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This is a delicious Sicilian pasta dish, and as I discovered in Palermo while researching Lidia’s Italy, you will find it on just about every restaurant menu. In Sicily they fry the eggplant cubes before they add them to the pasta, but here I instruct you to bake the eggplant; it is just as good, but with much less fat. I am asked for this recipe over and over again–everyone seems to love eggplant, ricotta, and Grana Padano, and this dish is the perfect combination of those ingredients. Get the recipe here.
Toast the New Year, Italian-style!
Champagne has its place on the table, but for New Year’s Eve I like to drink Prosecco. It’s a dry sparkling white wine made from glera grapes that are grown in the Friuli and Veneto regions of Italy. Its bubbles are produced by the Charmat process (in large steel containers) rather than in each bottle, as they are in Champagne. This allows wineries to produce wines more or less continuously, rather than just once a year. This is great for the wineries, but it also means slightly more economical wines for consumers.
Here are a few tips for finding a bottle you’ll enjoy:
First, look for prosecco labeled “spumante” and not the lower quality “semi-sparkling” frizzante. (The latter only undergoes a partial second fermentation.) Second, understand how sweetness is rated; “Dry” Prosecco generally has the highest sugar content (about 20 to 26 grams per liter), “Extra Dry” contains between 14 to 20 grams of sugar per liter, and “Brut” is the driest, clocking in at 6 to 12 grams of sugar per liter. When Italians make a Spritz (a fun way to spice up your New Year toast) they usually use Extra Dry. Remember, you don’t have to spring for the dusty bottle with an older vintage; most Prosecco is meant to be enjoyed fresh. And when in doubt, I always enjoy a cold glass of Bastianich Flor prosecco!
This December I’m continuing my journey through the US to experience American culture through food in my next Lidia Celebrates America special: Moments and Milestones.
I hope you’ll join me as I experience four families’ special rites of passage: A French-Cajun sweet-sixteen birthday party and country music debut in Nashville, a Greek Orthodox baptism for triplets, a Brazilian-American culinary student’s college graduation, and a Navajo house blessing ceremony.
You can tune in to Lidia Celebrates America: Moments and Milestones at the following times. Also be sure to check your local PBS station website for more information or go to pbs.org.
New York, WNET: Sat 12/28 at 3:00pm
New York, WLIW: Sun 12/29 at 2:00pm, Mon 12/30 at 7:00pm
Los Angeles, PBS SoCaL: Not yet scheduled
Chicago, WTTW: Sun 01/12 at 4:00pm
Philadelphia, WHYY: Not yet scheduled
Dallas, KERA: Not yet scheduled
San Francisco, KQED LIFE: Fri 12/27 at 4:00am
Boston, WGBH: Wed 12/25 at 9:00pm, Sat 12/28 at 1:30pm
Boston, WGBX: Fri 12/27 at 1:30pm, Sat 12/28 at 6:00pm
Washington, DC, WETA: Planning to air in April
Atlanta, GPB: Not yet scheduled
Houston, Houston PBS: Not yet scheduled
Detroit, DPTV PLUS: Mon 12/30 at 10:30am, Mon 12/30 at 1:30pm
Phoenix, KAET: Not yet scheduled
Seattle, KCTS: Not yet scheduled
Tampa, WUSF: Sat 01/04 at 3:00pm
Minneapolis, TPT: Sat 12/28 at 1:00pm
Minneapolis, TPT LIFE: Tue 12/31 at 8:00pm|}
Denver, RMPBS: Tue 01/28 at 2:00pm
Orlando, WUCF: Sun 12/29 at 1:00pm
Cleveland, WNEO: Fri 01/24 at 10:00pm
Sacramento, KVIE: Fri 01/03 at 3:00pm
St. Louis KETC: Sat 12/28 at 3:00pm, Sun 12/29 at 4:00pm
Portland, OPB: Sun 12/29 at 2:00pm
Portland, OPBPLUS: Tue 12/31 at 8:00pm
Pittsburgh, WQED: Thu 12/26 at 10:30pm
Indianapolis, WFYI: Fri 12/27 at 2:00am
Baltimore, MPT : Not yet scheduled
San Diego, KPBS: Sun 12/29 at 1:00pm
Nashville, WNPT: Fri 12/27 at 1:00am
Hartford, WEDH: Will air in February
Kansas City, KCPT: Fri 12/27 at 1:00am
Columbus, WOSU: Sat 01/04 at 11:30am
Columbus, WOUB: Fri 12/27 at 5:00am
Salt Lake City, KUED: Mon 12/30 at 9:00pm
Cincinnati, WCET: Thu 12/26 at 9:00pm, Fri 12/27 at 1:00pm
San Antonio, KLRN: Thu 12/26 at 9:00pm
Spartanburg, ETV-SCC: Sun 12/29 at 9:00pm
Spartanburg ETVW: Mon 12/30 at 7:30pm
West Palm Beach, WXEL: Thu 12/26 at 9:00pm
Grand Rapids, WGVU: Sun 01/05 at 3:00pm
Austin, KLRU: Sat 12/28 at 4:30pm
Oklahoma City, OETA OKLA: Fri 12/27 at 8:00pm
Las Vegas, KLVX: Sat 12/28 at 3:00pm
Harrisburg, WITF: Thu 12/26 at 8:00pm
Birmingham, APT: Fri 12/27 at 1:00am
Norfolk, WHRO: Not yet scheduled
Albuquerque, KNME: Thu 01/02 at 7:00pm
Jacksonville, WJCT 4: Sun 12/29 at 11:00pm
Memphis, WKNO: Sat 12/28 at 3:00am
Hearty vegetables like winter squashes and eggplant roast very well on their own without the help of a roasted meat to add flavor. You can roast most vegetables whole, but squash is an example of one that is usually cut into large pieces. Season your vegetables with salt, pepper, and oil or butter; you can also season them after baking with several spices and herbs. Sweet potatoes and winter squashes are great with brown sugar or honey.
This weekend, why not pick up some seasonal produce and get to roasting? It’s easy and will preserve your energy for all that holiday cooking next week.
Here’s a recipe I love for a Roasted Acorn Squash Salad.
As the year winds down, I’m busy as ever, but always grateful for the countless opportunities my career has given me.
As many of you know, I’ve been traveling around the country promoting my latest cook book, Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking, which has allowed me to meet so many of you over the past few months.
I’m also excited to announce that the next installation in my series of PBS prime time specials, Lidia Celebrates America: Life’s Milestones, airs on December 26th. The show has brought me to many different celebrations and many different tables, and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you this holiday season.
Most importantly, I can’t wait to gather my family around the table in a couple weeks. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday and very happy new year.
Lidia Celebrates America: Life’s Milestones premiers on Thursday, December 26, 2013 at 9pm ET/PT on PBS (check local listings)
To read the full article, visit Newyorktimes.com. Here’s the excerpt:
“Finally, two confidence-builders. Some cookbooks challenge. Others perform the neat trick of convincing even beginners that it’s possible to make guest-worthy food in a small, ill-equipped kitchen. THE FRENCH KITCHEN COOKBOOK: Recipes and Lessons From Paris and Provence (Morrow/HarperCollins, $35) comes directly from the cooking classes Patricia Wells gives at her homes in Paris and Provence, so the lineup includes plenty of uncomplicated dishes that have been tested within an inch of their lives. Most require only a handful of ingredients and a few simple techniques. Even hesitant amateurs can turn out seared duck breast with figs and black currant sauce or tomato tatins made with store-bought puff pastry.
Lidia Mattichio Bastianich and her daughter, Tanya Bastianich Manuali, do the same thing with Italian food in LIDIA’S COMMONSENSE ITALIAN COOKING (Knopf, $35), based on the public television series of the same name. The cowardly cook might start with the surefire chicken breasts, sliced thin and sautéed and simmered in a pan with olives, red onion, and orange juice flecked with orange zest. It doesn’t get any easier than this, or tastier. The authors don’t include song recommendations. May I suggest “Acquerello Napoletano,” by Claudio Villa?”
If you’ve never participated in a Google Hangout on Air yet, here’s how it works:
1. RSVP to the event and join the hangout here.
2. Start sending Lidia your questions via Facebook and Twitter with the hashtag #ParadeAskLidia
3. Tune in Wednesday, December 18th at 3pm ET here, where you’ll find Lidia, Tanya, and Parade Magazine Food Editor Sarah DiGregorio on video chat from the Google offices in N.Y.
4. Type your questions as you watch–you can even vote on which questions you want Lidia to answer.
Jill Silva, Food Editor from the Kansas City Star, and Gretchen McKay, Food Writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette will also be joining the chat. We’ll be talking about holiday traditions, Lidia’s tips and tricks in the kitchen, and her new book, Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking.
Don’t miss Lidia’s article in the December issue of Parade here!
Here’s a favorite recipe of mine from my new book: Chicken Breast with Orange and Gaeta Olives. Just about everyone loves chicken breast, and it’s simple to make. (I also love this recipe when it’s done with drumsticks, but if you decide to do that, make sure to double the wine and increase the cooking time until the chicken is done!) Read more about Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking here and get the recipe here.
What an extraordinary recognition! I am honored to have won in a category with such an exceptional group of fellow nominees for Outstanding Culinary Host. Food is my passion and my medium of expression. Throughout my career in food I have received much gratification, but receiving this Emmy takes the cake. Mille grazie!
Celebrate Columbus Day by giving your family and friends (or yourself) the ultimate Italian-American gift: Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking.
You all know I’m a teacher at heart, and my new book lays out a comprehensive curriculum of cooking tips–from the cutting board to the kitchen table. These are lessons I learned from my mother, Erminia (above), and her mother, Nonna Rosa, and now I’m passing them on to you in the form of 150 simple, seasonal recipes. Order your signed copy here!
I’m also excited to announce that the the companion public television series, Lidia’s Kitchen, will begin airing this month as well.
TUNE IN! Lidia’s programs air at different times on different stations around the world. Consult APTonline to find the name of your local public television station.