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This special features four celebrations of independence, diversity, and food traditions in America.
On the fourth of July at Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, a number of immigrants are sworn in and become citizens of the United States for the first time. Lidia then heads to Texas and participates in a Juneteenth celebration in Galveston with actress Anna Deavere Smith. Lidia spends a day with Jacques Pepin and learns all about Bastille Day, and Martha Wainwright joins them to sing beautiful French songs. Finally, Lidia celebrates Philippine Independence Day with hilarious comedian and actor Alec Mapa, and famed opera singer Renne Fleming concludes the program with her rendition of “America the Beautiful.”
Lidia Celebrates America: Freedom and Independence premieres on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 10:00 p.m. ET on PBS (check local listings).
Stream past specials at PBS.org!
My family is blessed with three generations of mothers to celebrate on Mother’s Day, but Grandma Erminia, my mother, is always the star.
Making the day special for Grandma is never hard; she’s happy surrounded by her grandchildren, great grandchildren, and good dessert! She especially loves creamy treats like Ricotta Cheesecake and Panna Cotta with Berries.
For more on Mother’s Day, listen to this interview I just did with Fox News Radio–all about this special holiday.
Tune in to Tony’s Table on CBS this Sunday at 7:22am as Chef Fortunato and I show how to make a Spring Vegetable and Ricotta Ravioli–just one of the many spring dishes on Felidia’s Mother’s Day menu!
Happy Mother’s Day to you all!
Despite their sci-fi looks, fiddlehead ferns are the young, unfurled shoot of an actual fern.
Only available for three weeks in May, they are foraged in the wild (not farmed) and taste of asparagus and artichoke. Look for bright, tightly coiled ferns and remove any dirt by swishing them in a bowl with cold water and rubbing off excess dirt with your fingers. Cook them immediately (they’ll only keep for two days in the fridge) and use them like asparagus in pesto, risotto, tossed with buttered linguine or sautéed with other spring goodies like morels.
A more popular vegetable, asparagus is best when it’s fresh from February through June. Although green is the most common, white and purple asparagus are a good option as well. White asparagus, are grown underground to prevent the color from setting in. The tips of the white asparagus are tasty and sweet while the stem can be woodsy and need to be discarded. On the other hand the purple asparagus look and taste good, but they do lose their purple coloring in cooking.
When buying asparagus, look for firm, bright green stalks with tight tips. I recommend buying them on the day you’d like to prepare them. If you do need to store them, wrap them with a humid paper towel and set them in a container with a bit of water, and they should remain fresh for 3 to 4 days in the refrigerator.
Using a potato peeler, peel the lower 2/3 of the stem, then cut off the tough lower stem–usually about one inch. When I find myself in Italy in the Spring, I love to go foraging for wild asparagus; they are much thinner than regular asparagus and have a more pronounced bitter taste, which I love.
Last but not least: spring peas.There is, among some cooks, a phobia about overcooking peas. To many people, peas must stay bright green and intact, little bullets running around the plate as you chase after them with a fork. Well, I love my fresh peas “smothered” until they are olive green in color, when their sweetness and flavors have really concentrated, and they begin to break down and cling together. (I do not mean peas that are overcooked in lots of water, or steamed till they are gray-green, watery, and tasting of tobacco!)
Peas are delicious in just about any dish; different pasta dishes, soups, with fish, and delicious when mixed with other vegetables as a side. I also love a puree made of fresh peas, with some olive oil it makes a great spread for the bread instead of butter. Some of my favorite recipes include this one for bucatini, and this one for chicken.
My new Homestyle Meals make it easier than ever to bring some of my favorite Italian classics to your table. By using only the freshest ingredients and high-quality meats, I’m confident these meals will keep your family coming back to the table for more. To prepare these, simply heat and enjoy. It doesn’t get much simpler or rewarding than that.
We wanted to do something special and continue our family philosophy of preparing for our customers only the best food products that are nutritionally and environmentally conscious and delicious in taste. Our family personally manages and oversees the production of our products, and stands by each the quality and integrity of which it’s made. The food line, which is closely managed by my family, also distributes my imported pasta, and all natural pasta sauces all over the country.
Lidia’s Homestyle Meals include:
Lasagna with Chicken Bolognese Sauce—Layers of traditional Italian spinach pasta are filled with a velvety all natural chicken ragu and mixed Italian grated cheese and mozzarella to create a perfectly baked marriage of flavors.
Breaded Chicken Breast Parmigiana—This Italian classic is made with all natural chicken, freshly made marinara sauce and fresh herbs, topped with a supple mixture of cheeses. This delicious dish will be welcomed and enjoyed by your family time and time again.
Lemon Chicken –Light and lemony fresh, this dish is made with all natural chicken, capers and plump green olives then elegantly topped with lemon slices. The succulent sauce and tender chicken will satisfy the most demanding crowds.
Turkey Meatballs—Vegetarian fed turkey raised without antibiotics are ground and gently formed into delicious meatballs surrounded by fresh marinara sauce.
Baked Penne with Ricotta—Lidia’s imported durum wheat penne is perfectly cooked, tossed with freshly made marinara sauce, creamy all natural fresh ricotta, topped with oozing Italian grated cheese, and then baked to perfection.
Manicotti—Traditional Italian fresh egg pasta filled with fresh ricotta, herbs and Italian grated cheese, baked in freshly made marinara sauce. This comforting dish is topped with bubbling mozzarella cheese to make a heartwarming entrance any day of the week.
Each meal will retail for $7.99-$9.99. Currently sold exclusively at Whole Foods Market™ locations in the tri-state area.
Always drain your salad well before dressing it, otherwise the dressing will dilute with the remaining water, and you’ll lose flavor. Dress your salad as close to the serving time as possible, and be sure that you don’t over-dress your salad or it will become heavy and soggy.
If you are using olive oil and wine vinegar, the ratio is usually 1/3 vinegar to 2/3 olive oil. Whisk the oil and vinegar first, add some salt, and then dress the salad. To add some garlic flavor, add a few heads of crushed garlic to the oil and vinegar mixture. Let it steep for 15 minutes, remove the garlic and toss the salad with the flavored dressing.
Even if you’ve never tasted one, you’re most likely familiar with their misleadingly gruesome name.
While they have been popular for centuries in Italy, blood oranges are relatively new to the United States and can be found in supermarkets from November to May. In California, the Moro variety is popular, which ripens earlier than the older Italian native Tarocco or the Spanish Sanguinello.
They’re usually smaller than oranges and cool winter nights sometimes give their skin a beautiful red blush. (If there’s no blush they can still be ripe, but make sure the orange is plump and heavy for its size.)
When you cut them open, their flesh is a deep ruby red and they taste sweeter than a regular orange but with a tangy raspberry quality that makes them addictive.
I love adding them to salads and recommend my Fennel and Blood Orange Salad for an easy, fresh late winter feast.
The wonderful red color is due to the presence of anthocyanins in the pulp and rind–the same antioxidants that give cherries and blueberries their enticing colors.
Store your oranges at room temperature for several days or put them in a sealed container or bag in the crisper drawer of your refrigerator to keep them for a couple weeks.
PREORDER THE BOOK HERE!
It’s Nonna Mima’s birthday, and Nonna Lidia and her grandkids are determined to throw her a surprise feast! While planning the evening’s menu, Nonna Lidia shares her memories of growing up on the farm during each season of the year, gardening her own fruits and vegetables, and being surrounded by animals of all kinds. After a trip to the farmers’ market, Lidia and the kids prepare a pasta primavera, perfect for a family celebration!
Renée Graef’s warm, heartfelt illustrations capture Lidia’s love for her family and the food that they share. Included are eighteen recipes that emphasize the ingredients abundant during each season and the use of leftover ingredients, while “Kids Can” suggestions note ways that kids can participate in the making of the meals.
Whether you are looking for an intergenerational family story or are a fan of America’s favorite Italian chef, Nonna’s Birthday Surprise delivers a savory treat.
Preorder the book here!
As if it weren’t exciting enough to visit Antarctica, on my way home I had the immense pleasure of stopping over in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Among my favorite sites was the Teatro Colon–a beautiful theater considered to be among the top five for acoustics in the world! My group asked the guide if we could hear someone sing something, and someone in the group (a professional mezzo soprano, no less!) belted out L’amour est un Oiseau Rebelle from Carmen. It sounded lovely. I thought I’d share a couple photo of the hall with you:
I always used to boil vegetables in salted water, but recently I started salting certain vegetables after they were cooked, tossing them with medium-coarse salt immediately after draining, while they were still steaming hot. And you know what? I preferred it!
Does it make much of a difference? Indeed it does. Instead of making a saline solution out of the boiling water that permeates the vegetable throughout, the vegetable retains its pure flavor and the sprinkled salt adds another dimension of flavor by seeping into it gently while still hot.
The vegetables that best respond to this method are string beans, broccoli, zucchini and the like, but I find this technique also works well with cabbage, beets, chard and other greens.