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Biba's Taste of Italy: Recipes from the Homes, Trattorie and Restaurants of Emilia-Romagna Hardcover – March 20, 2001

4.8 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

It's been more than 40 years since Biba Caggiano came to America from her home in northern Italy's Emilia-Romagna region, and she still yearns for the luscious food that has earned the region a coveted spot on the culinary map. Long an accomplished author, television cooking-show host, and restaurateur, Caggiano still finds a constant source of inspiration in the cooking of her homeland--from the rich stuffed pasta dishes and complex ragus of Emilia to the simple grilled fish dishes and lusty brodettos (seafood stews) of Romagna.

Biba's Taste of Italy is a fascinating culinary tour of Caggiano's beloved region. In chapters on every course from antipasti to dolci, Caggiano introduces readers to the succulent dishes of the area and paints a vivid portrait of both the food and the people. Her salty-sweet Eggplant Parmigiano stars the region's own Parma ham and Bolognese sausage; Seafood Risotto recalls the irresistible bounty of the Adriatic sea that laps the shores of Romagna; and the trademark of Emilia-Romagna cooking--stuffed pasta--appears frequently in dishes like Squash Ravioli with Squab Ragu and Balsamic Vinegar and Cannelloni with Meat Stuffing

In the spirit of the region's small villages, Caggiano offers recipes for unassuming dishes like Roasted, Marinated, and Skewered Eel, in which the delicately sweet flavor of this unusual fish is expertly balanced with the simple yet robust flavors of extra-virgin olive oil, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, fresh sage, and pancetta. Roasted Stuffed Breast of Veal is a truly classic Emilian dish, and Caggiano's version--stuffed with a mixture of sautéed vegetables, Parmigiano, nutmeg, and eggs, then roasted golden brown with a crisp crust--is among the most delectable. Desserts run the gamut from the light, delicious Chestnut-Ricotta Fritters to the dense, sweet Honey-Walnut-Raisin Pie to a refreshing Strawberry Gelato.

The clear, easy-to-follow instructions accompanying each recipe make the book a joy to cook from and the beautiful page design makes it a pleasure to peruse. A brief chapter on the wines of the region and another on Where to Eat in Emilia-Romagna make the book complete. --Robin Donovan

From Publishers Weekly

In her latest enticing collection of recipes (after Trattoria Cooking and Italy al Dente), the chef-owner of Biba restaurant in Sacramento returns to her hometown, Bologna, and its surrounding countryside. The region, Emilia-Romagna, is blessed with such delectables as prosciutto di Parma, Parmigiano-Reggiano and balsamic vinegar, which its culinary tradition prominently features. Those who can never own too many Italian cookbooks will welcome the familiar fare, including Prosciutto with Marinated Baby Artichokes in Balsamic Vinegar, a simple Mussel Salad, Caggiano and Butternut Squash Tortelli. Chatty headnotes to most recipes tell where Biba discovered them and what drew her to each one, such as the simplicity of Grilled Skewers of Calamari and Shrimp from Rimini and her brother's favorite, Veal Stew with White Wine and Peas. She concludes with such sweets as Almond Chocolate Cake from a trattoria in Vignola and Mascarpone-Zabaglione Mousse from another in Frassinara. These authentic recipes demonstrate why Italian food remains one of the world's most irresistible cuisines. Agents, Maureen and Eric Lasher. (On-sale date: Mar. 26) Forecast: Caggiano has a large, dedicated following who are attracted to her motherly warmth as much as they are to her food. She will promote her new book with an appearance on CBS's Early Show the same day the book goes on sale and subsequently on Martha Stewart Living and PBS's Home Cooking, followed by a four-city tour. As before, stores should anticipate brisk sales.
Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks; 1 edition (March 20, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0688158153
  • ISBN-13: 978-0688158156
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 1.2 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.7 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #212,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I was given this book as a Christmas gift from my father, who even took the time to bring it to Biba at her restaurant in Sacramento (Biba's) so she could autograph it to me. Anyway, the very first recipe I tried, the sauteed halibut with olives, capers and tomatoes, turned out PERFECTLY. I've never had halibut so wonderfully and perfectly sauced. The treatment of the halibut meant it turned out exceptionally well textured, tender and flavorful, but not over or under cooked. My dinner date was extremely impressed. He actually thinks I can cook - well even! I'd like to take credit for it, but I can't. Since then, every other recipe from this book I've tried has also turned out successfully.
My main regret is that I didn't make more sauce, as I could have eaten twice as much of it. When not devouring the halibut, we were both frantically scooping any extra sauce onto the slices of rustic loaf Italian bread I baked earlier in the day - but that's another recipe.
The only additional item I would like to have seen is a wine pairing suggestion. But, I'm perfectly capable of figuring that out for myself, and rather enjoy the challenge. I chose a high quality light Red Zinfandel (1999 Fiddletown Lot 1 Red Zinfandel from Sobon Estate). Ordinarily it might be considered a little heavy for fish, but it balanced well with the glorious sauce in this recipe.
Biba Rocks!
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Format: Hardcover
This sixth book from Biba Caggiano concentrates on `Recipes from the Homes, Trattorie, and Restaurants of Emilia-Romagna', which makes it a long dispatch from International FOOD CENTRAL. There is probably no other similarly sized region on earth with so many world class foodstuffs. At the top of the list stands Parmigiano-Reggiano, Balsamic Vinegar, and Prosciutto de Parma followed by a long tradition of salume, wines, and classic ragu and pasta recipes. The interest of the region is doubled by the fact that Emilia and Romagna have two different cuisines. The former is more traditional and is based primarily on butter. The latter is more adventuresome, more seafood, and more olive oil. This all contributes to a major head start for this book as a major culinary resource.
Ms. Caggiano is a native of Bologna and still has a substantial family living in and around the city, so her recipes have a certain cachet, which may be missing from the average Italian cookbook. Her chapter subjects are very traditional, being:
Antipasti
Savory Breads and Savory Fritters
Soups
Pasta
Risotto, Gnocchi, and Polenta
Seafood
Poultry and Meat
Vegetables
Salads
Cakes, Tarts, Fritters, Biscotti, Ice Cream, and Fruit Desserts
While it may not be an entirely fair comparison, I matched this volume to Lydia Bastianich's book `Lydia's Italian Kitchen'. Although Ms. Bastianich is covering all of Italy, her strength is in northern Italy, as is Ms. Caggiano. Both books have about 400 pages at $30 for Ms. Lydia and $38 for Ms. Biba. The indexes for both books are friendly to both Italian impaired and those who know and relish all the lovely Italian names for recipes. Ms.
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Format: Hardcover
When it comes to Italian cooking, Biba Caggiano ranks right up there with the best of the best. Biba is the author of such previous books as Biba's Italian Kitchen, Italy al Dente, Northern Italian Cooking, Modern Italian Cooking, and one of my favorites, Trattoria Cooking. In this newest book, Biba has once again written a book that will delight anyone interested in Italian Cuisine. In Biba's Taste Of Italy, Biba returns to her roots, sharing recipes and stories of her beloved Emilia-Romagna. This region is well known for creating some of Italy's best recipes, including rich, meaty sauces, delicate stuffed pastas, bread thickened soups, succulent seafood and many more. The book offers more than 250 assorted recipes from antipasti to dessert.
Emilia-Romagna is famous for such ingredients as balsamic vinegar from Modena, prosciutto di Parma, mortadella, and of course Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. These important regional ingredients are discussed in an early chapter, and then can be found used in recipes throughout the book. The chapters are divided into the usual cookbook categories such as Antipasti, Soups, Seafood etc., but each chapter begins with an introduction of the recipes and ingredients specific to the region. For example, in Antipasti, Biba describes the popularity of serving a platter of cured meats, or affettati, including such meats as prosciutto, mortadella, coppa, and salame to name a few.
The recipes in this book have a home style simplicity, using popular, easy to find ingredients. Many of these recipes are family favorites from Biba's childhood spent in Bologna, while others were collected while visiting small, country tratorie, and family style restaurants.
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Format: Hardcover
Our favorite restaurant locally is Biba's in Sacramento. I't named after its owner and head chef Biba Caggiano, who is still, after almost forty years, a formidable presence there. The restaurant itself is attractive, the service good but it's the food that makes it exceptional. We lived in Dubai for three years (2001-4) and one of the few cookbooks I took with me when I went there was Biba's Modern Italian Cooking (1992) --I cooked extensively from it. Biba came from the Emilia-Romagna region of Italy forty years ago. This book, her latest, I believe, is a cook's tour of the varied and rich cuisine of that region. Like her other books, this one is well laid out. The recipes are always easy to follow. The more complicated recipes may take time to make but the results make it worthwhile. Biba's comments on life and eating in the Emilia-Romagna are refreshing. The only caveat: this book is not, and is not intended to be, a compendium of the essential Italian recipes. There are other cookbooks for that. What it offers is a collection that is varied enough in taste and ingredients to satisfy the most exacting home chef. Does that sound like I like it? Well, I do. A lot. It's fun to read and to use in the kitchen.
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