I just checked out Amazon and found 275 Italian cook books. What is everyone's favourite cook book - if possible using metric measures - I always have problems subtracting 32 dividing by 9 ..... not to mention ounces to grams, cups to decilitres - Also when we are in Italy we are overwhelmed with the selection of tomatoes <- is that a Quaylism ? A short guide to the recommended use for the different varieties - pasta sauce, grilled with balsamico and shallots, fresh in salads etc - would be great. Any tomatophiles out there ?
I have a huge, beautiful cookbook authored by Ada Boni. And have had it for thirty years. It has seductive pictures and, since I rarely use it I can't recall, but I believe that the recipes are in both systems. (I'm sure that its out of print.)
Posts: 471 | Location: hilton head island, SC | Registered: 16 July 2001
On Italian cookbooks... I'm a fan of Marcella Hazan. (Sorry, she doesn't use metric measurements!) Her Classic Italian Cookbook and More Classic Italian Cooking are both in small paperback format. I love her Marcella Cucina for its pages of details on techniques and ingredients. I don't know if its out in paperback yet. The recipes are from all over Italy, always work just as she says they will, and are delicious.
On tomatoes...A lot of visitors are surprised to see the green and red tomatoes in Italian markets and in restaurant salads. I find I like this variation. The crisper texture and more pronounced tang really are great with mozzerella, basil and oil. It makes for an interesting change from using the sweeter, softer ripe tomatoes.
Posts: 11467 | Location: Newton (outside Boston), MA | Registered: 17 June 2001
I also like Marcella Hazan, but I think my favorite is Carol Field's "In Nonna's Kitchen." Lots of simple and delicious recipes, along with stories from "Nonna." I also like her "Celebrating Italy," which includes feast days and their histories. I don't think either of them give metric measures, though.
Posts: 16385 | Location: The Beautiful San Francisco Bay Area | Registered: 06 August 2001
One of my favorites is The Villa Table - 300 Classic Italian Recipes by Lorenza De' Medici, of the famed cooking school at Badi Coltibuono in Tuscany.
This book contains loads of beautiful pictures ( I always like to see what it's actually supposed to look like before I attempt a course )
In fact I am using it right now to prepare one of my favorites dishes for a dinner party tomorrow night. Cipolline all Uva (Small onions with grapes)
900 g / 2lbs very small onions ( pearl ) 30 g / 1 oz butter salt and pepper 6 tbsp dry white wine 300 g / 10 oz white or green seedless grapes
Bring a saucepan of salted water to boil. Add the onions and blanch for about 5 minutes. Drain and peel.
Melt the butter in the suacepan. Add the onions and season with the salt and pepper. Cover the pan and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes, gradually adding the wine as it is absorbed. Add thee grapes amd shaking the pan, cook for a further 5 minutes. Arrange on a warm platter and serve at once. This is just an example of the simplicity of most of the recipes, basic tuscan fare but simply deliissssh! The recipes are in both systems.
I've bought several small brochure-sized cookbooks at the street market. They are in Italian, but food Italian is pretty easy. I shared a pizza I made from the Neapolitan pizza book with my neighbor, who thought it was so much better than hers she asked for the recipe. There is a series of books on regional cookery, widely available and very cheap, published by Gulliver. The series is called 'La Cucina delle Regioni d'Italia.' They are written in dialect, Italian and English. Eighteen books in the series. All metric. I received "Umbria in Bocca" as a one year anniversary gift from my neighbor. These are the real thing, for sure. A small and slick electronic scale is a good souvenir if you plan on cooking from books published here. Some look like sculptures. Mine will show you the weight in metric or pesi. Avoid the ones with a container, as they never hold what you are weighing and are much bigger. The containerless ones weigh your empty container and then reset to zero. PS/ weighing dries, like flour, makes for better product since they allow for humidity levels.
Posts: 2864 | Location: Umbria | Registered: 13 September 2001
Agree with Decobabe on the books. Honestly, if you want a good Italian cookbook, get it in Italy written by Italians. Although I used to like Hazan, once I lived here I noted how much she wrote her books directed to the American market. They are not what I would consider always traditional.
Ada Boni also is great. My book is at least 40 years old but it still is wonderful.
About scales, decobabe is right again. My little digital scale is worth MY weight in gold I measured cups of sugar, brown sugar, powdered, O Flour, OO Flour, out, etc. and weighed them. Did it 10 times, got an average and use that calculation for all of my American recipes. Much faster, less cleanup (no more little cup measures to wash). If anyone wants the numbers let me know.
I would greatly appreciate the information that you offered to share regarding the conversions of measures for Italian products, i.e flour, sugar ecc. If you have any other helpful hints regarding salts, butter, oils ecc. I'd be grateful! When I visit Italy I never bake my biscotti because I'm very unsure of the amount of Italian ingredients actually needed.
Posts: 81 | Location: Wisconsin | Registered: 20 January 2002
I have 'Lidia's Italian Table' by Lidia Bastianich, and I like it very much. I have no idea how authentic it is. She is from Friuli, as I recall, so a number of her dishes have that influence. Any thoughts on this book and author?
I have only a couple of other Italian cookbooks, neither of which is that great. Out of 7-8 feet worth of shelf space, that's it for Italian cookbooks! I'm very interested in expanding the collection, though, and appreciate hearing everyone's opinions. Will I be able to find English cookbooks easily in Rome and Florence? My Italian is nearly non-existent. Grazie!
Posts: 406 | Location: Wisconsin | Registered: 26 April 2002
I started out with Glynn "The New Pasta Cookbook" (Bay Books, Sydney and London) With over 300 recipes (metric), I'm still working my way through it. When we have a pasta dish in Italy, I can invariable find the recipe in this old dogeared favourite.
Five years ago, Claudia Roden's "The Food of Italy" (both Imperial and metric) was on special in paperback. I like it because it is set out by region. It's spine is almost broken.
One of my sons decided it was time for me to get serious, he bought me Hazan's "Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking" (imperial and metric) four years ago. Well, I liked Roden's book so much and he liked Hazan, so he was just trying to prove a point (which he does in the kitchen, so I asked hiom to leave home and get his own kitchen). I use it occasionally.
Stephanie Alexander and Maggie Beer (two australian chefs/foodies) spent a year in Tuscany running cooking schools and then published "Tuscan Cooking" (Viking which is a division of Penguin)(metric). The photographs are sensational, and the recipes...I think I had better photocopy a few to take to Italy next week.
A student (I run medical bookshops) asked me to order a copy oif Kasper's "The Splendiud Table "(Morrow) (metric and imperial)...recipes of Emilia-Romagna. I thought I should have a copy myself. It won two Cookbook of the Year awards three years ago. Excellent background information and recipes.
And then they published Wright "A Meidterranean Feast" (Morrow) (Imperial only). Have never cooked anything from this book. Every time I sit down to scan this book for something to cook, we end up send out for take away because I can't stop reading the book for long enough to cook. Amazing concept this book. It won a cookbook of the year award two years ago. I can't ewven begin to review it. It is a must read.
Then came reprints in paperback of De'Medici's "Tuscany the Beautiful Cookbook" and "Italy The Beautiful Cookbook". (Harper Collins) (Metric and Imperial). I think everyone knows these books. What more to say than that the photographs alone will inspire planning for another trip to Italy.
Recently I bought reprints of Elizabeth David's "The Book of Mediterranean Food" and "South Wind Through The Window", but I havent opened either yet.
Finally, Gail and Kevin Donovan and Simon Griffiths wrote "Salute!" (Viking) (metric). They run a restaurant in Melbourne and along with their chef Robert Castellani, travelled to Italy and stole my cojncept for writing a book. While in Italy in 2000, I received a phone call from one of my staff to advise that she had just received a "New Book" release, and someone had stolen my concept. It is part travelogue, cook book, reflections on everything from motorways to markets and .....not as good as mine would have been.
Gotta go. Cheryl says if I don't pack my bags now, we will miss our flight to Paris tomorrow.
Posts: 940 | Location: Sydney, Australia | Registered: 20 January 2002
I am not what you would call a great cook and have only just started getting into it since our trip to Italy last September. I have Lidia's Italian American Table and Lidia's Italian Table (I think that's the name)by Lidia Bastianich. I'm sure these are considered somewhat pedestrian by the pro's but thanks to her I'm making hand made pasta dishes and cabbage rolls that my friends and family can't stop talking about. Didn't know I had it in me. I'm about to serve up Braciole di Manzo that has been simmering on the stove for about 6-1/2 hours now. Tom
Posts: 277 | Location: San Rafael, CA | Registered: 10 July 2001
I'm not a pro, and I used most of the cookbooks mentioned here over the years. (other than some of Gavin's list.) I have quite a collection still. I made good food from them. But there was something missing -- a brightness, a freshness, once with a Hazan recipe it was a textural change that didn't work. I made good food, but it wasn't like what I ate in Italy. That's why I mention using Italian books. Most Italian foods are easy and quick, but they have more oil and egg yolks than modern people like to use, and they are picky about the ingredients. When the cookbooks are altered for the US they often change the fat ratios and leave out things that once were difficult to get in the US or Britain. It's a new day and you can now get most ingredients in both countries -- I know nothing of Oz. There are a few verbs you'd need to pick up from the dictionary, a couple of nouns maybe, but if you eat, you probably know most of the vocabulary already. A free convertor is downloadable at http://www.joshmadison.com/software/ and is really good, but it won't do the conversion from cups to weight that Cristina has done. That's priceless. I wouldn't toss all my foreign published cookbooks, but I'd pick up some Italian ones, too. After all, if you are going to go to the trouble of making homemade pasta, isn't it worth it to figure out how to make a fast and delicious lemon-cream sauce that works? I am also currently enjoying Sale e Pepe, a magazine available at most newstands, although there is a lamentable (for me) tendency to try to introduce Italians to foreign food and to alter the recipes to Italian tastes. Why is it that in a country where you can get fried ants you cannot buy at your supermarket already reduced real cream? Or boxes of white sauce?
Posts: 2864 | Location: Umbria | Registered: 13 September 2001