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50 Great Curries of India
50 Great Curries of India
by Camellia Panjabi
Edition: Paperback
Price: 7.69

4.0 out of 5 stars I like this, but it could be improved, 23 Oct 2012
I own the revised edition from 2004. I was surprised to find so many negative reviews. I've cooked a few dishes from this book and they turned out lovely. There are a few reasons I can think of why people are disappointed with this.

We are used to Indian curries like we are served in UK restaurants, but in India gravies are often runnier and people use their breads to dunk in the gravy and scoop up the meat. (And let's be honest: many dishes on the pictures show rather thin gravies.)

Cooking vessels can also make a big difference. Most karahi pans I've seen are wide as a wok rather than deep like our saucepans, so they diffuse heat on a larger surface area and up the sides, and liquid evaporates more quickly. The higher-sided, narrower ones are commonly used as rice pots. I think that Camellia could have written a few words about this topic.

Cultural differences mean that printed recipes are as good as non-existant, instead the knowledge is handed down from mother to daughter. Measurements lose their importance and they eyeball everything, with experience building over time. This is where a description of what a dish should look like at various stages of the cooking process would be the most helpful thing to have - but we don't get that here.

Another reason is the publisher, Kyle Cathie. I own three books by them including this one, and some inaccuracies feature in all three of them due to above average lenience in the editing. :-(

That off my chest, Camellia's lessons on the profile of the Indian cuisines, on herbs and spices were a joy to read for me - especially the chapter about the chilies. I think this sort of thing furthers understanding of a cuisine, and shows how a people's culture, their produce and food go hand in hand.

I like this book because many of the curries Camellia includes are not to be found in other cookbooks, and the one star I've deducted is purely for the sloppy editing.

Wahaca - Mexican Food at Home
Wahaca - Mexican Food at Home
by Thomasina Miers
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 13.40

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Refreshingly creative... and intoxicating, 4 Oct 2012
Thomasina Miers is an author who I didn't like at first, but now I do. I had a chance to watch her Channel 5 show "Mexican Food Made Simple" only very recently and found her enthusiasm absolutely intoxicating. My love of Mexican food had gone into extended hibernation - Tommi brought it back to life.

This book is beautifully laid out, like a scrapbook which makes it fun to flip through. Its vibrant colors and pretty pictures alone have the power to instantly pick you up when you are suffering from an emotional downtime.

You got to be aware that most recipes in this book are not for the traditional Mexican food they eat in Mexico. Tommi is a creative chef who gives the food her own note. She wants to bring Mexican food closer to the average home cook and has a very realistic idea about how much time most of us busy working people are willing and able to spend in the kitchen on a weekday.

So she goes down the compromise route, and here this works which proves that she knows her stuff. The flavors come through, and I just loooove her recipe for hot chocolate. And the esquites: You need really good tortillas to work with to make this incredibly flavorful and comforting little chicken soup, preferably homemade. The supermarket stuff disintegrates into the broth too quickly.

Tommi's advice on which cheeses to use in place of the Mexican ones answers a big question for people like myself, who have had no chance yet to sample the originals.

There is also some confusion included: She writes in the intro that they substite Parmigiano or Pecorino for anejo, which made me chuckle a bit as they're two totally different cheeses (this is then clarified later in the book). There are a few recipes which ask for a small something of herbs. I guess it's a handful or a bunch, but it doesn't say that.

There are just a very few things I'd change about this book: 1) I want the recipe names in Spanish, and 2) I would like it if Tommi without fail gave us the name of the chile or whatever ingredient she is substituting - recipe by recipe. One never knows when the miracle happens and the real thing pops up out of nowhere, somewhere. Right? ;-)

And maybe someday Tommi, too, will reconsider her perception of Tex-Mex, because the real thing is nothing like what we have come to identify as Tex-Mex, and probably the closest thing to real Mexican that there is.

I love this book. I'm happy that I bought it. I'm happy that I had a chance to view a recording of "Mexican Food Made Simple," which revived Mexican food at my house. Thank you, Tommi.

The Homesick Texan Cookbook
The Homesick Texan Cookbook
by Lisa Fain
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 16.65

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Forget Old El Paso..., 9 Aug 2012
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If you want real Tex-Mex, this is the real deal. Forget about Old El Paso.

After I received this book, I cooked from it for 6 weeks straight. Every recipe turned out beautiful, the measurements are accurate, cooking times and temperatures correct, the spice balance just right for me, and everything is incredibly flavorful.

What I also like are the food-related stories from Lisa's life and family which you can read in the intros to almost every recipe. It helps me make a connection with a culture and gives a personal note and warmth.

These are the things I've cooked from it so far:

1) Fish Tacos - I used swordfish, which worked just peachy in this recipe.

2) Breakfast Tacos - I like to toast the tortillas straight over a gas flame; I love the slightly charred taste they get this way but they need monitoring, as I found there are about 2 seconds between slightly charred and hopelessly burned!

3) One Hour Texas Chili - This dish freezes beautifully.

4) Cheese Enchiladas - I didn't have the meat handy so I made a meatless version - twice - and I didn't miss the meat a single bit.

5) Sour Cream Chicken Enchiladas - I made the traditional version Lisa describes in the recipe intro, and I looooooved it just as it came.

6) Chile con queso
7) Soft Cheese Tacos
8) Jalapeno-Buttermilk Dressing
9) Cabbage and Radish Slaw
10) Austin-style Black Beans
11) Jalapeno Pinto Beans
12) Frijoles a la charra
13) Frijoles borrachos
14) Breakfast Sausage
15) Red Chile Rice
16) Green Chile Rice
17) Elote en vaso

I have very unfortunately not gotten around to baking anything from this book yet, but I'm hellbent to make the peach cobbler this summer.

Some ingredients will not be readily available. Here's my workarounds:

1) Longhorn Cheddar: I replace this with Red Leicester - it's mild, it's orange, and it melts beautifully; it's the closest thing overall to Longhorn that I can find around here.

2) Monterey Jack: I get it where I live, but for those who are not this lucky, a mild (strength 2) gouda makes an okay substitute.

3) Tortilla chips: Pan-fried corn tortillas (even if they come from a packet) in my opinion win hands down over bagged tortilla chips.

4) Melbury & Appleton's for Ro-Tel (by mailorder).

5) Cool Chile and Mexgrocer for chipotle en adobo and dried chilies, masa, and tomatillos (by mailorder).

Which brings me to a topic which is close to my heart. I would like to ask you guys and girls that - with two exceptions - you never ever ever ever ever replace the chiles in a recipe with any other type. The dish won't taste the same and even the texture won't be the same. Tex-Mex, like Mexican food, is a case where the type of chile can make or break a dish at the blink of an eye. Call me a purist, call me a food snob even but I believe that, the first couple of times you prepare a dish, you should stick closely to a traditional recipe. This will not only be a good way of testing the quality of a cookbook, but also give you a good feeling of the flavors of a region. (The exceptions are jalapenos, which can be replaced with Fresno (they are similar in flavor and supposedly slightly hotter, though the ones you find in our British supermarkets are a tamed version), and if you find really hot fresh bird's eye you could use them to replace serranos.)

Diana Kennedy is the high priestess of Mexican cooking for me and always will be, and Lisa Fain is now my Tex-Mex Queen. It's an amazing cuisine, and Lisa has done a great job to promote it with this book. I am already looking forward to her next book, which she just announced on her blog (google homesick texan - there are plenty more recipes on there, too).
Comment Comments (4) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 7, 2012 10:04 AM BST

Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy
Two Greedy Italians Eat Italy
by Antonio Carluccio
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 10.86

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A lovely follow-up, 11 Jun 2012
I just had to get this. I was so taken in by the "Two Greedy Italians" that I just had to get the sequel. At first I was in two minds, as follow-ups after such a short time from experience mostly lack the brilliance of the original - but this one, in a certain way sneaks up on you.

The emphasis this time lies on the north of Italy. The guys dug out some rare diamonds, especially from the regions of Alto Adige, Lombardy, and Liguria which are underrepresented in most books on the subject: Eisacktaler Weinsuppe, mandilli di sea, pizzocheri (with a twist of putting them under the broiler), and some others. In this volume, Gennaro's recipes are mostly non-traditional stuff and influenced by his host country, while Antonio contributes most of the traditional Italian dishes.

What I love, aside from the stellar photography of both the food and the Italian landscape - and of course, the food itself! :-) - is that Antonio and Gennaro once more reach deep inside to try and explain the cultural identity of the Italian people: La Bella Figura - the habit of getting out the Sunday best in any situation where outward appearance matters. L'arte di arrangiarsi - which is a lifestyle where you make the best of any setting. In a culinary context this means living to savor (as opposed to eating to live), no matter how humble the ingredients at hand.

Here are the few things that turned me off:

The editor was not at the height of his spirits when he frequently allowed misspelling of Italian words. Germany doesn't have a common border with Italy, as the intro to one recipe suggests.

A handful of recipes are re-runs, with minor variations to those in the first "Greedy Italians" volume. To me it also seems a curious thing that Gennaro would rename puttanesca to "pizzaiola." But of course, there's always the chance that they ran behind with the schedule and needed to fill up the pages quickly. In this case it could be but a cunning lesson in l'arte di arrangiarsi. ;-)

Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner
Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner
by Giada De Laurentiis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 22.00

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Lacks the enthusiasm I know from Giada, 30 May 2012
I fell in love with Giada's Italy-meets-California style back when I acquired "Everyday Italian," and not a single one of her books since failed to amaze me in a certain way. I cherish them all. This one I put on pre-order over on the US site - a decision which I wouldn't say I regret, but it's a purchase that could've been adjourned.

My troubles with the book start in the intro, where Giada tries to convince us that she had to decide between spending time with her family and cooking for them. (Hello? Did I just read that?) So let's crack open a few cans and jars and throw the contents together, shall we? Dinner is served. Okay, the book isn't THAT bad. It has its moments, but despite its excessive focus on canned ingredients and the easy approach, many of these recipes take between 1 and 1 1/2 hours from start to finish, which is a bit long on a working-week night for me anyways. That's where I'd expect to find more creativity to appease, rather than re-runs.

Then I realized that there is nothing particularly Giada about "Weeknights." Had they named it "Easy Weeknight Suppers" and included a collection of recipes from a dozen contract recipe writers, the result would have been much the same. Giada's signature Italy-meets-California sort of thing is gone from the jar. Instead, here's an attempt to show versatility by flirting with ethnic tidbits from all over the world. Fusion galore which is not confined to the "Change of Pace" chapter.

So the book's not what I came to expect from Giada. What can I say? Cooks evolve, audiences change, palates change. Some things that happen do have an impact on the way we see and do things: Maybe Todd did grow tired of Italian food after all these years, while I have not; Jade is at an age where her eagerness to explore needs Giada's watchful eye. But maybe it's also that I've lost the connection? Donatella Arpaia dethroned Giada within 2 hours upon receipt of "Donatella Cooks" last Fall. Then there was the advent of the "Homesick Texan" Lisa Fain earlier this year.

The messages that come out of this book are a potpourri. Giada tells us in the intro how grateful she is to be able to cook for a living as it's what she loves to do, but in the same sentence writes that there are things she enjoys more. And after we've had five volumes on how much food and family belong together, she now tells us she doesn't have the time for both.

Btw, the recipe for Roast Salmon Salad doesn't include a single roasted ingredient, least of all the salmon which comes from a can. The one constant in this book are the many many pics of Giada and family. I'd have hoped that they go first; they're not why I buy cookbooks.

Lodge Round Skillet with Handle, 8 Inch
Lodge Round Skillet with Handle, 8 Inch
Price: 20.70

5.0 out of 5 stars Great stuff!, 21 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Make no mistake, these are not low maintenance. You gotta season them every time you cooked food with a lot of acidity, like tomato sauce and dishes with wine. That means coat in a thin veneer of lard and put in a 90 degree oven for an hour. But I wouldn't want it any other way anymore. You can't scratch them, and it's very hard to overheat them. Fewer dishes to clean too: from stove top to oven without a worry about handles that take far less heat than the rest. A bit of TLC and they last a lifetime. What more could one woman want? ;-)

6.5" Cast Iron Skillet
6.5" Cast Iron Skillet
Offered by Colanders
Price: 12.98

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Good job, 29 Feb 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: 6.5" Cast Iron Skillet
Lovely little item. It looked good on the picture and looks just as good in real life. This is perfect for toasting chiles and spice mixes, which is what I bought it for. But also good to fry eggs (up to 2 medium) or a slice or two of bacon.

The manufacturer says it's pre-seasoned, but I still went through the process at home. It's a matter of pride. I recommend this item from my experience. :)

The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl
The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl
by Ree Drummond
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 12.72

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Americana, 16 Jan 2012
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I was innocently browsing cookbooks on, when through the personalized recommendations Ree's up-and-coming book appeared. We exchanged what I thought was just a brief glance, as passers-by often do. But then it stretched out an invisible arm, firmly grabbed my scrolling hand, and with its other hand gently turned my face to make me look again at its American West-style cover. I couldn't help but pre-order it, and within the next 24 hours I had homepaged, raided her cooking section, and had placed an order for this book, too. For good measure.

I got to say it: I loooove American food. That country is so vast and has got such a diverse food culture - thanks to the many different ethnic groups who immigrated throughout America's history, and a very varied climate - that one could satisfy all her culinary cravings from a handful of books on 'American' food......... Okay, maybe its not quite like that. (But it's not far from the truth, either.)

This is what Ree's recipes are not: Fancy. Difficult. Pretentious. Lean. Vegetarian. So, if you are after a state-of-the-art culinary experience that requires you and an army of sous-chefs to slave over a hot stove for hours to produce the ultimate slimmers-feast on your quest to achieve size 0 within a week or two - this is not the book for you. And if you don't take to eating lots of animal flesh and are not short of working recipes for delicious desserts - you too should look elsewhere.

This is what Ree's recipes are: Comfort Food. Homely. Easy. Made from everyday ingredients. Mostly one-pot meals. Hearty. They can be rib-sticking, but only if you find you love them so much that you have to have them every day - and work a desk job. The real problem with this is that the list of dishes from this book you will want to make is huge. So step up your daily exercise, guys and girls. You'll want this more often than just once a week. :)

At first glance, the recipes look like a deja-vu: lasagne, meatballs, cornbread, jalapeno poppers... At second glance they turn out to be interesting concoctions. The folks in cattle country can't get many ingredients we have access to, so Ree does a lot of substituting. And with success: A lasagne has a certain 1950s metropolitan American charm when you use breakfast sausage instead of ground pork, and cottage cheese for ricotta. And why not? The cheeses are similar in flavor. Tastes nothing like the lasagne we know, but it worked for me.

Here's the catch: Substituting is easy when you know what the original tastes like. As a former city girl, Ree knows about 'exotic' ingredients of course. This explains part of the huge success of this book in the US. Ree opens many new culinary doors for her fellow country dwellers.

Bread crumbs don't seem to be common fare either as they probably get only the cotton-wool fluffy sliced stuff in wide-open ranch country, which is totally unsuitable for crumbing. So Ree does meatballs with "hamburger" (translation: ground beef) and oats. They are denser, but also quite wholesome.

She has a bit of a sweet tooth. The sheer amounts of sugar in most dessert recipes are very American. Boy o boy! I suggest you hold the sugar. Otherwise, enjoying a square of that chocolate sheet cake must be what it feels like being in 7th heaven.

There are some great alternatives in this book to bring change to our daily meal plan without investing the time to learn new techniques, for those among us who are too busy for a cookery course. After all, you can choose to buy the best-quality ingredients and make these meals to remember, rather than resorting to ready-meals and -mixes, whose flavor has let you down so often no matter how pricey they may be.

Roll on March, and bring with you "Food from My Frontier." I can hardly await it.

Everyday Pasta: Favorite Pasta Recipes for Every Occasion
Everyday Pasta: Favorite Pasta Recipes for Every Occasion
by Giada de Laurentiis
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 19.35

4.0 out of 5 stars It's good, but maybe a bit rushed through, 30 Nov 2011
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In her follow-up to the charming "Everyday Italian," pasta is in the center of Giada's attention: breakfast pasta, weeknight pasta, holiday pasta, dinner party pasta, pasta for kids. With so many different pasta shapes available - which according to most Italians are not simply interchangeable - there is a need for creative recipes for them. So Giada has come up with this book.

At the beginning of the recipe section are two small chapters for antipasti and sides to accompany pasta dishes, which include mostly crostini and salads - both California favorites and, quite frankly, the perfect choices to go with pasta.

Some of the pasta dishes in this book are truly creative and prove once again that when Giada is good she is superb. Alongside Californicated versions of Italian-American classics like Crab and Ricotta Manicotti, Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells, and Shrimp Lasagna Rolls are nouveau creations such as Giada's Corn Agnolotti with Tarragon Butter, Turkey and Cranberry Ravioli (with a cream gravy), and the complex and delicious Tagliatelle with Short Rib Ragu with its many layers of flavor, which draws on Mexican influences: chili and cocoa.

The less elaborate weeknight pasta dishes include Orecchiette with Mixed Greens and Goat Cheese (and of course some sun-dried tomatoes), the classic Pasta with Sausage and Peppers, and Capellini with Tomato and Peas - all quick to beat up and delicious in their simplicity.

A great recipe for entertaining in summer is Baked Penne with Roasted Vegetables. Unusual but delicious are her grandad's Sweet Fettuccine, a breakfast or brunch dish where fresh fettuccine are drizzled with warm honey and sprinkled with walnuts.

While I like Giada for her talent to give a great California-twist to classic dishes, this book did not hit it off with me quite the way "Everyday Italian" did. Many recipes in this book look like they've been created in a hurry, either to throw another book on the market soon after her great debut, or to promote pasta shapes unique to Barilla US (a company for which Giada is a spokesperson). There's definitely a "deja-vu" factor enriched with chicken - not the type of stuff I'd expect to find in a book by a trained and well-seasoned chef (which Giada is, admit it or not).

Where I absolutely draw the line is when Giada gives us her own recipe for egg pasta dough, and a grand total of two recipes that actually use it - and the other one dozen use store-bought won-ton wrappers, if not store-bought ravioli (p. 103 of the book). C'mon Giada!!!

Maybe I'm funny, because I'd give standing ovations to Rachael Ray for doing this won-ton wrapper thing. In this book however, it feels like someone tried to address totally different markets with the same product. Sometimes, such a concept can work out (or at least it did when left in the hands of a certain trendy New York City restaurateur, of southern Italian heritage herself!) but I find it doesn't work here: Whether you are into quick fixes or are looking for a true "wow" factor, either way "Everyday Pasta" may leave you feel short-changed.

I still like this book for its share of highly creative recipes, even if that share is much narrower than I hoped for.

Donatella Cooks: Simple Food Made Glamorous
Donatella Cooks: Simple Food Made Glamorous
by Donatella Arpaia
Edition: Hardcover
Price: 21.59

5.0 out of 5 stars Truly stellar, 14 Nov 2011
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Sensational, outstanding, ingenious, stellar. These are the words that come to my mind when I think of this book.

Now I sit here reminding myself why I bought this book in the first place: It was just for the zucchini fritters. I saw Donatella and her mom make them in an iVillage clip on YouTube and couldn't get them out of my head. I have three other recipes for zucchini fritters in other cookbooks, but none is like this one: diced in small confetti, not grated. They look really rustic and artisanal. When you first bite into them they pop a bit in your mouth. They're quick to make, too. And they are soooo delicious!

This book spent quite a while on my wishlist, where I "park" items when I first fancy them. It's kind of like a cooling off period. I wasn't sure if it's too over-the-top, too pretentious, too out-of-my-league. This is what some reviews on the US site seemed to get at. I shouldn't have worried, and I'm happy that I eventually bought it. I found I had misjudged Donatella: Her recipes are not pretentious at all, neither are they too refined.

Donatella herself - despite catering to and moving among the rich and famous - at heart seems to be a family-oriented, down-to-earth country girl. This comes through in every part of this book, and is what ultimately gives it its credibility. The recipes originate from so many different culinary backgrounds, yet here they all unite to form an entity. Just like Donatella says: What makes a dish acceptable is the context in which it is presented, no matter who is coming for dinner.


True to the title, everyday ingredients are combined in a way that makes the individual dishes stand out and shine. There are no haute-cuisine techniques to be mastered. The recipes are doable for beginners because Donatella's instructions are precise and easy-to-follow.

Here's an overview of what kind of recipes you can expect to find in this book.

Nouvelle cuisine:
This is where the Greek Pizzette belong, for example. Topped with fig jam and halloumi cheese, these little pizzas have both sweet and savory components. Roasted Diver Scallops in Brown Butter Sauce are embellished with fresh sage, cauliflower florets, and dried cherries.

American comfort food:
These are classic combinations with a modern twist. For example the Roasted Root Vegetables: sweet potato, turnip, parsnip, dried apples, sweet vermouth. (These are delicious! The vermouth comes through enough to add a layer of flavor, but without overpowering the sweetness of the roots.) The most sensational Mac and Cheese: four Italian cheeses (mascarpone, Taleggio, Parmigiano, pecorino), an herbed béchamel, beaten egg whites folded in which makes them kind of airy, topped with toasted garlic bread crumbs, and finally drizzled with truffle oil. Donatella's Popcorn is tarted up with butter, black pepper, rosemary, pecorino cheese, and truffle oil. The Roasted Brussels Sprouts came as a big surprise for me: slowly roasted in the oven with evoo and sprinkled with lemon juice, pomegranate seeds, and chopped walnuts. I used to steer clear of sprouts, now I love them. But only when they are prepared the Donatella way. (I made one change, which was to serve them warm rather than at room temperature.) The Nutella Hot Chocolate is thick, luxurious, velvety smooth, and comforting with every sip - well worth the over 600 calories it clocks up by the time you get to the bottom of the glass.

What really knocked me out was to find a whole heap of traditional Italian country fare. Frankly, I didn't expect this from this book. Fava Bean Puree with Swiss Chard ('Ncapriata), Steak Pizzaiola, Orecchiette with Broccoli Rabe (the feast day version with fresh salsiccia), and many many more.

Mama's Meatballs are a version of the classic "Sunday Gravy." Rita's Stuffed Shells are stuffed with a ricotta and ground beef mixture and baked in the oven, topped with red sauce. Tilapia Oreganata is tilapia coated in an oregano, bread crumb, and Pecorino crust.

Other ethnic foods:
Spanish and Greek-style dishes dominate here: a user-friendly version of Paella; Pan-Fried New Potatoes with Chorizo; Cucumber Soup with Crab, Yogurt, and Dill. The Spinach and Gruyere Soufflés are out-of-this-world-amazing.


The chapters of this book are for Hors d'oeuvres; Soups, Salads, and Small Plates; Pasta and Grains; Main Courses; Vegetables and Side Dishes; Desserts. Scattered between them are interludes for how to throw a cocktail party, buffet, formal and casual meals -- and what to serve, pour, play, and wear for them! Donatella wants to guide you all the way. This is more than I bargained for, but it's at the very least entertaining to read.

At the beginning of each recipe chapter is a list of dishes included in that chapter, by season. That's where Donatella trips up: It's understandable that, with the year-round availability of all kinds of veggies in the supermarkets, many people don't know anymore what's in season and when; but a restaurateur should know better than to suggest dishes including tomatoes and zucchini for winter. If you draw up such a listing, do it right please. Otherwise, leave it out.

Donatella introduces us to her pantry and a range of tools and cooking vessels. Practical considerations dominate throughout, because the size of a kitchen does matter after all. With one exception: An 8-quart (7.5 liters) enameled cast-iron stockpot?!?! *Gasp* Unless you are married to a weightlifter, you might like to stick with the stainless steel version.


Many recipes have footnotes: either "Donatella Clicks" or "Chef's Tips." The latter to the more seasoned cook are mostly known, but beginners will thankfully take them in. Donatella Clicks is US-centric and of not much use for us here; we have to find our own suppliers.


That's what Donatella calls special ingredients, and she emphasizes that they are optional. The likes of edible gold dust and leaf, colored salts, and nonpareille are just expensive overheads. They're not pretentious; they're just what rich folks like to play with. The rest of us can easily do without all of these without sacrificing flavor. Okay, the truffle oil does contribute flavor, but if you're like me you can't miss what you never tasted; works just fine without it.


The food photography is stellar. The food is presented in an elegant context, and the pics are simply mouthwatering. The food is at center stage, which is unusual for a celebrity cookbook these days. As one would expect there are a few pics of Donatella included, but really just a few and they can be found in the interludes and introduction; they are not substitutes for finished dishes. I've counted that just over of the recipes come with a picture. (I'll get a life one day, I promise.)

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