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Hazan, the woman credited with teaching Americans that there's more to Italian cooking than spaghetti and meatballs, models her sixth book on her renowned cooking courses. Thus, as readers progress through this work, they'll feel Hazan's censorious presence as they wonder, for example, if they can skip blanching and proceed directly to sautéing rapini, but they'll learn a lot if they can overlook her occasionally blunt manner ("The unbalanced use of garlic is the single greatest cause of failure in would-be Italian cooking"). Hazan gives loads of practical instructions and dozens of fantastic recipes concentrating on insaporire, the act of developing "the flavor of a single or several ingredients." Indeed, insaporire is the focus of many lessons, whether it's making the perfect Italian broth—subtler than stock, yet elegant and versatile—or matching pasta shapes to sauces. Nearly the first hundred pages consist of information-packed paragraphs deriving from Hazan's classes, where she haughtily but knowingly details techniques and ingredients. Next come the recipes, a tasty array of antipasti, pasta sauces, homemade pasta, fish, meat and vegetables. Throughout, readers will find useful notes—"Marcella Says"—in which the famous teacher gives hands-on advice.
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Hazan, the undisputed queen of classic Italian cooking for an American audience, offers another compilation of recipes that reflects her experience from years of teaching students in both Italy and the U.S. Now resident in Florida, she culls from her students' questions and observations those topics that seem of greatest curiosity. She dissects in great detail the differences in pasta preparation from the north of Italy to its southern climes. Hazan reminds the reader that Italians rarely indulge in desserts, but they do appreciate fruits, especially those creatively marinated in sugar and wine to vary and to enhance their natural flavors. Because she has so thoroughly covered the realm of Italian food in her earlier volumes, this collection of recipes tends to pick around edges. Rapini, Italian bitter broccoli, figures in many of the soups. A rainbow of sweet peppers brightens other soups and appears also in pasta sauces. Hazan relies on the deep, earthy scent of mushrooms slowly reduced for maximum intensity to flavor sheets of the thinnest green noodles. Hazan's many fans will appreciate their mentor's latest batch of inspirations. Mark Knoblauch
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