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Michael Chiarello's Casual Cooking Hardcover – July 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 216 pages
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books (July 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0811833836
  • ISBN-13: 978-0811833837
  • Product Dimensions: 1.1 x 9.6 x 10.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #339,488 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Michael Chiarello is the real thing--a nice guy and a great cook, enviably telegenic, and privileged to live in the Napa Valley, northern California's Eden, where he's surrounded by the best raw ingredients and the most enthusiastic dinner guests on the subcontinent. On top of all that, he's absolutely generous about sharing his secrets--and his pleasures--with the rest of us, delivering a warm and inviting new world to the home kitchen.

Casual Cooking is a big, beautiful, and friendly guide to "cooking smart"--that is, by the author's definition, making the very best meal possible in the time available and with the ingredients you have on hand. His recipes, of the Italian cucina rustica by way of California persuasion, are thorough and clear. Without being patronizing, they leave nothing to guesswork. The flavor, the texture, the moisture, the appearance, the behavior of the dish and its synergy with other foodstuffs are all respectfully and lovingly noted in these pages. "Michael's Notes," in red, share the kind of tips and cautions only a tenured chef and terrific home cook would know. Some credit should no doubt go to Chiarello's mom, at whose elbow he began picking up these nuances and appreciations. The illustrations are plentiful and elegant enough to make this a coffee-table book, the content thorough enough to make this a serious working cookbook. --Schuyler Ingle and Joyce Thompson

From Publishers Weekly

Chiarello is founder of the Napa Valley restaurant Tra Vigne, and his recipes combine his Italian heritage (from Calabria, the toe of Italy's boot) with local produce to mixed results. Some innovations are wonderful: Warm Peach and Prosciutto Salad is a great variation on traditional prosciutto with melon, and the flavors of succulent peaches and salty prosciutto marry so well it's a wonder no one's come up with the combination before. His four seasonal takes on panzanella-a traditional tomato bread salad for summer, Autumn Panzanella with mushrooms, Winter Panzanella with squash and brussels sprouts, and Spring Panzanella with asparagus and peas-also stand out. Occasionally, Chiarello gets whimsical with titles, as with Green Eggs and Ham, a rustic dish of prosciutto, poached eggs and basil oil on toast. Sometimes, though, he goes just a bit overboard with the food itself, as with Brodetto di Mare seafood stew served over risotto, which sounds like a runny combination, and Baby Back Ribs with Espresso BBQ Sauce. Photography and layout are beautiful, making this book as much a pleasure to page through as it is to cook from, and the more appealing fare, such as a Spring Pea Soup with a confetti spray of chive flowers and Radicchio Slaw with Warm Honey Dressing, makes up for the occasional odd duck.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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Great simple recipes to cook local seasonal food.
Sustainable Global Foodie
The book takes you through the what, why and how of cooking, ingredients and even what you should have on hand in your pantry.
A. Phillips
The recipes are easy to prepare and every one that I have tried, I have loved.
ydnical

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

102 of 108 people found the following review helpful By Lynn Harnett VINE VOICE on November 19, 2002
Format: Hardcover
PBS' Napa Valley chef emphasizes a well-stocked pantry and fine presentation in addition to fresh, quality ingredients in this oversized, lavishly illustrated collection of California wine country Italian dishes. From Basil Chive Butter, Toasted Spice rub and Herb Oil (pantry items) to Salsa di Parmigiano and Marinated Salmon with Fennel Salad (antipasto) to Summer Corn Soup and Autumn Panzanella, Chiarello will have you willing to skip the entrée altogether. Until you get to one of his simple and satisfying pasta dishes - with Walnut and Ricotta Pesto perhaps or Salsa Rosa (roasted pepper and tomato) from the pantry. And then there's Tuscan Shrimp with White Beans, Baby Back Ribs with Espresso BBQ Sauce or Quail with Bacon and Honey. His way with vegetables offers simple variety - Sautéed Greens with Vinegar, Skillet-Fried Corn and Tomatoes, and a baked Cauliflower Alla Parmagiana that has become a staple in my house - whatever the vegetable. There are desserts too, mostly fruit with a few comfort items like Caramel Panna Cotta and an easy tiramisu, but the real pleasure comes from the savory. Leaf through the gorgeous pictures, and choose a dish - chances are you can have it on the table in half an hour - if you stock that pantry (there's even a recipe for fresh ricotta that's a must-try). Notes offer tips on technique and variations.
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36 of 36 people found the following review helpful By Esther Schindler TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 29, 2006
Format: Hardcover
I've grown to love Michael Chiarello's recipes. In the Goldilocks challenge between making a dish "too simple" or "too much work," time after time Chiarello manages to find the spot that's exactly right. His recipes don't promise instant gratification, in the semi-homemade 30-minute style that's become popular recently. But he's also aware that you have something else to do with your day besides cooking dinner.

Chiarello's background is Italian, so a lot of recipes in this book display that influence -- quite a bit of pasta, for example, and a tendency to use olive oil where others might choose butter. But you'd do better to think of it as Napa-meets-Italian, as his recipes aren't the sort of food that you'll find at the traditional restaurant with a red-checked tablecloth and a candle stuck in a bottle of Chianti. The book lives up to its promise of "casual cooking."

Chiarello encourages you to create a pantry of ingredients that you can call upon whenever needed, and I completely agree with that "good cooking in not much time" philosophy. At first, it might sound as though you need to cook three things just to have the ingredients for a single dish, but the pantry section helps you create items that, later, you'll be able to grab out of the freezer or your spice shelf and put into an "instant" meal. For example, we first made his awesome winter panzanella, which uses homemade croutons in addition to butternut squash and brussels sprouts. The croutons are easy enough -- assuming that you already made his bagna cauda butter. (It's basically anchovies, parsley, and garlic mixed with two sticks of softened butter.) But two days after the salad, we made clams and linguine with more of the bagna cauda butter, and *that* came together in less time than it took to boil the noodles.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By ydnical on November 21, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I bought this book because of the lemon rosemary chicken I saw Michael prepare on the Food Network. I made it myself and it was just as good as I imagined. The recipes are easy to prepare and every one that I have tried, I have loved.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia Goulet on January 10, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
We are serious foodies and particularly love all regional Italian cooking. Admit we are bit skeptical of Italian American recipes but after watching MC on TV (finally got a Food Channel on satellite here in Australia) decided to invest in the book. It is brilliant - every recipes tried has scored a "do again" and the pantry items are great. Even a beginner can follow the recipes and experienced cooks will appreciate the layers of flavour that MC is always talking about. Buy this book - you won't be sorry! Off to buy his latest now....
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30 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Kyra_Athena on July 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First off, I love watching Mr. Chiarello on his show, Napa Style. I was a little intimidated to try some of his dishes. I went ahead and bought the cookbook. It can be intimidating at first because he basically tells it like it is. Be prepared to shop extensively for his pantry items. I don't know that I'll ever have all of these in my kitchen and I am fairly well stocked. I did make some substitutions so shoot me! Once you get over the shopping, the recipes are wonderful. They are quite simple and easy to follow as opposed to some celebrity chefs' cookbooks. Even if you don't cook anything from this book, you'll learn something about cooking and food quality just from reading. I did like the information he gave on buying "real" cheeses and such as opposed to the reduced-fat or fat-free varieties. He said the real stuff has more flavor and you can use less of it. He called fat-free cooking inferior. I did find that by mostly sticking to the recipe (couldn't find everything specified) I was able to eat less because the flavor was quite satisfying.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By G. L. Knight on September 11, 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Michael Chiarello's Napa Style cooking show is one of my top rated cooking shows, and when I discovered his new, you too can cook his down to earth recipes, I just had to have this cookbook. The cook book is very self explanatary, the recipes succinct and the pictures make it all seem so easy. Michael's Napa Style is extremely refreshing in today's lifestyle.
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