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Video: An Italian twist on Christmas Eve dinner

  1. Closed captioning of: An Italian twist on Christmas Eve dinner

    >> today's holiday kitchen. this morning, an italian feast that's perfect for a hectic holiday-like christmas. she's the author of the new book lidia's common sense italian cooking. good morning.

    >> good morning, willie , savannah. [ speaking italian ]

    >> we could go on like this all morning.

    >> are you going to make the feast of the seven fishes tonight?

    >> i am. i am.

    >> are you?

    >> this is one of the dishes that fits into it. the little pasta . savannah, how's your cooking lately?

    >> i'm working on it. it's a new years resolution.

    >> how about you willie ?

    >> i enjoy a little cooking.

    >> so pasta , fresh or dry is fine. a little garlic, a little leeks, sue zuchini and shrimp.

    >> is there a difference if you do this fresh or homemade pasta .

    >> it is. it's a little difference in the texture. the dry pasta remains more al denti. put a little red pepper in there.

    >> okay.

    >> all of it.

    >> okay.

    >> a little bit of salt on this.

    >> okay.

    >> and the tomato. this is plum tomatoes that i crushed. so go ahead and put it all in there.

    >> can you just use tomato sauce ?

    >> no.

    >> come over here. willie , let's rinse that out.

    >> okay.

    >> let's not waste anything.

    >> okay.

    >> collect all around, savannah. put everything in there. all of these little pieces in there.

    >> beautiful.

    >> did you put salt willie ?

    >> i did.

    >> you let this simmer like that.

    >> do i cover it or anything?

    >> no, you don't need to cover it. let it simmer and you put the pasta to cook. so here we have -- we have the sauce that simmered for about ten minutes.

    >> okay.

    >> this this is how it looks. we have a little bit of basil here and the shrimp. willie , you're in charge of the pasta .

    >> yes, ma'am.

    >> but first, put the shrimps in.

    >> dump it or one by one.

    >> okay.

    >> mix it well in there.

    >> i don't want to mess it up.

    >> you're asking a good question.

    >> okay. good, good. get it under the sauce.

    >> yeah.

    >> okay. now here's a dumb question. were those -- i shouldn't even ask. were those shrimp precooked or are we cooking them now?

    >> no.

    >> i'm --

    >> you're doing fine.

    >> i have a lot of experience.

    >> i need a little bit of pasta water right in here.

    >> just the water.

    >> just the water. you see when your sauce is dense.

    >> coming in hot.

    >> there you go.

    >> why the water?

    >> to make it a little soft.

    >> okay.

    >> water is fine. doesn't that look better now.

    >> it does.

    >> you can fish the pasta out of there and put it in here.

    >> coming in hot again savannah.

    >> right in there.

    >> clear.

    >> don't go like this because it's going to go down your sleeves.

    >> that's okay.

    >> that's perfect. i'll help a little here. so you see, just like that.

    >> oh, that looks good.

    >> doesn't this look good.

    >> all right in the pan.

    >> you see. all in the pan. the pasta is undercooked. the shrimp is continuing to cook. you don't want overcooked shrimp. shrimp don't take long. as long as it will take the pasta to coat, the shrimp will be nice and cooked.

    >> so did you say you sort of want to undercook the pasta and then do the final bit here?

    >> absolutely. you undercook it a little bit and put it in the sauce and finish the cooking and it takes the sauce in and flavors good.

    >> beautiful.

    >> i would even take -- willie give me a little bit of oil. drizzle a little bit of oil on top of here. that's it. savannah take a little bit of basil. oh, you're a great assistant here. does this look good?

    >> that looks amazing.

    >> can you do this savannah?

    >> sure i can. i appreciate your confidence.

    >> all right.

    >> now you're going to bring some for us.

    >> yes, i will.

    >> here's the finish. these are great peppers and it's good, let's say meatless. it's meatless. this is bread, you take bread, you soak it in milk and then you chop some olives, some capers, some cheese, some egg, some basil and you mix it nice and make a nice stuffing. you take your peppers, stuff it and put it in the oven about 30 minutes .

    >> quartered peppers?

    >> absolutely and parmesan on top.

    >> oh my goodness.

    >> and cookies for dessert.

    >> traditional.

    >> very traditional.

    >> beautiful as always.

    >> you made it so fun. thank you.

    >> merry christmas .

    >> merry christmas to you.

    >> you can find lidia's recipes and more on our website

TODAY recipes
updated 12/23/2013 5:07:03 PM ET 2013-12-23T22:07:03

Recipe: Fresh fettuccine with shrimp and leek sauce

  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more for the pot
  • 6 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 6 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 2 leeks, halved lengthwise, white and -light--green parts thinly sliced
  • 12 ounces zucchini, sliced into -1/4--inch--thick -half--moons
  • 1 pound fresh fettuccine
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 cups San Marzano canned whole tomatoes, crushed by hand
  • 1 pound medium sized shrimp shelled and divined
  • 1/4 loosely packed cup fresh basil leaves, chopped

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil for pasta. In a large skillet, over medium-high heat, heat 4 tablespoons of olive oil. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Once the garlic is sizzling, add the leeks and zucchini. Cook until softened (about 4 minutes).

Season the vegetables with the salt and crushed red pepper. Add the tomatoes and 4 ounces of pasta cooking water. Bring to a simmer and cook until slightly thickened.

In the meantime, add the fettuccine noodles to the boiling water. While the fettuccine is cooking, add the shrimp to the sauce and bring back to a boil. Cook for another 5 minutes.

When the pasta is al dente, drain and add to the sauce. Add the chopped basil and toss to coat the pasta with the sauce. Remove the skillet from the heat. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons oil. Toss and serve hot.

Serving Size

Makes 6 servings

Recipe: Savory stuffed peppers

  • 4 medium--sized red, yellow or orange bell peppers
  • 4 cups of day-old country-bread cubes, sliced into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup milk
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled and sliced
  • 4 anchovies, chopped
  • 2 plum tomatoes, seeded and chopped
  • 1/3 cup pitted Gaeta olives, chopped
  • 1/4 cup tiny capers in brine, drained
  • 1 bunch scallions, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons grated Grana Padano or Parmigiano Reggiano
  • 1/4 cup fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Cut out the stems of the peppers and cut lengthwise into thirds to make "boats" that will hold the stuffing. Remove the pit and the seeds. Put the cubed bread in a bowl and pour the milk over it. When the bread is softened, squeeze out the excess milk and put the bread in a large bowl.

In a medium skillet, heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the garlic. Once the garlic is sizzling, add the anchovies and stir to dissolve them into the oil. Add the tomatoes, olives and capers. Cook until the tomatoes just begin to soften but still retain their shape, about 3 minutes. Add to the bowl with the bread and let cool.

Mix the scallions, egg, grated cheese and parsley into the bowl with the bread.

Grease a 10x13-inch baking dish with the remaining tablespoon olive oil. Season the inside of the peppers with the salt. Mound some stuffing into the crevice of each pepper boat, but do not overstuff. Lay them in the baking dish, stuffing side up. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover and continue baking until the filling is browned and the peppers are tender—about 15 minutes more.

Serving Size

Makes 6 servings

Recipe: Anise cookies

  • For the cookies:
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup fine semolina
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 large egg plus 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tablespoons sambuca
  • 1/2 teaspoon anise extract
  • 12 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • For the glaze:
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon anise extract
  • 1 cup confectioners' sugar, sifted

For the cookies:

In a bowl, stir together flour, semolina, baking powder, baking soda and salt. In a spouted measuring cup, whisk together the egg, yolks, sambuca and anise extract. In a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until the combination is light and fluffy (about 2 minutes). Add the egg-yolk mixture to the mixer and beat on medium until smooth. Add the flour mixture and beat on low just until combined. Remove dough from mixing bowl, wrap it with plastic and chill it until firm (about 1 hour). Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Roll the dough into four dozen balls and bake in batches on parchment-lined sheet pans. Bake 16 to 18 minutes or until golden. Rotate the pans from the top to bottom racks in your oven halfway through the baking time.

For the glaze:

Whisk the milk and anise extract into the confectioners' sugar to make a smooth glaze about the thickness of pancake batter. Add a little more milk or confectioners' sugar to adjust the consistency. Dip or drizzle the cookies with glaze and let set on a rack.

Serving Size

Makes 48 cookies

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