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Queens’ top chef signs books

Television chef and restaurant owner Lidia Bastianich dished up a few of her culinary creations and signed copies of her latest book Sunday at the Douglaston Club.

Bastianich, a Long Island resident and native of Italy, served up the four−course meal along with Douglaston Club Chef Sam Somar.

The meal served to Douglaston Club members included “crespelle,” thin Italian pancakes similar to crepes, stuffed with mushrooms and pistachio−crusted Colorado lamb chops with Swiss chard and potatoes or sea bass with grilled polenta. The dishes were paired with some wines made from Bastianich’s winery in Italy.

She also autographed copies of her fifth and newest book, “Lidia’s Italy: 140 Simple and Delicious Recipes from the Ten Places in Italy Lidia Loves Most,” taken from the title of her cooking show on public television.

“It’s in−depth, not the typical recipes,” Bastianich said of her book, which has sold nearly 500,000 copies and was released in September. “It’s recipes I thought I’d like to make.”

Her daughter, Tanya, an art historian, collaborated with her on the book, which was the first written by Bastianich to include Italian culture.

Bastianich opened her first restaurant, which served regional Italian cuisine, in 1971 in Forest Hills after her husband was looking into opening an eatery.

“It was not right off the bat that that’s what I wanted to do,” she said about cooking, noting that she studied medicine in college. But food had been a part of Bastianich’s childhood, when she cooked with her grandmother and worked in a few restaurants.

“I grew up in food,” she said. “I was always with the pots. Everybody loved my cooking, so there was something there.”

The Forest Hills restaurant was sold in 1981 and Bastianich opened up another in Manhattan.

“That’s when it really caught on,” she said about the style of food she prepared at the restaurant, which differed from Italian−American eateries.

Bastianich now has seven restaurants across the country and in Italy, including the renowned Felidia in Manhattan.

Bastianich is coming out with her sixth book in September 2009.

Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e−mail at hkoplowitz@timesledger.com or by phone at 718−229−0300, Ext. 173.

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