Italian

everynightitalian.jpgOne of the nice things about this book is that every thing in it takes 45 minutes or less to prepare.  And the other nice thing is, most of the recipes are actually easy to make on a budget – Spaghetti with tomatoes and anchovies (let’s face it, you either like anchovies or you don’t and some of us do!); Red Snapper with Fresh Tomatoes and Black Olives; Chicken Braised with Tomatoes and Black Olives; Veal Stew with Green and Yellow Peppers; Savory Three Meat Loaf with Simple Tomato Sauce; Red Cabbage Slaw; Marinated Green Beans – you get my point.  And everything we’ve tried, anyway, is perfect!

As recommended by Amy Ephron

Buy Every Night 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

adventuresofan.jpg Conventional wisdom says a good cookbook is one that allows you to reproduce a given recipe with consistently successful results. Another opinion is that the recipes should be really special, not run-of-the-mill or the best versions of classics. I may be in the minority, but I most appreciate a cookbook that inspires me, gives me good ideas, and points the way. This is such a cookbook.

I've cooked Spaghetti with Walnuts and Anchovies twice and tweaked it just a bit. The combination of ingredients is most important, after that, as with all recipes, find the balance that works for you. Just a few other recipes from the book that I find intriguing include Campari Cocktails with Salami and Figs, Pasta and Bean Salad with Celery Pesto, Leek and Sausage Orzotto, Risotto with Almonds and Broccoli and Baked Cherry Tomatoes.

As recommended by Amy Sherman

Buy Adventures of an Italian Food Lover

VeneziaVenezia: Food & Dreams is a love letter to Venice. Reading it and cooking from it is a bit like looking at a Caravaggio painting. The dreamlike colors of the photos, the lovely setting of Venice, the simple yet forthright recipes. This book is written, photographed and designed in a dreamlike fashion; one that is so often associated with Venice. Tessa Kiros knows her subject well.

In addition to the wonderful recipes, Kiros sprinkles in her thoughts, and comments; her experiences in the city in the form of poetic moments. Many of the photos are of the city itself and its citizens, or of the colorful buildings, or of Carnival; not only of food and recipes. This book is one of the most beautiful cookbooks I have come across in a long time. And the food and recipes, as I came to find out, are as delicious as the book is beautiful.

Kiros divides the book into sections that mirror an Italian menu: Antipasti, Zuppa/Pasta/Gnocchi, Risotto, Secondi, Contorni, and Dolci — with additional sections on Essential Recipes and Cicchetti, small bites unique to Venice.

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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.

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