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Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking Hardcover – October 27, 1992

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Editorial Reviews Review

Perhaps more than any other person, Marcella Hazan is responsible for bringing Italian cuisine into the homes of American cooks. We're not talking spaghetti and meatballs here--Hazan's cuisine consists of polenta, risotto, squid braised with tomatoes and white wine, sautéed swiss chard with olive oil and garlic.... Twenty years ago, when Hazan first exploded into the American consciousness with The Classic Italian Cook Book and More Classic Italian Cooking, such recipes were revolutionary. With time, however, these classic dishes have become much-beloved family favorites.

Now a new generation is ready to be introduced to Marcella Hazan's way with food, and in Essentials of Italian Cooking Hazan combines her two earlier works into one update and expanded volume. In addition to the delicious collection of recipes, this book serves as a basic manual for cooks of every skill level. Recipes have been revised to reduce fat content, and a whole new chapter full of fundamental information about herbs, spices, and cheeses used in Italian kitchens--as well as details on how to select specific ingredients--has been added. New chapters, new recipes--who could ask for more than Essentials of Italian Cooking?

From Publishers Weekly

In the language of cookbooks, the word "classic" is bandied about nearly as frequently as the terms "low-fat" and "no-cholesterol." In this case, however, the estimable Hazan ( More Classic Italian Cooking ) does indeed contribute a classic to the ever-increasing literature of Italian cuisine. A revision and update of her two previous "classic" Italian cookbooks (with more than 35 completely new recipes), this one includes recipes not "in pursuit of novelty, but of taste." As Hazan puts it, the book "is meant to be used as a kitchen handbook . . . for cooks of every level . . . who want an accessible and comprehensive guide to the products, the techniques, and the dishes that constitute imperishable Italian cooking." From marinated carrot sticks to sweet-and-sour tuna steaks, Trapani style, to tortellini with fish stuffing and polenta shortcake with raisins, dried figs and pine nuts, the outstanding recipes--many of them poetically simple--are too numerous to do justice to in few words. Included is a spirited discussion of squid and the essentials of preparing fresh pasta, gnocchi (potato dumplings), authentic risotto, frittate and polenta dishes. While writing from Venice, her home for much of the year, Hazan never fails to consider the availability of ingredients in the U.S., and never assumes that all readers understand complex methods or exotic terminology. This volume is the perfect gift for a new homemaker, a seasoned chef and all lovers of good food. Illustrated. 40,000 first printing; Home Style Book Club main selection, BOMC alternate.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 704 pages
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf; 1st edition (October 27, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039458404X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0394584041
  • Product Dimensions: 7.1 x 1.7 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (381 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,520 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Marcella Hazan, the acknowledged godmother of Italian cooking in America, is the author of The Classic Italian Cookbook, More Classic Italian Cooking, Marcella's Italian kitchen, and Essentials of Italian Cooking .She lives in Venice, Italy, and Longboat Key, Florida.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

414 of 436 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on October 18, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking' is Marcella Hazan's fourth book, composed of an edited and updated amalgam of her first two books, both of which were on `classic Italian cooking'. As with all of Ms. Hazan's books except for her latest, `Marcella Says', my main regret is that I have not read them sooner. All, especially this volume, are every bit as good as the blurbs may lead you to believe.

Some reviewers have compared this book to `The Joy of Cooking'. It is much more accurate to compare it to Julia Child's seminal `Mastering the Art of French Cooking' on several counts. First, like Child's book, Hazan's book is devoted exclusively to the techniques, ingredients, and recipes of a single major national cuisine. Second, unlike `The Joy of Cooking', it does not cover absolutely every kitchen technique and issue such as hygiene, nutrition, preserving, and obscure game meats. Third, the book is published and edited by the same people, Knopf and senior editor Judith Jones. This common publishing team means the two books have a very similar look. Both are illustrated by line drawings and both benefit from Knopf's traditional skill in designing the typeface and layout of books in general for easy reading. Fourth, Ms. Hazan arrived at cooking in almost exactly the same manner as Julia Child, in that they found themselves married to men who likes to eat well, and they did not know how to cook at the time.

The 64-dollar question of course is whether this book is equal in quality to Child's book.
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326 of 342 people found the following review helpful By R. Williams VINE VOICE on February 15, 2001
Format: Hardcover
I agree with the other reviewer here: this is the one cookbook I'd keep if I could only have one. This book takes you so far beyond spaghetti and meatballs you won't believe it. It is also meticulous, thorough, and yet very enjoyable just to read. Here are my favorite recipes:
1. The Bolognese Pork Roasted in Milk - this recipe is insane. It is like a wonderful chemistry set experiment you can eat. Marcella says it would be one of her top 10 choices of recipes that embody the genius of Italian Cuisine.
2. The Lemon Chicken - Also amazing. Easy to do, wonderful. Great summer dish.
3. Veal Stew w/Tomatoes and Peas
4. Veal Stew w/White Wine and Sage
Also, some of the standards are given great treatment:
1. Eggplant Parm
2. Osso Bucco (this is by FAR the best version I've seen of this).
3. Fried zucchini.
This makes a great gift too because it isn't full of esoteric stuff that only foodies (no derision intended) would make.
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70 of 74 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 18, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Essentials gets the most use of any cookbook in my kitchen, second only to Joy of Cooking. I absolutely love it. I started cooking from it as a fairly new cook - every recipe is easy with very good instructions. Essentials is a real Italian cookbook so you wil not find Italian-American recipes loaded with cheese and tons of sauce (not that those aren't good). The book is over 600 pages and crammed full of recipes from all of Italy's regions (no food pictures). Virtually every recipe has notes for ahead-of-time prep and all the pasta sauce recipes list a recommended pasta. My husband loves Marcella Hazan b/c she doesn't try to be fancy. If a dried pasta is best with a sauce she will recommend it. If canned broth can be used, she will make a note of it. There is a great chapter in the back of the book called "At Table". She discusses how Italians eat (how the courses work) and has a large variety of suggested menus.
My favorite cookbook reviews list the recipes people have made from it. It gives me ideas of dishes to try and a better idea of what the cookbook will be like. Since I have made over 30 recipes from this book I can't list them all, but here are some of our favorites: Minestrone alla Romagnola - the best, thickest vegetable soup I have ever had and unlike any minestrone I have had at a restaurant. Tomato Sauce with Porcini Mushrooms; Smothered Onion Sauce; Scallop Sauce with Olive Oil, Garlic and Hot Pepper; and Gorgonzola Sauce are all incredible on pasta. Don't forget the Pesto! Her recipe is the best. On to risotto's.... the Parmesan Cheese; Porcini Mushroom; and Sausage risotto's are great. The Baked Crespelle with Spinach, Prosciutto and Parmesan is a yummy Sunday night dinner.
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123 of 134 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 1, 1998
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This is it: The single indispensable cookbook -- not just for Italian food, but for good food. Marcella's (sometimes acerbic) commentary on ingredients and recipes is wonderful, but the reason to buy this book is for the dishes. Almost everything I've made from this book has been an absolute treat, from the succulent mushroom and ham pasta sauce to the delectable stuffed tomatoes. And with the size of this compendium, you'll never run out of new tastes to try.
My one quibble? The desserts don't seem to measure up to the rest of the dishes. The two I've tried -- lemon almond cookies and the farm wive's pear tart -- were disappointing. The cookies tasted great, but had the texture of cardboard, while the "tart" was more like a clafouti; although I baked it far longer than the recipe called for, it remained doughy and wet. With all that ripe pear in the batter, though, it certainly tasted acceptable!
With two disappointments out of the 30-or-so fabulous recipes I've tried, this is still single finest book I've ever cooked from. (and much better than her recent huge success Marcella Cucina). Oh, the soups! Oh, the pastas! Oh, the vegetables! Oh, Marcella!
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