Thursday, December 15, 2011

New Italian Cookbooks 2011

I'm not sure any other cuisine can top Italian, when it comes to comfort food. While Italian cookbooks are a dime a dozen, three really stood out for me this year and are nice enough variations to warrant adding to your collection if you're an Italian food fiend like me or give them as gifts.

Cucina Povera
Cucina Povera
was sure to strike a chord with me, because I lived in Florence for 6 months. It is written by ex-pat Pamela Sheldon Johns and it shares a way of life, of not wasting anything and eating frugally. In the book you'll meet all kinds of people from Italy who cook and garden and make things from scratch. The recipes are for some things you may already know about like Ribollita and Pappa al Pomodoro (and if you don't, then by all means you need this book) but also more obscure recipes that you are unlikely to encounter in a restaurant.

Recipes you'll want to try include Tuscan Cornmeal, Kale and Bean Soup, Stewed Peppery Beef Cheeks, Farmyard Crostini (finally a use for giblets!) Plum Jam Tart and Ricotta Cake.

Piatto Unico
The family I lived with in Italy ate very formal meals, I don't remember a single one course meal. But they do exist and that is what Piatto Unico
is all about. The book shares hearty, comforting dishes many that are particularly perfect as we head into Winter. Recipes are divided into chapters like Prime-Time Pastas, Minestrone and Other Big, Bountiful Soups and Braises and Stews.

Recipes you'll want to try include: Asparagus Spinach Crepes with Taleggio, Thick Chickpea and Porcini Soup, Escarole, Anchovy and Cheese Salad.

Rustic Italian Food
Another noteworthy book is Rustic Italian Food. This is satisfying and lusty food, not fussy food although many of the recipes do take effort and are not just weeknight jobs. It's filled with homemade breads, pastas, salumi, pickles and preserves. They all demand the use of top quality ingredients. It's written by a restaurant chef, but designed for home cooks.

Recipes you'll want to try include: Spaghetti in Parchment with Clams and Scallions, Eggplant Lasagnette Alla Parmigiana, Veal Breast "al Latte" with Fried Sage, Cold Farro Salad with Crunchy Vegetables