Celebrity Chef Holidays: Lidia Bastianich

As a part of our Celebrity Chefs Holiday series, some of America's best-known chefs and food television personalities share their favorite holiday dishes, provide recipes for them, and even tell us who will be at their holiday tables. Today we talk to Lidia Bastianich, famed restaurateur, public television personality, and cookbook author.

20080418-lidia.jpgWhat's your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal and why? My favorite part of Thanksgiving is that it is an all-American holiday. Being Italian, every family holiday we celebrate in the Italian tradition, recipes, and customs. On the other hand, on Thanksgiving I cook mostly American: pumpkin pie, sweet potatoes with brown sugar and molasses, warm apple pie with ice cream, and a big roast turkey with stuffing and cranberry-quince chutney. America offered my family and I refuge and the possibility of a new life when I was only 13. This is the holiday where I especially feel American, and the nature of this holiday makes me feel especially grateful to this country. On Thanksgiving as we gather around the table every year is an affirmation, Italian of origin, we feel truly blessed and grateful to be Americans.

What are you doing for Christmas this year? Who's going to be there? What is the menu going to be? Christmas Day will most likely be at my house and my brother with his family of five, Tanya and her family of four, Joseph and his family of five, Joe's in-laws and sister in-law's family of six will come over for dinner. (The menu, after the jump.)

Could you share a favorite Thanksgiving recipe with the Serious Eats community? Everybody loves the butternut squash tiramisù and the cranberry-quince chutney I make.

What's your favorite part of the Christmas meal and why? A moving moment for me is when the whole family is around the table. We say grace, and the aromas of the food fill the air, and I feel very gratified when I serve the capon tortellini soup and Olivia, Lorenzo, Miles, Ethan, and Julia, my five grandchildren devour it and ask for seconds. At that point I know they have been nourished with food and love, and they know it as well.

Could you share your favorite Thanksgiving menu with the Serious Eats community?