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Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes Hardcover – October 20, 2009
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This might seem like an unusual dish, a pasticciata (a layered casserole) of bread and cheese that's baked, cut into portions, and served in a bowl of hot broth. Yet the tastes and eating pleasure of seuppa ou piat will be completely familiar and welcome to anyone who loves the gratineed crouton of French onion soup or enjoys a crispy grilled-cheese sandwich with a bowl of rich chicken broth alongside. This is a good dish for company, because you can have both the broth and the pasticciata hot and ready to be put together when your guests come. (Chicken stock is my preference, but a savory vegetable stock or a meaty beef broth is just as good.) --Lidia Bastianich
- 8 cups tasty chicken broth (or clear beef or vegetable stock)
- Kosher salt to taste
- 1 tablespoon soft butter for the baking dish
- 1/2 pound fontina from Valle d'Aosta (or Italian Fontal)
- 1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano- Reggiano, plus more for passing
- 18 slices Italian bread, cut 1/2 inch thick from a long oval loaf, left out to dry overnight*
Recommended Equipment: A baking dish or oval gratin dish, 3 quarts or larger; heavy aluminum foil
Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven, and heat to 400 degrees. Heat the broth almost to a simmer--season with salt to taste--and keep it hot. Butter the sides and bottom of the baking dish. Shred the fontina through the larger holes of a hand grater and toss the shreds with the grana (grated hard cheese).
Arrange half of the bread slices in one layer in the baking dish. Ladle out 1 cup of broth, and drizzle it on the bread slices, slightly moistening them all. Sprinkle half of the cheese on top of the bread in an even layer. Cover the cheese with the remaining bread slices, filling the entire surface of the dish. Moisten these slices with another cup or so of stock; top the bread with all the remaining cheese, scattered evenly.
Tent the pasticciata with a sheet of heavy aluminum foil, arching it so it doesn’t touch the cheese topping, and pressing it against the sides of the baking dish. Set the dish in the oven, and bake until heated through, about 25 minutes. Remove the foil, and continue baking for 10 minutes or more, until the top is golden brown and bubbly. Take the dish from the oven, and let it cool and set for 5 minutes or so.
To serve: Cut out large squares of pasticciata and, with a spatula, transfer them to warm shallow soup or pasta bowls. Ladle a cup of hot broth over each portion and serve immediately, passing more grated cheese at the table.
*Country Italian bread is best for this pasticciata. The width of the bread can vary since it is layered snugly in the baking dish, then cut in squares when served.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Top Customer Reviews
For anyone who knows of Lidia, she does not just give you recipes and photos; you can get those from any Italian cookbook, and there nothing wrong in that. But I truly feel that her purpose in all her books and endeavors is to appreciate the Italian history and culture hence her books are three-fold: you are given a geographical and culinary education along with the historical education so that you will be able to appreciate how, why, and where the recipes have been given.
So in essence, you are educated on the past history and influence that brought certain dishes to that region and how the geographical region lent itself to encourage certain meals and traditions due to the hard work and joy of the people who lived there. It is through the collaboration of Lidia and her lovely daughter Tanya, that we are given not just the standard information and recipes but instead, the food history, the rich culture, and the appreciation for what you are preparing so that you are not just cooking; you are creating the generations of family joy and culinary history that was passed on from parents to children and to which we need to cling to especially today.
In this particular book, her dedication is to her father, Vittorio. Her childhood and coming of age in this country leaves you with the sincere appreoiation of Lidia's need for acknowledging all who helped to shape and influence her ideology and vocation to this culinary artform.Read more ›
The writing is casual and friendly, and the photos genuinely enhance the cookbook. But mostly we're here for the recipes. And they do not fail us. We have a roasted lobster dish from Sardinia, heading north to polenta with white beans and black kale from Valle d'Aosta, and finally beer-basted roast chicken from Trento. The regional cuisines of Italy, local ingredients and preparations, are on display here, and with the wonders of the American grocery store, are quite accessible.
Like Spaghetti in Tomato-Apple Sauce (Trentino-Alto Adige), Risotto Milan-Style with Marrow & Saffron (Lombardy), Beef Filet with Wine Sauce (Valle D'Aosta), Tagliatelle with ricotta-based Walnut Pesto (Emilia-Romagna), Fish with Pepper Sauce (bell pepper based, with orange zest, tomatoes, and a dash of peperoncino flakes) (Le Marche), Crostini with Black Truffle Butter (Umbria), Meatless Pecorino Meatballs (cheese, eggs, breadcrumbs, herbs) (Abruzzo), Fresh Cavatelli with Cauliflower (Molise), Rigatoni with Lentils (Basilicata), Spicy Calamari (Calabria), Flatbread Lasagna (Sardinia).
Familiar and peasant dishes include: Braised Veal Shanks (Lombardy), Roasted-Pepper & Olive Salad with Fontina (Valle D'Aosta), Bread Salad with Summer Vegetables (Liguria), Spaghetti with Clam Sauce (Le Marche), Wedding Soup (Basilicata), Baked Eggplant in Tomato Sauce (Sardinia).
There are numerous recipes for making fresh pasta and dumplings and many family-friendly comfort foods. A particular favorite of mine is Meat Sauce Genova Style which features a beef pot roast braised slowly in a wine-tomato sauce flavored with sage and rosemary, thickened with toasted pine nuts. There's plenty of sauce for a second meal (or a first course, as Bastianich suggests) of pasta and the whole thing can be made a day ahead. Scrumptious!Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is another one of Lidia's cook books that are in our kitchen library.Published 7 months ago by Edward Rybak
Disappointing recipes; nothing that I would take the time and energy to prepare; did however enjoy her descriptions of the different sections of Italy.Published 11 months ago by maggie1
I love Lidia's style of cooking and her TV show. Recipes are easy and ingredients are common and readily available.Published 13 months ago by Linda Irene