Most helpful positive review
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
My favourite Italian recipe book
on 18 August 2010
I have been using this book for a few years now - it has become a dependable friend in the kitchen. The book is enormous, comprising 1263 pages. It is divided into various chapters covering the basics of Italian cooking, and other chapters covering the key groups of foods. It ends with a range of menus provided by well-known Italian chefs. It has two indexes at the back: one for recipes, and one for ingredients.
This book is not for the feint-hearted beginner, in my view. I say this because it assumes some reasonable cooking skills. It presents recipes plainly, almost entirely without pictures, and certainly without hand-holding niceties. The instructions are often quite minimal, comprising a list of ingredients, and a paragraph of instructions. Having said this, the dishes themselves are usually fairly simple to prepare. It is not a glossy coffee table book - it is what it is, and it simply gets on with it. I like that about it.
I have learned a lot from this book. Its chapter on hot and cold sauces has provided me with some handy ways to whistle up many fantastic sauces in next to no time. The recipes are highly adaptable, so if you want to invent something, you can use many of the recipes as a starting point. For example, many of them require a whole chicken, but you can adapt this for chicken pieces, and modify the cooking process from oven to hob accordingly.
This is a very traditional Italian book, originally made for Italians. It therefore occasionally includes some startling ingredients, such as offal, brain, trotters, and so on. But don't let that deter you. These are easily avoided if that's not what you want to serve up!
I have made several hundred of the dishes in this book, and there are still a huge number to do. So far, I have not had a disaster with any of them. They are all very authentic Italian dishes that are fun to make (though sometimes tricky) and taste wonderful at the end.
I have had so many great meals and dinner parties from this book, I would not hesitate in recommending it. Put it this way - if the kitchen were on fire, this is the book I would try to save.