Mother’s Day Recipes: Chicken & Potatoes, Plus Sweet Ricotta Dumplings with Strawberry Sauce

April 20th, 2010

Mother’s Day is May 9. Celebrate with a special Italian dinner.

Keep reading for the recipes from Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. But first, here’s a look at the Sweet Ricotta Dumplings with Strawberry Sauce. Mmmm…


Celebrating Mom This Mother’s Day
By Lidia Matticchio Bastianich,
Author of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes

In my family, favorite dishes are always being altered according to what is available in the market and what is the best in quality — especially when I’m cooking. Family meals together are near and dear to my heart, and I am always looking for a reason to cook a big meal to share with my grandchildren, children and with Mother’s Day just around the corner, my mother Erminia, who we all fondly call “Grandma.” Continue reading »

Springtime Recipes with Herbs

April 2nd, 2010

guest post by a favorite Italian cook:

Quick, Healthy, Springtime Dishes — Featuring Herbs!

By Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, author of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes

fresh-sage-italianThe use of fresh herbs has exploded in the American kitchen today. I recall that as a young apprentice in Italy — at my great-aunt’s apron strings — for every herb we had in the garden, there seemed to be a pot on the stove to match.

Some herbs were better to cook with while others were better added at the end to a finished dish. For example, rosemary, bay leaves and thyme are mostly used for long cooking where their oils are extracted slowly out of their leaves. Sage, oregano and marjoram need very little cooking time, and herbs such as basil, parsley and mint are great to toss in raw at the end — just enough to release their refreshing aromas.

If you have small children a wonderful way to introduce them to the enticing aromas of herbs is to gently crush the herbs in your hands and let them smell. I did this with my grandchildren when they were very small and it’s a great way to get them excited about the world of herbs and food at an early age.

In fact, once you get your small children excited about herbs, introduce them to your own dishes. Here I’m sharing some of the quickest, and most child-friendly. Enjoy!

Makes 1 ½ cups

  • 1 cup packed fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • ½ cup packed fresh basil leaves
  • ½ cup packed mixed fresh sage, thyme, and marjoram leaves
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt

Wash the herb leaves in cool water and dry them thoroughly, preferably in a salad spinner. Combine the herbs and garlic in a blender and blend on low speed, slowly adding the oil while the machine is running, until the pesto is smooth and all the oil is incorporated. Add salt to taste.

Keep in a sealed jar in the refrigerator and use as needed. Pesto will keep refrigerated for up to 4 weeks or it may be frozen for up to 3 months. Make sure there is a thin film of oil over the pesto to keep its flavor and color bright.

cooking-springtimeHERB FRITTATA
Serves 2 as an appetizer, 1 as a lunch dish
From Lidia’s Family Table (Alfred A. Knopf, 2004)

  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
  • 1 ½ teaspoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil

Whisk the eggs, milk, salt, and fresh herbs until just blended together.

Heat the butter and oil in the small frying pan until it just starts to sizzle, then pour in the eggs and turn the heat down very low. Cook gently for 3 to 4 minutes. The eggs will start to puff up and sizzle at the edges. Lift a corner of the frittata with a spatula, and check to see if the bottom has browned in splotches. When it has, flip the frittata over by giving the pan a firm, quick shake up and over toward you so that the egg mass dislodges and flips over in one piece. Or, if that unnerves you, turn the frittata over with a spatula. Cook the second side for 1 ½ to 2 minutes, again checking to see if the bottom has browned to your liking. Serve right away, or let cool to room temperature and cut the frittata in wedges.