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updated 10/9/2005 11:00:16 PM ET 2005-10-10T03:00:16

What better way to honor mom’s around the world than to treat her to a home cooked meal! Some of the top chefs along with their moms prepare some of their favorite dishes. Lidia Matticchio Bastianich of the PBS series, “Lidia’s Italian-American Kitchen” and author of a companion book of the same name, and her mom, Erminia matticchio create their favorite Mother’s Day recipes. Check them out below.

Bocconcini, literally “little mouthfuls,” are small rounds of fresh mozzarella that are often sold wherever larger rounds of fresh mozzarella are made. ( If you can find bocconcini made from water buffalo’s milk, they’re even better for this pasta.) Bocconcini can vary in size from store to store. If yours are larger than the type called ciliege (cherries), you may want to cut them into quarters, so they fit neatly on a spoon alongside the pasta. If you can’t find bocconcini of any type, cut larger pieces of fresh mozzarella into 1-inch cubes.

Recipe: MOSTACCIOLI WITH FRESH BASIL AND MOZZARELLA (on this page)

For this dish I prefer luganega, a thin (about 1/2-inch-wide) pork sausage seasoned only with salt and pepper and without fennel or other seeds. If that is unavailable, use the wider (about 1-inch-thick) sweet pork sausages, preferably made without aromatic seeds of any kind. Cut the smaller luganega into 1-inch lengths, and the wider sausages into 1/2-inch lengths.

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When I cook a whole chicken, or any chicken on the bone, I always salt it three times: in its raw state, when I first begin to cook it, and as it finishes cooking. It seems that the first two saltings are absorbed and somewhat dissipated, especially if you add more ingredients as the chicken cooks. The last salting should be to balance the whole act. Each time you salt, it should be done judiciously, to avoid oversalting and ruining the dish.

Recipe: CHICKEN BITES WITH POTATO, SAUSAGES, AND VINEGAR (on this page)

Recipe: ESCAROLE BRAISED WITH OIL AND GARLIC (on this page)

Recipe: SWEET CREPES (on this page)

Recipe: PINE NUT COOKIES (on this page)

VARIATION

If you cannot find almond paste, try the following variation, which will yield equally delicious cookies with a slightly grainier consistency than those made with store-bought almond paste. Grind 1 pound blanched slivered almonds and 1 1/2 cups sugar to as fine a paste as possible in a food processor, stopping several times to scrape down the sides of the workbowl. Add 3 large egg whites and continue mixing until the whites are thoroughly incorporated and the batter is smooth. Continue to roll, coat, and bake the cookies as described above.



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Recipe: MOSTACCIOLI WITH FRESH BASIL AND MOZZARELLA

Ingredients
  • Salt
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling over the finished pasta if you like
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • One 35-ounce can Italian plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano) with their liquid, seeded and crushed, or 3 cups peeled, seeded, and diced ripe plum tomatoes
  • 1/2 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper
  • 1 pound mostaccioli or penne pasta 1 pound bocconcini (bite-size fresh mozzarella), preferably mozzarella di bufala (see page 54), cut in half
  • 1 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 1 cup shredded fresh basil leaves
Preparation

Bring 6 quarts of salted water to a boil in an 8-quart pot over high heat. Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Scatter the garlic over the oil and cook, shaking the pan, until golden brown, about 2 minutes. Stir in the tomatoes and crushed red pepper. Season lightly with salt, bring to a boil, then lower the heat so the sauce is at a lively simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the sauce is lightly reduced, about 10 minutes.

While the sauce is simmering, stir the penne into the boiling water. Return to a boil, stirring frequently. Cook the pasta, semi-covered, stirring occasionally, until done, 10 to 12 minutes.

If the skillet is large enough to accommodate the sauce and pasta, fish the pasta out of the boiling water with a large wire skimmer and drop it directly into the sauce in the skillet. If not, drain the pasta, return it to the pot, and pour in the sauce. Bring the sauce and pasta to a boil, stirring to coat the pasta with sauce. Check the seasoning, adding salt and crushed red pepper if necessary.

Remove the pot from the heat, and stir in the mozzarella, grated cheese, and basil. Serve immediately in warm bowls.

Serving Size

Makes 6 servings

Recipe: CHICKEN BITES WITH POTATO, SAUSAGES, AND VINEGAR

Ingredients
  • 2 frying chickens (about 3 pounds each, preferably free-range)
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 pound sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 pound small red-bliss potatoes (about 12), washed and cut in half
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled
  • 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • 1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh Italian parsley
Preparation

Cut each chicken into twelve pieces: With a sturdy knife or kitchen shears, remove the backbone by cutting along both sides. Remove the wingtips. Reserve the backbone, wingtips, and giblets - except for the liver - to make chicken stock. Place the chicken, breast side down, on a cutting board and cut the chicken into halves by cutting through the breastbone lengthwise. Cut off the wing at the joint that connects it to the breast, then cut each wing in half at the joint. Separate the leg from the breast. Cut the leg in half at the joint. Cut the breast in half crosswise, giving the knife a good whack when you get to the bone to separate the breast cleanly into halves. Repeat with the remaining chicken.

Wash and pat the chicken pieces dry, then season them generously with salt and pepper.

Preheat the oven to 450F. Heat 2 tablespoons of the oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat. Add the sausage and cook, stirring often, until lightly browned on all sides, about 3 minutes for thinner sausages or 5 minutes for wider sausages. Remove the sausage pieces with a slotted spoon and transfer them to a roasting pan or baking dish large enough to hold all the sausage, chicken, and potatoes comfortably while allowing room for stirring. (An 18 ×15-inch roasting pan is ideal.) Season the chicken generously with salt and pepper again. Increase the heat to medium-high and add to the skillet as many pieces, skin side down, as will fit in a single layer. Cook, turning once, until well browned on both sides, about 8 minutes. As the pieces are done, remove them to the roasting pan and add the remaining chicken pieces as room becomes available. When all the chicken has been browned and removed from the pan, add the potatoes, cut side down, and cook until browned, about 6 minutes. Transfer those to the roasting pan as well.

Whack the garlic cloves with the flat side of the knife and scatter them and the rosemary over the contents of the roasting pan. Drizzle with the remaining 2 tablespoons olive oil and roast 15 minutes, stirring gently occasionally.

Sprinkle the chicken, sausage, and potatoes with the vinegar and continue roasting, stirring gently occasionally, until the chicken is cooked through and the potatoes are very tender, about 15 minutes.

Prop up one end of the roasting pan so the fat settles on one end and let rest 5 minutes. Spoon off the excess fat from the roasting pan, sprinkle the parsley over everything, and transfer to a warm serving platter. Serve immediately.

Serving Size

Makes 6 servings

Recipe: ESCAROLE BRAISED WITH OIL AND GARLIC

Ingredients
  • One head (about 1 1/2-pounds) escarole
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed hot red pepper, or to taste
Preparation

Cut the head of escarole in half through the core, then cut out the core. Cut the leaves crosswise into 2-inch strips. Wash the escarole in plenty of cold water, swishing the leaves gently to remove all sand and grit, then drain in a colander.

Heat the olive oil in a wide, heavy skillet over medium heat. Whack the garlic cloves with the side of a knife and toss them into the pan. Cook, shaking the pan, until golden, about 2 minutes. Carefully stir in as many of the escarole leaves - with the water that clings to them - as will fit comfortably into the pan. Cook, stirring, until the leaves begin to wilt. Continue adding more escarole, a handful at a time, until all the escarole is in the pan. Season lightly with salt and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper.

Lower the heat to medium-low, cover the skillet, and cook, stirring occasionally, until the escarole is tender, about 8 minutes. If all the liquid in the pan evaporates and the greens begin to stick to the pan, sprinkle a tablespoon or two of water over them. Check the seasoning, add red pepper and salt if necessary, and serve immediately.

Serving Size

Makes 4 servings

Recipe: SWEET CREPES

Ingredients
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup club soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon dark rum
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 cups flour
  • 6 tablespoons melted butter
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • Vegetable oil, for frying
Preparation

In a bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the milk, club soda, sugar, salt, rum and vanilla and blend well until the sugar has dissolved. gradually sift in the flour to form a batter; then stir in the melted butter (the consistency should be that of melted ice cream.) Add the citrus zests.

In a 6”-7” crepe pan, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil over moderately high flame, pouring off the excess. Tilt the heated and oiled pan at a 45 angle to the floor and pour batter in small batches into the pan, allowing it to run down from the highest point. (Usually, ½ ladleful of batter will cover the pan adequately.) The secret is to flex your wrist, distributing the batter as thinly as possible.

Return the pan to the heat, reduce the flame to moderate, and cook the crepe until lightly browned, and cook the crepe until lightly browned, 30-40 seconds. flip it carefully with a spatula and cook the second side until brown spots appear. Remove from the pan and repeat the process with the remaining batter, re-oiling the pan only as necessary. (Each crepe should take about ½ minute per side.)

The finished crepes can be sprinkled with sugar or spread with marmalade, folded into quarters, drizzled with confectioners’ sugar, or served hot with a spoonful of whipped cream and some fresh berries.

Recipe: PINE NUT COOKIES

Ingredients
  • Butter, softened for the pans, if using
  • 1 pound canned almond paste
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 3 large egg whites
  • 1 1/2 cups pine nuts
Preparation

Arrange one rack in the upper third of the oven and the other in the lower third. Preheat the oven to 35?F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, or grease them lightly.

Crumble the almond paste into a mixing bowl. Beat with a handheld electric mixer till crumbled fine. Sprinkle the sugar over the almond paste while continuing to beat, until the sugar is incorporated. Beat in the egg whites, one at a time, and continue beating until the dough is smooth. (The batter can be formed into cookies and baked at this point, or wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 1 day.)

Spread the pine nuts out on a plate. Roll 1 tablespoon of the dough into a ball between your palms. Drop the dough ball onto the plate of pine nuts.

When you have formed several dough balls, roll them in the pine nuts to coat lightly on all sides. Transfer them to the prepared baking sheets and press them lightly, to flatten them slightly and help the pine nuts adhere to the cookies. Repeat with the remaining batter and pine nuts.

Bake the cookies until lightly browned and soft and springy, about 15 minutes. Remove, and cool completely on wire racks before serving. The cookies can be stored in a covered container at room temperature for up to a week.

Serving Size

Makes 36 cookies

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