Feast For Christmas
Police and fire crew examine the scene of a minivan crash near Turangi, New Zealand, Saturday, May 12, 2012. Three Boston University students who were studying in New Zealand were killed Saturday when their minivan crashed. At least five other students from the university were injured in the accident, including one who was in critical condition. (AP Photo/New Zealand Herald, John Cowpland) NEW ZEALAND OUT, AUSTRALIA OUT / John Cowpland
To keep in the spirit of the holidays, we invited cookbook author and television personality Lidia Bastianich to show us her family's favorite Christmas recipes.
Her latest cookbook, "Lidia's Italian-American Kitchen," features some of her delicious, personal favorites -- including antipasti dishes, soup, pasta and dessert.
Bastianich says antipasti is one of the things that Italians brought with them when they came to the United States. She describes antipasti as little bites to nibble on before the meal, and it is meant to stimulate the taste buds and start the gastric juices flowing with an assortment of flavors, textures, colors, and aromas.
Also, Bastianich says antipasti is whatever is found in the cupboard, so it's not just a plate of prosciutto, vegetables and cheese.
On The Early Show, Bastianich prepared a platter of shrimp and clams. She says fish is an important part of the Christmas Eve dinner for Italians. On Christmas Day, fish is not part of the main dish, but Bastianich loves to have some seafood as part of her Christmas Day dinner.
Soup and Pasta
Bastianich says the Italian meal is not complete without a pasta course, and she loves serving soup. On The Early Show, the author prepared brodo, a clear soup made with meats, fish, or vegetables to which a little pasta, rice, eggs, vegetables, or cheese is added to the end of cooking.
Zuppa is the name given to clear legume or vegetable soups thickened with bread, added toward the end of cooking and simmered until the bread breaks down, thickening the soup. A minestra is a soup made with legumes, vegetables, or meat, alone or in any combination, to which pasta or rice is added at the end of cooking.
Prosecco: Pronounced praw-SEHK-koh or proh-SEHK-koh, prosecco is a white-wine grape that's grown primarily in the eastern part of Italy's veneto region. Prosecco is made into lightly sparkling wine. Its fine reputation, however, comes from the sparkling versions. The wines are crisp and appley and, though they can be sweet, are more often found dry.
Pomegranate: The pomegranate is native from Iran to the Himalayas in northern India and was cultivated and naturalized over the whole Mediterranean region since ancient times. It is widely cultivated throughout India and the drier parts of southeast Asia, Malaya, the East Indies and tropical Africa. The tree was introduced into California by Spanish settlers in 1769.
Panettone : Panettone is a sweet yeast bread made with raisins, citron, pine nuts and anise and baked in a tall cylindrical shape. It originated in Milan, Italy, and is traditionally served at Christmastime, but also for celebrations such as weddings and christenings. Panettone can be served as a bread, coffeecake or dessert.
Pomegranate and Prosecco Holiday Punch
2 oranges, sliced
1 teaspoons of aged balsamic vinegar (optional)
sprigs of mint
1 cup pomegranate juice
1 bottle (750 ml.) Prosecco
Take one of the oranges and cut into six sections. Put in a mortar and with the pestle, muddle the oranges. Add the balsamic vinegar and two sprigs of mint and continue to muddle. Add the pomegranate juice and let sit for about an hour.
Open the bottle of Prosecco and pour into a pitcher. Strain the pomegranate mixture and pour (dividing evenly) into 6 to 8 flutes. Pour in the prosecco, add an orange slice to each glass and a sprig of mint. Serve!
36 littleneck clams
4 tablespoons finely chopped fresh Italian parsley
2 red or yellow bell peppers, roasted and peeled, cut into 1-inch squares
12 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch squares
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup dry white wine
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.
Shuck the clams, reserving the clam juice and arranging the clams side by side in a 13 x 11-inch baking dish. Strain the juice through cheesecloth or a very fine sieve into the baking dish. Sprinkle some of the parsley over the clams. Top each clam with a square of roasted pepper. Cover the pepper with two squares of bacon. Using about 3 tablespoons of the butter, dot the top of each clam with about 1/4 teaspoon butter. Cut the remaining butter into several pieces and tuck them in and around the clams in the baking dish. Add the wine and remaining parsley to the baking dish.
Bake until the bacon is crisp and the pan juices are bubbling, about 12 minutes. Arrange clams on a warmed serving platter or divide them among warmed plates. Pour the pan juices into a small saucepan and bring to a boil on top of the stove. Boil until lightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon the juices over the clams and serve immediately.
Chef's Note: You can prepare the clams right in their baking dish up to several hours in advance and bake them just before you serve them.
Two Ways to Roast A Bell Pepper
Roasting peppers imparts a subtle flavor to the pepper, softens the texture and removes the skin, which some people find hard to digest. Here are two ways to roast a pepper. Whether roasting green, red or yellow peppers, choose thick-fleshed peppers that are boxy in shape -- they will char more evenly and be easier to peel.
Turn the gas burners on high and, working with a pair of long-handled tongs, place the peppers on the grates, directly over the flames. Roast the peppers, turning them as necessary, until evenly blackened on all sides, about 8 minutes. Remove the peppers, place them in a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 40 minutes.
Or, place a rack in the uppermost position and preheat the oven to 475 degrees F. Put the peppers on a baking sheet and roast them, turning as necessary, until all sides are evenly blackened, about 12 minutes. Remove the peppers to a bowl and cover tightly with plastic wrap. Let stand until cool enough to handle, about 40 minutes.
To peel the peppers: Pull out the stems and hold the peppers upside down letting the seeds and juices flow out. Cut the peppers in half lengthwise and, using a short knife, scrape away the blackened skin, ribs and remaining seeds.
Shrimp Prepared in the Scampi Style
Scampi (Nephrops Norvegicus) are spiny, hard-shell crustaceans that resemble small lobsters more than shrimp, except that they are powder pink in color.
They are much prized but not as abundant as they used to be in the Mediterranean. One of the most common ways to prepare them is to saut? them with garlic, onion and white wine. The same method was used by chefs in Italian-American restaurants to prepare shrimp (gamberi, in Italian), which were much more readily available. So they were called Shrimp Scampi, and the name has stuck, meaning shrimp prepared in the style of the beloved scampi.
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 large cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 teaspoons minced parsley
2 teaspoons minced fresh tarragon
36 "U-10" shrimp (about 3 1/2 pounds, see Note)
6 to 8 sprigs fresh thyme
Flavored butters -- either this one or a variation of it -- are handy to have around. A little bit goes a long way to add flavor to quick dinners.
Just slice the butter and use it to top broiled seafood or pan-seared chicken breast. If you need to speed things up a little, spoon the cooked garlic-shallot mixture into a small bowl, set that into a larger bowl of ice and stir until it is completely chilled.
To make the flavored butter: Heat the olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until pale golden, about 1 minute. Stir in the shallots, season generously with salt and pepper, and continue cooking, shaking the skillet, until the shallots are wilted, about 2 minutes.
Add 1/4 cup of the wine, bring to a boil, and cook until about half of the wine has evaporated. Stir in 1 tablespoon of the lemon juice and boil until almost all of the liquid has evaporated. Transfer to a small bowl and cool completely. Add the butter, parsley and tarragon and beat until blended. To make the butter easier to handle, spoon it onto a 12-inch length of plastic wrap and roll it into a log shape, completely wrapped in plastic. Chill thoroughly. (The flavored butter can be made up several hours, or up to a few days in advance.)
Place the rack in the lowest position and preheat oven to 475 degrees F. Peel the shrimp, leaving the tail and last shell segment attached.
Devein the shrimp by making a shallow cut along the curved back of the shrimp and extracting the black or grey vein that runs the length of the shrimp. Lay the shrimp flat on the work surface and, starting at the thick end, make a horizontal cut along the center of the shrimp extending it about three-quarters of the way down. Pat shrimp dry.
Using some of the flavored butter, lightly grease a low baking pan, such as a jelly roll pan, or ovenproof saute pan into which the shrimp fit comfortably without touching. Place each shrimp on the work surface with underside of the tail facing away from you.
With your fingers, roll each half of the slit part of the shrimp in toward and underneath the tail, forming a "6" on each side of the shrimp and lifting the tail up.
Arrange the shrimp, tails up, on the prepared sheet or saute pan as you work, leaving some space between.
Cut the remaining flavored butter into 1/2-inch cubes and disperse the cubes among the shrimp. Mix the remaining 1/4-cup wine and 1 tablespoon lemon juice and add it to the pan. Scatter the thyme sprigs over and around the shrimp. Season with salt and pepper and place the pan on the oven rack. Roast until the shrimp are firm and crunchy and barely opaque in the center, about 5 minutes. Transfer the shrimp to a hot platter or divide among hot plates. Drain the pan juices into a small pan. Bring to a boil over high heat and boil until the sauce is lightly thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Spoon the sauce over the shrimp as is, or strain it first for a more velvety texture. Serve immediately.
Chef's Note: When buying shrimp, the easiest way to determine the size is by using restaurant terminology. For example, "U/10," stands for "Under 10," which means there are 10 or fewer shrimp in a pound. "U-15" means fewer than 15 per pound; "21/25" means there are between 21 and 25 per pound, "16/20" between 16 and 20 a pound and so on. Retail terminology like "large," "jumbo" or "medium" can be misleading.
Serves 6 (about 18 manicotti)
1 pound fresh ricotta cheese or one 15-ounce container whole-milk ricotta cheese
crepes or cooked pasta squares
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups cubed (1/4 inches) fresh mozzarella (about 6 ounces)
1 cup freshly grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese
1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground white pepper
pinch freshly grated nutmeg, preferably freshly ground
4 ounces fresh mozzarella cheese, grated (about 1 1/4 cups; optional)
If you choose to make the manicotti with pasta squares, fill and roll them on a damp towel -- it will make them easier to handle. For a lighter, thinner sauce add a little stock to the tomato sauce or to the baking dish after you add the sauce, or don't cook the sauce quite so much when you make it. If you have some fresh basil in the kitchen, tear some leaves and scatter them over the manicotti in the dish right before you bake them.
Spoon the ricotta into a large, fine-mesh sieve or a colander lined with a double thickness of cheesecloth or a basket-type coffee filter. Set the sieve over a bowl and cover the ricotta well with plastic wrap. Let the ricotta drain in the refrigerator at least overnight, or up to 24 hours. Discard the liquid in the bottom of the bowl.
Make the tomato sauce and the crepes or pasta squares. (The crepes may be made up to one day in advance; the pasta squares up to several hours in advance.)
Whisk the eggs and salt together in a large bowl until foamy. Add the drained ricotta, the mozzarella cubes, 1/2 cup of the parmigiano-reggiano cheese, the parsley, pepper and nutmeg. Stir well until blended.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Coat the bottom of each of two 13 x 9-inch baking pans (or any two pans into which the manicotti will fit comfortably) with 1/2 cup of the sauce. Working with one crepe or pasta square at a time, spoon 3 full tablespoons of the ricotta filling about 1 inch from the edge closest to you. Roll loosely into a cylinder, smoothing out the filling along the length of the tube as you roll.
Arrange the manicotti, seam side down and side-by-side, over the sauce in the baking pans. Spoon the remaining sauce over the manicotti and sprinkle them with the remaining 1/2 cup of the parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Cover the baking dishes loosely with aluminum foil and poke the foil several times with a fork.
Bake 20 minutes. Uncover the dishes, scatter the grated mozzarella, if using, over the top of the manicotti and bake until the edges are bubbling and the cheese topping is golden brown, about 20 minutes.
Makes about 32 crepes
2 large eggs
1 cup milk
1 cup water
1/2 cup club soda
1 tablespoon sugar
grated zest of 1 lemon
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
6 tablespoons melted butter
vegetable oil, for frying
The traditional crepe pan is made of steel and has short, sloping sides and a long handle. With use, the steel becomes seasoned-like cast iron-and needs only the lightest oiling. There are several other types of pans that work well for making crepes: Pans with a non-stick surface are probably the easiest to work with, but any pan of the right size with a well seasoned surface, including aluminum omelet pans, will do the job.
It is normal for the first few crepes of the batch to come out less than perfect. Once you find the right temperature for the pan and get the wrist action down, you'll see a noticeable improvement in the results. As you get the knack of making crepes, you'll be able to keep two pans going at once, cutting the time in half.
Whisk the eggs in a medium-mixing bowl until blended. Pour in the milk, water and club soda and stir together until blended. Add the sugar, lemon zest and salt and blend well. Gradually sift the flour into the liquids, stirring constantly until the mixture is smooth. Stir in melted butter. The batter will have the consistency of melted ice cream.
Heat about 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil in an 8-inch crepe pan over medium-high heat, swirl the pan to coat it evenly with the oil, then pour off the excess. Holding the pan at a 45-degree angle, pour 3 tablespoons of the batter into the pan, allowing it to run down from the highest point. The secret to making thin, even crepes is to flex your wrist, distributing the batter over the entire bottom of the pan as quickly as possible before the batter has a chance to set.
Return the pan to the heat, reduce the heat to moderate and cook until the crepe is lacy and lightly browned, 30 to 40 seconds. Flip it over carefully with a spatula and cook the second side until it is lightly browned in spots, about 1 minute. Slide the crepe from the pan onto a large plate and repeat the process with the remaining batter, re-oiling the pan only as necessary and stacking the finished crepes one atop the other. Crepes can be prepared up to a day in advance, covered tightly with plastic wrap and stored in the refrigerator until needed.
Roasted Loin of Pork Stuffed with Prunes
1/2 pound pitted prunes
1/2 cup bourbon
one 3-pound boneless center loin of pork roast (see below)
10 fresh sage leaves
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1/2 cup diced (1/4-inch) carrot
1/2 cup diced (1/4-inch) celery
1/2 cup roughly chopped onion
2 1/2 cups chicken stock or canned low-sodium chicken broth
In a small container, soak the prunes in bourbon one hour.
Heat the oven to 450 degrees F. Drain the prunes and reserve four of them along with the soaking liquid. Line the remaining soaked prunes along the slit in the roast. Fold the flap over the opening and tie the roast securely with kitchen twine at 2-inch intervals. Thread the sage leaves in two rows through the ties on either side of the roast. Season the roast generously with salt and pepper and rub it with the olive oil. Place the roast in an 18- x 14-inch roasting pan. Roast 15 minutes.
Reduce the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Tilt the roasting pan and spoon off excess fat from the roast. Scatter the carrot, celery, onion and garlic around the roast. Roast 15 minutes.
Add the reserved prunes and the soaking liquid and roast 10 minutes. Pour the stock into the pan and continue cooking, basting the roast occasionally with the pan juices until a meat thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the roast registers 155 degrees F, 30 to 40 minutes.
Remove the roast to a platter. Pass the contents of the pan through a food mill fitted with the fine disc into a small bowl. (Alternatively, strain the liquid through a sieve, pressing on the vegetables to extract as much liquid as possible and to force some of the vegetables through the sieve.) Skim all fat from the surface of the sauce. The sauce should be thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. If not, transfer the sauce to a small saucepan and bring to a simmer. Simmer until thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. Season the sauce with salt and pepper, if needed. Cut the meat into 1/4-inch slices and serve with the sauce.
Boneless Pork Loin
The pork recipe call for a boneless center rib roast which weighs about 3 pounds and comes from the center loin roast (bone-in) weighing about 5 pounds. You may ask your butcher to bone the center rib roast, or you may do it yourself: Stand the meat on the backbone with the rib bones pointing upwards. With a sharp boning knife, start from the far end and work towards you, separating the meat from the rib bones by pressing-- almost scraping-- the knife along the rib bones. Work in a series of small, easy strokes and cut all along the bones, following the rib bones along the curve to the back bones until the meat is free of the bones.
You will have a compact "eye " of the roast, with a small flap attached to the side. If there is a filling the roast -- as there is in both of these recipes -- it will be helpful to make a cut about halfway through and along the entire length of the eye. Place the filling along this cut and fold the small flap over the opening before tying the roast to secure the filling. Whether you bone the roast yourself or let the butcher do it, always reserve the bones.
Cut them into smaller pieces with a cleaver and add them to the roasting
pan along with the vegetables. They will add much flavor. The rib roast will come with a layer of fat on the outside. With a sharp knife shave most of it off, leaving a thin layer, which will protect the meat from drying out while cooking.
Broccoli Rabe with Oil and Garlic
1 pound broccoli rabe
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper, or to taste
1/4 cup (or as needed) water
To trim the broccoli rabe, first cut off the tough ends of the stems. Then, holding a stem with the florets in hand, nick a little piece of the end of the stem with a paring knife and pull the little piece of the stem towards you, peeling the stem partially. Continue working your way around the stem until it is peeled.
As you peel the stem, some of the large tough outer leaves will also be removed; discard those as well. Repeat with the remaining stems. Wash the trimmed broccoli rabe in a sinkful of cold water, swishing the stems gently to remove all dirt from between the leaves. Let the leaves sit a minute or two undisturbed to allow the dirt to settle to the bottom of the sink, then lift the broccoli rabe from the water with your hands or a large skimmer. Drain in a colander.
Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Scatter the garlic over the oil and cook, shaking the pan, until golden brown, about 1 minute. Carefully lay the broccoli rabe into the oil, season lightly with salt and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Stir and toss to distribute the seasonings.
Pour 1/4 cup water into the skillet and bring to a boil. Cover the skillet tightly and cook, lifting the lid to turn the stalks occasionally, until the broccoli rabe is tender. Taste and season with additional salt and crushed red pepper if necessary. Serve hot.
For more recipes from Lidia Bastianich, click here.
- Dad Punishes Daughter with Free Babysitter Ad Play Video
- How to stop junk mail - forever
- 'Sex And The City' Premieres Play Video
- Crazy, hairy, biting ants sweep the South
- Legit Work-from-Home Websites - and the Scams
- Reporter's Anorexia Problem Play Video
- Teen's Facebook Sex Scam Play Video
- From Torment To Triumph: Cupcake Brown