Italian

seafood-alla-siciliana.jpg In the beginning of the new cookbook, Seafood Alla Siciliana: Recipes and Stories from a Living Tradition, author Toni Lydecker quotes Goethe:"To have seen Italy without having seen Sicily is not to have seen Italy at all, for Sicily is the clue to everything". And you'll certainly feel this way after reading this beautiful book. When the publisher contacted me and sent me a copy, I couldn't wait to read it   after all, this is where my mother was from. This is not just a collection of recipes but an in depth look at Sicily itself   its history, its food, its wine, its culture.

Lydecker is a noted food writer, specializing in Italian cooking. When she finally goes to Sicily to learn the regional seafood cooking there, she immerses herself, learning dishes from home cooks to restaurant chefs. She visited winemakers and toured food processing plants. She toured the Agostino Recca anchovy plant, the makers of my beloved anchovies. Her stories and notes about these visits are well worth reading and really add to this book.

Read more ...

divinacucina.jpgCan you imagine a cookbook with ingredients but no measurements? My cookbook that I got from the school I attended in Florence many years ago is like that. So is the cookbook "A Tuscan in the Kitchen". Tuscans are funny that way. Because they grew up cooking without measurements, they can't imagine why anyone else should need them.

Thank goodness for Divina Cucina's Recipes, because my ability to write down recipes back in the day was not what it is today, and I actually appreciate measurements with my recipes. Judy Witts Francini is an American who has been living in Florence for over 25 years. She's a fantastic cook and cooking instructor and also has a lovely blog that really gives you a feel for shopping, cooking and eating in Italy. When I heard she was publishing a cookbook of recipes, I couldn't wait to check it out.

Read more ...

wineloveritalian.jpgHow could I not get this book? The title is me. What makes this better than most wine pairing books is that it really delves into the recipes and specialties that make each region unique, explaining wine types, laws and labeling terms along the way. The recipes aren’t always quick or easy, but they are authentic and quite flavorful.

How can you go wrong cooking Spaghettini with Shrimp and Ginger, Macaroni and Cheese with Truffle Oil (better the second day), Osso Buco Emilia-Romagna Style or Slow-Baked Lamb with Potatoes? Plus, they choose the wine for you. A book that makes learning and eating a pleasure.

As recommended by Lisa Dinsmore

Buy The Wine Lover Cooks Italian

jaimesitaly.jpg In our house, we think Jamie Oliver walks on water.  Every recipe from Jamie Oliver’s Jamie’s Italy rocks.  And all you have to do is follow the directions.  The variation on spaghetti carbonara with chicken instead of ham is genius.  The Prawn and Parsley frittata is totally great (and I don’t even like frittatas and neither does Jamie Oliver). 

And it’s just so simple to use!  And it’s kind of like having a friend in the kitchen.  The grilled swordfish with salsa di giovanna is an exercise in simple bliss.  And the whole fish baked in salt is something you didn’t think you could try at home.... 

Buy Jamie's Italy

fabioLike many people I was first made aware of Fabio Viviani on Top Chef Season 5. It was clear from his no-nonsense style of cooking that he wasn't going to win the title. He didn't exactly stretch himself creatively in the kitchen, making what he knew and liked, usually always Italian, and never apologized for it. He grew up cooking with his grandmother, in an effort to control his high-octane energy and keep him out of trouble, but eventually he learned to love it and that's apparent in all of the food he cooks.

He moved to the United States in 2005 at the age of 27 with a lot of experience under his belt. He first started working in a professional kitchen at the age of 14 and currently has two restaurants in Los Angeles. Thankfully one of them, Firenze Osteria, is close by, so I've had the pleasure of eating his food many times. I even took a risotto cooking class from him one Saturday afternoon to try to help my homemade versions get better. They have, and yours will too, thanks to his new cookbook Fabio's Italian Kitchen, which contains six different versions, as well as another 100 traditional recipes he grew up cooking for his family.

He grew up poor, so the book features mostly traditional Italian dishes that don't require a lot of fancy ingredients to be good. Many of them have ingredients that can be found in almost everyone's pantry and while they may be simple, it's the techniques and years of experience at the stove that elevate them to the next culinary level. There are no shortcuts to making great food. Time being the biggest luxury item required from Fabio. Uncomplicated does not necessarily equal quick.

Read more ...
Page 1 of 2