Showing posts with label Lidia Bastianich. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Lidia Bastianich. Show all posts

Friday, October 23, 2009

Video and Recipes: Authentic Italian Dishes - Quick Tasty Bacon Pasta, Chocolate Bread Parfait

From Denny: This is a simple peasant dish that would be wonderful for breakfast, brunch or dinner when you want a quick savory meal! It's an easy meal to whip up quickly when you have relatives visiting from out of town on the holidays and don't want to feel overwhelmed.

Fresh Cavatelli with Eggs and Bacon

Chef shares authentic, regional tastes of Italy in her new cookbook

Makes: 6 servings

In times past in poor regions like Molise, when meat was scarce, eggs were an available and affordable source of protein; a dish of pasta dressed with eggs combined the nutrients of two staple foods for a meal that was naturally nutritious and sustaining. I love these pastas sauced with eggs, and tasty versions can be found all over Italy, especially in Abruzzo, Molise and Lazio (Rome), where the most famous dish of this type, spaghetti alla carbonara, originated. This Molisano version is particularly appealing, with cavatelli, scrambled eggs and bacon, and with grated Fontina Val d’Aosta tossed in at the end — a bit out of region, but absolutely delicious here. In Molise they would use grated pecorino, of course, and it is lovely that way, too.


• 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta pot
• 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
• 2 tablespoons butter
• 8 ounces slab or thick-cut bacon, cut in 1/2 -inch pieces
• 5 large eggs
• 1 batch (1 1/2 pounds) fresh cavatelli (recipe below) or 1 pound dried pasta
• 2 cups shredded Fontina Val d’Aosta


Fill the large pot with salted water (at least 6 quarts water with 1 tablespoon salt), and heat to a boil.

Pour the olive oil into the skillet, and set it over medium-high heat. Drop in the butter, let it melt, then scatter in the bacon pieces. Cook the bacon, stirring and tossing the pieces, for 5 minutes or so, until they’re crisp and caramelized. (If the bacon rendered lots of fat, you can pour off half the fat in the pan.)

Beat the eggs and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a bowl until well blended.

When the water is at a rolling boil, drop in the cavatelli, stir, and return the water to a boil. Cook the cavatelli 4 to 5 minutes, until al dente. Lift them from the pot, drain briefly and spill them into the skillet.

Over medium heat, toss the cavatelli with the bacon pieces, coating the pasta with the oil, butter and bacon fat, too. Pour the beaten eggs all over the pasta, stirring and tumbling them together; keep scraping the coagulating egg from the sides and bottom of the pan, and incorporate it in with the wet eggs. Cook for a minute or two, just until all the egg is lightly cooked and custardy and evenly scrambled into the cavatelli.

Turn off the heat, scatter the shredded Fontina over the eggs and pasta, and toss thoroughly to blend in the cheese as it melts.

Serve immediately.

From Denny: She even provided a recipe to make your own fresh pasta.

Fresh Cavatelli

From: "Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy" by Lidia Bastianich

Makes: about 1 1/2 pounds, or 6 servings


• 1 pound fine durum-wheat flour (about 3 1/4 cups), plus more as needed
• 1 1/4 cups very cold water, plus more as needed


Put the flour in the bowl of the food processor, and process for a few seconds, to aerate. With the food processor running, pour in the water through the feed tube. Process for about 30 seconds, until a dough forms and gathers on the blade. If the dough does not gather on the blade or process easily, it is too wet or dry. Feel the dough, then work in more flour or cold water, in small amounts, using the processor or kneading by hand.

Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface, and knead by hand for a minute, until it’s smooth, soft and stretchy. Press it into a disk, wrap well in plastic wrap, and let rest at room temperature for at least 1/2 hour. (You can refrigerate the dough for up to a day, or freeze for a month or more. Defrost in the refrigerator, and return to room temperature before rolling.)

To form the cavatelli, lightly flour your work surface. Pinch off golf-ball-sized pieces of dough and roll them out under your palms into long ropes about the thickness of a pencil. Cut the ropes into 1-inch segments or short cylinders; keep pieces in front of you, horizontally (left to right). Flour your hands, especially the tips of the three middle fingers of your right hand unless you are left-handed. Hold these fingertips tightly together, and press them into one of the cut segments, and gently roll forward.

As your fingertips make indentations in the segment, roll it toward you more so the dough both lengthens and curls around the fingertips. As the curl is complete, lift your fingers up quickly, so the dough segment drops off. It should now resemble a short concave shell — or a hollowed-out boat or canoe — with the impression of your fingers in the hollows and along the edges.

Adjust the pressure of your fingers as needed — if the dough cylinders are not lengthening and forming a hollow, press harder. If they’re just flattening beneath your fingers, press a bit more gently. Once you get up to speed, you should be able to roll the cavatelli with a quick downward flick of your fingertips.

Sprinkle the finished cavatelli liberally with flour, and spread them out in a single layer on floured baking sheets. Leave them uncovered, to air dry at room temperature, until ready to cook. (Or freeze the cavatelli on the sheets until hard, and pack them in airtight plastic bags.)

From Denny: Now that you have seen the video, you see how beautiful that bread looks soaked in chocolate to the point you might think it started off as chocolate bread, wow! Another winner of an easy recipe from Lidia!

Chocolate bread parfait (pane di cioccolato al cucchiaio)

Chef shares authentic, regional tastes of Italy in her new cookbook

From: "Lidia Cooks From the Heart of Italy" by Lidia Bastianich
Makes: 6 servings

This recalls for me the chocolate-and-bread sandwiches that sometimes were my lunch, and always a special treat. And it is another inventive way surplus is used in Umbrian cuisine, with leftover country bread serving as the foundation of an elegant layered dessert. Though it is soaked with chocolate and espresso sauce and buried in whipped cream, the bread doesn’t disintegrate, and provides a pleasing textural contrast in every heavenly spoonful.


• 8 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
• 8 ounces country-style white bread, crusts removed
• 1/2 cup freshly brewed espresso
• 2 tablespoons dark rum
• 2 tablespoons sugar
• 1 1/2 cups chilled heavy cream
• 1 cup sliced almonds, toasted


Put the chopped chocolate in a bowl set in a pan of hot (not boiling) water. When the chocolate begins to melt, stir until completely smooth. Keep it warm, over the water, off the heat.

Slice the bread into 1/2-inch-thick slices, and lay them flat in one layer, close together, on the tray or baking sheet.

Pour the warm espresso into a spouted measuring cup, stir in the rum and sugar until sugar dissolves, then stir in half the melted chocolate. Pour the sauce all over the bread slices, then flip them over and turn them on the tray, to make sure all the surfaces are coated. Let the bread absorb the sauce for a few minutes.

Meanwhile, whip the cream until soft peaks form, by hand or with an electric mixer.

To assemble the parfaits: Break the bread into 1-inch pieces. Use half the pieces to make the bottom parfait layer in the six serving glasses, dropping an equal amount of chocolatey bread into each. Scrape up some of the unabsorbed chocolate sauce that remains on the baking sheet, and drizzle a bit over the bread layers. Next, drop a layer of whipped cream in the glasses, using up half the cream. Top the cream layer with toasted almonds, using half the nuts.

Repeat the layering sequence: Drop more soaked bread into each glass, drizzle over it the chocolate sauce from the tray and the remaining melted chocolate. Dollop another layer of whipped cream in the glasses, using it all up, and sprinkle the remaining almonds on top of each parfait.

This dessert is best when served immediately while the melted chocolate is still warm and runny. - You got that rights, Lidia! :)
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