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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Fabio's Italian Kitchen...Review

About the book: When Fabio Viviani was growing up in a housing project in Florence, Italy, the center of his world was the kitchen, where his mother, grandmother, and especially his great-grandmother instilled in him a love for cooking and good food.

Now he shares the best of Italian home cooking while telling the story of his hardscrabble childhood, his success as a chef in the United States, and the women in his family who inspired him. In more than 150 delicious recipes, Viviani takes us from his family home, where his great-grandmother taught him to make staples like Italian Apple Cake and Homemade Ricotta, to the kitchen of a local trattoria, where he honed his craft cooking restaurant favorites like Gnocchi and the Perfect Tiramisu, and then across Italy where he studied each region’s finest recipes, from Piedmont’s Braised Ossobuco to Emilia Romagna’s Perfect Meat Sauce.

A gorgeously illustrated cookbook, Fabio’s Italian Kitchen is a celebration of food and family that brings all the joy, fun, and flair that Fabio Viviani embodies to your kitchen.

Fabio Viviani was born in Florence, Italy, and became a sous chef at Il Pallaio, a trattoria in Firenze, at the age of sixteen. He now works as the owner and executive chef of Cafe Firenze, a renowned Italian restaurant in Ventura County, California, and Osteria Firenze, a Los Angeles Italian eatery. He has appeared on Top Chef (season five), Top Chef All Stars, and Life After Top Chef.

I can't say that I'm all that familiar with Fabio Viviani.  I don't have satellite or cable so I don't watch television and I've never seen him cook on television. I did, however, enjoy his cookbook. The book is full of history, explanations and anecdotes.  The recipes range from preparing basic pasta and sauces to more involved recipes.  I have quite a few marked to try.  I have always wanted to make my own pastas.

I loved his narration.  Food is to be enjoyed, it is not meant to impress.  Family dinners are important.

Very authentic.  Very Italian.

Thanks to Kristina Miller of Hyperion for the opportunity to review this book.  You can learn more about Fabio Viviani here.  You can purchase your own copy here.

Read 6/13

* * * *
4/5 Stars

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Lisa's Brown Bread

Printable Recipe


1 1/2 cup boiling water
1 cup old-fashioned oats
2 T shortening (I used butter)
2 t. salt
1 package (1/2 T) yeast
3/4 cup warm water
1/2 t. sugar
1/4 cup molasses
4 3/4-5 1/2 cups flour

Combine boiling water, oats, shortening and salt.  Let cool. In a large bowl dissolve yeast in warm water.  Sprinkle with sugar.  Add oat mixture, brown sugar, molasses and 3 cups flour.  Mix well.  Add enough flour to form a soft dough.  Turn onto floured surface; knead until smooth.  Place in greased bowl and let rise.  Divide into two loaves and place into greased bread pans.  Sprinkle with some oats.  Bake at 375 for 30-35 minutes.  Remove from pans and brush with melted butter.

Makes 2 loaves.

Holly's Note:
This recipe came from Simply Delicious Amish Cooking and received rave reviews from my husband.  It's really good, not very heavy, but not light and not overly sweet. It makes a fantastic toast.  The recipe didn't say to let it rise after putting it in the bread pans, but I let it rise for another 30 minutes.  I also used hot, not boiling water and didn't let it cool very much, before mixing it all together.  And, I don't knead. It put it all in my kitchenaid and let the mixer do the work. Once it was smooth, I let rise.

This is a keeper.


Simply Delicious Amish Cooking...Review

About the book:
Unbeknownst to many folks outside the Amish Mennonite population in America, Pinecraft, Florida--a village tucked away in the heart of Sarasota--is the vacation paradise of the Plain People. Unlike any other Plain community in the world, this village is a virtual melting pot of Amish and Mennonites from around the world, intermingled with people, like author Sherry Gore's family, who live there year-round.

Gore has put together a cookbook that represents the people who make Pinecraft unique. With hundreds of easy-to-prepare recipes, 16 full-color photographs and black-and-white photographs throughout, this cookbook includes traditional favorites such as Sweet Potato Sweet Mash and Mrs. Byler's Glazed Donuts, as well as Florida favorites including Fried Alligator Nuggets, Grilled Lime Fish Fillets, and Strawberry Mango Smoothies. Interspersed with the recipes are true-life stories about births, engagements, weddings, deaths, funerals, celebrations, wildlife encounters, and accidents told through years of Sherry's Letters from Home column published in The Budget, the Amish newspaper. This delightful cookbook offers readers a faith-based, family-focused perspective of the simple way of life of the Plain People. It is truly a breath of fresh air from Sarasota, Florida!

Simply Delicious Amish Cooking is as interesting a book to read as it is a cookbook. Sherry Gore of Pinecraft, Florida has compiled a wonderful, easy to use cookbook with recipes gleaned from family and friends.  It's very much like an old-time church or community cookbook.  Interspersed with the recipes are thoughts and anecdotes and true life tidbits from those who have shared recipes.

I love the spiral binding that allows the book to truly lay flat, but also has ease of turning.

Some recipes, not all, have serving sizes. I wish every recipe did. There are no photos for each recipe although there are a couple of color plates with selected recipe photos.  The index is nice with categories for meals: Appetizers, Main Dish, Desserts, etc.  It is also indexed by main ingredients: poultry, beef, pasta, etc.

This is isn't a cookbook for healthy or clean eaters, but it is a down home cookbook.  Chances are most ingredients are already in your pantry.  The recipes aren't fancy and they're written by experienced cooks, so some instructions may seem lacking in detail.

I baked Lisa's Brown Bread which was fantastic and makes the most delicious toast.  I also made the Hand-Breaded Pork Chops and Creamy Country Gravy, which also received rave reviews from my husband.

Thanks to BookSneeze for the opportunity to review this book. You can learn more about Sherry Gore here. You can purchase your own copy here.

Hand-Breaded Pork Chops with Creamy Country Gravy

Printable Recipe

Pork Chops
2 T butter
1/2 cup vegetable oil
6 thick pork chops
1 cup milk
2 cups flour
salt and pepper
1/2 to 1 onion whole onion, sliced

Gravy
meat drippings
1 T. butter
3 T. flour
1 1/2 cup milk
salt and pepper

Heat a cast-iron skillet with butter and 1/4 cup oil.  Dip pork chops one at a time in milk. Dredge in flour, season with salt and pepper.  Place in heated pan along with onion slices.  Cook until browned on each side and meat is no longer pink.  Add more butter and remaining as needed until the last pork chop is cooked.  Remove chops and onions and place on a platter.

To the drippings in the pan, add butter and 3 T flour.  Mix it together until blended and browned.  Slowly add milk.  Season with salt and pepper.   Let thicken.  Serve over mashed potatoes.

Serves 4-6.

Holly's Note:
This recipe came from Simply Delicious Amish Cooking and received rave reviews from my family.  I didn't get a photo though.  As far as the gravy goes, the original recipe says, "Now, take a little taste with a spoon.  If it's not quite perfect, add more salt and pepper.  That's all the spices needed for this pork chop dinner..."  Well, in addition to some pepper, I seasoned the chops with a family all-purpose seasoning and used that in the gravy.