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This past weekend I enjoyed a wonderful musical: Marry Harry. I felt connected to the main character not only because he is an aspiring chef in New York City, but because his dream is to work with Lidia Bastianich! While this is indeed a flattering twist, I enjoyed this production for so many other reasons; as a music lover I was particularly taken with Dan Martin and Michael Biello’s songs.
If you live in New York or are visiting, I hope you will dedicate an evening to Marry Harry. Read more about the play here.
I hope you all had a wonderful Fourth of July! For those that missed the premiere of the special, you can stream it online here.
In the US, Father’s Day is in June, but Italian Father’s Day is on March 19th, which marks La Festa di San Giuseppe. The Feast of Saint Joseph is celebrated with a table full of elaborate, delicious, and largely meatless foods. Here’s one of my favorite St. Joseph’s day recipes: Biscotti ai Fichi di San Giuseppe, or St. Joseph’s Day Fig Cookies.
Even the Italians love hamburgers. But in the Italian culture it cannot be only about meat. The Italian meal needs to have balance, so the addition of a little veggie and a little cheese rounds out this meaty meal. For the record, the Italian- Mediterranean diet is the ideal diet because of its diversity and moderation.
Top these delicious burgers off with some of my homemade ketchup.
(Consider these two recipes a sneak peek at my next cook book–Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking, available here!)
German Potato Salad
This tangy, textured potato salad is much appreciated in Liguria, and it has become a favorite of mine. I like it best served warm-when the freshly cooked potatoes have just been tossed in the hot bacon-and- mustard dressing-though it is also delicious at room temperature, on a buffet or picnic table. As the name implies (and the slightly Nordic ingredients also suggest), this salad came to Liguria from somewhere else. Though I don’t know the precise origins, the Riviera Ligure has for centuries lured writers, composers, poets, and artists from other parts of Europe. Perhaps one of these creative types made this salad during a Ligurian sojourn. Certainly I have no objection that such a tasty dish, even if introduced by an outsider, took root in Liguria and became part of the regional cuisine.
Pair this meal with your favorite simple green salad and you’re ready to go!
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.