Warm and calmly authoritative, Lidia Bastianich has won the trust of many cooks, who also devour her TV shows and books including Lidia's Italian Table
and Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen
. Lidia's Family Table
also presents homey Italian fare--savory dishes like Cauliflower Soup with Poached Garlic Purée; Potato, Leek, and Bacon Ravioli; Skillet Green Beans with Gorgonzola; and Grilled Tuna Rollatini Under Tomato-Lemon Marinade--over 200 recipes in all. But Family Table
is equally about technique; readers will find it crammed with instructive asides like "Using 'Pasta Water' to Make a Quick Sauce" (the water's starchiness can add body to sauces) and "Reduced Wine Vinegar for Vegetables" (heat-concentrated vinegar makes a deliciously mellow seasoning).
But the teaching doesn't stop there. Bastianich's discussions of risotto and polenta are particularly good (when preparing risotto, for example, the liquid must simmer for the dish to become properly toothsome), while a section on quick skillet sauces, like one made with sausage, onions, and fennel, will get many readers to the kitchen pronto. Bastianich also offers advice for preparing lesser-known yet attractive meat cuts like shoulder and butt, as well as quick-take recipes for the likes of whole corn cooked in tomato sauce and eggplant with scrambled eggs. The Bastianich approach also applies to the dessert section, which offers simple fruit-based sweets like Fig Focaccia, and Crostata with Poached Apricots and Pignolala. (Included, too, are a number of simple strudel recipes, a bow to the cooking of Istria, Bastianich's birthplace.) Color photos make succinct technical points as well as showing Lidia's extended family at table and very much in action. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Fans will appreciate this companion book to Bastianich's latest PBS series of the same name (after Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen
), and it may win her some new admirers as well. It presents the food Bastianich prepares at home for her large family (which includes children, grandchildren, siblings and her 80-plus-year-old mother and her companion, who live upstairs), but it's also proof that home cooking need not be oversimplified, with plenty of projects for those who relish a challenge. There are also many photographic illustrations offering gentle guidance to readers attempting Grilled Tuna Rollatini under Tomato-Lemon Marinade, or Pasticciata Bolognese. Elegant recipes, such as Fresh Pear and Pecorino Ravioli, are sprinkled throughout, but the majority are for hearty dishes that lend themselves to serving family-style, like Zucchini and Country Bread Lasagna with day-old bread in place of pasta and Braised Beef Shoulder Roast with Venetian Spice, which incorporates cinnamon and coffee beans. As testament to both Bastianich's creativity and the endless supply of good food from Italy, there are authentic, unusual treasures here, like Riso Sartù, which packs risotto into molds for individual towers. Bastianich is also generous with clever tips and brainstorms: Why not use poached garlic purée for those with delicate digestion, or poach corn on the cob in tomato sauce? The range is impressive, the flavors strong. It's enough to make readers clamor to be adopted into the Bastianich clan. 85 color photos.
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