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139 of 145 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars cucina di geek
Cooks' Illustrated, surely, is many things to many people. I like to think of them as cooking for the hard-core geeks; they slice and dice recipes as well as vegetables, and work the kinks out of them to make what is at least their idea of the best possible version of a meal. To the geek chef, their books are the technical flip side of the theoretical work of Alton Brown,...
Published on October 25, 2002 by Brian Connors

versus
3 of 26 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Are you sure this is Italian?
A cook book generated by a computer. I don't like this cook book...I don't like its look....I don't like its feel....I don't like the recipes but most of all I don't think it has any of the heart of Italian cooking.
You will not find the food you make from this to have any of the real flare that makes Italian food so unforgettable.
If you have to buy it, buy a...
Published on November 9, 2010 by Science Minded


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139 of 145 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars cucina di geek, October 25, 2002
By 
This review is from: Italian Classics (Best Recipe) (Hardcover)
Cooks' Illustrated, surely, is many things to many people. I like to think of them as cooking for the hard-core geeks; they slice and dice recipes as well as vegetables, and work the kinks out of them to make what is at least their idea of the best possible version of a meal. To the geek chef, their books are the technical flip side of the theoretical work of Alton Brown, Shirley Corriher, and Harold McGee.
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. And the appeal of this book isn't universal; the Cooks Illustrated style is, as I said, very technical, and a bit chatty at times. If you just want the recipes and don't care about the particulars, this book will bore you. Me, I like cookbooks I can read, so this isn't a problem.
So, in conclusion, I say this: if you like chomping data as much as you like chomping food, this book will rock your world. If not, the recipes are still pretty good.
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56 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Italian reference for American cooks, May 28, 2006
By 
This review is from: Italian Classics (Best Recipe) (Hardcover)
A passionate home cook that has been honing her cooking skills for the last 25 years, concentrating on Italian cooking for the last 10 years, writes this review. My favorite cookbooks are "The Professional Chef" by the Culinary Institute and "Culinary Artistry". With more than 500 cookbooks in my collection I am usually disappointed in my recent cookbook acquisitions. I am also very tough on Italian cookbooks in particular.

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:

1. Antipasti

2. Salads

3. Vegetables

4. Soups

5. Pasta

6. Risotto, Polenta, and Bean

7. Poultry

8. Meat

9. Fish and Shellfish

10. Bread and Pizza

11. Eggs and Savory Tarts

12. Fruit Desserts

13. Chilled and Frozen Desserts

14. Biscotti, Crostate, and Cakes

The first recipe that I check out in any Italian cookbook to gauge its authenticity is Spaghetti Carbonara. If this recipe has cream included the book is immediately put back on the shelf. Unexpectedly, the recipe is this book does not add the cream, as American books tend to do. As I looked further, I realized that the authors tried to make each recipe as authentic as possible. The reason for the qualifier is that it is always not possible to make a recipe 100% authentic. I for one have never found an American supplier of Guanciale (cured pig's cheek), and Farro is also tough to come by. The writers did a very nice job substituting products that are easier to locate in the US.

If you are in need of comprehensive and reasonably authentic Italian cookbook, this will make a nice addition to your cookbook collection.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best Practical Italian Cookbook I've ever used., October 14, 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: Italian Classics (Best Recipe) (Hardcover)
This cookbook is by far the best Italian Cookbook I have ever used. While many Italian cookbooks require ingrediants that are both expensive and hard to find, Italian Classics' recipes are intended to be made with ingrediants that are easy to find in an American grocery store. The recipes, however, don't sacrifice flavor at all. Every recipe that I have cooked, without exception, has been excellent. I was so surprised by the excellence of the recipes that I am in the process now of asking my family to give me other cook books from the Cook's Illustrated "Best Recipe" series for Christmas. They explain the steps of cooking so novice cookers can use the recipes as well. I recommend this book to anyone who loves Italian cooking.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Better than average reference for Italian dishes., September 17, 2005
This review is from: Italian Classics (Best Recipe) (Hardcover)
'Italian Classics' is a 'Cooks Illustrated' treatment of well known Italian recipes. I have reviewed a number of similar 'Cooks Illustrated' books and a fabulous number of Italian cookbooks, and I believe that this volume is both better than the average 'Cooks Illustrated' volume AND better than the average Italian cookbook.

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.
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent reference book on Italian Cooking, May 17, 2005
This review is from: Italian Classics (Best Recipe) (Hardcover)
Would you like to learn all the tips and tricks about Italian Cooking? How about learning what is the best perfoming spaguetti brand, or different types of eggplant and how to work with it? Best garlic crusher, best pans, best everything - look no further: this is the book to get all the information you need.

The guys at Cooking Illustrated did an outstanding job researching for this book, I was very pleased and impressed. This is my first "The Best Recipe Series" cookbook! (and now I that I know the format of these books I want to buy the other ones too.!!)

This is a book you want to take to bed and read - recommended for both the amateur cook and for the professional - lots and lots of interesting facts and information about ingredients, techniques, products, equipment, utensils, you name it.

If you are a cookbook lover like myself, you will see the difference between this one and all the rest of the books you have read.
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19 of 21 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best of the Best, December 19, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Italian Classics (Best Recipe) (Hardcover)
The Best Recipe series have outdone themselves. This is the best one yet.(I am partial to cooking american-italian food at home). This illustrates great recipes that are tasty and user friendly. I especially love the risotto cakes. This book goes beyound recipes and teaches one about techniques and what to do or not to do. THIS IS A GREAT LAST MINUTE GIFT FOR THE NOVICE CHEF TO THE AVID COOK FOR THE HOLIDAYS OR ANY OCCASION. Definately a keeper if you like italian cooking.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My favorite cuisine-specific book, October 21, 2005
By 
NuJoi "Create with me" (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Italian Classics (Best Recipe) (Hardcover)
Cooks Illustrated did an excellent job with this book. It is an invaluable reference to me because my knowledge of Italian fare is limited. True to form, CI takes the guesswork out of making the recipes and provides valid reasons why not to stray. If you are unfamiliar with CI methodology, each recipe comes with a background information regarding the failed tests that lead to the creation of the recipe. If you are not interested in this type of background, the recipes are still great so just skip the added info.

I really enjoy the tasting and equipment ratings that have been incorporated into the book. This is not an all-day recipe type of book. CI balances time with flavor. Many of the recipes can be used for weeknight meals and certainly for weekends.

My favorite pasta sauce recipes are from this book. They turn out perfectly every time.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Rich of great recipes and information, January 30, 2005
By 
A. Ghetti (San Diego, CA USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Italian Classics (Best Recipe) (Hardcover)
This is a great book for anyone interested in cooking italian. It provides very in depth discussions of many classic italian dishes and many possible variants. I agree with a previous reviewer that this book is not perfect and some dishes miss essential ingredients. But I still think it is a great book. Most of the recipes are excellent and, most importantly, this books provides a lot of information on why and how: once you will digest this type of information you'll be able to even get creative a make your own italian style dishes.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Italian Classics, December 6, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Italian Classics (Best Recipe) (Hardcover)
Italian Classics is easy to understand and has great tips on everything from balsamic vinegar to meatballs. It makes cooking simple and fun. The recipes also include tricks the pros use as well as home style cooking techniques. It is a great addition to any food lovers library.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Italian Classics, December 6, 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Italian Classics (Best Recipe) (Hardcover)
Italian Classics is easy to understand and has great tips on everything from balsamic vinegar to meatballs. It makes cooking simple and fun. The recipes also include tricks the pros use as well as home style cooking techniques. It is a great addition to any food lovers library.
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Italian Classics (Best Recipe)
Italian Classics (Best Recipe) by Cook's Illustrated Magazine Editors (Hardcover - September 15, 2002)
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