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391 of 410 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential First Book on Italian Cooking. Highly Recommended
`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...
Published on October 18, 2004 by B. Marold

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57 of 68 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Watch the cooking times!
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, the depth of her knowledge of Italian cookery is amazing, on the other, the lack of specifics and inaccurate cooking times can be quite frustrating. This caveat should suffice: when making use of these recipes, make constant use of your tasting spoon!

I made Pasta e fagioli with fresh cranberry beans...
Published on June 1, 2008 by Cameron Williams


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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Already splattered, February 2, 2006
By 
Spiralina (San Francisco, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Hardcover)
I've only had this book a few months and am pleased to say that it's already well splattered with cooking detritus. Cannot recommend it enough. It has recipes that are very quick to prepare (sauteed chicken breasts with lemon and parsley) as well as roasts and stews that are wonderful in a dutch oven (I especially like the beef stew in red wine). Plus tons of veggie dishes and references on ingredients. The tomato/onion/butter sauce tasted unlike anything I had ever eaten. I cook from this book three or four nights a week and still can't wait to try new recipes from it. Stop reading, just buy it and enjoy!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probaby THE most essential book on Italian cuisine in the English language, August 20, 2007
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This review is from: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Hardcover)
Among serious home cooks and many professional chefs, Hazan's book is widely considered to be one of THE essential books on Italian cuisine.

All of her recipes are well written, well explained, well organized, and the flavors are well honed and she's obviously been making (and teaching) them over and over again for years ... and as a result, her book has a polished and reliable feel to it. Even if you momentarily lose your way and are faced with a leap of faith on some ingredient or technique, you quickly learn to trust Mrs Hazan's advice and experience, because she earns it the hard way.

Her recipes range from the basic and reliable, to the sublime.

Classic Risotto ? It's in there.

Want to make various types of fresh pasta from scratch ? It's in there.

Braised Pork Chops in Browned Sage Butter ? A fabulous recipe. I loved it so much that I went out and bought a $160+ top of the line heavy duty covered saute pan in order to do it proper justice, and to be able to serve 4 people at a time.

If you're the sort of foodie who understands and appreciates the differences between "Classic Italian" and "Italian-American" cuisine, and if you cook either at home with any degree of regularity, then this is THE book for you.

All glowing praise aside, I do have a few minor nits:

1) Although this book represents a welcome giant step beyond mere "Italian American" in the direction of Classic and Authentic Italian, the authoress could have gone still further, but didn't. For instance - there's not nearly as much focus on seafood in this book as there is in Italy. Also, sausage making dealt with fairly minimally, and Offal is barely mentioned at all. For those sort of things, you need to go to a hardcore gourmand chef like Mario Batali. Most mainstream home cooks won't bat an eye missing such things, so I can't really complain too vigorously ... but I adore offal, and I noticed its absence.

2) Marcella is most assuredly old school - and you either love or hate that. I happen to love it, but I thought it worth mentioning. Case in point - all pasta in this book is made the old fashioned way ... flour, egg yolks, and rolling pin, and occasionally a dowel or (if you're really a geek) a chitarra. You wont find any mention of taking shortcuts with semolina flour and water, or using food processors or electric rollers/extruders in this book, and if you were to ask her in person she'd probably shake her finger at you in a disapproving fit of apoplexy, while remarking that pasta that's extruded like [...] matter will taste like it too. Ok, I'm exaggerating a bit, but not much. Anyway, hardcore traditionalists love and admire her for her commitment to traditional techniques.

Glowingly recommended.
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38 of 44 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Where's the mouth-watering photos!, December 29, 1999
This review is from: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Hardcover)
This book is well written and entertaining. The recipes are easy to follow and tasty. But, what I found to be most useful are the tips and tricks to Italian cooking. It clearly describes how to use olive oil, basil, and other herbs and spices. It tells you the origin and uses of Italian ingredients, as well as how and when to select them. The skills you will learn from this book will go a long way! The only thing this book lacks is photos. If you are like me and thouroghly enjoy seeing what your creation should end up looking like, then compliment this book with another. My best X-mas gift was "The Complete Italian Cookbook" by Carlo Bernasconi and Christian Teubner ISBN:1-898250-85-5. This is a 1999 book and not yet available through Amazon. Plan on spending a bundle, but it's dynamite! And for the photo lovers like me, it has 440 pages of recipes with at least one photo per recipe. Many photos are taken to show the step-by-step process. ALL photos in this book are HIGH quality color. You will find more photos in this book than your local-corner photo lab!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Outstanding recipes, but time-consuming!, July 26, 2001
By 
This review is from: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Hardcover)
This is one of my top cookbooks, and I love to return to it just to read the descriptions of the food and the lifestyle that accompanies it. Some recipes are standards in our home, such as the Garlic-Infused Tomato Salad, the Salt and Olive Oil Foccacia, and the traditional Bolognaise sauce.
Nonetheless, I find that I don't tend to cook from it that often, because of the time-consuming nature and specialized ingredients of many of the recipes. It appears that most recipes are designed as though you had a couple of hours to dedicate to the execution of that recipe -- no shortcuts, little simplicity.
Still, it is THE bible of Italian cooking and covers every aspect and type of food in the region, so I can't give it anything less than five stars.
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57 of 68 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Watch the cooking times!, June 1, 2008
By 
Cameron Williams (Brooklyn, NY United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Hardcover)
I have mixed feelings about this book. On the one hand, the depth of her knowledge of Italian cookery is amazing, on the other, the lack of specifics and inaccurate cooking times can be quite frustrating. This caveat should suffice: when making use of these recipes, make constant use of your tasting spoon!

I made Pasta e fagioli with fresh cranberry beans according to Ms. Hazan's recipe, and, because of Ms. Hazan's widely-acknowledged eminence, I followed her recipe precisely, something I rarely do, as I am an experienced cook. Her time for cooking the beans (45 minutes), left me with undercooked beans; they should have cooked for at least an hour and fifteen minutes, if not an hour and a half. No big deal, except I added the pasta at the point Ms. Hazan recommended.

I am sure that this book will be an invaluable resource to anyone who wants to learn Italian cooking, just make sure to test and modify these recipes as necessary ahead of time; following them as is can result in flubbed meals.
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25 of 28 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars True Italian cooking, September 21, 2005
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This review is from: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Hardcover)
I love this cookbook! My husband is from Florence, Italy ("the birthplace of culture" as he likes to remind everyone!) and I am always looking for recipes to recreate that true Italian taste he is so used to. This book has it! Marcella Hazen writes her recipes in a friendly, and easy to read format -- and also includes "make ahead tips" which come in handy when cooking for a dinner party. I am not Italian, but I have used this book for everyday meals, in addition to two big dinner parties (of 12 or more people), which I prepared myself, for Italians. Both parties were successes -- and I was even asked for some of the recipes! In fact, I believe in this book so much, I have two copies -- one for our home in the U.S. and the other for our home in Florence. Marcella Hazen is from Venice, but she covers dishes typical from regions of northern Italy down to Rome. If you want to try true Italian cooking, get this book. You can't go wrong.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best, August 26, 2002
By A Customer
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This review is from: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Hardcover)
Along with Ada Boni's Regional Italian Cooking (sadly out of print), this is the best Italian Cookbook I have ever come across. The recipes are magnificent, easy to follow, and a great introduction to real Old World Italian cooking for Americans and other English speakers. The soggy spaghetti drowning in tomato sauce and pizza buried under mountains of meat and cheese, which often passes for "Italian" cooking in the United States bears little resemblance to the real food of Italy. In this wonderful book, Marcella not only provides great authentic recipes but discusses in detail how to eat in the Italian style. She lays out the logic of eating in courses (a very civilized way to eat) and even discusses how to select the freshest produce, so essential to great Italian cooking. And unlike many cookbook writers, she is literate and entertaining! My one small criticism of the book is that she does not include the Italian names for the recipes: It would be nice to see these below the English names, but this is a minor point. I would agree with other reviewers: If you only buy one Italian cookbook in your lifetime, this should be it.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite Italian cook book, August 31, 2005
By 
This review is from: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Hardcover)
I have had this cook book since the mid '90's. I recently bought one for a co-worker because I use it so much. Everything I've ever made from this book has been exceptional. The recipes are easy, have little prep time, and can be thrown together quickly.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a cookbook!, January 6, 2000
By 
David Wihowski (Milwaukee, WI USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Hardcover)
I own many Italian cookbooks. This has to be my favorite. It is jammed with recipes that are easy to follow and provide a wonderful taste of Italy. Ms. Hazen knows both Italian food and what ingredients are available to Americans. She combines this knowledge to create a useful, yet very Italian cookbook. Ms. Hazen is also a practical cook and simplifies some of the cumbersome, traditional Italian techniques without sacrificing flavor! I have made at least 50 of the recipes, all successfully. There are at least 100 more I want to try! Her recipes take me to Italy via wonderful, authentic, Italian food.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If I had to pick just one cookbook, this would be it., January 2, 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking (Hardcover)
This is an extraordinary cookbook. It has recipes to tempt every palate. If I had to pick just one cookbook to own, this would be the one.
The recipes in this book are clear and easy to follow, and in addition, Ms. Hazan tells us about ingredients, which kind of eggplant is best, what kind of pasta would be tasty, etc. She also has sections on technique, such as how to make pasta. These recipes are the kind you can make and make again and not get sick of them. There are many simple yet extremely tasty dishes, such as my favorite, smothered onion pasta sauce.
Truly, this is a great cookbook that everyone should have. I can give it no greater recommendation, except to say that I shall be living abroad for half a year and only have room for a few books, and this is one of the few I'm taking.
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Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan (Hardcover - October 27, 1992)
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