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Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy: A Feast of 175 Regional Recipes
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92 of 94 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon November 28, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
Once again, without any hesitation, this is a most fabulous cookbook/tour guide/education of the Italian experience through the most capable palate of Lidia and her daughter, Tanya. They are becoming synonomous with each other as this is another collaboration of love from this most lovely mother-daughter team of experts.

For anyone who knows of Lidia, she does not just give you recipes and photos; you can get those from any Italian cookbook, and there nothing wrong in that. But I truly feel that her purpose in all her books and endeavors is to appreciate the Italian history and culture hence her books are three-fold: you are given a geographical and culinary education along with the historical education so that you will be able to appreciate how, why, and where the recipes have been given.

So in essence, you are educated on the past history and influence that brought certain dishes to that region and how the geographical region lent itself to encourage certain meals and traditions due to the hard work and joy of the people who lived there. It is through the collaboration of Lidia and her lovely daughter Tanya, that we are given not just the standard information and recipes but instead, the food history, the rich culture, and the appreciation for what you are preparing so that you are not just cooking; you are creating the generations of family joy and culinary history that was passed on from parents to children and to which we need to cling to especially today.

In this particular book, her dedication is to her father, Vittorio. Her childhood and coming of age in this country leaves you with the sincere appreoiation of Lidia's need for acknowledging all who helped to shape and influence her ideology and vocation to this culinary artform. Her parents very humble beginnings started in the former Yugoslavia and have brought her to New York today.

The book is a heavy, well-printed and sectioned gift of love with its text printed on high-quality paper and with exquisite photographs of the Italian regions that she presents to us through her recipes. There is a particular photograph of a shepherd and his flock that is amazing; it will remind you of a Renaissance painting. I felt that her Acknowledgment page was just as wonderful to read as the rest of the book in that she has many gifted and loved people in her life whom she revolves her life, most notably her family as well as all the talented people whom she met and worked with to produce this latest offering.

There are 175 recipes selected within the 12 regions of Italy which are:
Trentino-Alto Adige
Lombardy
Valee D'Acosta
Liguria
Emilia-Romagna
Le Marche
Umbria
Abruzzo
Molise
Basilicata
Calabria
Sardinia

Each section gives you her history with that region whether personal or professional. Each recipe has a short introduction of sorts along with hints and suggestions in both preparing and serving the dishes. Throughout the chapters are wonderful photographs of the meals and people and countryside that the recipes come from; I could not imagine a more enjoyable journey in making this book albeit the hard work and energy it took in legistics, transportation, compilation of information, etc. At the end of each chapter is the wonderful listing of places and sites to see particular to that region that you would not want to miss should you be blessed enough to be able to travel to this glorious country. A small legendary map of sorts is posted at the start of each region with that region being highlighted so as to know from which area you are taking the recipes.

I particularly appreciated the actual ingredients of the recipes highlighted in red; I can't seem to quite put my finger on why that seemed to make the reading and preparation easier but it did.

The recipes themselves are full of the foods that are both expected and indigenous to Italy such as pastas, breads, wines, seafood, desserts, etc as well as others that some may not know as part of the Italian culture. There are even vegetarian recipes to choose from if you, or someone within your circle, prefer to stay away from meats, though many of the pastas and soups will fare well with vegetarians also. For those recipes which require standard preparations such as sauces and stocks, there is a short section at the end of the book that one can reference to in a quicker mode. Her sources for many of the ingredients are listed as well are sources for specific items that you might not find within your area. She also broke down the dishes by course so as to help section them for easier reference.

And last, but certainly not the least, is a listing of what can be found on her accompnaying series that began this month on local PBS stations. Each region and what she will be cooking on each episode is listed along with corresponding page number so that you could read along while watching her show.

You will truly enjoy this book for many reasons, therefore you will be most pleased. Peace.
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47 of 52 people found the following review helpful
on October 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
The food pictures in this book make me salivate and the pictures of Italy show the true Italy. I have tried the recipes and they are easy and extremely flavorful. I love Lidia's cookbooks because they allow for some personal interpretation and they really bring the flavor of Italy to my kitchen and family.
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on November 17, 2009
Format: Hardcover
We'll see if this becomes an Italian home cooking standard, but it's a beautiful mix of recipes (with a real eye towards fairly simple preparations, though delicious), excellent food photography (better than any other Italian cookbook that I have), and some text and photos of Italy to inspire the connections between the food and the land.

The writing is casual and friendly, and the photos genuinely enhance the cookbook. But mostly we're here for the recipes. And they do not fail us. We have a roasted lobster dish from Sardinia, heading north to polenta with white beans and black kale from Valle d'Aosta, and finally beer-basted roast chicken from Trento. The regional cuisines of Italy, local ingredients and preparations, are on display here, and with the wonders of the American grocery store, are quite accessible.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon March 21, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Organized by region, north to south, and written with her daughter, PBS cooking star and restaurateur Bastianich's sixth book features a must-try dish on practically every well-designed page. Photos highlight the countryside the dishes come from - as well as the food itself. Chapter introductions offer food-themed tours and recipes focus on local specialties, from starters, through first and second courses and dessert; some classic, some unfamiliar.

Like Spaghetti in Tomato-Apple Sauce (Trentino-Alto Adige), Risotto Milan-Style with Marrow & Saffron (Lombardy), Beef Filet with Wine Sauce (Valle D'Aosta), Tagliatelle with ricotta-based Walnut Pesto (Emilia-Romagna), Fish with Pepper Sauce (bell pepper based, with orange zest, tomatoes, and a dash of peperoncino flakes) (Le Marche), Crostini with Black Truffle Butter (Umbria), Meatless Pecorino Meatballs (cheese, eggs, breadcrumbs, herbs) (Abruzzo), Fresh Cavatelli with Cauliflower (Molise), Rigatoni with Lentils (Basilicata), Spicy Calamari (Calabria), Flatbread Lasagna (Sardinia).

Familiar and peasant dishes include: Braised Veal Shanks (Lombardy), Roasted-Pepper & Olive Salad with Fontina (Valle D'Aosta), Bread Salad with Summer Vegetables (Liguria), Spaghetti with Clam Sauce (Le Marche), Wedding Soup (Basilicata), Baked Eggplant in Tomato Sauce (Sardinia).

There are numerous recipes for making fresh pasta and dumplings and many family-friendly comfort foods. A particular favorite of mine is Meat Sauce Genova Style which features a beef pot roast braised slowly in a wine-tomato sauce flavored with sage and rosemary, thickened with toasted pine nuts. There's plenty of sauce for a second meal (or a first course, as Bastianich suggests) of pasta and the whole thing can be made a day ahead. Scrumptious!

Bastianich's short intros give a sense of the dish and offer tips for the novice or the seasoned cook and appendices include her TV series' menus, a recipe finder by course, and a list of sources.

While dishes appeal to a range of ambitions, abilities and tastes, Bastianich assumes an uncomplicated love of cooking.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 14, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Lidia Bastianich's latest cookbook "Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy" is a masterpiece of collected recipes from many less well known regions of Italy. Those which I have tried are truly from the earth, from the land of Italy. You can just feel it, you can taste it with the unique combinations of sometimes unexpected ingredients. Some are familiar from our own family links and still-cooked handed-down recipes from our immigrant ancestors, and thus their authenticity at least per these cases is right on. Others which I have tried are equally fantastic. But then we have grown to expect this from Lidia and are not disappointed once again. This book is a must have for the Italian Cooking admirer and enthusiast alike. Brava, Bravissima, Lidia!
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
on January 3, 2010
Format: Hardcover
In the week I have had this book, I have tried four recipes from the first region featured (Trentino-Alto Adige): Country Salad, Spaghetti in Tomato-Apple Sauce, Whole-Grain Spaetzle, and Beef Braised in Beer. All were so simple that I feared the results would be boring, but all turned out to be delicious.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
I am a big fan of Lidia, as well as the owner of one of her earlier cook books. I found this particular cookbook chock full of easy to follow recipes that even a less experienced cook would be able to prepare. Instructions were clear and precise. Ingredients were readily available in the neighborhood supermarket. An all-around delightful book, picturesque, enhanced with Lidia's personal touch.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on December 28, 2009
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
As always, Lidia transports you right to the various locals in Italy that she writes about. The photography (of the food and locations) is exquisite. And the recipes are wonderful - easy to follow and to replicate. Lidia gives you the feeling that you are right there with her, and then you prepare the food and it feels even more like you are sitting in a trattoria in Italia. Having been raised as a second generation Italian-American, some of the recipes are as familiar as family, yet others are new to me. And having Lidia explain the origin and evolution of these dishes and their indigenous regions makes them feel like I've known them forever - I just needed to get reacquainted with them. A must-have book for any lover of Italian cuisine.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on May 1, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
If you like to cook and are not scared of trying recipes from different regions, this is the book you must have in your kitchen. I watch Lidia's TV shows and tried several of her recipes. I find her food delicious and suitable for most occasions. She has several recipes that are easy to make and use every day ingredients. If you are looking for something special and may be a bit more complicated for a special occasion, she has those types of recipes in this book as well. I watched her cook several of her recipes from this book on TV and I learned a lot from her about little details that make life easier at the kitchen or add some extra flavor to your dish. One thing I like about this book is that you can easily change some of the ingredients to your liking or what you have in your fridge that day and most of the time it turns out great. She gives you a base to work with and you can play with it to give your touch if you want to. I highly recommend anything she publishes, especially this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on March 13, 2010
Format: HardcoverVerified Purchase
My only complaint about this book is that there are very few photographs of the prepared dishes. We also eat with our eyes and Lidia's book could have been superb with the additions of photographs of the food and any out of the ordinary preparations. Other than that, yum!!
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