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Small Plates: Giada and ‘Ms. American Pie’

DINING OUT

GIADA, THE CROMWELL,

3595 LAS VEGAS BLVD. SOUTH

Giada, the first restaurant from celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis, opened last week. On the second floor of the property that formerly housed the Barbary Coast and Bill’s Gamblin’ Hall, Giada seats almost 300 in spaces that include a dining room, a lounge and a terrace, overlooking the Bellagio fountains and Caesars Palace. The sleek decor includes Warhol-style portraits of De Laurentiis; her movie-producer grandfather, Dino De Laurentiis; and her grandmother, Italian actress Silvana Mangano. The food reflects the spirit of Italian cuisine with De Laurentiis’ fresh California touches. Here’s a sample of the menu:

Antipasti: Marinated olives with herbs and citrus, $8; wood-roasted mushrooms with marcona almonds and ricotta salata, $13; baby sweet peppers with goat cheese and olive tapenade, $12; lobster arancini, $18; crispy oysters Rockefeller, $16; mascarpone and tarragon shrimp scampi, $17; Gorgonzola with raw pear honey, $13; burrata with balsamic salt, $12; prosciutto San Daniele, $17; tomato and strawberry jam crostini with feta and mint, $11; mortadella pizza bianca, $11; pizzette Margherita, $10; artichoke soup with mint, tomato and focaccia croutons, $11.

Pastas: Rigatoni with vegetable Bolognese, $26; spaghetti with shrimp, lemon and basil, $28; bucatini with Calabrian chili pomodoro and fresh ricotta, $24; ravioli with lobster, asparagus tips and tarragon, $34.

Mains: Veal chop saltimbocca, $43; mustard-crusted rack of lamb with spinach, $45; 28-ounce bone-in Tuscan rib-eye with lemon, a sunny-side-up egg and arugula, $68; pan-roasted salmon with summer succotash, $37; porterhouse for two with blistered tomatoes, $78; whole roasted chicken for two cacciatore-style, $55.

Hours are from 5 to 10:30 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays, 5 to 11 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays. Call 855-442-3271 or visit www.TheCromwell.com.

NEW BOOKS FOR COOKS

FRENCH SILK PIE

Crust:

1/3 cup lard (see notes)

1 cup flour

½ teaspoon salt

1/3 cup ice water

Filling:

1 cup (2 sticks) butter

1½ cups sugar

4 ounces unsweetened baking chocolate, melted

1 teaspoon vanilla

4 eggs (see notes)

Topping:

2 cups heavy whipping cream

4 tablespoons powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla

Chocolate shavings for garnish (optional)

To prepare the crust, cut the lard into the flour and salt. Gradually add water until moist.

Roll out the dough and place in a 10-inch pie plate. Prick the crust well with a fork; cover with a sheet of foil and fill with pie weights, beans, etc. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes. Remove the weights and foil, turn oven down to 375 degrees and continue baking for another 5 minutes or more, to brown the bottom of the crust. Let crust cool.

To prepare the filling, beat the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Blend in melted chocolate and vanilla. Add eggs one at a time, beating at medium speed for 5 minutes after each addition. Pour into the cooled pie shell.

Chill at least 4 hours.

To prepare the topping: When the pie is ready to serve, whip the cream, sugar and vanilla until thick. Spread over cooled pie.

Garnish with chocolate shavings.

Notes: If you don’t want to use lard, replace with the fat of your choice — butter, shortening or both.

Some people are squeamish about eating raw eggs these days because of food-borne illness risks. To ease your concerns, look for pasteurized eggs.

Recipe from “Ms. American Pie” by Beth M. Howard (Race Point Publishing, $28)

— Heidi Knapp Rinella

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