Traditional recipes

Lidia Bastianich's Ready-Made Meals and More News

Lidia Bastianich's Ready-Made Meals and More News

In today's Media Mix, Michael Pollan on Chipotle, plus Psy goes looking for a personal chef

Best Street for Food: Food & Wine gives Brooklyn's Bedford Avenue the title of the best street for food lovers. [Food & Wine]

Michael Pollan and Adam Platt Q&A: The food writer discusses McDonald's, his favorite fast-food restaurant (Chipotle), and the way to fight off junk food cravings. [Grub Street]

Anthony Bourdain on Japan: He chooses Tokyo as the best foreign city, although he notes that he always offends diners in traditional Japanese settings. In America, he says New Orleans has the most unique food scene. [CNN]

Lidia Bastianich's Ready-Made Meals: The Italian superstar launches a line of ready-made food at Whole Foods, called Lidia's Homestlye Meals. Smart or sellout? [The Star-Ledger]

Psy's Personal Chef: The Korean pop star behind annoying earworm "Gangnam Style" is looking for a personal chef, so food giant CJ has decided to help him out. [AdAge]


Lidia Bastianich shares classic Italian recipes that are perfect for family dinners

When it comes to classic Italian recipes, Lidia Bastianich is a food authority. From her numerous cookbooks to her well-respected restaurants to her PBS television shows, Bastianich is more than a highly acclaimed chef. She has a way of melding stories into her recipes. In many cases, those recipes are a reflection of her family&rsquos past, present and future.

Recently, many people have discovered the kitchen and the joy of cooking. Although some aspiring foodies might want to jump into the deep end with complicated, elevated recipes, it can be better to start simple. While it might be nice to replicate that signature chef’s dish, cooking it at home can be quite harder than it seems.

Luckily, Bastianich has a way of highlighting recipes that are simple, classic Italian recipes that anyone can master. Many of the recipes use pantry ingredients, which makes the recipe more approachable to the home cook. By using common, easily available ingredients, that recipe is seems doable even for the person who might have difficulty boiling water.

Recently, I spoke to Lidia Bastianich over the phone. While more information on our conversation will come in future article, the advice that she gave about her recipes was straightforward. Similar to her PBS television show, her recipes seem to be comforting food. It is the food that satisfies not only the hunger in your stomach but the hunger in your soul.

From bringing a piece of family history to the table to the memories that an aroma can awaken, these dishes are more than just another family dinner. They can spark a conversation that lasts far longer than the food on the plate.

For example, Bastianich shared a recipe for Potato and Egg Frico. The humble potato is the base for this recipe. More importantly, the simplicity in the recipe only highlights the flavors. Sometimes, the best dishes do not need superfluous ingredients.

Bastianich noted that even the most novice cook can gain confidence in the kitchen and can master a recipe. She recommended to start small, with a few ingredients and common foods.

More importantly, she reminded me that any dish is gift to the person that you serve. When a meal is cooked with intention, the recipe is filled with flavor and love. That bite is always the best nourishment.


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Famed chef, cookbook author and restaurateur Lidia Bastianich is stopping by TODAY to share a few of her signature Italian recipes from her newest cookbook, "Felidia: Recipes from My Flagship Restaurant." She shows us how to make melt-in-your-mouth ossobuco served with creamy risotto and penne with homemade ricotta.

Lidia Bastianich's Ossobuco alla Milanese

Ossobuco is a recipe that goes back to the opening of my first restaurant, in 1971, and it was the favorite dish on the menu at Felidia in the 1980s. Combining good veal shanks with lots of vegetables and herbs, and simmering this for hours, results in fork-tender meat nestled in a complex and savory sauce.

Lidia Bastianich's Risotto alla Milanese

Risotto Milanese is a sacred risotto in Milan, and, as much as chefs generally like to change and create, with this recipe Italian chefs usually stick to tradition. It can be served by itself or with ossobuco. For those who love Milan or have always wanted to visit that dynamic city, this dish will make you think you are there. It's Italian comfort food.

Lidia Bastianich's Penne with Spicy Tomato Sauce and Ricotta

This dried-pasta dish is super easy to make. It's called "al brucio" because of the spicy flavor. It originally did not include ricotta, but that helps balance the spiciness of the sauce. You can also top it with a spoon of burrata at the very end, or even a slice of buffalo mozzarella. At Felidia, we make it with candele pasta, an extra-long, smooth pasta that is tubular, hollow and wide, like a rigatoni, and looks like a long candle.

If you like those classic Italian recipes, you should also try these:


Lidia Bastianich celebrates frontline staff in newest cooking particular: ‘These individuals have such dedication’

Chef Lidia Bastianich has been across the nation in the course of the pandemic — and with out leaving her dwelling.

The 73-year-old chef, restaurateur and Emmy award-winning public tv host, like many Individuals nowadays, has been taking loads of Zoom calls.

“I have to say, I depended quite a bit on my grandchildren,” Bastianich tells Fox Information of getting acclimated with the brand new videoconferencing expertise, using which grew to become widespread amid the pandemic. “Thank God I did, as a result of now I can join.”

Lidia Bastianich is maintaining busy in the course of the pandemic. (Armando Rafael Moutela)

SAMANTHA BROWN ON FILMING A TRAVEL SERIES DURING THE PANDEMIC — AND HOW SHE HOPES TO REVIVE THE SECTOR

The cookbook writer, who truly Zoomed with Fox Information from Milan, has appeared in hundreds of thousands of houses throughout America through the years, bringing alongside her conventional Italian-American recipes for consolation meals classics like rice balls, polenta and home made pasta, like her linguine with clam sauce and spaghetti alla carbonara.

Now, she’s nearly popping up on the frontlines of the pandemic — in a hospital, in an ambulance, and in a fireplace station — for her PBS particular “Lidia Celebrates America: Salute to First Responders,” premiering February 12 at 10:00 p.m. ET on PBS.

“These individuals have such dedication and a need to actually assist individuals,” Bastianich says of our first responders and frontline staff.

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The one-hour particular sees Bastianich cooking alongside these American heroes, hopefully bringing a little bit consolation by way of meals. In a single section, Bastianich and a Sonoma County firefighter who fought California’s Walbridge Hearth final summer time put together Bastianich’s recipe for Hen alla Pitocca (a hen and rice dish). In one other, a retired New York police officer who struggled with PTSD shares how cooking helps him cope as he prepares a recipe for eggplant with Bastianich. And a sister staff of firefighters from the Jersey Metropolis Hearth Division, one among whom grew to become the first feminine fireplace battalion chief within the state of New Jersey, discuss constructing power and shattering the glass ceiling.

Bastianich exchanged recipes with women and men engaged on the entrance strains of the coronavirus pandemic for her upcoming particular, “Lidia Celebrates America: Salute to First Responders.” (Armando Rafael Moutela)

Via her digital travels, Bastianich asks what evokes every to coach and serve, and the way meals performs a outstanding function in fueling their lives.

“I’d prepare dinner in my kitchen with my digital camera and they’d observe alongside from theirs,” she says of exchanging tales and recipes.

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Bastianich can sympathize with their challenges and hardships. Rising up in Europe after World Struggle II, Bastianich was born in Pola, Italy, earlier than it was assigned to the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia in 1947. She and her household lived in a camp for refugees in search of asylum from Communist Yugoslavia in Trieste, Italy. However she says nothing in her lifetime compares to the devastation she’s seen in the course of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I used to be on line for meals at 10 years outdated, ready in camp with strangers, everyone sleeping in a room separated by drapes. Someway as a result of issues ended effectively, I don’t harbor nice remorse. It was a part of my life. I at all times say it made me higher, it made me stronger, however you recognize what? This sort of pandemic, I’ve by no means seen something of this magnitude that’s this common. I’ve by no means skilled something like this in my life,” she says.

Nonetheless, she’s continued to do her job, filming in Italy for her meals sequence, although she admits she was “very nervous” to journey. Again in New York, Bastianich says she plans to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Bastianich, who owns three eating places in Manhattan, together with Becco, Del Posto, and is a associate at Italian market and restaurant chain Eataly, is keen to get her restaurant workers again to work, noting the return of indoor eating in New York Metropolis at 25% capability on Valentine’s Day.

“Eating places are such an enormous a part of New York, of any metropolis. We make use of individuals who really want these jobs. The eating places are an enormous a part of the New York financial system. To see these individuals at dwelling, it breaks your coronary heart – they’ve households, hire to pay. And there’s not a lot you are able to do. Even when we open a little bit bit – if it simply generates sufficient to maintain some individuals busy, to make some cash. It’s not the query of being an enormous enterprise proper now, it’s simply being open and maintaining the individuals working and on the point of develop again into a very good financial system,” she says.


No flash, all substance: Pasta with mushrooms is a weeknight classic

Pasta with mushrooms: It was the default (and sometimes only!) vegetarian dish in restaurants for probably far too long. We’ve come a long way — now it’s entirely possible to eat out without ever feeling the need to declare a dietary restriction if all you’re doing is avoiding meat and seafood. That’s how many options there are on most modern, urban menus.

Exactly none of that progress means that pasta with mushrooms has lost its appeal. If anything, the dish now seems almost nostalgic.

At Felidia, Lidia Bastianich’s flagship New York City restaurant, it’s a year-round classic, with the mushrooms varying by season but often including beautiful wild specimens — chanterelles, morels and porcini — with, of course, freshly made pappardelle. I’m sure it’s a showstopper. Bastianich includes a recipe for it in her latest cookbook.

At home, on any given weeknight, I’m after something different. So I streamlined her recipe to use high-quality dried pasta and a mix of good old cremini and shiitake, available any time of the year. I don’t need a showstopper, after all. I just need an excellent, comforting bowl of pasta, and this recipe delivers.

Scale and get a printer-friendly version of the recipe here.

Ingredients

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more as needed
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
  • 1 1/2 pounds mixed fresh mushrooms (shiitake, oyster and/or cremini), trimmed and sliced
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup no-salt-added vegetable broth
  • 12 ounces dried egg pappardelle
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Step 1

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.

Step 2

While the water is heating, in a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat the 1/4 cup of olive oil until shimmering. Add about half the mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they begin to wilt and make space in the pan then add the remaining mushrooms. Cook, stirring often, until they give up their liquid then increase the heat to boil the liquid away and caramelize the mushrooms, 8 to 10 minutes.

Step 3

Reduce the heat to medium, add the butter and let it melt. Stir in the garlic, rosemary, salt and red pepper flakes just until fragrant, 30 seconds. Add the vegetable broth and simmer until reduced by half, about 3 minutes. Reduce the heat to its lowest setting and cover to keep warm.

Step 4

Meanwhile, add the pappardelle to the boiling water, and cook until al dente, 1 to 2 minutes less than the package directions. When the pasta is ready, use tongs to transfer it to the sauce, reserving the pasta water. Drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with the parsley and toss to coat, adding a little reserved pasta water if the pan seems dry.


More restaurants and an important TV debut

Felice and Lidia Bastianich's Italian fare continued to prove successful in New York, where, in 1983, the couple went on to open Felidia on the Upper East Side (via The Daily Meal). There they served hearty dishes, such as venison osso bucco over buttery spaetzle, according to a New York Times review.

Other restaurants, including the Theater District's Becco, were to follow, and Bastianich developed a reputation as an accomplished chef and immigrant success story. In 1993, public television star and revered home cook Julia Child invited Bastianich as a guest on her series Julia Child: Cooking with Master Chefs the episode, on which Bastianich prepared "mushroom risotto and orecchiette pasta with broccoli and sausage," was later nominated for a 1994 Emmy award.

Just a few years later, PBS offered Bastianich her own show, Lidia's Italian Kitchen, and her first cookbook, Lidia's Italian Table, was published as a companion to the show.


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Lidia Bastianich Talks Home Cooking for her Family #BUTTALAPASTA

Promoting authentic Italian food in the US is one of the many accomplishments of restaurateur, best-selling author and TV host Lidia Bastianich. While the world went into quarantine, she kept in touch with her numerous fans and encouraging them to cook new recipes through her YouTube channel.

A recent guest of La Cucina Italiana IG Live event #BUTTALAPASTA, hosted by Editor in Chief Maddalena Fossati, she talked about her special connection with her followers and viewers. “When you offer someone food, it means you want wealth for them, and this is how I communicate. I see many people are longing for that. Some might think they can’t cook, but they can! And maybe I make it easy for them.”

Lidia has been cooking up a storm during quarantine, for her son and daughter Joe and Tanya and their families, and elderly people living in her neighborhood, with the help of her 99-year-old mother who preps the vegetables while sitting in her kitchen table. All her family’s fridges are fully stocked with her soups, from minestrone to chicken brodo, to a variety to sauces. “Cooking is always a joy, it helps pass the time,” she noted.

She has also been busy gardening in her Queens backyard, where she grows anything from radicchio, to tomatoes to basil. For all beginners that have taken an interest in gardening during the quarantine, Lidia, who grew up in a farm, recommends starting with easier items. “You only need a 3 x 4 yards for four tomatoes plants, and some basil and parsley on the corners that will grow all year round,” she explains. “Salads are great too. Garlic and potatoes are harder.”

She recently had a great harvest of Swiss chards, a favorite of her granddaughter Giulia. She prepared them in a delicious vegetarian dish with potatoes that her own grandmother made for her, and shared the recipe: “Peel the potatoes and put them to boil in abundant water. When they are half done, add previously washed and chopped Swiss chard, with their stems. Finish cooking them together, and drain them. In the same pot, sauté some garlic in olive oil, and when it starts giving an aroma, and the potatoes and Swish chard and mashed them together”.

Sage is another great herb to grow that is perfect for chicken, pork and the popular pasta in bianco, as a simple and delicious sauce that she recommends when using fresh pasta. “Let butter let in melt in a pan, add 2/3 sage leaves and some pasta cooking water,” she suggested. “When the pasta is ready, add it directly and stir it in the sauce, and add freshly ground pepper and grated Grana Padano.”

Lidia Bastianich with her son Joe on MasterChef TV Show Season 4

Maddalena asked about her favorite dish at Felidia, ravioli cacio e pere, made with a filling of pecorino and pears. “I went to learned how to make fresh pasta in Bologna fifteen years ago, in a store called Le Sfogline behind Piazza delle Erbe,” she recounted. “The owner and her daughters made all sort of handmade pasta, the real sfoglia emiliana, the best egg pasta in Italy. The mother made such thin pasta dough that you could read the newspaper through it. One of the daughters prepared an interesting filling with grated pears for her tortelli cacio e pepe, and I loved it. It became a staple in my restaurant and I could never take it off the menu. As I told her I will always give Le Sfogline credit, as I did in my cookbook. The store is still there, ran by the two daughters, as the mother sadly passed away, I highly recommend visiting it when in town.”

Another way to prepare the classic pecorino pear combination? “Risotto cacio e pepe,” she suggested.

While Lidia authored several cookbooks, including an upcoming one on “One Pot Meals” special in 2021, she doesn’t take ownership of the recipes. “All my recipes belong to the Italian culinary patrimony. After 15 years going back, to Italy, I always find new recipes, products, and new ways of doing things”.

Before tuning-off, Lidia revealed what she was preparing for lunch, a minestrone soup with beans, corn and her own garden’s wild fennel, and a classic pasta amatriciana. And now… Tutti a tavola a mangiare!


Comfort Food of the Chefs: Lidia Bastianich

Family, love, food: for Lidia Bastianich, this was the texture of childhood in Istria—now part of Croatia. Bastianich&aposs grandmother made homemade pasta or gnocchi at least once a week, pairing it with produce out of the garden. "It was all the best of fresh, seasonal ingredients," Bastianich says. "It was never masquerading. You could really tell what the ingredients were." When she ate her grandmother&aposs gnocchi, she remembers, it was as if her mouth was "filled with velvetiness, like a hug from the inside out." If that doesn&apost define comfort food, what does?

Struggling to cook healthy? We'll help you prep.

As with so many big families of the time, thrift was built into their lives. Leftovers became new meals, down to the last crumb or noodle gnocchi from dinnertime would be stuffed with prunes, rolled in cinnamon and sugar, and served as a sweet snack at room temperature.

Bastianich and her family moved to America when she was 12. Her mother worked in a bakery, and dinner preparation often fell to young Lidia�rly training for the revered New York restaurant leader she became while earning her matriarchal stripes as mother and grandmother. Bastianich still follows the wisdom of her grandmother&aposs kitchen: fresh ingredients, proper technique, foods made with love. And her table is always filled with family𠅏our generations. Now she makes gnocchi for the grandchildren.

Here we present a healthy adaptation of gnocchi that&aposs served in the generous spirit of Bastianich: The potato pillows are enrobed in a rich browned butter sauce and topped with grated Parmigiano-Reggiano and toasted walnuts.


These 5 recipes from Chef Lidia's flagship restaurant will bring the flavors of Italy into your home

By Joseph Neese
Published August 15, 2020 8:30PM (UTC)

Chef Lidia Bastianich (Courtesy Meredith Nierman)

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For her latest cookbook, James Beard winner Lidia Bastianich decided to revisit her roots. In "Felidia: Recipes from My Flagship Restaurant," the chef shared the dishes that shot her to fame on the American culinary scene for the very first time.

"We opened Felidia in 1981, and that's where I became a young chef. I started there," Chef Lidia recalled in an interview with Salon TV earlier this year. "Even though we had restaurants before, I was not the chef."

Nearly four decades have passed since the iconic Italian restaurant from Manhattan's tony Upper East Side neighborhood first opened its doors. To put Chef Lidia's unparalleled success into perspective, a majority of restaurants in the country's most competitive food scene close within five years.

Chef Lidia shared five recipes from her beautiful cookbook with Salon Food. From a frozen peach bellini, to ragù alla bolognese to tiramisù, each of these recipes will bring the flavors of Italy into the comfort of your own home. If you can't take a vacation, it's time to make one.

An Adjustable Size Whisk:

One recipe that has been a part of Felidia since its inception is Chef Lidia's pasta primavera, which she calls "a great restaurant dish." Executive Chef Fortunato Nicotra continues the tradition in 2020.

"Primavera. First of all, it means spring. So one would think of all the spring elements, which is the peas, and the string beans, and the zucchini and the zucchini flowers," Chef Lidia told Salon as she explained how the dish is traditionally prepared. "So you choose whatever the fruit of the spring was. We call them the primizia — the 'first fruits.'"

The kid-friendly recipe won the hearts of her two children. As Chef Lidia writes in her new book, "It's a favorite of Tanya and Joe, who grew up at Felidia and spent many hours there doing homework and having meals with family and friends while I was busy working in the kitchen or greeting clients."

What makes this pasta a crowd-pleaser? A little bit of garlic and oil, butter and grated grana padano cheese.

"It's one way of getting the kids to eat some vegetables, because if you sauté the vegetables enough — and with onions — they become sweet," Chef Lidia told Salon. "And then, of course, the pasta is the carrier of it all. And you can make it in small pieces so that children will eat it."

When Chef Lidia appeared on "Salon Talks," she also revealed the secret to elevating bolognese sauce at home:

Bolognese is a sauce of two or three different kinds of ground meat. And usually it's the muscles — the tough part. And it's one way of really tenderizing it, and making it delicious and then dressing a lot of pasta with it.

The question of a good bolognese is the steps: the onions, the soffriggere, the little bit of carrots, little bay leaves, rosemary, cloves and so on down the line. You build the layers. And the slow cooking — two and a half hours, three hours for a good bolognese until the meat has sort of given all. And you'll have this kind of velvety sauce and these morsels of delicious meat. That used to be Sunday for us, and it was delicious.

"The peach Bellini is a classic drink that you cannot miss when in Venice. It's simply prosecco with the addition of peach purée," Chef Lidia writes in "Felidia." "This version is a twist on the original recipe: at Felidia, we use peach sorbet to make an ice-cold drink that is welcome at any time of the year."

"At Felidia, we serve several different versions of tiramisù," Lidia writes in her her cookbook. "This version, with limoncello, is a bit higher in alcohol content and is inspired by the traditional delizia al limone that is so popular along the Amalfi Coast.

"Nutella is to Italians what peanut butter is to Americans. It is incorporated into a lot of desserts such as crepes, cakes and much more. Many Italian children eat Nutella on toast in the morning before heading off to school. The chocolate-hazelnut combination is undeniably good and works really well in many desserts," Nicotra writes in the book. "Since the flavor is so pervasive in Italian sweets, it only made sense to use it in a dessert that would have typically been made with just chocolate. Lidia is not an avid fan of chocolate desserts, but I won her over with this take on flan."

Joseph Neese

Joseph Neese is the Managing Editor of Salon. You can follow him on Twitter: @josephneese.

MORE FROM Joseph NeeseFOLLOW josephneese


Lidia offers ‘master class’ on Italian food

If you’ve ever wondered how Wedding Soup got its name or what a “coperto” is, you will find the answers and more in “Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine — Everything You Need to Know to Be a Great Italian Cook,” the newest book by chef, author, TV host and restaurateur Lidia Matticchio Bastianich.

The book, which goes on sale Oct. 27, is an ambitious project that took three years in the making. She was assisted in the endeavor by her daughter, Tanya Bastianich Manuali. It features more than 400 recipes and includes sections on ingredients, techniques, Italian culture and language, and a glossary. Black-and-white illustrations are peppered throughout, but what you won’t find are photographs to accompany recipes.

“I hope that this is a book that will stay around the kitchen trans generations, so they can make references, because there are no pictures,” Bastianich told the Journal in a recent telephone interview. “The focus here is on getting the cook, or the reader, into the book by all the information, and empower the cook, to give them understanding, then even going to the kitchen without the recipe, and they say, ‘I can do that.’”

Teaching is a passion for the beloved chef, who has visited the Hudson Valley on many occasions, whether teaching classes at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park or enjoying visits with family here, and picking apples and pears at local farms.

“I love to teach,” she said, passing along her passion for cooking “to the viewers that watch me and come to the restaurants. They say to me, ‘Lidia, I watch you, I feel more comfortable. I love cooking.’ This is what I am trying to get exactly at.”

Whether a novice or experienced chef, think of the book as a master class in Italian cuisine at your fingertips. Recipes are classical Italian, some Italian-American, many reworked and nurtured under the chef’s skilled hands. The reader is offered a full range of standard ingredients, such as meats and fish, vegetables and fruits, grains, spices and condiments along with advice on how to buy, store, clean and cook with them.

“Thirty to 40 percent of what gets bought in the store gets thrown away from the refrigerator,” she said. “Storing products for me is very important and not wasting.”

One of the many techniques offered in the book is a way to store fish in the refrigerator, suspended over ice, that will keep it fresher longer.

Recipes are comprehensive, from simple appetizers such as Steamed Mussels in Savory Wine Sauce to Bread and Prune Gnocchi and Beet Ravoli in Poppy Seed Sauce. The book is being published in conjunction with a new series from PBS of the same name, which premiered earlier this month.

“I’m in the kitchen 40 years and have accumulated a lot of information. I have shared pieces of it here and there,” Bastianich said. “As a chef, I don’t feel like I’ve invented any recipes I’ve certainly modified some along the way to make them more contemporary and to reflect my understanding of Italian food.”

Food is the common denominator for all of us, she said, something that can bridge cultures and generations. All we need to do is take the time to sit down at the table together with family and friends and enjoy it.

Now more than ever that is important, she said.

“We are wise enough and certainly have enough information at hand to see that we need to take care of ourselves and our bodies,” she said. “Food is the main venue, if you will. So we need to understand it and we need to be conscious of our world, our universe — for our children, our grandchildren we need to protect it and respect it.”

Passing down recipes and kitchen traditions is something Bastianich knows from her early childhood — she spent a lot of time with her grandmother growing up in Istria on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea in Italy, where she grew most of the family’s food and raised animals.

Cooking does not have to be complicated, said Bastianich, who is chef/owner of four esteemed New York City restaurants — Felidia, Becco, Esca and Del Posto — as well as Lidia’s Pittsburgh and Lidia’s Kansas City. Bastianich, 68, along with her son, Joe Bastianich, Mario Batali and Oscar Farinetti, opened Eataly five years ago, a 42,500-square-foot artisanal Italian food and wine marketplace in Manhattan’s Flatiron District.

“As a culinary icon and as a person, Lidia Bastianich is nothing less than inspirational,” Bobby Perillo, an assistant professor/chef instructor at the Culinary Institute of America, said via email.

In 1993, Perillo said he interviewed with Bastianich for a chef’s position at Felidia restaurant.

“. Ultimately I turned down the job, it was an extremely hard decision, but telling Lidia was harder … it was more than business to me, it was disappointing someone I really respected and had grown fond of in a short time,” he said. “It was Lidia’s passion for Italian food that motivated me to study Italian cuisine, and within a couple of months of my brief encounter with Lidia I had a one-way ticket to Italy” where he trained as a chef and immersed himself in Italian culture.

Within your own culture and family, Bastianich said, “Getting back to the table tells a story (of) who you are, where you come from, what are your roots — it’s extremely important. And it gives you strength as an individual. But also it connects you to your tribe, if you will, the flavors, the aromas, they’re comforting, they make you feel good. . Start with the food start with the table build memories for the children, for yourself. It’s very simple.”

Bastianich’s style of cooking and passion for food recently served as an invitation for her to cook for Pope Francis during his stay in New York City last month.

“I have been blessed twice in my lifetime,” she said, referring to her cooking meals for Pope Benedict when he visited New York in 2008. “So it was extraordinary.”

Pope Francis, who is from Piedmont, Italy, which borders France and Switzerland near the Alps, asked for simple meals.

“Here is this man that gives this wisdom, this spiritual message to the world and I was in the kitchen cooking for him, making risotto,” she said. “He is from Piedmonte, those are his roots they are the growers of rice.”

Bastianich said she discussed with his consiglieri about including porcini mushrooms and truffles in the risotto.

“I wanted to go all out,” she said. “He wanted it simple, no truffles bianco with a little bit of onions, some Grana Padano, and he just ate it.”

The pope asked if he could join Bastianich and the rest of the kitchen staff for an espresso.

“I’m still in the wake of it,” she said about the experience. “It was like a meteor that just passed by.”

Barbara Gallo Farrell is the Community Content Editor. Contact her at [email protected] Twitter: @PJBarb visit her blog at http://blogs.poughkeepsiejournal.com/dishnthat

Visit http://lidiasitaly.com/ for more information

More recipes online

Find a recipe for Torta Gianduia, a Chocolate-Hazelnut Cake, from “Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine” by Lidia Bastianich, by visiting Journal Community Content Editor Barbara Gallo Farrell’s food blog Dish ’n’ That at http://blogs.poughkeepsiejournal.com/dishnthat

Grilled Pizza

Pizza alla Griglia

Makes 4 individual pizzas

1 1/2 cups drained canned San Marzano tomatoes, crushed by hand or through a food mill

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano, preferably Sicilian on the branch

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes

3 garlic cloves, crushed and peeled

Kosher salt

1 pound fresh mozzarella

Fresh basil leaves

Freshly grated Grana Padano

Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing and drizzling

About an hour before you are ready to make the pizza, stir together the sauce ingredients in a medium bowl, and let the flavors blend at room temperature. Preheat one side of your grill to high (if your grill has a thermometer, have it between 500 and 600 degrees) and the other side to the lowest heat possible. Punch the dough down, divide it into four pieces, and let it rest on the counter and come to room temperature. Stretch the dough into four rounds (or ovals) of about 8 inches in diameter. Brush two sheet pans with olive oil, and lay the rounds on the pans, flipping once so they are lightly oiled on both sides.

Fish the garlic from the sauce, and discard. Depending on the size of your grill, you can make two or four pizzas at a time. Season the rounds lightly with salt. Slide the dough rounds from the sheet pans onto the hot side of the grill it will stretch a little more as you transfer it, and that’s okay. Cook until the top blisters and bubbles and the bottom is cooked and charred in places, about 1 to 2 minutes, moving the dough occasionally if it seems to be cooking unevenly. Flip over to the cooler side of the grill with the bubbly side down. (A combination of tongs and a wide metal spatula are the best tools for this job.)

Quickly cover the pizza with sauce, then a thin layer of mozzarella. Add a few torn basil leaves, a dusting of grated Grana Padano, and a drizzle of olive oil. Cover the grill until the cheese begins to melt, about 1 minute. Always keep a watchful eye on the temperature and lower it if the dough is getting too charred. Open the grill, slide the pizza to the hot side, and cook until the underside is nicely charred, about 30 seconds to a minute more, moving the pizza around the grill as necessary to avoid burning. Using tongs, slide the pizza onto a cutting board, and serve.

Excerpted from “Lidia’s Mastering the Art of Italian Cuisine” by Lidia Bastianich. Copyright 2015 by Random House. Excerpted by permission of Alfred A. Knopf, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.