51 of 53 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2011
I loved this book. It's written in a really down to earth way, with no pretentious language or complicated cooking techniques. I also love how Antonio and Gennaro share some of the foods they enjoyed as children - some of these are very simple while others are more extravagant. Recipes are accompanied by brilliant, evocative photography of the food itself and also of Gennaro and Antonio while on their travels. There are also sections of the book where they talk about religion, the family and street food for example, which puts all the recipes into context. If you love real, authentic and traditional Italian food, you will love this book.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
on 10 May 2011
In my opinion Gennaro Contaldo provided one of the funniest moments in TV cooking show history when he ate Jamie Oliver's deliberately over-peppery mince pie during his Jamie at Home Christmas special a couple of years ago and his always loud, enthusiastic, opinionated and ever-so-Italian nature always guarantees his every TV appearance is entertaining. Coupled with the godfather of Italian cooking in Britain, Antonio Carluccio - who would be my pick for the ideal crazy Italian grandfather every time - and to say I was excited about news of their collaboration for a new book and TV show was an understatement (pretty sure I actually squealed when Antonio replied to my tweet asking if it was true).
I got my hands on a copy of the book before the TV series started and with Italian high up on my favourite foods list, I was already salivating after the first few pages. This not just a book of pasta and pizza recipes - in fact there is only one pizza recipe and it's for `the true Neapolitan pizza'; it is a cookbook full of genuine Italian recipes, of every regional origin, with a variety of classics as well as more modern influences. The book is organised by course, with introductions about the regional and historic origins of each, and every recipe is labelled as either Contaldo's or Carluccio's. There are also informative notes on some of the recipes - for instance did you know that tomatoes didn't come to Italy until the 1500s? I had no idea!
My boyfriend and I attempted Il Dentice de Gennaro (Gennaro's Sea Bream), Insalata de Zucchine con Menta e Rucola (Courgette Salad with Fresh Mint and Rocket), Involtini di Zucchini (Roasted Courgette Rolls) and Zucchini Fritti (Deep Fried Courgette Matchsticks) and had pretty mixed results, but I'd put our failures down to inexperience and the challenging circumstances we chose to cook in (he'd just moved into a new flat and had next-to-no cooking equipment!) rather than the the quality of the book and its recipes. There are so many more delicious-sounding recipes that I can't wait to try and I'm not the only one who thinks so - I'm pretty sure my boyfriend was eyeing up the book for himself!
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on 3 May 2011
This is by far one of my favorite recipe books. Beautiful illustrations that will make your mouth water, delectable recipes for even novice cooks, and wonderfully written from the perspective of 2 of the most authentic and respected Italian chefs- Gennaro Contaldo and Antonio Carluccio. It would be the perfect gift for anyone with a passion for Italian food!
46 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on 2 May 2011
The book jacket cover truly reveals the warm friendship between Carluccio and Contaldo, two worldwide famous Italian chefs, who have been cooking up a storm in the UK for the last 30 years since leaving Italy separately and eventually meeting and working together in Britain.
The book contains 208 pages and over 100 recipes, most of them with colour pictures. I love the naturalistic and homely feel of the photography and the simple but striking recipes. In this book the two chefs showcase the genuine regional Italian cuisine and reflect on Italy of the past and the present. Rediscovering their native country and reminiscing on their friendship.
The recipes are easy to follow and the ingredients used are widely available in the shops. The book is divided in six parts: Antipasti (Starters), Primi (First Courses), Secondi (Main Courses), Contorni (Vegetables), Frutta E Dolci (Fruit and Deserts), Merende (Snacks). Today I cooked a fabulous lunch for a friend using eight recipes from the book. Everything was perfect! All recipes worked out really well from execution to seasoning to presentation. This book really shows that less is more.
The TV series that accompany the book 'Two Greedy Italians' will be shown on BBC 2 at 8pm from Wednesday the 4th May.
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 1 May 2011
Like the food I eat, I love to devour a cookbook in one sitting with a cup of tea (or a glass of wine on a sunny day like today). I like to read it from cover to cover, taking in every picture, every word, every description. I make lists of what I'll try and read out ingredients of my favourites to my husband, trying to inspire him to be as inspired as I am. It rarely happens that he gets excited over a cookbook, but he was ooh-ing and aah-ing over some of the recipes in this book as much as I was, the Lonza al Miele E Zenzero (Pork Fillet with Honey and Ginger) in particular. But I couldn't read it in one go. I tried, I really did, but in addition to over 100 recipes, the descriptions of the life and times of Italy in the modern, multi cultural world are enthralling. You get the impression that Carluccio and Contaldo were made to re-discover their beloved Italy (perhaps the fee for the accompanying BBC series helped) and were quite surprise at what they found - a Country that was no longer fed by Mamma, chained to the stove all day; a country that no longer sneered at food that wasn't made from Italian ingredients; a country that no longer made fun of fast, convenient ingredients. They found a modern Italy embracing the fusions, flavours and fun of real, modern food.
No soggy carbonara, limp tomato crostini or bland panna cotta to be seen here, this is a book that leaps away from the normal and regular to bring us real, regional Italian food, unusual enough to make this book interesting, simple enough to not terrify the life out of a home cook.
The descriptions and background on Italian rituals, history and ingredients, interspersed with recipes that relate back so well is a captivating mix. The pre-amble that introduces every recipe is a delight, helping the reader to understand why that recipe made the cut for the book, making you want to re-create it with the passion intended by the pair. With each recipe title translated into English and most with an accompanying picture, you really get a feel for a dish before the olive oil hits the pan.
An Italian cookbook wouldn't be an Italian cookbook without a recipe for fresh pasta. Yes, we know it tastes better fresh (does it?) and yes, we know it's the only way to get the tortellini you love, but these two Italian food lovers go on to say that most Italian households now only make fresh pasta on very special occasions, preferring the dried variety after a long day at work - and don't we know it! As a tribute to this sentiment, only very special pasta recipes have been included, with Tagliatelle Al Vino Bianco con Funghi (Fresh White Wine Pasta Ribbons with Mushrooms) really capturing the imagination; taking the classic combination of garlicky, mixed wild mushrooms in white wine, and turning it on it's head - making the pasta with the wine and turning the ribbons in mixed wild and dried mushrooms slick with reduced white wine, olive oil, garlic and chilli. Not like-a Mamma used'ta make-a! What could be better? It's enough to make me want to dust off the pasta machine.
The overwhelming feel of this book is fresh, seasonal and unusual. It's a book to read, digest and learn from. Shying away from traditional Italian cookbooks, this is a refreshing view focussing on the changing face of Italy, and therefore, Italian food; What we finally have here is an Italian who (begrudgingly) appreciates that there are food influences outside of Italy! It's a revelation! I sat, shocked, wine half way to mouth as I read the phrase `to make the recipe healthier' in an Italian cookbook - do my eyes deceive me?
These two older gentlemen, (old friends they say, but I detect some rivalry if only from the cover), so intrinsically Italian, who I thought were stuck with the idealism of an Italy they left behind in the 1970's, have managed to create a fresh, modern cookbook that is still steeped in tradition. Now where's that pasta machine...
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
This book at times took me back to the time I lived in Italy: some of the recipes were regular meals for me then.
The book is split in chapters covering antipasti, starters, main couses, vegetables, fruit & desserts and finally snacks. Here are a few of my favourite recipes: roasted courgette rolls; garlic soup; pasta with basil & lemon; tagliatelle (made from scratch, with the addition of white wine) with mushrooms; braised greens with polenta cake; gnocchi alla sorrentina; ricotta dumplings with tomato & basil sauce; zucchini alla parmigiana (courgette and cheese bake); lasagnette con pane carasau (lasagne made with a very thin bread, also known as carta di musica, in place of the usual sheets of pasta); aubergine dumplings; pork fillet with onion & ginger; grilled fresh tuna with savoury breadcrumbs; patate arraganate (sliced roasted potatoes with tomatoes, oregano & basil); carrot & celeriac purée; torta di ricotta e limone; chocolate & amaretto pudding; caramelised orange cake; fennel biscuits.
The recipes are straightforward - this is very much Italian home cooking, no complicated techniques or preparation, nor hard to find ingredients. Carluccio and Contaldo come from opposite ends of Italy, from different regional culinary traditions, and the book celebrates the regional aspect of Italian cuisine.
25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
on 26 April 2011
This is a book to accompany the BBC series of the same name, which I've never seen. However, how can anyone resist an Italian cookbook with a perfectly baked Neapolitan margherita pizza on the back cover?? Two giants of the Italian cooking scene in the UK take readers on a feeding frenzy around Italy. The recipes which cover north of Florence and Southern Italy, mostly Naples, have surprisingly little overlap with the other Italian cookbooks I've recently purchased (Jamie's Italy, River Cafe Classic Italian, Eat Ate). The book contains lots of notes on socio-cultural aspects of Italy and its food and dining culture. Like The River Cafe Classic Italian Cook Book, this book has a very 'home cooked' feel to it, which I like a lot. This doesn't have the range of recipes that the River Cafe book has, but it has an excellent and numerous selection. This would be the perfect book for someone leaving on a first time trip to Italy, or someone who has just returned and wants to keep the memory alive. Alas, the photography by Christopher Terry is wonderful!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2011
There is only one word that truly describes Italians - passionate! Family, friends, football, food are the heart of Italy's culture and no more so than in their food. For those of you who haven't encountered the charm of this Latin country, The Two Greedy Italians cookbook will, I hope, capture your imagination; those of you who have had the pleasure of going to Italy, this book will make you want to pack a bag and catch the next flight out.
It's not just a cookery book about Italian food, it's a slice into the lives of two renowned chefs, Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo and how they perceive the Italy of today compared to the Italy of their youth.
There have been many changes, with the influx of immigrants from other cultures to the affect of the cost of living; family dynamics have changed and woman are not spending long hours in the kitchen cooking. Lunches are no longer leisurely affairs and when people get home the last thing they want to do is cook a large meal. But one thing that will never change are the ingredients they use; fresh fruit and vegetables are still on the table. The pasta might not be homemade but they will buy the best. The older generation may not agree with the changes but they do understand and many will cook a proper meal on a Sunday for all the family that will include antipasti, primi, secondi and dolci.
The book itself is a delight. The photographs are beautiful, the recipes are simple and it isn't heavy on pasta (there's only one recipe for making it from scratch). This book is perfect for cooking with the family from little ones right through to grandparents. Start with Involtini di Zucchini - roasted courgette rolls, followed by Spaghetti alla Crudaiola - spaghetti with raw tomatoes and peppers. With everyone round the table a platter of soft polenta with mixed meat stew poured into the centre will get people talking, maybe not in Italian, but they could have a go at pronouncing the dish, Scottiglia con Polenta alla Spianatora and to finish a plate of Mele Annurche con Fragole e Formarggio - apples and strawberries with cheese.
I'm enthused to get my son's girlfriend (whose family is Italian) to cook some traditional dishes from her father's homeland. As she herself has said, "I don't know how to cook Italian food!"
Well there's no excuse now.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on 4 May 2011
On first inspection this book, written to accompany the forthcoming BBC series, may appear to be not much different to many other Italian cookery books, or indeed, previous publications from both Antonio Carluccio and Gennaro Contaldo. Numerous recipes and the ingredients will be familiar to any Italian food enthusiast or visitor to the country. Anyone stopping there would be, in my opinion, foolhardy and would undoubtedly be left disappointed. It's only when you delve deeper into the content of the pages that you discover what makes their book stand out.
The reader is taken on a pilgrimage with the chefs across their homeland, remembering traditional and classic dishes, introducing us to unfamiliar regional recipes influenced by bordering countries, such as pancetta con crauti (pork belly with sauerkraut) or Apfelstrudel (Tyrelean apple pastry), and also discovering new and modern interpretations of the classics, some of which incorporate very new ingredients which are slowly being introduced into the Italian markets by immigrants in much the same way tomatoes, peppers, rice, pasta and maize, with which we associate Italian food, were introduced and adopted only a few centuries ago.
Short essays and introductions to the recipes by both chefs provide a deeper insight into the history, regionalism, culture, religion, family life, modern society and the changing face of Italian food. When once cucina povera, the poor man's food, was the diet of resourceful housewives, finding a way to feed their large, hard-working families on a very tight budget, this style of cooking is now found at a high price in restaurants. How the tables have turned.
As you'd expect from an Italian cookbook, the recipes are simple and require few ingredients, though disappointingly many aren't accompanied by a photograph over which to drool. It is the high quality of the ingredients which make for a sublime, tasty dish, as demonstrated by the insalata di asparagi crudi con parmigiano (raw asparagus salad with parmesan) I made, consisting only of fresh asparagus, parmesan shavings, lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper.
The more I read, the more greedy I became, in good company with these two Italian chefs. Whilst I've so far only prepared the one recipe, there are many more likely to appear on the menu sometime soon, not least of which is the zuppa di carciofi con gnocchi di pollo (artichoke soup with chicken dumplings), lasagnetta con pane carasau (Sardinian bread lasagne) and tarallucci (savoury fennel biscuits).
Sit back, relax and find yourself transported to the kitchens of Italy old and new by the two greedy Italians.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 January 2014
Ordered for Christmas, and it is a good book. The print is fine. The recipes are very Italian (meaning that there is a lot of, even a bit too much of tomato on everything). IT seems that while there is an abundant number of main courses in the book with great, whole-page pictures, I feel that first courses, soups, and most of all, desserts are a bit neglected. On the whole, it is a great book for weekend experimentation, (homemade pasta recipe and the likes), but not for everyday cooking. Also, most of the recipes have easy to buy ingredients, but you have to have a good access to Italian culinary stuff to be able to cook everything. For example, I have found a mushroom lasagne recipe that I will be unable to cook as it needs a special type of lasagne. On the other hand, I would never put a hot chocolate and butter & jam sandwich recipe into a cookbook, these are elementary and are done everywhere in the world!
On the whole, pros are:
great to accompany the tv series, or if you wish to experiment with Italian cusisine (and are not put off by the intensive tomato sauce usage).
Great for revisiting recipes from the show, as every recipe, as far as I watched it, is in the book.
Huge, lovely pictures of the food, though not of every dish.
If you love to read about Italy, small sections about Italian life.
not for after working, tired weekday cooking.
It seems that there are more pictures of the chefs than dishes, which makes it feel like an image campaign.
I wouldn't mind a more balanced variety of dishes, especially in terms of more soups and desserts.
Final judgement: go for it, if you are into heavily tomato sauce-soaked main dishes, or if you want a collection of the tv show's recipes.