From Faith Middleton: If it is the Lord who should be praised, then praise the Lord for Lidia Bastianich, one of the great chefs in America. She is always in service to the food, not her own ego, yet there is a self-contained sureness in her as she teaches on television and in her books.
In paying tribute to Lidia at a Food Schmooze dinner with her last year in Connecticut, I told her that I felt torn referring to her as a "chef," rather than a cook. While I bow to her exquisite knowledge of Italy's regions, and her extraordinary technique, her ability to translate recipes for those of us who are home cooks, is wise and rare. You do not pick up one of her cookbooks, including the new one featured here, Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking, and think, I can't possibly do this. In fact, you can't wait to get at it, and the dish never disappoints.
Lidia's latest cookbook Commonsense Italian Cooking: 150 Delicious and Simple Recipes Anyone Can Master, does what it says, giving us uncomplicated recipes that use good quality ingredients, a formula that practically guarantees success. A focus on good and simple ingredients also reminds us that basic things can be savored as well as satisfy us at the deepest level.
It was hard to choose a recipe, but in the end I had to go with what I consider the temptress in Lidia's stable, a gorgeous yet simple salmon with Prosecco wine that you and your guests are not likely to forget. Seriously, they don't get easier than this, and with such a wondrous pay-off.
Four 6-ounce skinless salmon fillets
1¼ teaspoons kosher salt
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 bunch scallions, trimmed and chopped (about 1 cup)
1 cup chopped cornichons
2 cups Prosecco
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
- Season the salmon with ¼ teaspoon of the salt. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the salmon, and sear it on both sides, about 2 minutes per side, but don't worry about cooking the fish all the way through at this point. Remove the salmon to a plate, pour out the oil, and wipe the skillet clean.
- Return the skillet to medium-high heat, and add 4 tablespoons of the butter. When the butter is melted, add the scallions and cornichons, and cook until wilted, about 2 minutes.
- Add the Prosecco, and bring to a boil. Boil until reduced by about half, about 5 minutes. Add the remaining teaspoon salt, and slide the salmon back into the sauce. Simmer until salmon is cooked through, about 3 minutes. Whisk the remaining butter and the parsley into the sauce and serve.
Recipe taken from Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking: 150 Delicious and Simple Recipes Anyone Can Master by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich, co-authored by Tanya Batianich Manuali, published by Knopf 2013.
- Gordon Chalue is making a great paleo lasagna at Shoreline Prime Meats & Deli.
- Matthew Goodyear, from the Blue Canoe Oyster Bar & Grill in Greenport, NY makes a killer cocktail using brown butter bourbon.
- Chris Prosperi is chef and owner of Metro Bis Restaurant in Simsbury, CT.
- Lidia Matticchio Bastianich is author of Lidia's Commonsense Italian Cooking: 150 Delicious and Simple Recipes Anyone Can Master