11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Capriccio Gustoso--Variations on a Theme,
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 The strings with which he used to tie the involtini together have also been replaced by easier-to-use 4-inch skewers.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.
Reviewed for Vine, Amazon.com: 4 1/2 stars.