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Ciao Italia Pronto!: 30-Minute Recipes from an Italian Kitchen Hardcover – September 22, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
After writing seven Italian cookbooks, Esposito, host of the PBS series Ciao Italia (now in its 15th season), has successfully devoted one to cooks who are time-pressed but still want to enjoy authentic Italian flavors. It covers antipasti, pasta, sauces, meats, sides, pizzas and desserts, with bolstering chapters on time-saving techniques (e.g., using leftovers effectively), stocking ingredients for the "pronto pantry" and planning menus for various occasions (most of Esposito's recipes are impressive enough for entertaining). Grilled Pork Tenderloin with Orange Marmalade Sauce manages to capture a roasted-all-day taste in 20 minutes, and would make a lovely meal when accompanied by one of Esposito's several appetizing salads. Making a large batch of the Tomato Sauce and freezing it—a favorite activity of Italian-American home cooks—proves worthwhile as it is a frequent ingredient in numerous recipes, including Lazy Lasagna, and Layered Eggplant and Zucchini Casserole. Italian food is by nature simple, and Esposito's everyday fare perfectly exemplifies that minimalism. 8-page color photo insert. (Oct.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Cooks pressed for time will love Esposito's newest volume. Here she focuses on dishes that take less than half an hour to get to the table. For a super quick appetizer, Esposito stuffs dates with Parmesan cheese and nuts. Frozen prepared puff pastry makes possible tartlets filled with cheese and bits of ham. A host of pasta dishes can all be prepared very quickly. Bucatini all'Amatriciana needs only a few minutes on the stove, and any pasta with pesto needs no cooking save for the pasta itself. Esposito even constructs a speedy "lazy lasagna" using no-boil noodles. Quickly sauteed fish pick up flavor and texture from cheese and almond coating. Neapolitan Potato Pie moves quickly to table if one has some leftover mashed potatoes on hand. Store-bought bread dough makes short work of both pizzas and calzones. A food processor expedites anise cookies for a homemade dessert. As with other cookbooks promising fast-prepared food, this book assumes that one maintains a wide range of Italian foods in one's pantry and refrigerator. Mark Knoblauch
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Some ingredients called for are a little hard to find. Still a good book
Italian food? Check! Thirty minute meals? Check! Sounds like just the thing to make a nice meal and still have some time between getting home from work and bedtime. That would be a false assumption.
American kitchens are certainly more sophisticated since the days when Chef-Boy-Ar-Dee owned the Italian cooking franchise. However, many of the ingredients called for in these recipes are still on the exotic side in my corner grocery. Sure, we have farmers markets, Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, even an Italian specialty market or two but, if I have to fight traffic gridlock after work to go destination shopping for ingredients, it defeats the purpose of the Thirty Minute meal. The author recognizes this problem and provides a four page directory of mail order houses to obtain some of the required ingredients. This immediately makes about 40 percent of these recipes more trouble than they're worth.
If you do manage to find the ingredients, know that these recipes are neither simple, nor fast.
The recipe for "Lazy Lasagne" requires eight ingredients, and bakes for 30-35 minutes. That's cooking time only, and does NOT include prep time. Oh, and the tomato sauce for the lasagne is a recipe on a separate page. The sauce requires an additional eight ingredients and 20 minutes of cooking time.
Another main dish, "Fresh Tuna with Artichoke, Capers and Chickpeas," requires 12 ingredient and we're advised to make it early in the day, or a day ahead.
Some of the dishes are unfamiliar and pictures of the prepared food would have been a big help. There are only eight full page color pictures located in the center of the book, one appetizer, one soup, two main dishes, two salads, and two desserts.
If you're interested in this book for quick, convenient recipes, look elsewhere. This is far more complicated and time consuming than the advertised "....30 Minute Recipes from an Italian Kitchen." Not recommended.