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Lidia Bastianich is one of the most beloved Italian chefs of our time. She’s an Emmy award-winning TV host, bestselling cookbook author, restaurateur, and owner of a food and entertainment empire. Now she has a brand new cookbook, Celebrate Like an Italian. It contains more than 200 recipes that pair perfectly with entertaining, and she recently dropped by The Social to show off some of those dishes.

Vin Brûlé

Vin Brûlé is a version of mulled wine enjoyed in Piemonte, in northwestern Italy. It’s a perfect choice for holiday entertaining, because you can double or even triple the recipe and leave it over very low heat, ladling it out as your guests come in from the cold. To really take off the chill, add a dash of brandy to the cup when serving. Most recipes call for only the citrus zest, but I add the juice as well – why waste it? Serves 6 or more

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 2 oranges
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1 tsp allspice berries
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 2 750ml bottles dry red wine (It’s okay to use something inexpensive here)
  • 3/4 to 1 cup Sugar
  • Thin slices of oranges, for serving
  • Brandy (Optional)

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Remove the peel from the oranges with a vegetable peeler. Set the peel in a square of cheesecloth with the cinnamon, allspice, and cloves, and tie to enclose.
  2. Put the sachet in a Large Dutch oven, and add the wine and ¾ cup sugar. Bring to a bare simmer over low heat. Taste, and add the remaining sugar, to your taste. Simmer 5 minutes, then reduce heat to the lowest setting and simmer for an additional 5 to 10 minutes. To serve, drop an orange slice and a splash of brandy(if using) into a coffee mug or tea-cup, and ladle in the Vin Brûlé.
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Prosciutto Di Parma “Purses”

I was first served a similar dish by my friend Carlo at Galloni Prosciutto in Langhirano, near Parma. He took thin slices of prosciutto, stuffed them with Robiola, and tied them close with a chive. A mouthful of flavor. Here I cook them and use an aged cheese, which is more tasty than a fresh cheese. Cook the “purses” just long enough to brown them. Overcooking will make them salty, and since Prosciutto di Parma is an air-cured product, it doesn’t need to be cooked to be rendered edible. When buying the prosciutto, ask for slices from the widest part of the ham, measuring about 8 by 4 inches. Makes 20 Purses

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • 20 sturdy fresh chives, each at least 5 inches long
  • 10 thin slices Prosciutto di Parma, each approximately 8 by 4 inches
  • ½ cup Grated Grana Padano
  • 2 tbsp unsalted butter

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Ripe fresh figs, quartered, or 1/2 inch cubes of ripe cantaloupe or honeydew melon, for serving.
  2. Bring a large skillet of water to a boil, and add the chives. Stir, separating the chives gently, just until they turn bright green, about 5 seconds. Transfer them with a slotted spoon to a bowl of cold water, and let stand a few seconds to stop the cooking. Remove the chives, and drain them on paper towels.
  3. Cut the prosciutto slices in half crosswire to make pieces that measure approximately 4 by 4 inches. Place 1 teaspoon grated cheese in the center of each square. Gather the edges of the prosciutto slices, cheese and chives.
  4. In a large nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon of the butter over low heat. Add half of the purses, and cook, shaking the skillet very gently, until the undersides are golden brown, about 3 to 4 minutes. Add the remaining 1 tablespoon butter, and cook the remaining purses in the same manner. Serve hot with fresh figs or ripe melon pieces.
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Ziti with Kale Pesto and Crispy Bacon

Recycling leftovers and turning them into new dishes is one of the most noble forms of cooking, in which food is respected and not wasted. This quick dish can be made with the remaining kale pesto from page 274, to serve either as a first course, or for a family dinner the next day. Serves 6

WHAT YOU NEED:

  • Kosher salt
  • 1 pound Ziti
  • 3 tbsp Extra-virgin olive oil.
  • 4 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled.
  • 8 ounces slab bacon, cut into lardoons.
  • 2 cups of kale pesto (Page 274)
  • 1 cup grated Grana Padano

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Bring a large pot of salter water to boil the pasta. Add ziti and stir.
  2. Meanwhile, add the olive oil to a large skillet over medium heat. When oil is hot, add the garlic and let it sizzle for a minute, then add the bacon. Cook and stir until the bacon renders its fat and crisps, about 6 minutes.
  3. Add 1 cup pasta-cooking water to the skillet, and simmer until reduced by half, about 2 minutes.
  4. When pasta is al dente, remove it with a spider directly into the simmering sauce, adding a little more pasta water if it is dry.
  5. Scrape the pesto into a large pasta-serving bowl. Pour the pasta over the top, mix well, add the grated cheese, and toss, adding up to ½ cup more pasta water if it seems dry.
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Skillet Brussels Sprouts with Lemon Sauce

You can prep the sprouts ahead of time, but don’t cook them until the last minute. The lemon sauce can be made earlier in the day and reheated. This recipe will make more lemon sauce than you need, but it is great on almost all other cooked vegetables and keeps in the refrigerator for several days. Serves 4 to 6

WHAT YOU NEED:

For the Lemon Sauce
  • Peel of 2 lemons, removed with a vegetable peeler
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 5 cloves of garlic, crushed and peeled
  • 2 medium onions, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • ½ tsp kosher salt, plus more to taste
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
For the Brussels Sprouts 
  • 1 ½ pounds firm, unblemished Brussel sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. For the lemon sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine the lemon peels and juice, garlic, onions, salt, red pepper flakes, and 1 ½ cups water. Cover, and cook at a gentle simmer for 20 minutes.
  2. Uncover, and simmer a bit more rapidly until the onions are very tender, and barely covered in liquid, about 20 to 30 mins more. Scrape the contents of the pot into a blender, and carefully blend as you drizzle in the olive oil through the hole in the top, until smooth. Return to the saucepan, season with salt if necessary, and keep warm.
  3. For the Brussel sprouts, trim any tough or yellow outer leaves. Trim about ¼ inch from the base to free the outer leaves. Pluck off the leaves, trimming more of the base to loosen them as you go. Once you get to the tiny heart of the sprout and the leaves can’t be separated, just cut into slivers. Separate all the leave from all of the sprouts this way.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic, and let it sizzle until just golden around the edges, about 1 or 2 minutes. Add the sprout leaves, and season with salt and crushed red pepper flakes. Toss to coat in the oil, cover, and coo, shaking the pain occasionally, until the leaves begin to wilt, about 4 minutes. Toss with tongs, and cover the skillet again.
  5. Cook until the leaves are wilted and tender but not falling apart, about 4 to 5 minutes more. Increase the heat to boil away any liquid in the pan. To serve, spread about ½ cup of the lemon sauce on a platter, and mound the Brussel sprouts on top.
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Berry Tiramisù

Tiramisù is a common dessert on the menus of Italian restaurants and in Italian homes. It is certainly a favorite in our restaurants, but it is easy to make at home as well. This dessert is best made a day ahead , to allow the flavors to combine. Any combinations of berries – or even just one kind – will make a marvelous tiramisu. Serves 10 or more

WHAT YOU NEED:

For the Berries
  • 4 cups blueberries
  • 6 cups thinly sliced strawberries
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 2 cups orange juice
  • 1 cup chunky blueberry jam
  • ¼ cup dark rum
  • ¼ cup super fine sugar
For assembly
  • 2 cups ricotta, room temperature
  • Two 8-ounce containers mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 1 ½ tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 42 Savoiardi (ladyfingers)

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. For the berry sauce, in a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups blueberries, 2 cups strawberries, the granulated sugar, orange zest, and juice, jam, and rum. Bring to a simmer, and cook to make a slightly syrupy sauce, about 10 to 15 minutes. Pour into a shallow pan(where you will be soaking the Savoiardi), and let cool.
  2. Put the remaining 2 cups of strawberries, remaining 4 cups of strawberries, and the superfine sugar in a medium bowl. Toss to combine, and let sit at room temperature 10 minutes.
  3. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the ricotta and mascarpone at medium speed for a few seconds to combine, then add superfine sugar and vanilla. Beat at medium-high speed until light and smooth, about 2 minutes.
  4. To assemble, soak half of the Savoiardi in the cooked berry sauce until moistened, rolling them around to coat thoroughly. Tightly fit the Savoiardi in the bottom of a deep 9-by-13 inch glass or ceramic dish. Spoon a few spoonfuls of the remaining cooked berry sauce over the Savoiardi. Spread half of the ricotta mixture in an even layer over the Savoiardi.
  5. Layer a little more than half of the uncooked berries (you just want an even layer) over the mascarpone. Soak the remaining Savoiardi in the cooked berry sauce, and arrange in a tight layer over the fresh berries.  Spread the remaining mascarpone over this in a smooth layer. Cover, and chill overnight for best results. Combine the remaining fresh berries and any cooked berry sauce left from soaking the Savoiardi, cover and chill overnight.
  6. To serve, cut squares of the tiramisu and serve with a little of the leftover berries and sauce.