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74 of 74 people found the following review helpful
This companion to a PBS series presented by Ms. Bastianich includes over 200 authentically Italian recipes. I believe the value in purchasing this book depends a lot on how many cookbooks of Italian cuisine you already have. There is a fair amount of overlap with Ms. B's first book, `Al Cucina di Lidia'. For example, in the PBS title, there is a recipe for rabbit, `Coniglio al Balsamico' which features balsamic vinegar and sage, while in the earlier book, there is a similar recipe, `Coniglio alla salvia' featuring balsamic vinegar and sage. Both are braises, cooking for about 45 minutes. Both books also include recipes for sauerkraut and pork. The overlap may be less than 10 percent and Ms. B. does cite her book as a reference, along with ten (10) other titles, about half of which are in Italian. It is just important to realize this in weighing the value of the book.
Based on the incidence of recipes for strudel, fresh pasta, polenta, and risotto, I would say the book concentrates on the cuisine of northern Italy, which is totally expected, as Ms. B was born and raised on the Istrian peninsula, east of Trieste. The chapters and number of recipes in each are:
Appetizers: 21, many of bruschetta and including prosciutto
Soups: 22, including an essay on how to make a good minestre.
Fresh Pasta: 16, including an essay on pasta making and several recipes including game meats
Dry Pasta: 14, including essay on tomatoes and sauces
Rice: 11 recipes, almost all for risotto
Gnocchi: 11 recipes, many with game meat
Polenta: 9 recipes, mostly regional specialities
Vegetables: 20, including lessons on prepping artichokes and favas
Game and Chicken: Rabbit and boar and venison, oh my
Meat: 19, including recipes for sauces
Fish and Shellfish: 17, including general tips on handling bivalves and crustaceans
Sweets: 22, including Strudel and Zabaglione.
If you have no Italian cookbooks or only cookbooks covering the hard pasta / tomato ridden Neapolitan cuisine or really need a book for game recipes, you could do no better than this volume. If you absolutely must have every cookbook by a major Italian cookbook author, this will be a worthy addition to your collection. If you have Ms. B's third book on Italian-American cuisine, this will be a very good compliment, as I expect no overlap there. If you really enjoyed the PBS series for which this book is a companion, then I highly recommend it.
But, if you already own a few of the other hundreds of Italian cookbooks, I suggest you at least browse the book before signing up. There may be more overlap than is worth you money. I will still give it the highest rating, because on its own merits, it is a very good book.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2001
I purchased this book about 2 years ago. The first recipe I made was "Pasta With Pancetta, Tomato and Onion". It was such a hit, I just continued on recipe after recipe. It is the most used cookbook in my home (I have at least 100 books). All the dishes are so flavorful and simple. She uses fresh ingredients that are easily attainable, the recipes are clear, concise and though I have been cooking for 30 years, I keep learning from her through her books. Lidia is my food mentor, she embraces food, is a wonderful teacher and the recipes in this book are excellent.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 1999
This is a woman who puts her heart as well as her] creative mind into her cooking. She respects the food as well as loving those she serves.
Recipes are either followed to the letter by inexperienced cooks,..or used as precious guides by those of us who've cooked for many years. Potato Gnocchi..a personal favorite, is one of her pastas that my family enjoys, too.
I've seen her cook on the Food Network Chef du Jour spots, and wish they'd give her a regular program in their schedule.
This woman has earned the love and respect of many Italian-Americans and the world at large.
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28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
on January 29, 1999
Lidia's book is a good comprehensive guide to Italian cooking. I enjoy the simplicity of her recipes and the stories of her childhood (also a lot of fun when watching her PBS TV show which features many recipes from the book). There are many great pasta, gnocchi, and risotto recipes which she and her restaurants are famous for. Lidia's recipes and cooking techniques are straightforward enough for anyone cooking at home.
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49 of 54 people found the following review helpful
on June 17, 1999
I watch Lidia on PBS and have drooled over many of her visual creations. After purchasing her book and re-creating her roasted veal shank with potatoes and swiss chard, I am a hero in the kitchen!
Thank you, Lidia, for sharing these fabulous recipes and making it a joy to cook & eat!
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
on February 2, 1999
I'm really enjoying this cookbook. It not only has many recipes you'd expect in an Italian cook book but also some new ones as well. Watching her program is just like being in my grandmother's kitchen and her cookbook reflects the same warmth and affection. Nice job.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on March 29, 2001
the recipes in this book are fabulous - my fourteen year old son wishes lidia were his grandmother and could cook for him ALL the time, but mom using lidia's book runs a close second - my vegetarian daughter is in love with swiss chard and potatoes/green beans and potatoes/all things with homemade pasta as long as there are no dreaded animal products in the pasta- and frankly, my husband just sits blissfully and eats - my only problem is that after low-fat cooking for about ten years, i find myself instinctively cringing at the fat content(and i don't mean olive oil, i mean butter & cheese) at which one can only guess since there is no nutritional information- therefore, i have made my own revisions to the recipes, only using her ingredients in their original amounts if we're really treating ourselves- and i have made the wonderful discovery that even with modifications, her stuff just tastes good- so all to the table and eat!!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on December 9, 2003
I continually go back to this book to look for meat and seafood dishes that fit with Italian-American tastes but that are new and different. The other night I made pomegranate roasted chicken with Gran Marnier, brandy, and rosemary. Also good is baked squid with potatoes and parsley, cheese and herb ravioli(ricotta, ricotta salata,parmigiano,mascarpone)that is good made with any greens and topped with a sage/light cream sauce. If you're like me and didn't know many Italian meat dishes (my Neapolitan family kind of doesn't know what to do with it), you will love it if only for what you learn about meat. You won't see the brilliance of this book until you try the recipes. Very very good for the somewhat experienced cook.
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32 of 37 people found the following review helpful
on May 11, 2000
My (Paris born and bred) husband of less than two years has confided that he never expected that I would ever truly cook for him. Thanks to Lidia's television show and this book I have learned many techniques that have proven him wrong to his great relief. My only disappointment is that not every recipe from the show is in fact in the book. Contrary to the comments of a previous reviewer, the Istrian influence in Lidia's cooking only enhances her unique style. Thank you again Lidia, for the wonderful education!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on February 24, 2001
Lidia's cooking techniques and combination of foods is wonderful. I have made several dishes and highly reccomend this book to those who savor great tasting food. For the reviewer who didn't like the book because of lack of pictures probably eats at Mcdonald's and orders off of the value menu, after looking at the pictures. A masterpiece!!
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