With the infectious enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning, Mario Batali--who presides over a culinary empire that includes the popular Food Network television show Molto Mario
, four acclaimed New York restaurants, and a wine store--presents four complete menus for the holidays and captures all the fun and festivity that epitomize Italian celebrations. True to the commitment to simple cooking evident in his first book, Simple Italian Food
, the dishes here deliver maximum flavor and enjoyment without being overly complicated.
Batali's version of the famous Italian seafood extravaganza traditionally served on Christmas Eve--known as the Feast of Seven Fishes--includes no fewer than 15 enticing dishes. Marinated Fresh Anchovies are both surprisingly delectable and delightful in their simplicity. Salt Cod with Capers and Mint, Grilled Lobster with Herbs and Arugula, and Sea Bass Ravioli with Marjoram and Potatoes would each be showstoppers as the centerpiece of any meal. Served together, they comprise a truly unforgettable feast.
The Christmas Day menu is equally lavish, centering on a succulent boned turkey breast stuffed with chestnuts and prunes, while the New Year's Day spread is pure decadence. The latter begins innocently enough, with a refreshing aperitivo of tangerine juice, Compari, and soda, then proceeds through a parade of richly flavored dishes, from the hot-pepper-spiked Octopus in the Style of the Prostitutes of Napoli, to the meatball-filled "mythic pasta dome" known as Timpano di Maccheroni, to the prosciutto-wrapped Braised Pork Roll. An irresistible selection of dolci (sweets), including Cinnamon Chocolate Pudding with Pine Nuts and Waffle Cookies, rounds out the meal. New Year's Day welcomes a relaxed daylong open house replete with an ever-changing spread of antipasti, pasta, and dolci, most of which can be prepared at leisure and served at room temperature, enabling the hosts to enjoy the party as much as the guests.
Photos, along with helpful wine suggestions and practical advice on technique, accompany each menu. Throughout, Batali paints a portrait of his Italian-American family that reminds readers that the simple joy of being together is what the holidays are really about. The 60 simple yet elegant recipes can be mixed, matched, and adapted for any occasion. Served together or separately, each is cause for celebration. --Robin Donovan
From Publishers Weekly
Americans tend to think of Italian cooking as easy: we have come to rely on 15-minute pastas and hearty, seasonal dishes like minestrone. But here, Batali of Food Network's Molto Mario presents the most cherished Italian dishesAthose served, often after days of preparation and with fanfare, during the holidays. Batali focuses on the seafood-rich Amalfi coast, beginning with a Christmas Eve menu that includes Vongole Origanate (clams oreganato), Baccal? Vesuviana, Ravioli alla Spigola (Sea Bass Ravioli with Marjoram and Potatoes), and in case you still have any room for dessert, Classic Cannoli. The book consists of traditional Italian menus that take you through the four holidaysAChristmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Year's Eve and New Year's DayAbut the recipes can be used for an impressive meal or snack any time. (There is also a separate section on the wines of Campania.) Cooking from scratch is the name of the game, so don't expect shortcuts; however, instructions are generally to the point and the results are well worthwhile. Recipes like Mythic Pasta Dome (a sort of pasta torte) capture the elaborate and festive nature of holiday Italian cooking. Beginners might be intimidated: Baba (lemon cake) requires a yeast rising and the insertion of fine holes in the cake into which a lemon mixture is "infused." But once practiced, recipes become easy, and there are some simple yet gratifying recipes, such as No-Bake Chocolate Cookies. If you want to enliven your Italian repertoire with authentic, celebratory dishes, this book is invaluable. Photographs by Quentin Bacon. (Oct.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.