- Hardcover: 528 pages
- Publisher: Ecco; 1st Printing edition (May 3, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0060734922
- ISBN-13: 978-0060734923
- Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 1.5 x 9.1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 3.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 175 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #57,907 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Molto Italiano: 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home Hardcover – May 3, 2005
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From Publishers Weekly
It takes a kind of genius—or obsessive personality—to open five successful restaurants, host two Food Network shows and write three cookbooks, and Batali's manic energy comes alive on every page of this fourth book devoted to dishes for the home cook. With over 300 recipes, the volume is an overstuffed celebration of the rustic local fare Batali loves, organized by course (antipasto, soup, pasta, fish, etc.). Fans will find repeat renditions of signature Batali dishes found in his earlier volumes, such as Short Ribs in Barolo, and Bucatini all'Amatriciana, but can also discover tantalizing new ones, such as Malloredus with Fennel, Game Hen with Pomegranate, and Lamb Shanks with Orange and Olive. Batali excels when he translates complex traditional dishes for the modern kitchen, such as Pork Loin in the Style of Porchetta. But in his desire to keep things "simple," he sometimes goes astray, as in the case of homemade sausage, which is reduced to two not-very-simple steps of instructions. Such compression threatens to undermine Batali's true passion for teaching Americans to savor the intense flavors of local ingredients simply prepared. All in all, the book tries to pack in too much; the two pasta sections would make a book in themselves. What the home cook really needs is more Mario, fewer recipes. Photos, drawings. (May)
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From the Back Cover
"The trick to cooking is that there is no trick." ––Mario Batali
The only mandatory Italian cookbook for the home cook, Mario Batali's MOLTO ITALIANO is rich in local lore, with Batali's humorous and enthusiastic voice, familiar to those who have come to know him on his popular Food Network programs, larded through about 220 recipes of simple, healthy, seasonal Italian cooking for the American audience.
Easy to use and simple to read, some of these recipes will be those "as seen" on TV in the eight years of "Molto Mario" programs on the Food Network, including those from "Mediterranean Mario," "Mario Eats Italy," and the all–new "Ciao America with Mario Batali." Batali's distinctive voice will provide a historical and cultural perspective with a humorous bent to demystify even the more elaborate dishes as well as showing ways to shorten or simplify everything from the purchasing of good ingredients to pre–production and countdown schedules of holiday meals. Informative head notes will include bits about the provenance of the recipes and the odd historical fact.
Mario Batali's MOLTO ITALIANO will feature ten soups, thirty antipasti (many vegetarian or vegetable based), forty pasta dishes representing many of the twenty–one regions of Italy, twenty fish and shellfish dishes, twenty chicken dishes, twenty pork or lamb dishes and twenty side dishes, each of which can be served as a light meal. Add twenty desserts and a foundation of basic formation recipes and this book will be the only Italian cooking book needed in the home cook's library.
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Mario states that his cooking, and these recipes, are all based on Italian home cooking and repeats his often stated belief that in Italy, no one thinks the best cooking is done in restaurantes. Everyone believes the best cooking is done at their aunt's house or Nonna's house or at the house of the matriarch living down the street above the market. No one goes to a restaurant to get superior meals; they simply go to celebrate so Mama and Nonna don't have to cook. I have been hearing this claim for years on `Molto Mario', and it finally dawned on me the implication this has for all the Italian restaurant cookbooks out there, including Mario's own `Babbo Cookbook'. In strong contrast to cooking in `the F country' where an important difference is made between `haute cuisine' (Paul Bocuse, Joel Robuchon, et al), `cuisine bourgeoisie' ' (Julia Child, Richard Olney) and `cuisine provincial' (Elizabeth David, Patricia Wells), Italy has its regional home cooking and approximations to it done in restaurante, trattoria, osteria, and enotecas.
I am really happy to see this book devoted almost exclusively to RECIPES. There is a five page essay by David Lynch on Italian wines after the introduction and there is a one page list of recommended kitchen equipment at the end of the book (Please add food mill to list, as it is used in the potato gnocchi recipe. This is actually more useful than a potato ricer, as it can do more different things.). There is also two-page list of suppliers at the end of the book, but that's about it. The contents and relative size of the chapters accurately reflects Mario's mantra about the relative importance of various types of food in the Italian cuisine. Meat appears in almost every chapter as the base of a sauce or as a condiment, but it is less important as a main dish. The chapters are:
Antipasto, by far the largest chapter at 106 pages, divided into sections on vegetable, seafood, and meat dishes. This section is so large that this book can easily replace most books specializing in antipasti.
Soup, Rice, and Polenta takes 38 pages with 29 recipes, including all the most familiar dishes such as Roman egg drop soup, Tuscan cabbage and bean soup, saffron risotto, and polenta with clams.
Dried Pasta gets 24 pages with 20 recipes. For me, the most important recipe here is Mario's version of spaghetti alla carbonara, wherein he does not break the egg yolks, but leaves that to the diner to enhance the sauce by breaking the yolks. I learned this dish on `Molto Mario', and have been frustrated at everyone else's recipe which whips the yolks together with the white before mixing with the pasta.
Fresh Pasta chapter is over twice as long with 34 recipes, including a basic pasta dough and several gnocchi recipes. As Mario did his apprenticeship in Emilia-Romagna, where fresh pasta is much more common than the southern dry pasta, this is understandable.
Fish is understandably a major chapter at 48 pages and 31 recipes, including calamari, shrimp, crabs, snails, sardines, bass, sole, snapper, mullet, salt cod, monkfish, eel, tuna, swordfish, and mackerel.
Fowl is slightly smaller at 38 pages and 27 recipes with 10 chicken, 6 turkey, 5 duck, and 6 game bird recipes. This includes some classics such as hunter's style chicken and turkey meatballs.
Meat occupies a sizable chapter, at 54 pages and 40 recipes, including several of my favorites such as veal Marsala, sausage and broccoli rabe, stuffed meat loaf, and two recipes for calves liver. Yum.
Vegetables also get an appropriately sizable chapter with 34 pages and 34 recipes, including some with Mario's favorite ingredient, Guanciale (Note: Dean and Delucca in Greenwich Village carries Guanciale).
Sweets are in the last chapter of 42 pages and 32 recipes with items from the Austrian influenced Alps to Sicily. Mario goes so far as to recant his claim that Italians do not eat many sweets, revising his story to say that they don't eat many sweets at the end of big meals. Instead, they pack away the sugar with nibbles throughout the day.
Lots of familiar Italian dishes such as frittatas are here, but Mario doesn't waste precious room on bread that has been covered so well in other books.
While Mario gives the Italian name for each and every recipe, the recipe names in the various section tables of contents are all in English. Even those names which have become well known such as `cacciatore' are given as `hunter's style'. Italian is reserved for the recipes' subtitles. This makes the book especially good for first timers to Italian cuisine.
The recent book to which Mario's work is most closely comparable is Michele Scicolone's `1000 Italian Recipes'. I compared several recipes in the two books and, for various reasons almost always preferred Mario's version. In the veal Marsala, for example, Mario sautés in olive oil and uses butter as a final flavoring rather than sauteeing in hot butter. Both more practical and more authentic. In the potato gnocchi recipe, Mario gives much more delicate instructions for combining the riced potato, flour, and egg. Mario also starts off with less flour per potato, leaving the finishing amount of flour to the discretion of the cook.
This is my new first choice among Italian cookbooks for non-foodies. The recipes are all relatively simple, but with no compromises. For Mario fans, put this under your pillow at night. Very Highly Recommended.