on 21 August 2008
I just got this book and I really like it. It contains a lot of unusual recipes you'll find in no other cookery book and of course some old favourites, too (quite often with a new twist). There are recipes for many occasions, whether you want to entertain or are just looking for a quick mid-week meal, using both fresh and dry pasta. To turn pasta dishes into a complete meal, there are recipes for side dishes, too. All in all it's a very beautifully made, practical and down to earth book, divided into the following chapters: Pasta Go-Withs: "Antipasti and Appetizers", "Something on the Side", Pasta for All Seasons: "Soups and Pasta Salads", "Hearty Pastas", "On the Lighter Side", "Quick and Easy Weeknight Pastas", "Pasta for Special Occasions" and Pasta Basics: "Basic Recipes", followed by some menue suggestions. Giada never gives you the feeling you've got to be especially talented to cook any of her recipes (and a lot of them really are easy), so I'd recommend this book not only to experienced cooks but also to beginners. The only slight drawback is the fact that this is an american book, so you'll need a conversion table, unless you're used to american measures (but you can get cup measures in any good kitchen store). I simply copied the conversion table from another book into this one - so don't let it stop you from buying this book. By the way - I don't find Giada's recipes too americanized. There are some american touches, but that doesn't really hurt. Anyone who says any different is probably suffering from "It's not like mamma used to do it-syndrome", which seems to be a bit typical for Italians (you'll have realized it, if you watched Jamie's Great Italian Escape).
on 30 November 2011
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.