Customer Reviews: Giada's Family Dinners
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VINE VOICEon April 28, 2006
Wonderful!! Absolutely wonderful!! This sophomore effort of one of the cooking world's fastest-rising chefs who has worked hard for her title the rewards of accolades. Once again, she has given us fresh, delicious, and satisfying recipes that give us a thoroughly enjoyable experience in the kitchen.

This latest effort has all you need to prepare meals that will give you pleasure and joy in their preparation, as well as using the experience to have your guests help you. Through the use of staples, other everyday foods, and directions that are clear and crisp, you will be most satisfied within your stomach and soul.

The book is also full of photos of family, friends, and food that share this part of her life, as well as glorious photo presentations of the finished dishes; all of them styled to make you feel as comfortable as she in their preparation.

The book is divided as such:

SOUPS AND SANDWICHES: beef and lentil soup/ tomato soup with pancetta/ pasta e fagioli/ winter minestrone/ escarole and bean soup/ italian wedding soup/ stracciatella soup/ tuna and artichoke panini/ venetiano panini/ vegetable panini with mozzarella/ prosciutto and lemon panini/ open-faced PLT (that's prosciutto instead of bacon--very delicious!)/ italian muffuletta

ITALIAN SALADS AND SIDES: roasated beet and arugula salad with goat cheese and avacado/ italian caesar salad/ arugula and orange salad with basil vinaigrette/ broccoli florets with Meyer lemon olive oil/ marinated zucchini and summer squash/ butternut squash gratin with pesto/ roasted eggplant and tomatoes/ sauteed green beans with tomatoes and basil/ roasted fennel with parmesan/ orzo with garbanzo beans, red onion, basil, and mint/ cannellinin beans with herbs and prosciutto/ stuffed artichokes/ braised swiss chard/ basic polenta (the food of the gods!)/ herbed cheese polenta

FAMILIY ENTREES: pepperoncini shrimp/ broiled salmon with garlic, mustard, and herbs/ tilapia with citrus bagna cauda/ swordfish milanese/ sea bass with beans and radicchio/ chicken marsala with mustard and mascarpone/ pollo frito/ chicken tetrazzini/ garlic and citrus chicken/ chicken vesuvio/ chicken florentine/ flank steak with red wine sauce/ filet mignon with balsamic syrup/ rack of lamb with mint-basil pesto/ veal scaloppine with saffron cream sauce/ parmesan-crusted pork chops (the best)/ pork chops alla pizzaiola/ lasagna rolls/ stuffed zucchini and red bell peppers (who knew? what a great recipe for zucchini)

THE ITALIAN GRILL: pane alla grillia/ grilled portobello mushrooms with tomatoes and fresh mozzarella/ grilled lettuces (very different but very good)/ grilled artichokes with parsley and garlic/ grilled steak sandwiches/ grilled chicken with gremolata (a delicious paste of garlic, herbs and citrus)/grilled chicken with basil dressing/ grilled lamb with salsa verde/ grilled tuna burgers with tapenade/ swordfish spiedini/ grilled tuna steaks with roasted cipollini onions/ grilled summer fruit/ italian s'mores

FAMILY STYLE PASTA: little thimbles scuie' sciue'(your own choice of ingredients)/ linguine with chicken ragu/ fresh fettucine with roasted chicken and broccoli rabe/ penne with spinach sauce/ chicken carbonara/ polpette and spaghetti/ rigatoni with steak/ fusilli with shrimp and arugula/ qucik marinara sauce/ raviolo with creamy tomato sauce/ penne with sausage, artichokes, and sun-dried tomatoes/ whole wheat spaghetti with swiss chard and pecorino cheese/ farfalle with asparagus and mushrooms/ red wine risotto with peas/ dirty risotto

FAMILY STYLE GET-TOGETHERS: pizzette with gorgonzola, tomato, and basil/ crostini with gorgonzola, honey, and walnuts/ sun-dried tomato and mozzarella kebabs/ salami crisps with sour cream and basil/ turkey bolognese/ baked angel hair timbale/ farmers pasta/ zuppa di pesce ( hearty fish soup)/ veal stew with cipollini onions/ pot roast with porcini mushrooms/ pancetta-wrapped prok roast/ vegetable gratin/ baked mashed potatoes with parmesan cheese and bread crumbs

FAMILY FEASTS: bellini bar/ limoncello spritzers/ rose wine with fresh sage and lemon/ turkey with herbes de provence and citrus/ ciabatta stuffing with chestnuts and pancetta/ butternut squash lasagna/ insalata di rinforzo/ holiday salad/ Easter pie/ pizza rustica/ Easter lamb/ roasted red snapper with parsley vinaigrette/ linguine with spicy red clam sauce/ panettone bread pudding with amaretto sauce (deelish)

FAMILY STYLE DESSERTS: (always the best chapter!): chocolate anise biscotti/ chocolate chip cookies with hazelnuts/ mocha semifreddo/ chocolate ricotta pudding with strawberry sauce/ raspberry-almond tart/ orange segments and berries with balsamic cream/ nectarine and blueberry crisp with amaretti cookie topping/ nutella ravioli/ spicy mocha/ raspberry tirmisu/ apricot crostata/ espresso brownies/ limoncello cheesecake squares/ zuccotto/ chocolate pizza

She then gives a wonderul "menu's for family dinners" that covers: Christmas/ Thanksgiving/ Easter/ cold weather get-togethers/ backyard BBQ/ celebratory dinner/ kid-friendly dinner/ elegant dinner

Giada has it all down and written in the style that her love of family, friends, and food can bring together. (As another aside, I am also deeply grateful that the meals are titled as "Christmas/ Easter" and not as "holiday"). Enjoy the excitement and fun of planning and creating meals that will give you much to be grateful for, in the thought of the blessings that are in your life, all courtesy of Giada!!
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VINE VOICEon April 5, 2006
Since I have really fancied Giada's first book, Everyday Italian, I was really anticipating her return into the alluring world of cookbooks. I don't even consider her food Italian, I don't put a nationality or a label on it, and it's simply mouth watering good and eye pleasing fare that is nothing else but good food! I've heard that Italians don't really consider their food as Italian, they simply think that it's the way food is prepared at its best; they take pride in their recipes but to them it's Food and not a trend.

The easiest way for me to use a cookbook in order to make any sort of creative dinners versus some repetitive easy standard fare that was done a thousand times all ready- is one trick. I take the cookbook to work, brows when I have free time, make a copy of the recipe I want to make, stop at grocery store with the printout with highlighted items I don't have to purchase. As I can head home and I know exactly what I will be cooking, it saves time and sanity and makes for a nice and cozy dinner that is never boring. One thing I learned with this book is to shop in advance, to have a stocked pantry and then all I need are a few fresh key items, and I don't have to bring home 5 bags of food, but rather 2-3 ingredients that are more perishable to make one of Giada's recipes. Her food is never complicated and never chock full of expensive, hard to find ingredients.

What I really enjoyed about this book was the simplicity of these meals. You really don't have to spend fifty dollars to make dinner that would cost nine bucks to order for delivery form a restaurant. These meals can be made one any budget even when simplified even further, as they are superb to start with.

For the book itself its pure eye candy. This is not some Joy of Cooking, with tiny print and no pictures, this is like a vacation brochure for your eyes and senses. This book is so colorful, gorgeous, glossy and has the best pictures of the dishes, that it really doesn't take any time to pick something to make out of it! I also love the easy luxe font and colors of the text and pages. Its like fancy piece of architecture compared to a wooden shack, yes you can live in both but one is clearly more luxurious than the other.

This book really takes you to the center of who Giada is. The family pictures where you see familiar faces, if you watch her TV show, and you really feel like this book gives you a warm big hug and takes care of you. It shows you the wonderful, comforting and innovative dishes that she serves and loves too much for you to enjoy at home.

I have made a few recipes from this book so far last night and today and I must say, even the leftovers didn't make it to next day, this is not food you will have to cook in order to eat, this is soul nourishing cuisine that makes you happy. So far I have licked the plate after following few dishes:

Chicken Carbonara - who knew that cream, chicken, lemons and walnuts added to the classic recipe will makes it my new favorite type of pasta?

Butternut Squash Gratin with pesto - tastes like autumn on a plate but a great side to a dinner even on a warmer April evening.

Italian Caesar Salad - I don't know how she came up with an improvement on this one, but the mustard, polenta croutons and pine nuts along with other yummies just made this an Entree contender.

Grilled Artichokes with parsley and garlic - finally an easy artichoke recipe that tastes sublime when done. Great vegetarian side.

As you can see I took this book right into the kitchen and few my friends and myself during dinner last night, I wasn't scared of the book and I was able to utilize any recipie I chose, I cant wait to cook all of it, and that should be soon! : )

Enjoy! I know I absolutely can't recommend this enough. Easy to cook from and delicious, what more could I ask for.
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on April 9, 2006
I LOVE this book! I'm a married college student with very little time to cook. My husband and I are both pretty health-concious, so when I do cook, I try to be careful.

Giada's recipes are so easy to follow. At first, I had to head to the grocery store because her recipes required a lot of ingredients I didn't have. But now that I've stocked up, I'm one happy cook.

The meals I've made so far are delicious--and easy to make!

I love Everyday Italian and watch it when I can. This book is an excellent addition to any Italian food-lover's collection.
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on April 7, 2006
If you're looking for easy-to-make and relatively fast meals that taste great, you're in for a treat once again with Miss De Laurentiis' newest book. Of course, there are more refined, elaborate, and challeging Italian cookbooks out there, but if you don't want to spend all day in the kitchen yet turn out beautiful and delicious meals, try this. In my opinion, food for dinner with friends or family shouldn't be either demanding for the cook to create or intimidating for the guests to eat. Therefore, it's great for family meals as well as for entertaining. If you're looking to WOW your guests with all of the hours of work you put into a meal, try Charlie Trotter instead. If you're looking for time to spend enjoying your guests and diners who beg for your recipe, buy Giada's book.
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I own all three of Giada's cookbooks [the latest being Everyday Pasta] and they are all winners in my opinion. This book contains great Italian recipes that would make wonderful family dinners, entertaining, or just to freeze and keep for future use. The recipes as always are presented in an easy to read manner, are not that difficult to make, and I love the beautiful pictures of the dishes scattered throughout the book. Seeing pictures of Giada and her family in the book only adds to the wholesome image, and really inspires me to cook delectable Italian dishes for my own family. After trying out some of her recipes on my husband, he has been so impressed by the results that he now watches her cooking show on the Food Network with me! I would definitely recommend this cookbook for those out there who would like to try out Italian cooking [I'd start with her first book, Everyday Italian, before moving on to this]. Each of her cookbooks offers a unique cooking experience, even for beginners like me:)
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on April 13, 2006
Every recipe i have made of Giada's has been wonderful! This book is a good reference to have if you would like a collection of recipes from her show. All of the recipes have been on her website at one time or another with a few exceptions. But if you like Giada's show and want those recipes, you won't be disappointed with this book.
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on April 11, 2006
I absolutely love Giada's food; the dishes are absolutely wonderful, with inventive combinations (who knew mustard, mascarpone and marsala would work together in a chicken pasta dish!) I love the concept of the book even more; to me, there is nothing better than serving good food to family and friends. Gathering at the table is truly a bonding experience that seems to be a disappearing trend in our society today. I would definitely buy this book and start traditions in your own family and groups of friends and enjoy life over good food, good wine, and good company; you will most assuredly get inspired by this book.

Oh, and by the way, if you are a stuffy, pompous arse (i.e. Marold's review), please understand this isn't about high-brow, stuffy uber-gourmet food that have to remain exactly true to their national roots (wherever they're from). In fact, don't even bother commenting on the book - no one is ever going to invite you to a family dinner ANYWAY!
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on November 12, 2006
What I appreciate about both of Giada's cookbooks is their simplicity and of course, the end result. Unlike some other cooks written by celebrity chefs where the ingredient list is a mile long -- or the dishes never turn out tasting quite right because maybe ordinary folks lack their culinary talents! -- Giada's recipes truly deliver...each and every time. I don't know how she does it, but she manages, both on her Food Network show and in her cookbooks, to make her dishes accessible, beautiful to look at, and delicious. I have many, many cookbooks, and hers are the cookbooks I reach for more often than any others. Thank you, Giada!
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Although the recipes are more ambitious and developed than in De Laurentiis's first book, Everyday Italian, this book still showcases Giada's genius for offering straightforward, appetizing recipes geared to family dinners. The menus are of medium difficulty, which means they require only moderate cooking ability and require a minimum of fuss to prepare, which is great. Using them, you can put together very nice family-style meals, which also work for company. (But for formal entertaining, you might look more toward the books by Marcela Hazen, ie, Classic Italian Cooking). Recipes encompass sandwiches such as the traditional Italian Muffuletta, soups like Escarole and Bean and, and one-pot dinners like Giada's Chicken Vesuvio and Veal Stew with Cipollini Onions. There are also recipes for holiday favorites, including Easter Pie, Turkey and Ciabatta Stuffing with Chestnuts and Pancetta, and Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce. This book is practical, yet fun, and I have enjoyed using it.
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on April 4, 2006
Giada has proven again that she is a great chef and cookbook author. The format is a great change from the usual organization for cookbooks. She obviously understands her fans and has thought about how they eat, and how they should eat. I like all of the introductions, and she includes recipes that are both simple and refined. I look forward to trying the recipes she has provided.
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