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on April 13, 2010
Despite the availability of recipes online, nothing replaces a genuine cookbook to flip through during those times when you need to find just the right menu for an occasion -- whether it be a mundane Tuesday evening or a dinner party to celebrate a milestone. I have found few cookbooks which I can honestly say that I would try each recipe, and Donatella Cooks is definitely one of them. Each recipe is the perfect blend of artisan and sophisticate.

Beginning with hors d' oeuvres and progressing through a six course meal, ending with dessert, author Donatella Arpaia provides clear instruction and precise advice on where to find specialty ingredients. Some recipes include the notation, "Donatella Clicks," which lists the alternatives for where one might find specialty items or a directs you to a website for purchase. The recipe for "Baked Buffalo Ricotta" includes the suggestion to find fresh ricotta at [...]. In addition to the purchasing suggestions, Arpaia provides menu suggestions for seasons and occasions.

Photographer Anna Williams must be acknowledged for capturing the recipes to mouth watering perfection. Between the recipes, food styling and photography, Donatella Cooks is an unforgettable cookbook!
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on May 1, 2010
This really is an extraordinary cookbook. Donatella really chose her recipes well. This is a very disciplined and straight-forward cookbook. I love to cook and am a rather experienced cook, but I can often lose my joy of cooking when I entertain because I fuss over things too much and want things to be more perfect than they need to be. A tense hostess makes everyone tense and this book actually helped me understand that and work through some of that. I have used the recipes in this book three times so far for entertaining. I made each of the recipes two or three times before serving them to guests and each time they turned out the same and were delicious. I spent a long time finding a source for robiola cheese, but her robiola pizza was well worth the hunt! I also loved her simple no-fuss paella, and even such simple recipes as her roasted Brussels sprouts with walnuts and pomegranates. In fact, the Brussels sprout recipe is now going to be a staple at my Thanksgiving meals. My family and guests LOVED the coconut cake recipe and it will be showing up for some of our birthdays. I wish she would have included a photo of it, especially since she writes that it's her favorite cake. I'm going to try the White Chocolate Risotto next. I'm not crazy about the layout of this book. It's laid out by seasons which is common for cookbooks, but for some reason, I have found that to be annoying with this book - not sure why. The recipes and the book in general are all very elegant. I love this book.
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on October 17, 2015
Hmm.. Now, I know she's a beautiful woman, but this cookbook had me wondering if she was more interested in herself than the actual food. For those who don't understand the term, a look-book is a portfolio used by models to show off their work. This book reminded me of just that. Page after page of full poses of herself - I was beginning to wonder when we will see pics of the food.

When you finally get down to the food, the pics are not bad but the recipes are overly simple.

Not bad, but maybe she should have put out a book of pictures instead of disguising this as a cookbook.
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on February 18, 2014
Such a great recipe book. True to traditional Italian cuisine, most recipes use high-quality, simple ingredients and methods. The idea is to let the ingredients speak for themselves, but present them beautifully. I really love her style and voice too. Excellent!
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on May 7, 2010
My love for cooking came from watching my grandmother's magic in the kitchen.Donatella's new cookbook captures the love and culinary bond in families that I relate to. The weekend i got her cookbook,I prepared 6 recipes that were a hit with my family. They are as follows: Braised Chestnuts w/Lemon and Sage pg.196, Quinoa Tabbouleh Style pg.185, OMG!!the Spinach and Gruyere Souffles,outrageous!! pg.177, Roasted Root Vegetables pg.181, Seared Ahi w/watercress and Yogurt Sauce and last but not least, Roasted Pears w/Chocolate Sauce and Ameretti pg.231 Sexy Good!!
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on May 4, 2010
I found this book is for the part time entertainer who wants to step up any gathering with sophistication and fun - a combination that I've never found
in a cookbook before - and characteristics that I'd never describe of myself in the kitchen until now. Her sensibility is New York meets Italy and who doesn't need that in their kitchen! My new favorite recipe is the Cavatelli alla Crudiola. Delizioso!!
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on May 3, 2010
Donatella Cooks might be based on the simple "cucina povera," of Puglia, but there's nothing "povera" about the flavors in this book. Better yet, almost anyone with even a modicum of cooking ability can execute any of these recipes. Whether cooking for my family or for guests, the results I've ended up with have always pleased and probably earned me more credit than I deserved. Donatella Cooks is great for anyone who enjoys cooking Italian, or who would like to start.
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on August 3, 2013
I love the book it is a good one with food ez to cook and the level of cook is not hard but Donatello make it look ez . I am a picky eater so i live some things out . But that makes it all you . I think it is a good book with lots of recipes .
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Nice cookbook! Donatella Arpaia has authored a book with the subtitle: "Simple food made glamorous." According to the author (Page xiii): "'Donatella Cooks' is a blueprint of my cooking and entertaining strategies. . . . The recipes that follow are rooted in my Southern Italian heritage. . . ." The book features nice glossy pages and terrific photos of the dishes. Recipes are grouped by season. The chapters focus on different types of dishes--from hors d'oeuvres, soups (and salads and small plates), pasta and grains, main courses, veggies and side dishes, and desserts.

But it is the recipes that are the heart of such a book. Let's take a look at a few. . . . A winter hors d'oeuvres. Donatella's popcorn. Ingredients: butter, black or white truffle oil, kosher salt, black pepper (freshly ground), vegetable oil, rosemary, popcorn, pecorino romano or parmigiano-reggiano cheese. Combine truffle oil, butter, oil, salt, pepper. Pop the popcorn. Add the various ingredients to distribute flavorings. Sounds yummy!

Pasta dishes? Her macaroni and cheese recipe sounds delicious! I have a couple recipes that work pretty well, but this one is tempting; I will take a shot at making this in the very near future. Ingredients: kosher salt, elbow macaroni, egg whites (not in any of the recipes that I use), butter, onion, milk, bay leaf, thyme, peppercorns, pepper, nutmeg, mascarpone, Taleggio cheese, Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, Pecorino Romano coarsely grated, garlic bread crumbs, and truffle oil for drizzling. Much fancier than anything that I've made, but the recipe seems doable at that.

Main dishes? Examples: lamb chops with lemon-mint gremolata, family-style polentas with Bolognese, Donatella's tearless paella. . . .

A nicely done work! It's fun to look at the book and imagine the recipes. I intend to try my hand at these very soon!
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on January 10, 2011
I should start off saying that I am a HUGE Donatella Arpaia fan! I had the pleasure of meeting her in 2009 at the Beaver Creek, Colorado tasting they have each year and she was just a delight. Out of all the food we tasted that evening the main meal my husband and I remembered was tasting her mac & cheese...keep in mind this is also after many samples of wine so clearly it made an impression!

Ever since then I have been following this chef and just watching her and her businesses grow. When I was in NYC recently I had dinner at one of her places mia dona and it did not disappoint. So needless to say when I found out she was coming out with a cookbook I was thrilled! It is an amazing cookbook to say the least. She does a great job of helping one organize their kitchen, get the 'must haves' and also does this great "Donatella Clicks" section on certain pages telling you where online you can find certain items she mentions.

I will admit this cookbook is not for a beginner cook - there are just too many ingredients and steps for a newbie to follow. But if you are at least a somewhat seasoned chef in your own kitchen then this is a fantastic cookbook to expand your menu options. This is literally one of those cookbooks where you will be inspired to try making each item in the book...a goal I'm actually hoping to accomplish myself.

The items we have loved so far from her cookbook include her great mac & cheese (a MUST-try and so simple!), Zia Laura's Soup which is extremely healthy as well, all of her risottos, and the salmon have all been divine. I haven't tried any of the desserts yet simple because I'm really not much of a baker but I am going to attempt the white chocolate risotto and the coconut cake.

There are just a few negatives in this book:
-As mentioned it's not for the starter chef. This isn't really a 'negative' per say, just a point worth making so you don't purchase this until you are ready for the challenge!
-For a number of her recipes it calls for the same ingredient in two different things (as in heavy cream for a sauce then then also for the rice etc) and while they do separate the amounts it doesn't say which goes with which. So that can be a little annoying when trying to cook something.
-There are a number of great pictures but I really wish there were even more pics of the dishes. It always inspires me to see the pictures of dishes to determine how it should look when I'm done making it.

Overall though I love this cookbook and we haven't had a bad meal made from it yet. I strongly suggest testing your culinary expertise and trying it out! The only other thing I'll say is that I would love if Donatella would open a restaurant closer to me...say Chicago? ;)
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