes is Caramelized Tomatoes, an unusual topping for vanilla ice cream. This is a most worthy addition to the crammed Italian cookbook shelf. Editor, Pam Hoenig; agent, Jane Dystel. BOMC/Good Cook selection. (Sept.)
Library Journal
Bastianich has three restaurants in New York City, including the acclaimed Felidia; she's about to open a restaurant in Kansas City, and her new PBS series starts in September. This book, the companion volume to the series, is her second; like the excellent La Cucina di Lidia (LJ 12/90), it is a deeply personal work, with memories of some tumultuous periods in her life and nostalgic reminiscences, many of them associated with food, about her grandparents and other relatives. Many of the recipes are unusual, not to be found in the average Italian cookbook, and Bastianich's considerable knowledge and experience, as well as her enthusiasm, are evident throughout. Highly recommended. [Good Cook main selection.]
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780688154103
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 9/28/1998
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 400
  • Sales rank: 323,463
  • Product dimensions: 8.00 (w) x 10.00 (h) x 1.15 (d)

Meet the Author

Lidia Masticchio Bastianich

Lidia MaMatticchio Bastianich is the hostess of the national public television series Lidia's Italian Table. She is also co-owner of three New York City restaurants: Felidia, Becco, and Frico Bar. Ms. Bastianich is the author of La Cucina di Lidia and gives lectures on Italian cuisine throughout the country. For the past few years, she has been the editor for a New York Times special insert, The Celebration of Life, dedicated to culinary life in Italy. Ms. Bastianich lives in Douglaston, New York.

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Read an Excerpt

Olives and Olive Oil


(Olive ed Olio d'Oliva)


To me, the olive tree signifies life and eternity and is imbued with a sense of spirituality. Maybe it is because throughout my life olive oil has been so important, so respected, and so truly appreciated. I have memories of it being consumed with reverence.

My paternal grandparents had groves of olive trees. I don't remember my Grandma Francesca she passed away before I had an opportunity to know her-but a few of my younger years were spent with Grandpa Tonin. Like my family he lived in Busoler, on the other side of town from my maternal grandparents, Nonna Rosa and Nonno Giovanni, with whom I spent a lot of time.

Nonno Tonin would take me for walks through his olive trees, and I remember the shimmering, silvery green leaves and the clusters of olives looking so delicate-some vibrant green with purple speckles and some completely deep purple. The trunks of those olive trees, however, were not delicate-they looked to me like the gnarled faces of old men in pain. Whenever I had to pass the olive groves at night during my visits with Nonno Tonin, I had images of those old men in the trees chasing me.

Five years ago, I planted three hundred and fifty olive trees in Busoler in memory of my grandparents and in honor of the land they loved and worked with such dedication. When I visit now, the land is alive, the olive trees are smiling and waving in the breeze, and I swear I can see my grandparents working the fields.

Olive oil is the basic element of my cooking, as it is of the entire Mediterranean Basin. As far back as I can remember, the harvest of the olivestook place in the cold months of late November or early December. The women harvested olives from the branches that were reachable from the ground with the help of a ladder and a tela, or cloth, that was spread around the base of the olive trees to catch the olives that fell to the ground. The men climbed into the higher branches to gather the hard-to-reach olives. There always seemed to be a sense of urgency in harvesting the olives. When I was young, I thought that was because of the cold weather, but I have come to learn that olives have to be milled as soon as possible after they are harvested to produce the best oil. If left in storage, the olives begin to ferment and the quality of the oil suffers.

As I recall, Dignano—a small town next to Pola—was the location of the communal olive oil mill. There were two huge cylinders of stone that, when pulled by donkeys, rolled around and around over a wide stone base. Olives were layered over the base stone and, as the donkeys circled the base, the stone cylinders crushed the olives to a paste. A metal drain spout ran from the press, channeling the free-flowing oil into a container. The pulp was then collected and put into large, double-thick filters made of jute that were shaped like life preservers or car tires. These were stacked one atop the other on a wooden pole. Turning the lever on top of the pole slowly applied pressure to the filters, gently squeezing as much oil as possible from the olive pulp. When all the oil had been extracted using this method, hot water was applied to loosen any olive oil still lodged in the paste. The taste memory of hot crusty bread dunked in this freshly pressed olive oil is a flavor reference that I carry with me. I search for that flavor in every olive oil I taste and use.

Today, the process of making olive oil remains basically the same, except that machines, mills, and centrifuges do the job that stone, donkeys, and people used to do. The grade of olive oil that appears on its label is based on its residual oleic acid; generally speaking, the less acidic an olive oil is, the higher its quality. These are not arbitrary designations; the International Olive Oil Council is responsible for setting these guidelines and monitoring them. Olive oil labels can be tricky to read, but here are a few things to look for:

  • ExtraVirgin is from the first cold pressing of olives and has no more than 1 percent oleic acid.

  • Virgin Olive Oil, also from the first cold pressing, contains from I to 3.3 percent oleic acid.


  • Olive Oil is virgin olive oil with an acidity level of higher than 3.3 percent that has been chemically refined to remove impurities and excess acidity and has had some virgin oil added to it to replace flavor and color removed during refining.

  • Olive-Pomace Oil is the oil extracted from olive pomace (crushed olives) with the help of solvents, which is then blended with virgin olive oil.

  • Olio Novello is newly pressed olive oil-usually less than two months old-and is just beginning to come to the States. In Italy, it is quite traditional, and a seasonal cuisine is built around it, usually in the month of December. You might want to ask your specialty food store to carry some. It will be vibrant green, murky, very vegetal, and fresh. It is excellent drizzled over soups-or use it to make bruschetta or to dress seafood, greens, and steamed vegetable salads.


All olive oil is best when used within a year after pressing, although under certain circumstances it can age well for up to two years. As olive oil ages, its flavor becomes milder and less herbal. To keep olive oil, transfer it to small bottles that seal tightly and store them in a dark, cool place. Being of an unstable molecular composition, olive oil oxidizes quickly and, if left in contact with air for long periods of time, will become rancid.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 30, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Not for everyday use.Disappointed

    I'm Italian, an experienced cook and love authenic rustic Italian cooking.I watch Lydia's show and thought I'd find recipes similar to those on the show in this book. Oh contrair. These recipies are very complex and most are not what you'd cook for your family even occasionally. I can't say I'll use the book ever. I think I will donate it to a local charity. I still love Lydia though!

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 4, 2000

    Bring Lidia's Kitchen Home

    Lidia's recipes are wonderful, easy to follow and delicious additions to your family meal repertoire.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted November 26, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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