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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Capriccio Gustoso--Variations on a Theme, 22 Mar 2010
By 
F. S. L'hoir (Irvine, CA) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California (Hardcover)
During my nine years of living in Rome, I discovered that the best dishes were based on simple recipes that could be prepared with infinite variations. In her latest book, celebrity chef Giada de Laurentiis demonstrates this proposition, presenting us with what in Italy is called cucina casareccia--and in California, home cooking.

Among her most mouth-watering concoctions are the antipasti: prosciutto-wrapped dates stuffed with blended mascarpone and goat cheese; smoked salmon and apple carpaccio; and fried cheese-stuffed zucchini blossoms (I was particularly grateful for her suggestion for testing the heat of the oil: toss a cube of bread into the olive oil--medium heat; when the bread browns, the oil is ready.). Similarly, her salads--"easy to throw together"--are truly inviting: an example is her green-bean salad, seasoned with fresh rosemary, parsley, chopped garlic, drizzled with olive oil (Her advice on choosing the best olive oil is especially enlightening.). Her lentil salad--mixed with grapes and cucumbers, among other ingredients, including hazelnuts--tickles one's tastebuds. And her recipe for Involtini--rolled-up beefsteaks filled with a mixture of various ingredients including garlic and basil--recalled forgotten memories of my father's putting me to work as a child, chopping parsely, garlic, together with something he called "fatback," which I imagine was lard, but which has now been substituted by olive oil. The strings with which he used to tie the involtini together have also been replaced by easier-to-use 4-inch skewers. Merely reading the recipe causes me to remember the aroma of involtini simmering in marinara sauce.

The beauty of these recipes is that they invite one to be adventurous, as the author suggests in combining the best of Italy with the best of California. Are lobster tails too expensive when preparing her divine brown butter risotto? Substitute shrimp. Too much sugar for you in her imaginative strawberry and rosemary scones? Use half the amount! The amazing thing about Italian cooking is that, as the author remarks, it is always "evolving."

Although "Giada at Home" contains some shortcuts, such as her tempting lemon-chicken soup, which calls for "low-sodium chicken broth" and " diced rotisserie chicken" [My father would turn over in his grave if he caught me following her suggestion to break the spaghetti into two-inch pieces!], many of her recipes, such as those which call for slicing, dicing, beating, and grating, require one to spend considerable time in the kitchen.

If you have the patience and enjoy cooking, I am certain that the results will be worth the trouble.

Buon' appetito!

Reviewed for Vine, Amazon.com: 4 1/2 stars.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Sunny New Giada!, 30 Mar 2010
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This review is from: Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California (Hardcover)
I'm a big fan of Giada, she is up there with Nigella for me. This new book, her fifth, is another winner. Her recipes here are fresh, delicious, sometimes Italian, sometimes Californian often healthy and all with a little Giada touch.

Those of us in the UK can now watch her on the Food Network channel here, and I know I'm not alone in really enjoying her programmes. Most of the recipes from the programmes (although not all) are here in the book. It's nicely laid out, beautiful pictures mostly of food, but with a number of Giada and her family too.

I'm really looking forward to cooking my way through this one and keeping my family happy and well fed with some lovely food.

Here is a taster of the recipes: Crispy Parmesan Biscuits (think savoury scones) filled with lemon butter, rocket and smoked salmon. Nonna Luna's Rice (rice with a spicy lemon and prawn cream sauce). Bucatini alla'amatriciana with Spicy Smoked Mozzarella Meatballs. Roasted Citrus-Herb Chicken with Crouton Salad. Honey Balsamic Lamb Chops. Grilled Asparagus and Melon Salad. Olive and Sun-Dried Tomato Vegetables. Poached Pears in Honey, Ginger and Cinnamon Syrup. Last but not least the gorgeous Chocolate Honey Almond Tart.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars GIADA AT HOME IS A GUSTATORY DELIGHT, 7 Oct 2010
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California (Hardcover)
Those who follow Giada De Laurentiis on her Emmy Award winning TV program (and there are jillions of you) know just how delicious, healthful, and beautifully presented her dishes are. Her four previous cookbooks have all topped bestseller lists, however, for this Giada fan GIADA AT HOME is something very special because not only are there a multitude of tasty recipes, but it is also a warm affectionate look at family, friends, and her adopted state of California.

I cannot remember seeing a cook who took so much pleasure in the preparation of food - perhaps it is because she's preparing for those she loves. Whatever the case, the recipes included in this book are family recipes form Italy and California. Some are generations old recipes (identified by being set in orange type), while others are new family recipes (set in green type). Readers will find that Giada has been happily influenced by what she finds at her local farmer's market - beautiful seasonal fruits and vegetables. Thus, she prepares dishes that spotlight these flavors. Delightful offerings!

GIADA AT HOME begins with Appetizers followed by Soups & Sandwiches, Pasta & Grains, Meat, Poultry & Fish, Vegetables & Salads, Desserts, and Brunch.

Photographs of the dishes by Jonelle Weaver are so real that one is tempted to take a bite. Relaxed candid shots of family and friends allow readers glimpses of the happiness engendered when loved ones gather to share a meal.

For this reader Brunch is one of my favorite chapters, especially as described: "In Italy weekends are all about the leisurely lunch, a meal that can start any time after one-thirty in the afternoon and might well stretch on into the early evening." It is the day's "main event."

It's so much more than a main event, it's a dreamed of libation if it begins with Limoncello and Blueberry Cooler and includes Mozzarella, Raspberry, and Brown Sugar Panini plus a Strawberry and Rosemary Scone or two.

Enjoy - I know you will!

- Gail Cooke
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great, 23 Aug 2013
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This review is from: Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California (Hardcover)
Didn't really know what to expect as I've never watched her before,but was very pleasantly surprised. The recipes were easy to follow and tasty. Have tried out several of them,think one of my favourites is the mushroom and dolcellate risotto. I have ordered a couple more of her books so she's a hit with me.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great, simple, delicious recipes, 9 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California (Hardcover)
Not only is this book a joy to read, the photographs are beautiful and really make your mouth water! But the few recipes I've tried have been simple and extremely flavourful and delicious. The Turkey, feta and sun-dried tomato meatloaf is incredibly quick and easy to prepare and has fast become a firm family favourite. It's even good cold the following day! I also love the olive and sundried tomato vegetables again super easy to make and so delicious both as a warm vegetable side-dish and a cold salad. The Goats cheese and griddled vegetable sandwiches are also a great combination. I'm planning on working my way through this beautiful book and testing all the fabulous recipes.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must have book!, 12 May 2011
By 
Nana Barbakadze (Tbilisi, Georgia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California (Hardcover)
The main aspect that makes this book five plus is that every single recipe almost, at least 97% of them are accompanied with pictures. For me pictures make cooking process lot easier. That way you clearly know what results you have to achieve. The quality of the book is amazing. Recipes are fantastic but be aware that it's mixture of European and American style cooking. Just a minor remark - if you are traditional European cuisine fan like me, you might find a bit strange recipes like salmon with agave syrup or asparagus with melon. The book overall is fantastic and it inspired me to purchase Giada's other books in future.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Picture perfect?, 11 May 2011
By 
P. Henriksen - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California (Hardcover)
This book has a fresh take on Italian dishes. The salad section is interesting with especially the grilled asparagus, melon, mozarella, pinenuts and crisp parmaham. Also the salad with green lentils and grapes is lovely. For a summer cook book this is delicious and fresh as there is a good and new use of veg and fruit in the recipes (but not necessarily low fat). It also has a brunch section where I adore the mozzarella, raspberry and brown sugar panini. The only thing which annoys me is the pictures. She is a lovely looking lady, so is her daughter and her husband and the rest of the family. Actually I counted about 30 pictures of the family where I would have prefered pictures of the food. There is even a picture of an empty plate! AND all the measurements are US - but if you don't mind, then this is otherwise an easy book to cook from.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Classic Italian with a California twist, 13 Nov 2010
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This review is from: Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California (Hardcover)
Being a big fan of both Italian and California-style cooking, this book was the obvious choice for me.

Giada is a very talented and creative chef, who went through culinary training at the Paris Cordon Bleu, and apprenticeships at Wolfgang Puck's Spago and the Ritz Carlton. Her dishes in this book, however, are not complicated to make at all, and rely mostly on everyday ingredients and store cupboard staples in many households.

Yes, she does "Americanize" dishes: for example, on page 86 is a recipe for "Spaghetti with Beef, Smoked Almonds, and Basil." No doubt, the beef is the "American" addition, for guys like her husband about whom she writes, "Todd likes to see a healthy serving of meat front and center on his plate." Strip that out and the recipe is a glamorous take on an old Sicilian dish called pasta con il pesto alla Trapanese, which she gives its modern twist by using smoked almonds instead of regular ones, and adds the refreshing zing of some grated lemon zest.

Another striking dish is "Penne with Treviso and Goat Cheese," a pasta dish whose sauce combines spinach leaves and treviso (a type of radicchio), whose bitter flavor is mellowed by the sweetness of balsamic vinegar, zested up with some fresh basil and lemon juice, and topped with crumbled goat cheese. This dish for me was love at first bite.

Her "Apricot and Nut Cookies" are crunchy and wonderfully buttery, enriched with some pine nuts and flaked almonds.

The book has a few downsides: Giada uses canned and store-bought ingredients a bit too readily for my liking; if I wanted to use ready-mixes I could stick with the recipes on the back of those boxes. And as usual, they are trying to do too much. Giada is probably happy to show how versatile she is, but by including recipes in the style of many US regions and Cally-Italian, the book feels like piecemeal: it's not coherent, and it's not true to the title. Clearly, the Food Network's marketing squad is more at fault here than Giada - I just wish that the chefs would tell this cherished marketing department to leave them alone.

I would still recommend this book to everyone who has an open mind and a palate that is one the sophisticated side.
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Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California
Giada at Home: Family Recipes from Italy and California by Giada De Laurentiis (Hardcover - 30 Mar 2010)
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