Lidia Bastianich who is indeed one of the best loved chefs on television and the star of Lidia's Italy came by Late Night to show us how to make a classic Italian dish, plus more of her wonderful recipes below (great ideas for Valentine's Day).
Lidia's Panna Cotta
1 cup milk
1/2 cup sugar
Half of a vanilla bean
2 sheets of fish gelatin
2 cups of heavy cream
1/3 cup water
1/3 cup sugar
Frutta di bosco:
2 pints raspberries
1 pint fraise du bois
1 cup of red or black currants
Bring the milk, sugar, and vanilla bean to a boil. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.
Soak the gelatin in 4 cups of cold water until soft (3-4 minutes). Drain with a small sieve and add to hot milk mixture.
With a pairing knife, open vanilla bean and scrape seeds into mixture. Strain all through a sieve and let cool.
Whip cream until stiff and fold into cold milk.
Meanwhile set water and sugar in a clean pot and bring to boil without mixing. When the caramel mixture turns golden, remove from heat and let cool; it will get darker. Divide caramel sauce evenly into six molds, fill with cream mixture and let cool in refrigerator for at least 2 hours.
Lidia's Rigatoni with Sausage Tomato Sauce
Makes 2 quarts, enough for 2 batches dried pasta, or serves 8
For the sauce (a double batch)
1 and a half pounds sweet Italian sausage
1 cup white wine
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing the pasta
2 cups chopped onions
1 plump garlic clove, peeled and sliced
half teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pasta pot
half teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
6 cups (two 28-ounce cans) Italian plum tomatoes, preferably San Marzano, crushed by hand
1 branch fresh basil with lots of leaves for cooking and finishing the pasta (a single batch)
1 pound Lidia's Rigatoni
1 cup freshly grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano-Reggiano, for a milder flavor, plus more for passing
Remove the sausage casings, and crumble the meat into a large bowl. Pour over it a half cup of the wine, and mix this in with your fingers, breaking up any big meat clumps, so the sausage is evenly moistened.
Pour the olive oil into the big skillet, and set it over medium heat. Stir in the onions, and cook until they begin to soften, about 5 minutes; scatter the sliced garlic in the pan, and season with the salt and peperoncino. When everything is sizzling, crumble in the sausage, and stir with the onions. Pour in the remaining half cup wine, raise the heat a bit, and cook, stirring, as the wine cooks away and the sausage becomes all browned, about 10 minutes. Pour in the tomatoes and a cup of water (which you've used to slosh and rinse the tomato cans and bowl). Submerge the basil branch in the liquid, cover the skillet, and bring to a boil. Set the cover ajar, adjust the heat to keep the sauce bubbling steadily, and cook for an hour or more, until the sauce has developed good flavor and reduced to the consistency you like for dressing pasta. Remove and discard basil branch. You can use some of the sauce right away -you'll need half of it to dress the rigatoni or let it cool, then refrigerate or freeze for later use.
For cooking and dressing the pasta, bring a large pot of well-salted water (at least 7 quarts water with 1 and a half tablespoons kosher salt) to a rolling boil. Heat half the sausage-tomato sauce, about 4 cups, to a bare simmer in a wide skillet or saute pan (if you've just made the sauce, use the same pan). If the sauce has cooled and thickened, loosen it with some of the pasta water. Add the rigatoni to the boiling water, and cook until just al dente.
Lift out the pasta in big bunches with a spider, drain for a moment, and spill them into the simmering sauce. Over low heat, toss the rigatoni and sauce together for a minute or two, until all are coated and perfectly al dente. (Thin the sauce, if necessary, with hot pasta water, or thicken it quickly over higher heat.) Turn off the heat, and sprinkle the grated cheese over the rigatoni and toss well. Finish with a drizzle of olive oil, toss again, and heap the pasta in warm bowls. Serve immediately, passing more cheese at the table.
Lobster Salad with Fresh Tomatoes
Recipe from "Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy," published by Alfred A. Knopf
Serves 6 as an appetizer salad or 4 or as main-course salad
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 6 tablespoons for the lobster pot
2 live lobsters, 1 and a quarter pounds each
3 or 4 ripe fresh tomatoes (about 1 and a half pounds), or 1 pound sweet, ripe cherry tomatoes
2 or 3 tender stalks celery with a nice amount of leaves
Juice of 2 large lemons, freshly squeezed (about one third cup)
2 large hard-cooked eggs, peeled and chopped
a quarter teaspoon peperoncino flakes, or to taste
three quaters cup extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
You will need a large pot, 8-quart capacity or larger, for cooking the lobster; a sharp, heavy chef's knife; moist napkins and bowls for the lobster shells, on the table. Fill the pot with 6 quarts water, add 6 tablespoons salt, and bring to a rolling boil. When the water is at a rolling boil, drop in the lobsters and start timing: cook them, uncovered, for 10 minutes total, after the water returns to the boiling point (and then keep it boiling). At the end of 10 minutes (or a couple of minutes longer if the lobsters are larger than 1 and a quarter pounds), lift the lobsters from the pot, rinse with cold water, drain, and let them cool.
Core the tomatoes, and cut them into wedges, about 1 inch thick; if you have cherry tomatoes, cut them in half. Chop the celery stalks crosswise into 1-inch pieces, and chop the leaves roughly. Toss tomatoes and celery together in a large bowl with a half teaspoon of the salt.
When the lobsters are cool enough to handle, twist and pull off the claws and knuckle segments where the knuckles attach to the front of the body. Lay the clawless lobsters flat on a cutting board, and split them in half lengthwise, from head to tail, with the heavy chef's knife. Separate the meaty tail piece from the carcass (or body) of the four split halves. Now cut the lobster into pieces of whatever size you like; put the pieces in a large mixing bowl as you work. Separate the knuckles from the claws, and crack open the shells of both knuckles and hard claw pincers with the thick edge of the knife blade, or kitchen shears, exposing the meat. Chop the knuckles into pieces at the joints. Cut the tail pieces crosswise into chunks, or leave them whole, which I prefer. Cut the carcass pieces crosswise in two, with the legs still attached (though you can cut the legs off). I like to leave the tomalley and roe in the body pieces, as a special treat while eating the salad. Alternatively, remove tomalley and roe and whisk them into the dressing (or remove them and discard, if not to your liking).
To make the dressing: Whisk together the lemon juice, chopped eggs, peperoncino, and remaining a half teaspoon salt. Pour in the olive oil in a slow stream, whisking steadily to incorporate it into a smooth dressing.
To serve: add the tomatoes and celery to the bowl of lobster pieces. Pour in the dressing, and tumble everything together until evenly coated. Scatter the parsley on top, tumbling to distribute. Arrange the salad on a large platter, or compose individual servings on salad plates.