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Italian Classics (Best Recipe) Hardcover – September 15, 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
Don't pick this book up thinking that you're going to get someone's Italian nonna's sunday gravy recipe; that's what the Sopranos Family Cookbook is for. This is very technical stuff that involves stripping the great recipes down to their bare essentials and rebuilding them from the ground up. Sacred cows of Italian cuisine, as in everything else they do, are scrutinized very carefully, and slaughtered as often as not. Only the most basic definition of the dish is taken for granted. The end result is sometimes minimalist; the Baked Ziti recipe, for example, has no ricotta in it and is almost vegetarian. The end result is a dizzying book that should be on the shelf of anyone who likes to cook Italian. Finally, the frequent sidebars on cooking equipment, a Cooks Illustrated staple, offer deep background on the techniques in the recipes.
Now with raves like that, why only 4 stars, you might be asking? Well, it's not perfect. The Best Recipe series presents itself as a bible of cooking, and it's not; glaring omissions in this book include meat lasagna (though the big bragging point on the dust jacket is the vegetable lasagna recipe) and cannoli. There is also a tendency to repeat articles from earlier books, an understandable but occasionally annoying situation that tends to leave the reader feeling as though the magazine people are trying to cut corners.Read more ›
The "Italian Classics" by the editors of Cooks Illustrated Magazine pleasantly surprised me. I expected the typical Italian American recipes that I dislike. This book is much more authentic that I expected it to be. Even as an experienced Italian cook I find it difficult to criticize this book to any large extent.
The editors of Cook's Illustrated write this book in the same manner as their other books. The writers tell you what they tried that didn't work, before they get to the ingredients and techniques that did work. There are very few pictures in this book. The paper is not the glossy stock that you find in my cookbooks today. I would have appreciated if the book had included the Italian names for the recipes. Sometimes they include the Italian name of the recipes in the narrative about the recipe, and sometimes they do not. But, the recipes themselves more make up for these minor disappointments.
The book is outlines as follows:
6. Risotto, Polenta, and Bean
9. Fish and Shellfish
10. Bread and Pizza
11. Eggs and Savory Tarts
12. Fruit Desserts
13. Chilled and Frozen Desserts
14.Read more ›
Part of the value of this book is not due to the efforts of the 'Cooks Illustrated' staff, it is due to their applying their usual approach to a body of recipes which are well established and about which there is a great body of writing already available in English.
That means that when they evaluate a pasta Puttanesca recipe, there is little chance they will be going wrong, as they have the writings of Marcella Hazan, Lydia Bastianich, Mario Batalli, Giuliano Bugialli, and Michelle Scicolone to proof their researches against.
This is not to say that they sometimes go off the deep end of fussiness, as when they suggest parboiling the garlic in the pan before adding the oil and other ingredients so as to not burn the garlic when starting out on their Puttanesca.
Still, I am always guaranteed of seeing a highly reliable recipe for the Italian standards in this volume and while I have multiple volumes written by all those other authors, I still refer to this book first every time I want to do meatballs or lasagna or gnocchi or osso bucco.
Recommended for people who like to cook Italian.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Others have gone into the CI method. You either love it or hate. I'm a science geek, and usually love it. I'll focus on the recipes in my review. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Sandy Toes
A really good cookbook for those of us that love to cook Italian food occasionally. All of my friends seem to approve of what comes out of it.Published 11 months ago by Fred T. Williams
WOWZERS!!!! is this a book or a encyclopedia of knowledge. This is for serious cooks that really want a best done meal. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Celestes mom
I borrowed this book from a friend. My favorite recipe was the chicken Parmesan, but I also loved the spaghetti and meatballs! Read morePublished 13 months ago by Holly S. Grotke
I swear by the Cook's Illustrated series and always jump when I can get one of their books for a bargain!Published 15 months ago by Erin S. Wells