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Mario Batali Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages [Hardcover]

Mario Batali
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
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Hardcover, Sept. 29 1998 CDN $27.59  

Book Description

Sept. 29 1998
Perfectly pristine ingredients, combined sensibly and cooked properly, are the unmistakable hallmarks of the best Italian food. Chef Mario Batali, known to fans far and wide as "Molto Mario" from his appearances on television's Food Network and as chef of New York's much-loved Pó restaurant, has elevated these simple principles to fine art, creating innovative new fare that pays tribute to traditional Italian home cooking in a distinctly modern way. Now, for the first time, more than 200 of his irresistible recipes for fresh pastas, sprightly salads, grilled dishes, savory ragus, and many others are gathered in Simple Italian Food, a celebration of the flavors and spirit of Italy.
Mario draws inspiration for his distinctive dishes from the two "villages" that have left their stamps on his cuisine: Borgo Capanne, the tiny hillside village in Northern Italy where he lived and cooked for several years, and New York's Greenwich Village, where he has ready access to bountiful produce and outstanding artisan-made products; his full-flavored, smartly presented fare combines the best of both worlds. Chapters covering antipasti, pasta and risotto, fish, meat and poultry, contorni (side dishes), and cheese and sweets offer classic dishes such as Baked Lasagne with Asparagus and Pesto and pork loin cooked in caramelized onions and milk alongside Batali's own enticing improvisations--Penne with Spicy Goat Cheese and Hazelnut Pesto or Tuna Carpaccio with Cucumbers, Sweet Potatoes, and Saffron Vinaigrette. And because his recipes succeed on the strength of their ingredients rather than on virtuoso techniques, home cooks can easily duplicate the clear, clean flavors and lively presentations that are Mario's signature. Thirty-two pages of color photographs showcase Chef Batali's colorful and approachable recipes.
Traditionalists as well as those who thrill to the new will want to make dozens of these crowd-pleasing dishes a permanent part of their repertoire and embrace Mario Batali'sphilosophy of Simple Italian Food.

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Sure to excite lovers of the best Italian cooking, Mario Batali Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages reenvisions classic home cucina with enticing results. Batali, known to fans as "Molto Mario" from his Television Food Network shows, and as chef-owner of Manhattan's much-loved Po and Babbo restaurants, presents nearly 250 of his favorite recipes, traditional and innovative, for delectable salads, pastas, grilled specialties, ragus, and desserts, among others. The collection, inspired by the cooking of Borgo Cappene, a hillside village in northern Italy, and Greenwich Village, where Batali culls exemplary ingredients for his restaurants, reflects Batali's commitment to simple cooking--impeccable ingredients sensibly combined and properly prepared. Cooks seeking deeply flavored, smartly presented dishes will embrace Batali's recipes for everyday meals and for entertaining.

Arranged by courses, antipasti through formaggi and dolci (cheese and sweets), the uncomplicated dishes include White Bean Bruschetta with Grilled Radicchio Salad, Baked Lasagna with Asparagus and Pesto, and Roasted Porgy with Peas, Garlic, Scallions and Mint. Gorgonzola with Spiced Walnuts and Port Wine Syrup with fresh fruit would make a lovely conclusion to any dinner. Throughout, Batali provides advice on dish preparation; there are 32 pages of color photos and dozens of black-and-white shots of life in Batali's two villages. Batali's reliance on the best ingredients simply prepared, rather than on fussy restaurant techniques, places his dishes squarely in the realm of home cooks. They'll find his book a keeper. --Arthur Boehm

From Booklist

New Yorkers have long appreciated Batali's Po Restaurant, and fans of his cable television cooking show have come to respect his no-nonsense approach to teaching classic Italian cooking. Batali emphasizes the essentials of regional Italian cooking, carefully noting the similarities and differences as one travels from one ancient province to another. His pasta dishes come in true Italian style, heavy on the pasta itself, light on the sauce. Seafoods shine as main courses, and Batali's insistence that the famed fish stew cioppino actually originated in Liguria will no doubt offend San Franciscans, who have long claimed it as their own. Meat dishes waste nothing and make efficient use of all parts of the animals, including organs and feet. Although many of the vegetable dishes have some meat garnishes, there are plenty of recipes that will satisfy pure vegetarians, too. Mark Knoblauch

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine book, but read the intro before buying Dec 31 2003
Far too many people look at the title "Simple Italian Food" and think that the book is going to include tons of 30 minute recipes for everyday Italian cooking.
Anyone who has watched Batali's show, or anyone who reads the introduction to this book will find out that what he is referring to is the use of a few, excellent ingredients in each dish, as opposed to a long list of ingredients that will require one whole cart at the grocery store to carry. Most of the recipes require 6 or 7 ingredients, tops. Some are exotic (most have easy substitutes), yet one of Batali's primary but often-missed points is that the kind of ingredient isn't important, but its quality. I'm surprised by how few a number of people took this concept away from the book.
The recipes turn out delicious. They can be intensive at times, particularly the pasta dishes. Most of the meat dishes also require long periods of braising. Few of the dishes are quick-prepares. THAT'S FINE IF THAT IS WHAT YOU ARE LOOKING FOR.
So look through the book a little bit before buying and determine if this is what you are expecting. If so, you'll likely enjoy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Professional Chef and Successful Communicator Jan. 19 2004
I find it hard to be entirely objective about this book, as Mario Batali is my number one culinary hero. Through his show 'Molto Mario' on the Food Network, he exposed me for the first time to Italian regional and microregional cuisines and the 'if it grows together, it goes together' doctrine. This is called 'terroir by the fans of cooking from 'the F country', which Mario loves to hate. This also brought into full light the doctrine of 'buy the very best of what is fresh today and that will determine what you cook tonight.' Mario does not give you the cerebral approach of someone like Paul Bertolli or Tom Colicchio or, ultimately, like Thomas Keller, but Mario gets all the important stuff right, in a way we can appreciate and use.
I love the way Mario quite honestly confesses to having lifted most of his recipes from Italian grandmothers, as he believes that the best Italian cooking is done in the home and not in the Restaurante. In spite of his heart being with Italian cuisine, he is never disrespectful of American food and produce, especially when the American product is superior to the Italian.
This book is comprised of recipes primarily from the extended three-year stage he served in a little trattoria in Emilia-Romagna, a stones throw from the border with Toscana. But, it does contain several recipes from other parts of Emilia-Romagna, Toscana, Lazio (Rome) and even Sicily. His two 'villages' are Porretta Terme in Italy and Greenwich Village in Manhattan.
The book has six chapters of recipes, these being:
Antipasti, 43 recipes including crostini, bruschetta, polenta, pickled vegetables, mushrooms, and cured fish.
Primi (pasta or rice), 49 recipes including recipes for fresh pastas, gnocchi, couscous, and risottos.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars simple recipes with hard-to-find ingredients July 19 1999
By A Customer
I agree with the reader from Minnesota. I purchased this cookbook because of a favorable review, but have not been able to find many of the ingredients.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
I bought this book, based on how easy it sounded to make a few dishes, on Martha Stewarts TV show. After I got the book, I found that most receipes called for some very hard to find ingredients. I am giving the book to my daughter who works downtown, & may stand a better chance of finding the necessary ingredients at the "specialty" shops located in most downtowns. I think there should be an advisory about the fact that there may be some difficulty in gathering the various needs of some receipes.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
My husband and I love to cook, we watch the Food Network all the time. We love to try interesting food. If you have limited space in your kitchen, don't pick this one. Many of the recipes are the "once a year" type requiring too many unique ingredients. We've used the Emeril's and Naked Chef many more times, weekly. We're hoping that one of the other Mario cookbooks is a little less limiting in ingredients.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Better for experienced cooks June 14 2003
Despite the inference of the title that the recipes contained in this book are "simple", I think that you really have to understand that in Mario Batali's world, these recipes are indeed simple and the dishes he is preparing are considered rustic country cuisine. For the average home cook, I thing the word that "simple" means food that doesn't take a couple of hours to prepare or require you to order ingredients on the internet from specialty stores because you can't find them anywhere. Not all of us live in New York where Italian groceries abound.I like watching Mario's shows on Food TV but let's face it, he is NOT making simple food. Yes, pasta is "simple" but not when you make it from scratch yourselfwith specialty flour. Rachael Ray or Sara Moulton make simple food, not Mario. That said, this book does have some good points. It is very nicely presented and lovely to look at. The food does look delicious and if I get real adventurous someday, I might try a few. If you are looking for a basic Italian cookbook to make simple lasagne or manicotti, do not buy this book.
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Most recent customer reviews
2.0 out of 5 stars Mario the Italian Wanna Be
If you never grew up on Italian food or if you are not a Italian born, there's no way one can regognize the true authentic flavors of real Italian food. Read more
Published on June 5 2004 by Michael Scarp
2.0 out of 5 stars Sophisticated Useless Dishes
Sure, Mario B. can make exotic fancy rare finds that can be prepared into what one might call: Italian Dishes. My question is, what Italian makes these dishes? Read more
Published on June 4 2004 by Michael Scarp
2.0 out of 5 stars Sophisticated Useless Dishes
Sure, Mario B. can make exotic fancy rare finds that can be prepared into what one might call: Italian Dishes. My question is, what Italian makes these dishes? Read more
Published on June 4 2004 by Michael Scarp
4.0 out of 5 stars Lidia's Italian Kitchen
What recipes that I used are very good. I did find that they are not work intensive. I have watched Lidia's TV program and find it very instructional.
Published on Aug. 16 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Great recipes, great ideas
I've begun working my way through this cookbook and I've been extremely happy with the results of every recipe I've tried. Read more
Published on May 5 2003 by Cynthia S. Froning
5.0 out of 5 stars Must have cook book.
I'm a bit of a loss to read the less than stellar reviews of this book by Mario Batali. Yes, Mario uses some not-so-common ingredients... Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2003 by Frank D. Greco
3.0 out of 5 stars Basic Pasta Dough Problem
My husband and I love Mario's recipes. And we purchased his "Simple Italian Food' recipe book. Read more
Published on Sept. 6 2002 by kris
4.0 out of 5 stars Ingredients hard to find? That's missing the point.
I think the reviewers who say that some of the ingredients are hard to find are missing the point. One of the themes of this book, which Batali also mentions almost daily on his... Read more
Published on April 30 2002 by JP
5.0 out of 5 stars The recipies WORK
tasty and do-able--I can't imagine a kitchen without this book
Published on April 24 2002
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