Most helpful positive review
142 of 170 people found the following review helpful
good herb chart, a few good easy recipes. Diet advice not so much, attitude-tacky, not everything should be "sexy"
on September 23, 2010
I bought this book for 2 reasons, never having watched the TV show. First, diet Italian food, who wouldn't like that? and Second, the wonderful little section on Italian herbs and spices. That alone is worth the price of the book.
The recipes are simple and easy, but far too few to make a good cookbook, let alone a diet cookbook. Everything I've cooked from it, has turned out. That lemon chicken is excellent. But there isn't much there! What is in there is pretty good in flavour, ease of preparation and relatively inexpensive.
The diet advice is sketchy at best. A little on portion control, a good comment on Italian American food as served by such popular joints like the Olive Garden. Basically pointing out that the way food is eaten in Italy is much different, pasta is a side dish, not a main dish, and it isn't usually swimming in cholesterol. BUT as diet advice goes, this isn't enough for most people to lose weight on. As a guide to the reason why Mediterranean diets work for health and weight loss, this is lacking.
However the nutritional analysis; calorie counts, fat, carb and protein grams at the back was EXCELLENT and I wish more cookbooks did that!
Edited to add: I've tried: Italian salad dressing page 41, Basil Lemon Drizzle p 48 which is very nice over chicken or fish, I did the swordfish recipe from page 51 using salmon and it was great. Garlic shrimp page 54, Pork chops on page 66, Chicken in lemon thyme marinade page 70, veal piccata (using chicken) page 189 and skinny snapper page 219. I also tried several of her tomato sauces, and found them good although success with the Quickie sauce depends on the quality of canned tomato and paste that you use because the only other things are basil--which really needs to be fresh or its a waste of time as she correctly points out in the herb section, and top quality olive oil. The guide to canning tomatoes in chapter 9 is excellent, she uses a technique similar to one my grandmother taught me. Regardless of this author's life her cookbook is an excellent introduction to home style Italian cooking. The recipes are not at all intimidating and they are easy to complete as written which can't be said about most Italian cookbooks written by chefs or restaurants. I upgraded this to a 5 star, because those recipes earned it.
back to my original review:
Now to my more serious complaints.
I was completely repulsed by Joe's sidebar on the behaviour of some other woman on that TV show. Yes the actions were dreadful, but to stick them in the cookbook? Too much information! The author actually names a dish after this Danielle character, likening her to a prostitute. Again, extremely inappropriate in a cookbook.
I was completely turned off, not on, by the constant references to sex. Even she is a little stumped for explanations when she names a fish dish sexy! It feels like a grade 6 class of little boys who just discovered dirty jokes. Sexual innuendo and references abound as the author blends both food with sex in a crude and very inappropriate manner. I really don't care that she thinks her husband is juicy, nor do I want to know why!
I think this book has some very good recipes, that wonderful herb guide in particular, and could have used more good recipes, perhaps a bit more to explain why each was a "diet" food beyond the nutritional composition at the back of the book. She had a golden opportunity to explain the advantages of a Mediterranean diet, and include a wider variety of recipes.
In the end she wasted a lot of space on personal complaints and attacks, and WAY too much on sexual innuendo. Not everything is about sex all the time and it gets tiresome when her only superlative is whether or not a food is "sexy".