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Rustic Italian Food [Hardcover]

Marc Vetri , David Joachim , Mario Batali

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Book Description

Nov. 1 2011

Slow-cooked meats, homemade breads, flavorful pastas...these are the traditional comfort-food classics that Italians have been roasting, baking, curing, and making in their own kitchens for generations--dishes that people actually want to cook and eat. In Rustic Italian Food, acclaimed Philadelphia chef Marc Vetri celebrates the handcrafted cuisine of Italy, advocating a hands-on, back-to-the-basics approach to cooking. Home cooks of every skill level will revel in the 120 recipes, such as sweet Fig and Chestnut Bread, rich Spinach and Ricotta Gnocchi, savory Slow-Roasted Lamb Shoulder, and fragrant Apple Fritters. Rustic Italian Food is also an education in kitchen fundamentals, with detailed, step-by-step instructions for making terrines, dry-cured salami, and cooked sausage; a thorough guide to bread and pasta making; and a primer on classic Italian preserves and sauces. Much more than just a collection of recipes, in this book Marc Vetri connects us directly to the essence of Italian food.

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“Vetri is not only a chef but a home cook. He is a veteran cookbook writer and old soul who thrives on thoroughness and detail. But above all Vetri is a mensch, generous and kind and full of life, and he brings that to every page.”
Gabrielle Hamilton, chef and author of Blood, Bones & Butter

“Philadelphia's Marc Vetri will unapologetically teach you the way Italian food has been made for centuries, but in doing so will apply modern sensibilities that make his food the favorite of chefs around the country … Not sure about making your own pasta? Start with the spinach and ricotta gnudi. They're simple and as sexy as they sound, assuming you know that the ‘g’ is silent.”
—St. Petersburg Times, 12/14/11

“Marc Vetri's rustic food is very family friendly, big on flavor, with detailed recipes that will make you want to cook.”
—Ideas in Food, 12/13/11

“This is a precision how-to book for a much broader range of foodstuffs – from great rustic breads to delicious mostardas and even homemade charcuterie … Rustic Italian Food demonstrates compellingly that good cooking is not about bling but about simplicity, understanding, and feeling.”
—The Austin Chronicle, 12/9/11

“These recipes prove why [Marc Vetri’s] restaurants are so successful.”
—Detroit News, 12/8/11

“Sometimes you just want rustic, and Italian rustic to me seems compelling … This is a primer on all things Italian food with detailed, step-by-step instructions for making terrines, dry-cured salami, cooked sausage, bread, pasta and classic Italian preserves and sauces - traditional comfort that Italians have been dishing in their kitchens for generations.” 
Ottawa Citizen, 11/23/11

“As a grown-up, I've never tried to make fresh pasta; the prospect seemed so daunting and time-consuming, with messy volcanoes of flour and eggs and a thousand esoteric contraptions. Rustic Italian Food, homeboy Marc Vetri's handsome new cookbook, proved me wrong.”
Philadelphia City Paper, 11/17/11

“This book is good like that, building foundations home cooks can expand upon. The pages feel heavy in hand, like well-rested pizza dough, and are layered with solid information that helps you understand why, for example, you should use a honey starter in one bread recipe versus a sourdough starter in another, or why some pasta doughs call for eggs and others don't.”
Philadelphia City Paper, 11/17/11

“Some of the book's most significant tidbits are not in the ingredient lists, but in the chapter introductions and cooking instructions. You might never make lamb mortadella, but reading about the process, in Vetri's approachable, engaging description, is captivating, in the same way people who have never turned on a stove watch Food Network cooking shows for hours.”
—Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/9/11
“Rustic Italian Food … [is] a multifaceted experience: It's part reference (see chapters on meat curing and paragraphs on oils and cheese); part culinary philosophy (his opinion of molecular cooking and absentminded line cooks), part travelogue (like his laugh-out-loud search for the perfect Parisian baguette), part expert cookbook (homemade pastas, breadmaking, spit-roasting a pig), and part novice cookbook (some recipes, like the spinach gnudi, marinara, and salads, are downright Rachael Ray simple).”
—Philadelphia Inquirer, 11/9/11
“Vetri is the real deal: a philanthropic, guitar-playing, accomplished, brilliantly modest chef who owns three restaurants, has two cookbooks, runs a million dollar foundation, and by happenstance embodies the "six perfections" that a Bodhisattva must generate -- hence the title of this piece. These are: generosity, ethics, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom.”
The Huffington Post, 10/11/11

“Much more than just a collection of recipes, in this book Marc Vetri connects us directly to the essence of Italian food. . . . Vetri knows Italian food and we're excited to see what he has to teach. The cover alone makes us want to take a bite out of the book.”
The Huffington Post, 8/25/11

“Marc Vetri cooks the best Italian food in America. Now he shares his secrets with all of us. Get ready for gutsy flavors, silky pasta dishes, and your friends and family running to the table for meal after meal.” 
—BOBBY FLAY, chef and restaurateur of Mesa Grill and Bar Americain
“There are few, if any, chefs in America I would rather have cook for me. [Vetri is] a true magician of Italian cuisine who relies on fantastic ingredients and impeccable technique to create his rustic yet sophisticated food. I am going to run, not walk, to get this book should, too, because these recipes will take your breath away.”
—MICHAEL SYMON, chef and author of Michael Symon’s Live to Cook
“Marc Vetri has grasped an elementary but elusive truth: good cooking isn’t about obscure ingredients or technical razzle-dazzle, and it certainly isn’t about recipes. It’s about understanding food--thinking about it intelligently and feeling it. Vetri’s passion is for the elegantly straightforward cuisines of Italy and Italian-accented America, and in Rustic Italian Food he gives us plenty to chew on in this regard. Anyone who digests this volume will end up not just a better Italian cook but a better cook, period.”
—COLMAN ANDREWS, co-founder of Saveur and editorial director of
In Rustic Italian Food, Marc Vetri has captured, with his unique style and deliciousness, the essence of Italian flavors, kitchen fundamentals, and techniques. In this book, Marc has collected an abundance of recipes featuring traditional rustic Italian food. Each enticing chapter is prefaced with a sort of mini class on the subject, and then followed by an array of both comprehensive and easily executable recipes. This is surely a book you will want to add to your kitchen library.”
—LIDIA BASTIANICH, restaurateur and author of Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy
“Marc’s love affair with food is obvious. His simple hands-on approach is refreshing; he is a true craftsman. Simply put, Marc is the best Italian cook working in America today.”
—TOM COLICCHIO, chef/owner of Craft Restaurants

About the Author

Trained in Bergamo, Italy, by some of the region’s most noted chefs, Marc Vetri is the chef/owner of Vetri Ristorante, Osteria, Amis, and the forthcoming Alla Spina, all located in Philadelphia. Vetri was named one of Food & Wine’s Ten Best New Chefs and received the Philadelphia Inquirer’s highest restaurant rating; he also won the James Beard Award for Best Chef Mid-Atlantic. Vetri has been profiled in Gourmet, Bon Appétit, the Philadelphia Inquirer, and the New York Times. Visit his restaurants online at:
David Joachim has authored, edited, or collaborated on more than thirty-five cookbooks, including the IACP award-winning The Food Substitutions Bible and the New York Times bestsellers A Man, a Can, a Grill and Mastering the Grill, co-authored with Andrew Schloss. He lives in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Visit David at:

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 3.8 out of 5 stars  27 reviews
40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars If you like the Olive Garden, don't buy this book! Nov. 14 2011
By DMH - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
What is your favorite Italian dish? If you said "Fettucine Alfredo" then you need to find another book. Here, you won't find 30 variations of pasta tossed with your favorite jarred sauce or be encouraged to use $4.99 off-the-grocery-store-shelf Balsamic vinegar. Instead, chef Vetri gives readers basic instruction and lays out the tools and techniques they need to really get into making traditional Italian food. I won't even call it "cuisine," because in many Americans' mind it immediately conjures images of fussy, refined, overly pretty art on a plate that one isn't sure if he is supposed to eat it or admire it from a distance. This is the real deal. If you make these recipes correctly you WILL end up with flour all over your kitchen, raw meat scraps on the cutting board and counter, and probably a bit of spilled olive oil or kosher salt here and there. It's going to take a lot of work, but if you're like me and live in an area without access to high-end Italian restaurants or products then you need this book. If you tell people that you enjoy Italian food, but you really mean that you love thick-crust pepperoni pizza and grocery store garlic bread, then skip this book and search out one from Rachel Ray instead.

The one minor drawback is in the text. It appears that Vetri has taken the Anthony Bourdain route and scattered f-bombs and other innuendo throughout the pages. I don't mind that kind of talk when I'm at the local watering hole with my buddies, but when you're equating fried cheese with sex I can't help but think it's only for shock value.
46 of 57 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars David Joachim really means rustic Nov. 18 2011
By Sara Powell - Published on
I've had my eye on this book since before it was released, and I was terribly excited when it was finally available. Imagine my surprise when I saw a copy at my local used book store only a couple of days after release! I quickly snatched it up and started flipping through it, and then I realized why it was already there. David Joachim isn't kidding when he says rustic.

Many of the recipes in the book take considerable amounts of time to complete. And I'm not talking about 6-8 hours. I'm talking about DAYS. I'm perfectly willing to spend a lot of time working on a recipe, but one that takes several days to complete starts wearing me down. Many cookbooks from professional chefs will have a couple of these type of recipes as a kind of challenge, but the rest of the book will be dishes that are a little less time-intensive. Unfortunately, most of the recipes in this book will require a lot of commitment. Some examples: spit-roasted suckling pig, home-cured salamis, homemade bread using homemade starters (you can't even make the bread until the starter has been bubbling in your fridge for a week), and homemade pasta that must be dried for several days.

It's not that these recipes are necessarily bad ideas, it's just that many people don't have the time to devote to this kind of cooking anymore. I certainly don't. I still like to spend a Saturday making a fabulous dinner for family or friends, but I don't have the time to make a batch of preserves and can them. That makes the book much less usable in my view. And that's not even touching on the subject of all the special equipment you would need to accomplish these recipes, given the time (do you have a pig spit in your backyard?).

If you have plenty of time to spend nursing some sourdough starter and hanging salamis in your garage, this is an excellent find. The recipes certainly take advantage of good ingredients and bring out the best in each dish. But if you're like me, and your "fun" cooking is pretty much relegated to the weekends, you may want to pass. Although with all of the beautiful pictures, this a book that would look nice on the coffee table.
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Recipes are just plain incorrect. Dec 8 2011
By bookie - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was really quite eager to purchase this book as a Philadelphian who loves his restaurant Osteria. But I must warn everyone that these bread and pizza dough and pastry recipes are completely wrong. It's as though it got through to printing without being proofed. I am a baker so I noticed the errors immediately and tweeted Vetri about them. He acknowledged that there are several errors and will be fixed for the next printing. Yeah, great. How about all the bucks we put out for these bad recipes. Soooo dissapointed. Save your money and buy Mozza. Terrific book.
13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it! Nov. 24 2011
By CGP - Published on
Sometimes the ingredient list for a recipe can seem never ending. After you go to the store, you end up forking over a lot of money for one dish! However, Vetri's new book Rustic Italian Food contains an abundance of dishes that are easy and cheap to make. If you love food and cooking in your home, then this is a MUST read. Vetri covers all the bases for Italian cooking in the home. He uses simple ingredients that we can all find at our local supermarket. Instead of masking the flavor of a great piece of meat or a vegetable, he enhances that flavor with these recipes. There are more adventurous recipes, of course, including recipes on how to make bread and pasta. I'm not that advanced, but the book is wonderful for someone who is. I've tried four savory recipes so far, and they have all turned out fantastic.
The other reason why I fell in love with Rustic Italian Food is because it offers some amazing dessert recipes! One of the best dessert recipes in the book is the rice pudding. It's creamy and sweet without being overly sugary. There are so many options here. You can find something that everyone will enjoy.
Lastly, I loved the personal notes Vetri added throughout the cookbook. He gives suggestions with each recipe, and sometimes there is a personal story. Maybe I just like this because I'm a girl, but I think it's nice to hear someone's background. He shares stories of making pasta with his children on Sunday mornings. That makes this book not only a source of wonderful recipes, but also a story of how Vetri connects with his food. I'd say this is a great book for everyone, from your typical at home chef to the pros. Everyone keeps saying it, and Vetri makes it true. Simple is better!
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great for Cooking, Baking not so much March 3 2012
By M. Dali - Published on
I would have given the book 5 stars, the actually 'cooking' recipes are wonderful as are the photos, just great. The Veal Breast al Latte is Killer!

BUT! The bread baking recipes are way off. It's like no one actually tested them prior to print. Or perhaps the conversions from grams to U.S. standards went wrong? I was majorly dissapointed after having invested time into making homemade bread, specifically using the natural sourdough starter.

Now, I can cook, but I am not a baker. With 'cooking' recipes I can mess with the ingredients, make it my own, etc. With baking, I know better and follow directions to a T. And I can tell you they are wrong. So if you are learning to bake bread, this is not the book for you. I think I will seek out an Alton Brown book for bread making (if it exists) as he seems to be really precise and scientific with his recipies, key for bread making.

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