In this inspiring new book, Lidia Bastianich awakens in us a new respect for food and for the people who produce it in the little-known parts of Italy that she explores. All of the recipes reflect the regions from which they spring, and in translating them to our home kitchens, Lidia passes on time-honored techniques and wonderful, uncomplicated recipes for dishes bursting with different regional flavors -- the kind of elemental, good family cooking that is particularly appreciated today.
Penetrating the heart of Italy -- starting at the north, working down to the tip, and ending in Sardinia -- Lidia unearths a wealth of recipes:
- From Trentino-Alto Adige: Delicious Dumplings with Speck (cured pork); apples accenting soup, pasta, salsa, and salad; local beer used to roast a chicken and to braise beef
- From Lombardy: A world of rice -- baked in a frittata, with lentils, with butternut squash, with gorgonzola, with eggs and cheese, and the special treat of Risotto Milan-Style with Marrow and Saffron
- From Valle D'Aosta: Polenta with Black Beans and Kale, and local fontina featured in fondue, in a roasted pepper salad, and embedded in veal chops
- From Liguria: An array of Stuffed Vegetables, a bread salad, and elegant Veal Stuffed with a Mosaic of Vegetables
- From Emilia-Romagna: An olive oil dough for making the traditional, versatile vegetable tart erbazzone, as well as the secrets of making tagliatelle and other pasta doughs, and an irresistible Veal Scaloppine Bolognese
- From Le Marche: Farro with Roasted Pepper Sauce, Lamb Chunks with Olives, and Stuffed Quail in Parchment
- From Umbria: A taste of the sweet Norcino black truffle, and seductive dishes such as Potato-Mushroom Cake with Braised Lentils, Sausages in the Skillet with Grapes, and Chocolate Bread Parfait
- From Abruzzo: Fresh scrippelle (crêpe) ribbons baked with spinach or garnishing a soup, fresh pasta made with a "guitar," Rabbit with Onions, and Lamb Chops with Olives
- From Molise: Fried Ricotta; homemade cavatelli pasta in a variety of ways; Spaghetti with Calamari, Shrimp, and Scallops; and Braised Octopus
- From Basilicata: Wedding Soup, Fiery Maccheroni, and Farro with Pork Ragù
- From Calabria: Shepherd's Rigatoni, steamed swordfish, and Almond Biscottini
- From Sardinia: Flatbread Lasagna, two lovely eggplant dishes, and Roast Lobster with Bread Crumb Topping
I don't regularly watch cooking shows, but I love Lidia's show when I can catch it on PBS. She's an absolute delight to watch, and her cookbook is just as great. I love this book as much for the commentary as I do the recipes.
I have so many of them marked, it's going to take me awhile to get through all of them. But, my mouth waters just reading them. I love that each region is high-lighted, not only with recipes, but with lovely commentary about the area and the people. And each recipe isn't just written out with ingredients and instructions; Lidia shares definitions, explanations and anecdotes about how a dish or ingredient came to be created or used.
Like I do with every cookbook, I wish this had a photo for every recipe, but this is a lovely book, perfect for any cook who wants to learn a more authentic Italian way of cooking, and it would make a gorgeous gift. My first recipe: Spaghetti in Tomato-Apple Sauce, followed by Baked Penne & Mushrooms, followed by Almond Torta with Chocolate Chips, followed by Fresh Cavatelli with Eggs & Bacon, followed by...
Thanks to Caitlin Price of FSB Associates for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Lidia here. You can purchase your own copy here.
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