Talk Takeaway: Cooking with Lidia Bastianich

Posted on Dec 21, 2012 10:45am

Lidia Bastianich, one of the most beloved chefs presents her most accessible and affordable cookbook to date, a gathering of the recipes that have become her go-to meals for her very own family.

Create a signature holiday dish.
Holidays only happen once a year and you have one moment in time to create a signature holiday dish that people can look forward to. When it comes to your holiday dish, allow the dish to be a reflection of your family and their traditions. Each family has a different profile, so why not let your food speak about your roots and your culture during the holidays. Bring in your favorite signature dish that taste good and that you are known for. If you love enchiladas, make that.  If you love chow main, create that.  If you love Italian dishes, like me - cook that!  Creating a signature dish represents who you are.

Have kids help cook meals.
I'm a huge proponent of having kids in the kitchen, helping while you're cooking. I have five grandchildren and I love for each of them to help when it's time to make a holiday dinner. Give kids something to do that isn't tedious, but also fun and really contributes to the meal. If they are age appropriate, allow them to peel or they can pluck. Kids can also assemble together portions of the meal or put the finishing touches on dessert.

Send guests home with festive take out boxes.
Sending your guests home with festive take out boxes is a great way to send them home with a little something special from dinner. It's an extension of what the dinner they had earlier. Put the leftovers in a box in appropriate portions and divide it up among your guests Make sure the boxes are a reflection of the party. Since we're doing a holiday themed party, our boxes reflect the season.

Stuffato al Barolo

Serves 6 or more

5- pound boneless beef roast, flat iron, chuck, or
bottom round, trimmed of fat
2 teaspoons coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or to taste
A cup extra- virgin olive oil
2 medium onions (1 pound total), peeled and quartered
3 medium carrots (½ pound total), peeled and cut into 2- inch wedges
4 medium stalks celery (½ pound total), cut into 2-inch chunks
6 plump cloves garlic, peeled
2 branches fresh rosemary with lots of needles
6 large fresh sage leaves
¼ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
1 ounce dried porcini slices (about 1 cup, loosely packed)
2 bottles Barolo (750 ml each), or as needed
2 cups beef stock, or as needed


Heat the oven to 250 degrees F with a rack set in the center.

Season all surfaces of the roast with half the salt.
Pour the olive oil into a large, heavy braiser and set over medium- high heat.
Lay roast in and brown it, until caramelized all over. Remove to a platter.

Drop in the cut vegetables and garlic cloves, toss to coat with oil, and spread out in the pan.
Drop in rosemary, sage leaves, grated nutmeg, peppercorns, dried porcini, and remaining teaspoon salt, and toss all together.
Cook for 3 or 4 minutes, stirring frequently and scraping up the browned meat bits on the pan bottom, just until the vegetables soften; then lower the heat.

Push the vegetables to the sides and return the roast to the pan, laying it flat on the bottom.
Pour in the bottles of wine and any meat juices that collected on the platter.
Roast should be at least half submerged— add beef stock as needed.

Cover the pot, and heat until the wine is steaming but not boiling.
Uncover the pan, and place it in the oven.
After 30 minutes, rotate the roast so the exposed meat is now submerged in the braising liquid.

Braise this way, turning the meat in the pan every 30 minutes, for about 3 hours, until fork- tender.
Liquid should not boil— if it does, pour in some cold water to stop the bubbling, and lower the oven temperature.

After 2½ hours, check the beef. It should be fork tender. Take the pan from the oven.
Remove the meat to a platter, with intact carrot and celery pieces to serve as a garnish.
Skim any fat from the braising juices, heat to a boil, and reduce to a saucy consistency that coats the back of a spoon.
Pour through a sieve set over a clean container.
Press the juices from the strained herbs and vegetable pieces.
Pour in any juices from the meat platter, and season the sauce to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

To serve
Slice meat crosswise (easiest when it is cool).
Pour a shallow layer of sauce in a wide skillet, and lay the slices in, overlapping.
Heat the sauce to bubbling, spooning it over the beef, so the slices are lightly coated.
Lift them with a broad spatula and slide onto a warm platter, fanned out.
Heat the carrots and celery in the sauce.

Zucca Gialla Marinata
Serves 6 or more as an appetizer or a side dish

1 cup apple cider vinegar or white vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
½ teaspoon coarse sea salt or kosher salt, or more to taste
6 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 tablespoon extra- virgin olive oil
2- pound butternut squash
1 cup vegetable oil, or as needed
10 to 20 fresh basil leaves, shredded

Mix the vinegar, sugar, and ¼ teaspoon salt together in a small saucepan.
Simmer over high heat until the sauce is reduced by half.
Remove from the heat, drop in the garlic slices, and let the marinade cool.
Stir in the olive oil.

Slice the squash in half lengthwise, scrape out all the seeds.
Peel the halves; with cut side down, cut crosswise into inch- thick half- rounds.

Pour a thin layer of vegetable oil into a deep skillet, and set over medium- high heat.
When oil sizzles on contact with the squash, fill the pan with a layer of slices, spaced slightly apart. Fry for about 3 minutes on the first side, then flip the slices over.

Fry on the second side another 2 or 3 minutes, until the slices are cooked through (easy to pierce with the tines of a fork), crisped on the surface, and caramelized on the edges.
Lift out the slices with a slotted spoon, draining off oil, and lay them on paper towels.

Sprinkle some of the remaining salt lightly on the hot slices.
Fry up all the squash, in batches.
Arrange a single layer of fried squash in the bottom of the marinating dish, and scatter some of the shredded basil leaves on top.
Stir up the marinade, and drizzle a couple of spoonful's over squash.
Continue to layer the squash in the dish, topping each layer of fried slices with basil leaves, and garlic marinade.
Drizzle any remaining marinade over the top layer of squash.

Wrap the dish in plastic, and marinate the squash for at least 3 hours, preferably overnight in
the refrigerator; let it return to room temperature before serving.

Serves 6

2 cups seedless red grapes
1 cup sugar
Juice of 2 lemons
2 cup Moscato wine
½ vanilla pod, split lengthwise
2 tablespoons apricot jam
3 firm but ripe Bosc pears

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Place grapes in a baking dish. Combine the sugar, lemon juice, Moscato, vanilla beans from the pod, and apricot jam in a bowl.
Stir until blended.
Pour this over the grapes.
Cut each pear in half through the core, and remove cores and seeds.
Nestle the pear halves, cut side up, into the grapes.

Bake until the pears are tender and the liquid around the grapes is thick and syrupy, about 50 minutes.
Remove the pears, and let stand for about 10 minutes.
Serve them with some of the grapes and their liquid spooned around them.

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