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Customer Review

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Italian inspiration, 28 Nov. 2012
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This review is from: Nigellissima: Instant Italian Inspiration (Hardcover)
The recipes in this book aren't authentically Italian but this is not intended as criticism. The book didn't set out to be an authentic Italian cook book (try Anna del Conte, Marcella Hazan, Gennaro Contaldo for that) but is certainly inspired by Italian cuisine. I think it is well laid out and the recipes are explained clearly which makes this an ideal book for novice cooks.

There is plenty of pasta, for example mini macaroni cheese - not the usual recipe using a roux-based sauce, but a simple, quick & effective alternative. I really liked the tortelloni minestrone and the fettuccine with marsala, mushrooms & mascarpone. Other good dishes include farro risotto; lamb cutlets with mint, chilli & potatoes; lamb steaks with anchovies & thyme; pork loin with parma ham & oregano; monkfish wrapped in rosemary, lemon & parma ham; tempura prawns with an Italian twist and a tray bake of Italian sausages & chicken thighs.

There are some very nice side dishes too. I am not normally a fan of cabbage but the savoy cabbage dish with potatoes, fennel & taleggio (the cheese is optional) elevates a mundane vegetable. I tend to avoid Brussels sprouts too but there is a recipe which looks promising - the sprouts are roasted with rosemary and lemon, then sprinkled with pecorino cheese. The gnocchi gratin recipe produces a lovely, comforting dish that can be made quickly as it uses shop-bought chilled gnocchi, and the saffron orzotto (barley instead of rice in a risotto-type dish that can be made ahead) and the fabulous mock mash made with semolina rather than potatoes are excellent too.

Sweet dishes include a no-churn coffee ice-cream, cinnamon almond cake, aniseed shortbread, amaretto semi-freddo, a very quick take on chocolate mousse and meringue gelato cake (another very quick and easy recipe).

On a seasonal note, there is a whole chapter devoted to Christmas and offering a variety of dishes as an alternative to the traditional Christmas meal. This includes nibbles like polenta triangles with a chilli sauce and parmesan shortbread, an Italian inspired roast turkey stuffed with Italian sausages and Marsala soaked cranberries, plus suggestions for vegetables. There is a good selection of desserts and sweet things such as a chocolate salami, no-churn chestnut ice-cream and an alternative Christmas cake based on panettone or pandoro.

One thing I didn't spot initially, is a final section of notes tucked away at the end of the book with useful information as to whether a dish can be prepared ahead, if so to what stage, how long it will last in the fridge/freezer. This is really helpful information but it is a pity it is easy to miss.

This isn't Nigella's best book - I would put How to Eat & Feast at the top of my list - however, I don't regret buying it.
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