"I cook for flavor," says Italian cooking authority Marcella Hazan in Marcella Says...
, a gathering of her culinary wisdom with 120 recipes. "Like truth, [flavor] needs no embellishment." Fans of Hazan's marvelous cookbooks, including Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking
and Marcella Cucina
, will recognize in this declaration her credo--that food is best when it tastes fully of itself. To help readers achieve this result, Marcella Says...
includes a "master-class" chapter that culls a lifetime of Hazan's cooking smarts, presented in the likes of "When Is it Done" (cook vegetables all the way to tenderness, she advises); "How to Cook a Pasta Sauce" (use a saucepan for long-simmering sauces, a skillet for the rapid reduction fresh sauces require); and "Herbs, Garlic, Spices, Salt, and the Pursuit of Flavor" (herbs and condiments never compensate for undersalting).
These explorations are the heart of the book, but Hazan also supplies typically attractive, easily accomplished recipes, such as Rapini and Butternut Squash Soup, Spaghetti "Rotolo" with Zucchini and Bacon, Fish Fillets Marinated and Baked with Lemon and Thyme, and Bread Pudding with Chocolate and Apples--all written with her characteristic attention to detail. Her formulas also offer asides to help readers with technical and other matters. And, of course, there is Hazan's voice, her writerly acumen. This isn't icing on the cake, but a matter of making what is understood by the author best understood by her readers. Recipes aside, Hazan's graceful thoroughness is why her cookbooks are so beloved--and so often consulted--by cooks of all caliber. --Arthur Boehm
From Publishers Weekly
Hazan, the woman credited with teaching Americans that there's more to Italian cooking than spaghetti and meatballs, models her sixth book on her renowned cooking courses. Thus, as readers progress through this work, they'll feel Hazan's censorious presence as they wonder, for example, if they can skip blanching and proceed directly to sautéing rapini, but they'll learn a lot if they can overlook her occasionally blunt manner ("The unbalanced use of garlic is the single greatest cause of failure in would-be Italian cooking"). Hazan gives loads of practical instructions and dozens of fantastic recipes concentrating on insaporire
, the act of developing "the flavor of a single or several ingredients." Indeed, insaporire
is the focus of many lessons, whether it's making the perfect Italian broth—subtler than stock, yet elegant and versatile—or matching pasta shapes to sauces. Nearly the first hundred pages consist of information-packed paragraphs deriving from Hazan's classes, where she haughtily but knowingly details techniques and ingredients. Next come the recipes, a tasty array of antipasti, pasta sauces, homemade pasta, fish, meat and vegetables. Throughout, readers will find useful notes—"Marcella Says"—in which the famous teacher gives hands-on advice.
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