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Cooking Italian with the Cake Boss: Family Favorites as Only Buddy Can Serve Them Up Hardcover – November 6, 2012

4.7 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Buddy Valastro is the star of the hit TLC series Cake Boss and Next Great Baker and author of the New York Times bestsellers Cake Boss and Baking with the Cake Boss, as well as Cooking Italian with the Cake Boss. He is owner of Carlo's Bake Shop in Hoboken and the Cake Boss factory in Jersey City, which supplies stores around the country. Buddy lives with his wife and four children in New Jersey.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

Author’s Note

In August 2009, a violent storm ripped through New York and New Jersey. The weather reports focused on how the storms uprooted a number of trees in Central Park, but for my family, the most noteworthy and heartbreaking damage occurred in New Jersey, where the extreme wind and rain devastated the local tomato crops.

I know what you’re probably thinking: “Buddy, you’re in the baking business, not the tomato business.”

That’s true. My family, the Valastros, makes its living by baking and selling just about anything you can think of: cookies, pastries, pies, and—of course—our incredible theme cakes, at Carlo’s Bake Shop. It’s what we’re known for. What put us on the map.

But there’s another side to our family and its relationship with food, and it’s just as personal, maybe even more personal, than what we do at the bakery. I’m talking about the recipes and dishes, meals and traditions that nourish our bodies and souls when we go home. There’s no more important recipe or dish in our lives than Sunday gravy, sometimes known as Sunday sauce, the pasta sauce we gather to eat together at the end of every weekend. We eat it so regularly that a few years back my family began our own tradition, one that we borrowed from my wife, Lisa’s, family: making huge batches of sauce at the end of the summer and canning it for each household, based on how many bushels of tomatoes each family orders. To give you a sense of how much Sunday gravy we go through in a year at my house, Lisa orders twenty bushels of tomatoes, and each bushel yields twelve large jars!

Lisa and I began doing this after we were married, then we expanded the tradition to include our extended families at Carlo’s Bake Shop on Washington Street in Hoboken. Today we do it at our new, nearby factory. This is how it works: One team of relatives is on cleaning duty, scrubbing the tomatoes in the industrial sinks; another team quarters the tomatoes and gets them into the huge forty-, sixty-, and eighty-gallon steam kettles, along with olive oil, onions, and salt. The tomatoes are cooked until they break down, then we allow them to simmer for an hour. Another team processes the fruit through a machine that removes the skin and seeds, leaving us with a sauce. That sauce goes back into the kettle and is brought to a boil, then transferred to jars that have been sterilized in the dishwasher. We add basil and the jar is vacuum sealed, locking in all that incredible, just-cooked flavor until we’re ready to call on it throughout the year.

In 2009, those storms wreaked havoc with our sauce making. Rather than just placing a huge order for tomatoes from one source, we had to scrounge around, securing a bushel here and there from area farms. Because tomatoes were so scarce, some family members had to drive out to farms in person and beg for a few bushels. But we were that determined to stick to our tradition and make our Sunday gravy!

I’m not going to lie: What we ended up with after all that work and the cooking that followed wasn’t exactly world-class: The tomatoes had survived the storm, but they had a lot of scars and bruises. As a result, the sauce was runny and, even after all our patient simmering, the flavor wasn’t as intense as it usually was.

But I’ll tell you something: We didn’t get upset. To us, the Sunday gravy of 2009 was a metaphor for life itself, especially life in a big, tight-knit family like ours. There will always be ups and downs, but we worked together to make the best of it, we were all there for our annual cooking and jarring ritual, and we left with those jars of sauce we treasured so much. It may not have been the best, but it was good enough, and next year, we knew, we’d have better luck.

For me, that story is and always will be a gentle reminder of my family’s priorities and how far we’ll go to adhere to them: Even with all the fame we’ve enjoyed as a result of Cake Boss, when we’re away from the lights and cameras, live shows, and book signings, we’re just like any other family. We enjoy chilling out and spending time together, and there’s no way we’d rather do that than around a table, a place that keeps us grounded and connected to each other, as well as to the relatives who came before us. As proud as I am of our professional success, I’m just as proud that we’ve been able to continue making time for our family and extended family, and we’re talking a lot of people, to meet several times a week and eat together. And, as busy as we are at the bakery and filming our television show, we’ll still make time to hunt down bushels of tomatoes if we need to, in order to keep our traditions alive and well.

Of course, Sunday gravy is just one thing that we eat. We also have lots of other family dishes—appetizers and salads, soups and pastas, main courses and desserts—that have become part of our repertoire over the years. In this book, I’m honored to share with you my family’s favorite recipes, and tell you the stories of what makes them so near and dear to our hearts. I hope they might become favorites for your family as well, and that they help you create memories to last a lifetime, the same way they’ve done for us Valastros.

Buon appetito,

Buddy Valastro

Hoboken, New Jersey

April 2012
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Atria Books; First Edition edition (November 6, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1451674309
  • ISBN-13: 978-1451674309
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.2 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #215,808 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By D. Costello on November 24, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Better than Nonna's because there are actual measurements to go by. Granted I use them as guides - but at least they help get me in the right range. Wonderful recipes and very real cooking - not fancy or trendy - just delicious. The quick marinara sauce is bright and tasty and I grow a lot of basil year round just to have for sauces. I also started making my own breadcrumbs after watching his show - why I never thought of making my own instead of using the canned is a mystery. Huge difference in flavor! The Pesto alla Genovese used in Lasagna is truly spectacular and the Rice Pudding recipe makes my Husband of 35 years want to marry me again. Thanks Buddy for sharing all your family recipes with us.
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Format: Hardcover
Buddy Valastro, `the Cake Boss' presents his family's Italian recipes in this book. He tells the story of his family and their cooking, especially their Sunday gravy. A list and explanation are given for the pantry and for each recipe a bit is explained, and for some a photo is given.

Recipes include; appetizers, finger foods and snacks, salads, breads, pizzas and sandwiches, soups, pasta and risotto, main
courses, sides, basics - such as homemade bread crumbs and stocks, and desserts are included. Facts are given throughout, like, why oil and butter are used together.
Many of these recipes are not that much different from those in other Italian cookbooks; but these are very good... the pizza sauce, and mushroom sauce for gnocchi and chicken piccata were all successful.
Our family's favorite has been Buddy's favorite roast potatoes using both russet and sweet potatoes.

This would be an excellent book for those who would like to cook Americanized Italian recipes that are not that complicated but they do make good presentations.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I watch his show and wondered if his cook book would be as easy to follow, and it is! The stories inside the pages are just as good as listening to him tell them on television. There is a good variety of recipes inside and it is full of tips to help the regular cook like me feel like they can make the recipe just as good as the Kitchen Boss. I have cooked most of the recipes actually and none of them have disappointed me or my family.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I love and watch the show cake boss and I was thinking the book will be a good as the show but I was disappointed. The directions are not that explanatory, little or no pictures at all. I will not recommend this book for first timers.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Great cookbook, however it is much more fancy then I expected. Based on some other reviews I expected simple everyday Italian meals, this book is much more of a special occasion go to. Most of these meals are ones I would order in a restaurant, not dare tackle by myself.
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Format: Hardcover
Bestselling author and Master chef, the renowned Buddy Valastro delivers an incredible, priceless Italian cookbook, offering the ultimate Italian cuisine experience! This amazing cookbook includes delicious dinners, mouth-watering desserts, and much more. The author chronicles 100 easy-to-read favorite recipes for family gatherings, stunning and colorful illustrations, and intriguing stories on family history, with cooking secrets from relatives handed down from one generation to the next. Buddy Valastro shows the difference between real Italian cooking verses cooking from a non-Italian chef, and there is indeed a huge difference! I grew up learning how to cook Italian food from my grandfather, who was born in Italy. The recipes from him and my dad who loved to cook, were simply the real-deal, from tomato sauce to pasta with home-made meatballs and sausage. Naturally, I compared some of the author's recipes to my grandfather's recipes, and Buddy Valastro comes out as a shining star, with winning Italian recipes. I tried a few of my old-time favorites, such as shrimp scampi, and eggplant parmesan. The results were sensational, and the recipes have specific instructions, with proper measurements for ingredients. The author mentions how we learned Italian cooking from our relatives, and the way they described measurements, such as a pinch of this, and a pinch of that. This is true, as my dad's recipe book handed to me has those descriptions in measurements under each recipe, because that's how they learned to experiment, in order to have perfection. The author's rockin' rice pudding is out of this world in flavor and taste. This treasure trove is a keepsake for all those who love Italian food, along with the warmth of family tradition.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this cookbook. Having watched the show I knew that the recipes would be awesome. I like the fact that there are full color pictures of every recipe so that you know how it is supposed to look. The recipes are easy to follow with the list of ingredients first then the step by step clearly stated instructions following. I like the fact that these recipes are good for everyday cooking, not just for special occasions. I have already made several of them and they are very tasty and not difficult to prepare. You don't have to be an professional chef to make these dishes. I believe anyone who can cook can easily follow this cookbook. I got my cookbook in a timely fashion, which was great because I was anxious to get started on these recipes. These are great Italian meals that are a delicious addition to home cooking. If you are thinking of getting this cookbook, and like great Italian food, I would recommend that you buy it.
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