Italian-American food–what cuisine is it?” asks Lidia Matticchio Bastianich in Lidia’s Italian-American Cooking, a cookbook based on her eponymous PBS TV series. The author of two previous works, La Cucina di Lidia and Lidia’s Italian Table, and co-owner of three acclaimed Manhattan restaurants, Bastianich is ideally suited to explore all Italian fare. “Americans fell in love with Italian cooking first,” she says, thus enshrining a cuisine born of immigrant adaptation. In celebration of that affection, the book offers over 150 recipes for a wide range of dishes–traditional favorites like Baked Stuffed Shells and Lobster Fra Diavolo as well as personal adaptations such as Scampi alla Buonavia and canneloni made with roasted pork and mortadella. These easily done dishes benefit from Lidia’s subtle polishing; fans of her foolproof palate and her direct yet relaxed approach to Italian cooking will welcome the book.
My Recommendation: Everyone knows that Lidia Bastianich knows Italian cuisine, but is this new cookbook of hers something you would want to have in your Italian cookbook collection? This cookbook was created from her popular television show, and in it Lidia shares the type of recipes she first found when arriving in America as a young woman. The recipes are pretty typical of basic Italian American cuisine, and you will find such standards as “Rigatoni alla Boscaiola”, and “Bistecca alla Pizzaiola” throughout the book. I did not find any recipe in this book that I have not heard of before, although some were prepared a little differently than I am used to.
Almost all of the recipes from this book would be right at home on my Italian Mother-In-Law’s kitchen table, and could easily be reproduced by a cook with minimal experience. Peppered throughout the book are instructions with photographs of some basic kitchen skills that a novice cook would find very helpful. The photographs, although not plentiful enough for my taste are very attractive and will cause you to start planning your next Italian meal. Something I did find in this book was that all ingredients listed would be available to everyone which was not so in Lidia’s previous books. In my opinion, although I did not find anything new or unique in Lidia’s new book, if you enjoy Italian American food than this is one of the best references you will find available at this time.
If you are interested in buying Lidia’s Italian American Kitchen, you can find it at Amazon.com by clicking the book below.