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The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen [Hardcover]

Frances Mayes , Edward Mayes
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

20 April 2012
“Tuscan food tastes like itself. Ingredients are left to shine. . . . So, if on your visit, I hand you an apron, your work will be easy. We’ll start with primo ingredients, a little flurry of activity, perhaps a glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and soon we’ll be carrying platters out the door. We’ll have as much fun setting the table as we have in the kitchen. Four double doors along the front of the house open to the outside—so handy for serving at a long table under the stars (or for cooling a scorched pan on the stone wall). Italian Philosophy 101: la casa aperta, the open house.”
—from the Introduction
In all of Frances Mayes’s bestselling memoirs about Tuscany, food plays a starring role. This cuisine transports, comforts, entices, and speaks to the friendly, genuine, and improvisational spirit of Tuscan life. Both cooking and eating in Tuscany are natural pleasures. In her first-ever cookbook, Frances and her husband, Ed, share recipes that they have enjoyed over the years as honorary Tuscans: dishes prepared in a simple, traditional kitchen using robust, honest ingredients.
A toast to the experiences they’ve had over two decades at Bramasole, their home in Cortona, Italy, this cookbook evokes days spent roaming the countryside for chestnuts, green almonds, blackberries, and porcini; dinner parties stretching into the wee hours,  and garden baskets tumbling over with bright red tomatoes.
Lose yourself in the transporting photography of the food, the people, and the place, as Frances’s lyrical introductions and headnotes put you by her side in the kitchen and raising a glass at the table. From Antipasti (starters) to Dolci (desserts), this cookbook is organized like a traditional Italian dinner.
The more than 150 tempting recipes include:
·         Fried Zucchini Flowers
·         Red Peppers Melted with Balsamic Vinegar
·         Potato Ravioli with Zucchini, Speck, and Pecorino
·         Risotto Primavera
·         Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Sausage
·         Cannellini Bean Soup with Pancetta
·         Little Veal Meatballs with Artichokes and Cherry Tomatoes
·         Chicken Under a Brick
·         Short Ribs, Tuscan-Style
·         Domenica’s Rosemary Potatoes
·         Folded Fruit Tart with Mascarpone
·         Strawberry Semifreddo
·         Steamed Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Sauce
Frances and Ed also share their tips on stocking your pantry, pairing wines with dishes, and choosing the best olive oil. Learn their time-tested methods for hand rolling pasta and techniques for coaxing the best out of seasonal ingredients with little effort.
Throw on another handful of pasta, pull up a chair, and languish in the rustic Italian way of life. 

Frequently Bought Together

The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen + Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life + Under The Tuscan Sun: At Home in Italy
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Clarkson N Potter Publishers (20 April 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307885283
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307885289
  • Product Dimensions: 26 x 21.3 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 155,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Celebrating simple Tuscan cooking 21 April 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am not one who buys cookbooks. I have a few at home, and the one I go to the most is a fat tome of a book from the 1990's which has over a 1000 recipes. It is always reliable when I need an answer to the question "what can I do with the neck of lamb/glut of apples/tray of eggs that my neighbour gave me". Nothing fancy, but easy to follow. However, as someone who has read all of Frances Mayes' books, I bought this as soon as it was available. Partly for the recipes, and partly to read more about her life as a part-time resident in Tuscany.

For those unfamiliar with American author Frances Mayes, she wrote (almost 20 years ago) "Under the Tuscan Sun", a book about how she, in her middle-age, took a big risk and purchased an abandoned house with 5 acres of land in Italy after a painful divorce. How, through the restoration of her house, she made a fresh start in her life, forged a new relationship, and learned to reconnect with the land. I urge everyone to read this book first, as it will give you a sense of Mayes' life in a foreign country, how she embraces simple quotidien life. Plus, it's just a great book, beautifully written and in my opinion the best example of this genre. Once you read this, you will perhaps appreciate this cookbook a little more as she discusses old friends and her two houses in Italy. Alongside the recipes, she writes a little anecdote about each one, how the recipe came about or where they first tried the dish. The tone is casual and conversational, and draws the reader in so you can almost read it like a novel. Mayes focuses on the Italian tradition of "cucina povera", when the housewife had to make do with what was available, in season. Nothing is fancy or complicated, and sticks to simple, robust, fresh ingredients.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
great book - beautiful food and beautiful photographs - every recipe I have tried so far has been a succes
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous recipes ! 26 Sep 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Apart from the interesting read and gorgeous photos, this book has wonderful recipes. The Lemon Cake is a real favourite !
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lovely book with colour photos 10 April 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is exactly as I expected. Lots of basic recipes and not too difficult to make. More of the ingredients are now appearing in my local supermarket.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  76 reviews
63 of 67 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really lovely, useful, and invigorating book..... 17 Mar 2012
By David Terry - Published on
I've just finished reading, for the first time, my copy of "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" (which became available yesterday). I'll be going back to it, of course, later in the day.....but my first thought is "Oh, I'll be giving this to so many friends" .

"The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" is just a lovely, really generously-spirited book. I was immediately reminded of another most-favorite book of mine, Robert Arbor's "Joie de Vivre". Both his and Mayes's books gently (unlike Signora Marcella Hazan's markedly strict skoolmarming) suggest/remind the reader that you don't have to actually be Italian or French, or own a villa or a chateau (or have more-time-on-your-hands-than-God-does) in order to ENJOY cooking and entertaining in a way that eventually might become second-nature to you. Both books remind me of Julia Child's superb (and very useful) "The Way to Cook".

All three books make a basic, quite practical point: Stop turning yourself into some harried, anxiety-filled kitchen-drudge, as though you were opening a restaurant or auditioning for your own Food Network show...when you're supposed to be enjoying your friends, family, and the actual cooking/eating.....and keep it (the food, table-settings, "dinner party etiquette", etcetera) refreshingly simple. The Mayes, Arbor, and Child have all obviously hit the right note....particularly during these days when (as I've noticed all too frequently) folks set themselves up for anxiety/"failure" by acting as though they have to compete with restaurants and whatever-they've seen in magazines. It's good (particularly since no one among my friends or in my family is in the least a "professional" cook) to have found a third book that emphasizes the self-defeating futility of approaching cooking&entertaining as though they were a competitive sport.

In short?.... "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" very clearly suggests how folks could be having a lot more fun both in the kitchen and at the table. I'll be happily giving away copies of "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" to a number of family members and friends (I've already made my list for next Christmas and various birthdays).

Rather obviously, "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" isn't an exhaustive ( which too often translates into "exhausting" for most people), encyclopedic compendium of Italian cuisine. Nor does it in the least pretend to be such (which is a good thing, in my own book, so to speak).

Thanks to the Mayes for their obviously sincere and genuinely joyful work. I don't, as a very general rule and over the past twenty years, write gushing reviews....but this book (including the photography and layout) hits all the right notes. I expect that many people will get a lot of pleasure and inspiration from it.


David Terry

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feels Like Tuscany - Wonderful Collection 19 Mar 2012
By Gail - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a huge fan of Frances Mayes' books. This cookbook is a culmination of all of her books. Through the readings, I've come to know Frances and husband Ed, and her friends, and the foods they love and cook together. So glad the recipes included in her books have now come together in a beautifully done book, and beautiful pictures too! I've already made a chicken and wine dish that was absolutely delicious and easy to prepare. I have flagged numerous pages of recipes I plan on making. I love the stories that surround each page and recipe. If you love Frances Mayes, and Tuscany, you must have this book in your collection. You can vicariously travel to Tuscany by reading and cooking these easy-to-make recipes. Enjoy!
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must have" for anyone who loves Italian food. 3 April 2012
By Rick on Long Island - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A beautifully written and photographed book that transports the reader to hills of Tuscany. Following the true course of "la cucina povera" (the poor kitchen) you'll learn how to create masterful Tuscan and Italian dishes utilizing only a few quality ingredients. If you enjoyed the luscious prose and delicious artistry of "Under The Tuscan Sun," "Bella Tuscany" and "Everyday in Tuscany," let Frances and Ed Mayes whisk you to a Tuscan paradise in your own kitchen.

Breathtaking photography takes this up another notch and the book inspires creativity in both the food you can create and the inviting tablescapes the authors have prepared for their lucky guests. Accompanying stories and anecdotes allow the reader to sit along side at the Mayes's table as they create their food as you would. Food prepared not by professional chefs but by people who have genuine love for good food, well prepared. A glass of a fine wine is all that is needed to create a total sensory experience. This one is a "don't miss" and sure to become a treasured favorite in your collection.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living Under the Tuscan Sun 8 Oct 2012
By Sheryl Turping - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wow! We have made several recipes out of The Tuscan Sun Cookbook and it has already become one of our favorites. Try the Pesto recipe on pg 26,Cannellini Bean and Sage on pg 44, Orecchiette With Shrimp, pg 77, Pappa al Pomodoro, pg 96, Ossobuco, pg 130,Fried Zucchini Flowers, pg 49, Beef Tenderloin with Balsamic Vinegar, pg 135...Sumptuous!
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious peasant food! 14 April 2012
By Toni - Published on
Ahhhhhhhh, the food of the peasants! Earthy, pure, simple, fantastic! That about sums up my love for the recipes within the Bramasole walls of Frances and Ed Mayes cucina!

In a most simple, but most elegant way of preserving some of the most basic foods that graced the table of those that worked the Italian fields, this is a compilation of dishes that fulfilled, and filled, the souls of the working people, way back when.

In yet another wonderful book offered from the life that is Frances Mayes, and her wonderful husband, Ed, these recipes focus on the Tuscan region of Italy. In her previous books, Frances has taken us into the history of the Tuscany, from the golden days to the current days. This business that began as a journaling of sorts, of buying an old run down farm house, has blossomed into Tuscan life, history, and now, food. And now, through their years of dividing their time between Tuscany and California, they have come to know and love the country, the region, and the food.

Each region of Italy is known for different styles of cooking, with its respective area pretty much dependent on the region it's located, whioh would dictate whether they were strong on seafood, or grains, or wine, etc. For the Tuscan region, which is lcoated just about center of the "boot", it encompasses a little of everything, and the Mayes have done well by their writing to leave you wanting more.

The photography is close and clear; beautifully done through an amateur lens of Frances and her friend, which increases your appreciation of their efforts. The lighting, the settings, the staging of the final dishes are all inviting. A string of garlic cloves, fresh vegetable and fruits, fields of sunflowers, pasta being tossed, friends around a table, make this a wonderful book that can literally pull you in to the moment if you give it a chance.

What this isn't is a teaching manual; with the exception of making Agnolotti, there are no photographic tutorials. But unless you have never cracked open a cookbook or even know what pasta is, you would be hardpressed not to be able to make any of thses fantastic dishes. Each recipe has a little sidebar of facts and information that help you to understand what and why you are making this dish. And though there is not an accompanying photo for each dish, it will come together for you as you see what becomes of your efforts.

In most Italian homes, there are about 6 courses starting with ANTIPASTI, then PRIMI, SECONDI, CONTORNI, then ending with DOLCE and APERTIVI to help you in perfectly digesting your meal. Many of the friends, and family of friends, helped to produce this lovely book and the Mayes give beautiful credit to all. For fear of being labeled as a "Ralph Kramden blabbermouth" for giving away too many recipes and/or details of books/cookbooks, I'll try to be general. But I guarantee that anyone will be very happy to sit at your table if you serve any of these dishes! So....the book is presented as:

LA CUCINA: A thank you and/or introduction of sorts to all those who helped make the book possible. Old history, recent history, and local legend help bring the joy of the Tuscan region into the pages and it is done so with gratitude.

KEYS TO THE PANTRY: Your list of hints, suggestions, and do's for stocking a good Tuscan kitchen.
A couple of basic recipes are also included which are the foundation for some of the other dishes.

ANTIPASTI: In any part of Italy, you wouldn't start of meal without first getting your gastronomic engines started, hence "anti" pasti (before the pasta, which is what many ate back then and now). So there are numerous plates of bruschette with tasty toppings, veggies, and cold meats to serve.

PRIMI: Your "first" round of good food to entice and tingle the palate! There are pasta's, lasagna (which is a pasta, I know, but it's prepared differently), soups, risottos, and pizza's.

SECONDI: The "second" entree which usually are the meats such as chicken, pork, rabbit, steaks, fish. For me, the "Chicken Under a Brick" was fantastic; add the "Polenta" as a side dish with the "Prawns and Cherry Tomatoes", and it was a meal fit for a Tuscan king!

CONTORNI: These are the side dishes that embellish the plate and palate. Baked peppers, fava beans with potatoes and artichokes, zucchini, chard, and fennel are all able to find their way to your table courtesy of the Tuscan heritage. along with more ideas.

DOLCI: The best part of any meal, if you still have room. Now in general, most Italy Italians aren't known for being eaters of heavy pies and pastries. They tend to prefer fruits with a light cream, an easy tart, and such, so that is what you will find in this particular section. But wait! Don't get emotional! There are definitely enough recipes for cakes, bread puddings, etc for those of us who couldn't imagine dessert without some sort of flaky or sweet dough.

APERTIVI/DIGESTIVI: The last note of this gastronomic symphony; an apertif!!! The perfect end to a most perfect meal. And while there are only 2 recipes, there is a listing of different liqueurs that can accompany any meal, depending on your preferences.



Well, I guess I didn't give away too much, so hopefully you'll want to know what is exactly within the lovely pages of this book. Yes, I am a hopeless romantic and the sights and dreams of Italy have an inexplicable pull for me. But though I am lost within the covers of this well-written book, my family and friends seem to be gastronomically making out rather well, so not bad, hey? Peace!
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