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Twelve: A Tuscan Cook Book Paperback – January 1, 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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100 Books for a Lifetime of Eating & Drinking
100 Books for a Lifetime of Eating & Drinking
 If you want to make an authentic tagine, bake mouth-watering cakes, or vicariously experience the life of a chef, you’ll find the book for it on this list.
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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Tessa Kiros has opened gourmet restaurants in Sydney, Athens, and Mexico, and cooked at London's famous Groucho Club. She currently lives in Tuscany and is also the author of Falling Cloudberries: Bk.2.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


This book is about ingredients and what I have seen people here do with them, and its about the joy brought by each month with its new ingredients. It is about Tuscany, and even though all the dishes in the book are not Tuscan in origin they are all eaten here. Most of the recipes, however, have them roots firmly embedded in Tuscan soil. Year after year, as the months and ingredients change, so does the family table.

The trattorias serve what seasonal goods their suppliers offer and generally don't rely on expensive, out-of-season produce. People are accustomed to accepting the gifts that their surroundings offer. I once asked a local what he did when he wanted strawberries in December and he looked genuinely puzzled. His reply finally was that he wouldn't, because strawberries come in May. What is assumed by the homecook is supported by medical science it seems. A pediatrician suggested simply serving what the month has to offer as, she maintained, nature has taken care of us during the different seasons of the year. The earth gives as we need -- oranges and their vitamin C come in winter and refreshing watermelons arrive in August.

Ingredients vary -- not just seasonally but monthly -- and sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. This is reflected on the canvas that is the Tuscan countryside. Each month that passes I notice a change in the land, a change in ingredients -- from the young green of a tiny, new bud to a more insipid shade of hill brown. People are involved with their surroundings here, and respect them for what they have to give; many seem to choose a vegetable patch over a flower garden. The so-called peasants lovingly sow and reap all year -- and naturally reap most in the summer months, when there is abundance. From that abundance, preserves are made, and the flavors of June may be recalled in December. The generosity of summer eventually wanes, out there are the vegetables that last a long time -- potatoes, pumpkin and onions -- and these are used deep into the months that render nothing. Some products are ever-present, such as carrots, celery, sage and rosemary, and they form the oasis of most stews and casserole dishes that might appear at any time. Although the land provides great variety in fruit and vegetables, Tuscany s not a land of vegetarians, and to the bounty of the earth are added the catch off its seacoast and the annual hunts in the woodlands.

My aim in writing this book has been to share some of the delights that have been part of my life here. More than an informative guide, it outlines the basic goings-on taking place on stovetops in a place whose culinary fame is steadfastly rooted amongst the hills and within tradition.

First amongst the list of things I have appreciated is the quality of ingredients: an apparently ordinary piece of meat, grilled and transformed by lashings of olive oil; the apricot eaten off the tree after lunch; the gorgeous artichoke dipped in lemon juice and luminous green olive oil, and the tomatoes bursting with summer. The sensibility in knowing what to do with good ingredients is a strong point in Tuscan cuisine, such as the acuity to deliciously vary the final taste with a change in the basic ingredient or addition of a new one at the last moment.

Hopefully as the reader, and especially a kitchen reader with the book propped up on the kitchen counter and surrounded by beautiful ingredients, you will come to appreciate all this on your own. Throughout the months of the year you will find the ingredients of Tuscany just as they became available to the Tuscans. In each month there are recipes for all the courses of an Italian meal -- though as you will see in "The Italan meal", even an Italian doesn't eat all the courses all the time. In the spirit of beginning well, "The store cupboard" gives tips on filling your pantry with the right type of basic ingredients that are at the heart of these recipes, and the "Basics" section provides preparation instructions and recipes that Tuscan homecooks will have learned at their parents' and grandparents' side. Although it is my belief that with good ingredients anyone can cook a good Tuscan meal, I recognize that not everyone lives in Tuscany and so I have occasionally given alternatives for those harder-to-find ingredients. The rest, I trust you will shift, find, improvise and add to suit your personal space and marketplace.

My story begins in January.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Whitecap Books Ltd. (January 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1552857328
  • ISBN-13: 978-1552857328
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.5 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #843,379 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By John Matlock on April 29, 2006
Format: Paperback
The title of this book, 'Twelve' comes from the twelve months of the year. In the cold months of winter warm heavy soups seem a lot more reasonable than they do in the warm days of August. Ms. Kiros uses this concept to describe what she recommend during each of the twelve months.

She is very tuned in to what becomes available during the month; in April strawberries arrive and their slightly astringent qualities are said to help drive away the winter-accumulated toxins. April is also the month when artichokes show up at the market. In the month of April she cooks with a view to what is avaiable, and what just seems to be proper for the month.

Ms. Kiros, daughter of a Finnish mother and a Greek father traveled around the world learning cooking styles. Then after marriage she settled in Tuscany, norther Italy, and began to study the regional favorites. This book is the result. It is a large book, profusely illustrated and introduces a lot of unusual recipes. It's not hard to find something for your next dinner party.
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Format: Hardcover
I love this cookbook and not just because I met the author at a cooking school in Siena. It is beautifully written, striking photography and a great format. Set up to showcase what is fresh each of the 12 months of the year. Most of the recipes are fairly simple and ingredients available. All of my friends that went to the school bought the book also. We have all tried many recipes from it. Some were dishes we made in class. The Cantuccini are my all time favorite & have become an expected Christmas gift every year from me. A truely wonderful cookbook.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I love, love, love how the chapters in this book are by month and season. If you try and cook like this for a while, you'll feel different about the food you eat. It conjures up a feeling of being connected to the land again, and the particular area where you live.

I've ordered this book from here because it's currently out of print in England, and I SO wanted this one. I already own three other books by Tessa Kiros and just love them - Greece, Venice, and Portugal.

Tessa is quite a reliable recipe writer. Her food turns out well: there are no omissions from the ingredient lists, the quantities are accurate, and her instructions are spot on and usually quite elaborate though here in Twelve she often times uses the more leisurely Italian style cooking instructions, especially for grilling. It's not always the best way of doing it. When you got no experience you'd wish she gave you at least a rough estimate how long it takes to grill meat from raw to medium. But I managed, in some mysterious ways. I hope you will, too.

The photography is simply stunning. Every picture of the landscape seems to catapult me straight into Tuscany when I look at it for a bit. Then I look out the window fully expecting to see the rolling hills and pine trees. There aren't any where I live. Manos put a lot into those pictures, for us to feast on them. Every time I open the book I go on a journey, without the travelogues. They aren't needed. The pictures say it all.

I wish that there were pictures of every dish included, because those that are (and there are many!) just make me want to cook the dish. I love almost everything about this book.

There are only a few things I was not so happy to find:

There are a few typos in the book.
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Format: Paperback
While staying in a villa for a month I found this wonderful book in the owners cookbook collection. As I leafed through the pages, with descriptions of food and the seasons I was captivated by Tessa Kiras' ability to marry the seasons and the foods into a feast. Even if you are not a passionate cook, you will be coaxed into trying these easy, simple recipes. To travel once again to the beautiful Tuscan region I need only open my book and I am savoring the sights and tastes of Italy. Try Twelve for yourself or gift a friend, you'll love it from cover to cover. Joy Galloway
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Format: Hardcover
I recently purchased this book, although I already own several Italian cookbooks and promised myself that I would not not another! I am so pleased I did. The book is simply beautiful. I am not usually into 'pretty' cookbooks, just give me the recipes with no fuss. But this one is just lovely, and the pictures do not take away from the recipes. The recipes are great and I would probably make most of them. So, it is functional as well as good looking. Other reviewers have described the dishes so I won't do it again, however, I would say that they are quite varied throughout each chapter. Some Italian cookbooks tend to repeat the same ingredients in different quantities and call it a new name. Not this one, it is all different. The seasons are for the Northern hemisphere, but that is OK - I just have to get used to making December recipes in June! So - if you are considering buying 'another' Italian cookbook - get this one, you will not be disappointed.
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Format: Paperback
As someone with a large collection of cookbooks I have to say this is probably my favourite single book of the last 2-3 years. The concept is simple - divide the book up by the months of the year and provide simple practical recipes and commentary. I've cooked quite a number of the dishes and have found them straightforward, not overly fussy and great results. So far (fingers crossed) no disasters. The beauty of this book is that it is based on tried and trusted food from a wonderful established cuisine. I've given copies of this to several friends and family members they only regret being that I lose the secret of the wonderful dishes they liked so much :-)
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