Kitchen, Tools & Tips

Basic Poached Pears
By Annie Copps

Monday, October 4, 2010
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poached pear in colorful dish


If you are at the market and feel inspired by a display of beautiful pears, but what you find aren't quite ripe or if you find ripe pears but want to serve them in a few days—no worries. Most pears have trouble fully ripening on the branch, they get too heavy and smash to the ground, so they are often harvested before their peak. Underipe pears placed in a paper bag will ripen quickly. (How long depends on how much they need to ripen. If you are in a hurry add a banana or apple to the bag to really hasten the process.) You can get an extra day or two out of ripe pears by placing them in the fridge, this will slow them down considerably.

So whether you are eating them out of hand or you want to try a recipe for poached pears—they just need to ripen.

Yield: 6 servings
Total time: 3 hours; active time: 40 minutes

Ingredients
2 cups red wine (Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, or Merlot)
1/2 cup sugar
1 vanilla bean cut in half lengthwise
1 whole cinnamon stick
Zest and juice of 1 orange
Zest of 1 lemon
1 whole bay leaf
6 ripe, stem-on pears (Anjou, Bartlett, or Bosc)

Directions
Place wine, sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon stick, orange zest and juice, lemon zest, and bay leaf into a medium sauce pan and stir to combine. Carefully peel pears, leaving stems intact. Cut a ¼ [[[.25]]] inch off the bottom (so pears can stand upright for serving). Place pears in liquid.

Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to simmer and cook, stirring gently, until a paring knife easily pierces the pears, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat and allow the pears to cool in poaching liquid.

When cooled, remove pears from liquid with a slotted spoon and place in a small container; cover, and refrigerate. Pour poaching liquid through a sieve set over a second sauce pan. Discard solids and bring liquid to boil and cook until reduced to a thick syrup—about 20 minutes. Let syrup cool to room temperature.

When ready to serve, arrange pears on a platter or on individual plates, and drizzle poaching liquid over them.

Easy Breadsticks
By Annie Copps

Friday, August 6, 2010
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I love throwing dinner parties. I am always trying to think of fun and tasty snacks to have as appetizers: not too fancy or fussy, things you can pick up with your hands, and something I can make myself. I was recently at a cocktail party where breadsticks were served — store-bought — and they were okay, but I figured they can’t be too hard to make and I can add any flavors I like.

Ingredients
Pizza dough (homemade or store bought)

Any toppings you prefer. (we suggest black and white sesame seeds, fennel and coriander seeds, poppy seeds, chile powder, finely grated Parmesan cheese, za’atar spice mix, or freshly ground black pepper)

About 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
Coarse salt

Directions
Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Line 1 or 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out your favorite pizza dough (store-bought or homemade) to about 1/3 inch thick.

Using a large knife or pizza cutter, cut the dough into 3/4-inch-wide strips.

Brush lightly with water and sprinkle with any mix of seeds, spices, and cheese. One by one lift the ends of the strip and twist. Arranged the twisted strips onto baking sheets.

Bake until nicely browned and crisp, about 15 minutes. Drizzle with extra virgin olive oil and sprinkle with coarse salt.

Let cool, then serve or store up to 1 day in an airtight container.

annie copps with appleAnnie B. Copps is a senior editor at Yankee Magazine. Annie oversees the magazine's food coverage, both as an editor and as a contributor of feature stories and columns.

Zesty Applesauce
By Lidia Bastianich

Thursday, October 7, 2010
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apples

Everyone loves a good applesauce. So why don't you try the zesty version straight from Northern Italy? I know that once you have tasted this dish, a recipe found in my cookbook, Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy, you will never go back to the plain applesauce.

Directions
Set the applesauce in a pan. Make your own or pick some up at the store.

Add a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, some freshly grated horseradish…and yes horseradish root is available at most grocery stores. It resembles a carrot and like a carrot you can peel it and shred it.

Let the apple, lemon and shredded horseradish cook together.

Once it is perking add ½ a cup of heavy cream.

Stir well to allow all of the flavors to combine.

Serve this delightfully tangy applesauce warm along side a luscious ham, turkey, chicken or roast beef.
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lidia bastianichLidia Matticchio Bastianich was born in Pola, Istria, on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. She is a cookbook author, restaurateur, and TV chef extraordinaire. Watch Lidia's Italy Saturdays at 1:30pm on WGBH 2 or Sundays at 4pm on WGBX 44.

A Tip For Meat Lovers
By Lidia Bastianich

Monday, November 8, 2010
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beef in suace

Calling all meat lovers! Create a no-mess main course while the soup is perking. I use this recipe all the time. I often add cuts of meat to a big pot of soup I'm cooking. Not only does it add flavor, but when it is done, I remove it and serve it as a second course.

In fact if your pot is big enough, you should be able to drop in a pound or more of meat, like a piece of flat iron beef or chuck. Country style ribs and sausages are also delicious this way.

Simply wash the meat well in hot water before you add it to the pot and continue cooking.

Remove the meat, keep it warm until ready to serve, then slice, and serve alongside the soup.

Sprinkle with some salt.

Kitchen Basics
By Lidia Bastianich

Thursday, September 16, 2010
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sauce pot

My kitchen doesn't need anything super fancy. I do have a few essentials though that make cooking easier and more delicious.

  1. A large stock pot is a must for making soups. Soups are great because they can be frozen then can be easily prepared during the week when time is precious.
  2. Heavy sauce pans or dutch ovens are what I use for roasts and braises.
  3. I love a cast iron skillet for high temperature searing, delicious stove top roasting—and it will last you a lifetime.
  4. For pasta lovers like me, a 14" diameter skillet is a must. You can toss the pasta with the sauce just before serving. It's also a perfect pan for quick-cooking meats and skillet-braised vegetables, Italian style.
  5. Another essential is a great glass of Bastianich wine.

Buon appetitio!




Lidia Matticchio Bastianich was born in Pola, Istria, on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. She is a cookbook author, restaurateur, and TV chef extraordinaire. Watch Lidia's Italy Saturdays at 1:30pm on WGBH 2 or Sundays at 4pm on WGBX 44.

Garlic Butter
By Lidia Bastianich

Monday, September 13, 2010
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garlic herb butter

A quick, delicious, and useful recipe. With this recipe you can quickly make seared shrimp, scallops, or just toss with pieces of chicken breast and voilà! A beautiful dish!

Buon appetito!

Ingredients
2 sticks of unsalted butter
Garlic
Shallots
Extra virgin olive oil
White wine
Fresh parsley
Lemon juice

Directions
To make garlic butter simply heat some extra virgin olive oil in a pan, add a little finely chopped garlic, and a few chopped shallots. Cook these together over a low heat for 2-3 minutes.

Pour in some white wine, a little lemon juice, and bring all ingredients to a boil until almost evaporated.

Let this cool completely while the sticks of unsalted butter are softening, then blend it all together with some chopped parsley.

The flavored butter will keep in the refirdgerator for a week or more. Just roll or cover it tightly in cellophane wrap.
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lidia bastianichLidia Matticchio Bastianich was born in Pola, Istria, on the northeastern coast of the Adriatic Sea. She is a cookbook author, restaurateur, and TV chef extraordinaire. Watch Lidia's Italy Saturdays at 1:30pm on WGBH 2 or Sundays at 4pm on WGBX 44.

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