Sunday, July 25, 2010

Lidia!

"Tutti a Tavola a Mangiare!"
               Lidia Bastianich

Today was a good day! My daughter and son-in-law, Betsy and Ben Nanson, invited me to join them for brunch at Lidia's, one of Kansas City's leading restaurants.
Lidia Bastianich opened her restaurant Felidia Manhattan's East Side in 1981. It is here that many of Lidia’s devoted fans find her greeting each guest with the same warmth and passion that she exhibits through her television shows and cookbook; but today, she was here in Kansas City. She comes to Lidia's once every 6 weeks,making sure her restaurant is running smoothly.
Kansas City's Lidia's is warm and friendly, even if it is located in a huge former railroad house just north of Union Station. The colors are warm and inviting; the mouth blown glass light fixtures are outstanding, as is the art work hanging on the walls of the restaurant and bar areas. The overall feel of the restaurant is that of a beautiful wine cellar.
Lidia's food is excellent. Her three fresh homemade pastas are always a treat. Today at brunch, Betsy and Ben both ordered the fresh pasta trio, with the Brunch Buffet of antipasto and desserts. The pasta is served tableside. Your large dinner plate is placed before you, then a server appears to serve hot, freshly prepared pastas, straight from the skillet it was prepared in. The flavors and aromas are wonderful! I had both of Lidia's broths; chicken (a true test of a chef's worth) and her tomato vegetable based broth. They were both delicious!
My thanks to Jason Connor, Director of Operations for the restaurant. I am in hopes that I can return the many kind things he and his staff did for me, by inviting them to Somerset Ridge as my guests for a tasting and maybe even some of my food!
So what was the highlight of the day? My conversation with Lidia. She took the time to talk to me about my blog, my travels in Italy, Somerset Ridge Vineyard and Winery, and her television program which I record every Saturday. She signed my cookbooks and posed for a photo with me. As we were talking about her television show, an old friend of mine, Anita Johnson from Germany, came up to speak to both of us. She expressed her appreciation to Lidia for this week's show featuring Spaetzel, that wonderful dumpling/noodle from Germany, Austria and Northern Italy. I was working at the vineyard while it was being aired, but I will turn it on tonight!
 Lidia was born in Pula Istria on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, which became Croatia in 1991. Because of the history and location of her homeland, Lidia grew up eating the foods of many cultures. Lidia has 5 grandchildren, and she is seeing to it that they learn the history and the foods of Istria. It is obvious Lidia loves to feed her grandchildren just as much as I love to feed mine. We Grandmothers have a lot in common!
Thank you Lidia, Jason, Betsy and Ben!
To read more about Lidia, her restaurants and cookbooks, go to

One of my favorite recipes from Lidia....
Frico with Apples and Montasio Cheese

                                                                Frico con Le Mele
                                                                         Serves 6

2 Golden Delicious apples or other firm apples (about 10 ounces)
1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound Montasio cheese, shredded (I found it at Whole Foods, but visit http://montasiocheese.com/)

Recommended Equipment: A 10-inch nonstick skillet

Peel and core the apples, and slice into wedges about 1/2-inch thick. Pour the olive oil in the skillet, and set over medium heat. Scatter the apple wedges in the pan, and toss to coat with oil. Cook and caramelize the apples for about 8 minutes, tossing frequently, until tinged with brown and softened but not mushy. Spill the caramelized apples onto a plate.
Sprinkle half of the shredded Montasion in an even layer over the bottom of the skillet. Return the apples to the pan, spread them evenly on top of the cheese, then sprinkle the remainder of the shredded cheese over the apples.
Lower the heat, and let the frico cook undisturbed until the bottom is very brown and crisped, about 10 minutes. If the cheese releases a lot of fat in the pan, blot it up with paper towels. Shake the pan to loosen the disk, put a large plate on top and invert, dropping the frico ontot he plate, then slide it back in the skillet, top side down. Cook until the second side is crisp and brown, about 7 minutes.
Slide (or invert) the frico onto the plate, blot up oil, and slice into six wedges. Serve hot.
I love it with Somerset Ridge Oktoberfest Wine, chilled.

Daughter Betsy told me her favorite dish at Lidia's is available on line. Go to  http://lidiasitaly.com/
I have not prepared this myself, but it comes highly recommended!
Fresh Ravioli Stuffed with Pear and Pecorino Cheese. 
Serves 6

3-4 Bartlett pears, peeled and cored (approximately 1 pound)
3 tablespoons mascarpone
1 pound grated fresh Pecorino Romano cheese (for stuffing of ravioli)
2 tablespoons grated Pecorino Romano to finish pasta
Fresh egg pasta (see recipe below)
4 ounces aged grated Pecorino Romano cheese
6 ounces butter
Black peppercorn to taste
On a cutting board grate the pears and the fresh pecorino cheese in two different mounds, using the side of the grater with the larger blades. In a bowl, mix this together with the mascarpone and remaining Pecorino Romano. This is your stuffing for the ravioli.

Prepare the pasta (see below) pulling it very thin and into a form of a rectangle and continue with the ravioli as described.

In a sauté pan, melt the butter with 8 ounces of water. Cook the ravioli in boiling water for 3 to 4 minutes. Drain and then toss the ravioli together with the melted butter in the saute’ pan for a few seconds. Remove from heat and finish with the aged Pecorino cheese and peppercorn flakes.

Fresh egg pasta:

3 cups unbleached all purpose flour, or as needed
4 large eggs
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
½ teaspoon salt
Warm water as needed

Spoon 2 2/3 cups of the flour into the work bowl of a large capacity food processor fitted with the metal blade. Beat the eggs, olive oil and salt together in a small bowl until blended. With the motor running, pour the egg mixture into the feed tube. Process until the ingredients form a rough and slightly sticky dough. If the mixture is too dry, drizzle a very small amount of warm water into the feed tube and continue processing. Scrape the dough out of the work bowl onto a lightly floured wood or marble surface.

Knead the dough by gathering it into a compact ball, then pushing the ball away from you with the heels of your hands. Repeat the gathering and pushing motion several times, then press into the dough, first with the knuckles of one hand, then with the other, several times. Alternate between kneading and “knuckling” the dough until it is smooth, silky and elastic—it pulls back into shape when you stretch it. The process will take 5 to 10 minutes of constant kneading, slightly longer if you prepared the dough by hand. (Mixing the dough in a food processor gives the kneading process a little head start). Flour the work surface and your hands lightly any time the dough begins to stick while you are kneading.

Roll the dough into a smooth all and place in a small bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rest at least one hour at room temperature, or up to 1 day in the refrigerator before rolling and shaping the pasta. If the dough has been refrigerated, let it stand at room temperature for about an hour before rolling and shaping.

For Ravioli:Divide the dough into three equal pieces and cover them with a clean kitchen towel. Working with one piece at a time, roll the pasta out on a lightly floured surface to a rectangle approximately 10 x 20 inches. Dust the work surface lightly with flour just often enough to keep the dough from sticking; too much flour will make the dough difficult to roll. If the dough springs back as you try to roll it, recover with the kitchen towel and let it rest for 10 to 15 minutes.

Start rolling another piece of dough and come back to the first one once it has had a chance to rest. Let the pasta sheets rest, separated by kitchen towels, at least 15 minutes before cutting them. Roll each piece out to sheets about 30 inches long by 11 inches wide. Keep two of the pasta sheets covered with kitchen towels and place the third on the work surface in front of you with one of the long edges toward you.

Arrange twenty of the filling mounds in two rows of ten over the top half of the dough, starting them about 1 ½ inches in from the sides of the dough rectangle and arranging them about 2 ½ inches from each other. Pat the fillings into rough rectangles that measure about 2 x 1 inch.

Dip the tip of your finger into cool water and moisten the edges of the top half of the dough and in between the mounds of filling. Fold the bottom of the dough over the mounds of filling, lining up dough to the bottom firmly, squeezing out any air pockets as you work. With a pastry wheel or knife, cut between the filling into rectangles approximately 2 ½ x 2 inches. Pat lightly the tops of the ravioli to even out the filling. Pinch the edges of the ravioli to seal in the filling. Repeat with the remaining two pieces of dough.

As Lidia says at the end of each television program..."Tutti a tavola a mangiare!" That means "Everyone to the table to eat!" She doesn't have to tell me twice!

1 comment:

Brooke said...

Pasta is one delicious dish. When I travelled to Argentina, I learnt a lot about it since it is a country that has many Italian descendants and they really know hoe to prepare it. I went to a lot of restaurants and I also cooked it at one of the furnished apartments in buenos aires I had rented. Now I cook for my whole family and they can´t understand how is it that I know so much about the sauces and everythinhg, I tell them: just take a trip to Argentina and you´ll see!
Brooke

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy

Ponte Vecchio, Florence, Italy
oil painting by Kay Tucker

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Somerset Autumn on Wea Creek
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Kansas Storm
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Watercolor Collage

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time

Tempo al Tempo....All in Good Time
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