I actually read this aloud to my mother in law by chapter. She was born and raised in Italy and absolutely loved it. She would tell me her "stories" about her childhood with each chapter. If you want excellent real Italian food, this is it. What a treasure.
You must have this book!
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 3 years ago
If you only ever could own one Italian cookbook, this needs to be it! Well organized with clear explanations.
One of my top five cookbooks
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 19 years ago
Essentials gets the most use of any cookbook in my kitchen, second only to Joy of Cooking. I absolutely love it. I started cooking from it as a fairly new cook - every recipe is easy with very good instructions. Essentials is a real Italian cookbook so you wil not find Italian-American recipes loaded with cheese and tons of sauce (not that those aren't good). The book is over 600 pages and crammed full of recipes from all of Italy's regions (no food pictures). Virtually every recipe has notes for ahead-of-time prep and all the pasta sauce recipes list a recommended pasta. My husband loves Marcella Hazan b/c she doesn't try to be fancy. If a dried pasta is best with a sauce she will recommend it. If canned broth can be used, she will make a note of it. There is a great chapter in the back of the book called "At Table". She discusses how Italians eat (how the courses work) and has a large variety of suggested menus.My favorite cookbook reviews list the recipes people have made from it. It gives me ideas of dishes to try and a better idea of what the cookbook will be like. Since I have made over 30 recipes from this book I can't list them all, but here are some of our favorites: Minestrone alla Romagnola - the best, thickest vegetable soup I have ever had and unlike any minestrone I have had at a restaurant. Tomato Sauce with Porcini Mushrooms; Smothered Onion Sauce; Scallop Sauce with Olive Oil, Garlic and Hot Pepper; and Gorgonzola Sauce are all incredible on pasta. Don't forget the Pesto! Her recipe is the best. On to risotto's.... the Parmesan Cheese; Porcini Mushroom; and Sausage risotto's are great. The Baked Crespelle with Spinach, Prosciutto and Parmesan is a yummy Sunday night dinner. The Stuffed Spaghetti Frittata with Tomato, Mozzarella and Ham is my husband's new favorite Saturday breakfast. We have made the Grilled Shrimp Skewers at least 20 times - it goes great with pasta and pesto sauce. Chicken Fricassee with Porcini Mushrooms, White Wine and Tomatoes; Tuscan Meat Roll with White Wine and Porcini Mushrooms; Braised Pork Chops with Two Wines are all good winter cooking. If you want to wow your friends with a minimal amount of work try the Braised Pork Chops with Tomatoes, Cream and Porcini Mushrooms (I had a pound of dried porcini so I tried every recipe that called for it). I could keep going, but at this point just typing the recipes has made me hungry. I promise - you can't go wrong with this book. Hmmm, maybe I'll make the minestrone tonight!
Buy this book
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 20 years ago
This is an incredible book. I have read it from cover to cover, and even lugged it on vacation to read (yes, I am a bit obsessive). Everything that I have tried so far has been wonderful. Marcella's recipes are very approachable, and, best of all, they work! I am not Italian, nor have I ever been to Italy, so I can not speak to it's authenticity as Italian cuisine, but I can speak to the fact that this is wonderful food. She does insist on high quality ingredients, with which I am in total agreement, but I wish that she had included name brand names and resources in this updated edition. I have yet to be able to find anchovies in salt--even on the internet! The tomato and butter sauce is now my favorite pasta sauce, the veal marsala is delicious, and the cream and butter sauce is also wonderful. She goes into incredible detail about making pasta, as well as pairing fresh and factory products with the appropriate sauce. I would highly recommend reading the first part of the book before diving into the recipes, because she discusses several cooking techniques, as well as how to determine quality in your ingredients. If you love simple, wonderful food, you will not be disappointed with Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.
Delicious, Delicious, Delicious
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 22 years ago
This is it: The single indispensable cookbook -- not just for Italian food, but for good food. Marcella's (sometimes acerbic) commentary on ingredients and recipes is wonderful, but the reason to buy this book is for the dishes. Almost everything I've made from this book has been an absolute treat, from the succulent mushroom and ham pasta sauce to the delectable stuffed tomatoes. And with the size of this compendium, you'll never run out of new tastes to try.My one quibble? The desserts don't seem to measure up to the rest of the dishes. The two I've tried -- lemon almond cookies and the farm wive's pear tart -- were disappointing. The cookies tasted great, but had the texture of cardboard, while the "tart" was more like a clafouti; although I baked it far longer than the recipe called for, it remained doughy and wet. With all that ripe pear in the batter, though, it certainly tasted acceptable!With two disappointments out of the 30-or-so fabulous recipes I've tried, this is still single finest book I've ever cooked from. (and much better than her recent huge success Marcella Cucina). Oh, the soups! Oh, the pastas! Oh, the vegetables! Oh, Marcella!
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