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The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen [Hardcover]

Frances Mayes , Edward Mayes
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
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Book Description

March 13 2012
“Tuscan food tastes like itself. Ingredients are left to shine. . . . So, if on your visit, I hand you an apron, your work will be easy. We’ll start with primo ingredients, a little flurry of activity, perhaps a glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and soon we’ll be carrying platters out the door. We’ll have as much fun setting the table as we have in the kitchen. Four double doors along the front of the house open to the outside—so handy for serving at a long table under the stars (or for cooling a scorched pan on the stone wall). Italian Philosophy 101: la casa aperta, the open house.”
—from the Introduction
In all of Frances Mayes’s bestselling memoirs about Tuscany, food plays a starring role. This cuisine transports, comforts, entices, and speaks to the friendly, genuine, and improvisational spirit of Tuscan life. Both cooking and eating in Tuscany are natural pleasures. In her first-ever cookbook, Frances and her husband, Ed, share recipes that they have enjoyed over the years as honorary Tuscans: dishes prepared in a simple, traditional kitchen using robust, honest ingredients.
A toast to the experiences they’ve had over two decades at Bramasole, their home in Cortona, Italy, this cookbook evokes days spent roaming the countryside for chestnuts, green almonds, blackberries, and porcini; dinner parties stretching into the wee hours,  and garden baskets tumbling over with bright red tomatoes.
Lose yourself in the transporting photography of the food, the people, and the place, as Frances’s lyrical introductions and headnotes put you by her side in the kitchen and raising a glass at the table. From Antipasti (starters) to Dolci (desserts), this cookbook is organized like a traditional Italian dinner.
The more than 150 tempting recipes include:
·         Fried Zucchini Flowers
·         Red Peppers Melted with Balsamic Vinegar
·         Potato Ravioli with Zucchini, Speck, and Pecorino
·         Risotto Primavera
·         Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Sausage
·         Cannellini Bean Soup with Pancetta
·         Little Veal Meatballs with Artichokes and Cherry Tomatoes
·         Chicken Under a Brick
·         Short Ribs, Tuscan-Style
·         Domenica’s Rosemary Potatoes
·         Folded Fruit Tart with Mascarpone
·         Strawberry Semifreddo
·         Steamed Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Sauce
Frances and Ed also share their tips on stocking your pantry, pairing wines with dishes, and choosing the best olive oil. Learn their time-tested methods for hand rolling pasta and techniques for coaxing the best out of seasonal ingredients with little effort.
Throw on another handful of pasta, pull up a chair, and languish in the rustic Italian way of life. 

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The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen + Every Day in Tuscany: Seasons of an Italian Life + Bella Tuscany: The Sweet Life in Italy
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I own over a thousand cookbooks, but I have never been so enthralled by a cookbook as I was when I saw and read The Tuscan Sun Cookbook by Frances and Edward Mayes. From the very first beautiful photograph of Frances spoon feeding Edward and the mesmerizing opening paragraph--"The Choreography of the Kitchen"--I knew this cookbook would immediately rank with my all-time favorites. The recipes lure me into my Los Angeles kitchen and soon I feel like I am cooking in Tuscany. Even if there were no recipes, I would love The Tuscan Sun Cookbook for the brilliant photographs of by Steven Rothfeld--they are simply the best I have ever seen in a cookbook. Period. So to lovers of photography and food and Italy and to the simplest and most wonderful pleasures of life, I most enthusiastically say "Get this book."  
- -Nancy Silverton, founder of La Brea Bakery and co-owner of Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza restaurants in Los Angeles, Newport Beach, and Singapore
Frances and Edward Mayes generously invite us into their Tuscan world, to share in lavish, friend-filled feasts as we gather around the wood-fired bread oven. It’s a book of joy and celebration, stories of the call of the owl, the invasion of wild boars, honest, earthy, and welcoming. We can taste their freshly-pressed olive oil, thrill in the flavor of the neighbor’s lavender honey, want to run into the kitchen to prepare their long-simmered ragù, and plan to duplicate Ed’s caper, anchovy, and mozzarella pizza.  Steven Rothfeld’s stunning photos make their world sing, come truly alive.
--Patricia Wells,  author of Salad as a Meal
Frances and Ed Mayes haven't written some wistful expat's dream; they have done their homework about why Tuscan food is what it is, and what we need to know about it.  In their writing, Tuscany doesn't seem a picture postcard (even though the book is a beauty). Instead it comes off feeling much more like home. As for the dishes, they've captured the essential simplicity that is Tuscan cooking. Frances and Ed know what they're doing and it's a pleasure to read.  This is one of those books that makes you homesick, even if you never had a home like this.
--Lynne Rossetto Kasper, host of national radio show The Splendid Table® from American Public Media

About the Author

Named the "bard of Tuscany" by the New York Times, FRANCES MAYES is the author of the bestsellers Under the Tuscan Sun, Bella Tuscany, Every Day in Tuscany, and, with EDWARD MAYES, In Tuscany and Bringing Tuscany Home. She also wrote Swan: A Novel, A Year in the World, and five books of poetry. She lectures frequently on Italian life. Edward is the prize-winning author of four books of poetry, most recently, Speed of Life and Works and Days. Photographer STEVEN ROTHFELD is the author of French Dreams, Shrines, and Italian Dreams. His work appears in books by Frances Mayes among others. 

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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Front Cover | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index
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Customer Reviews

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Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Tuscan sun cook book March 30 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A fantastic cook book.
For any one who wants to cook Italian cuisine...
Lots of bright coloured pics.
I didn't like that some of the ingredients could be found only in Italy
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars More than just a cookbook April 11 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
If you love Frances Mayes' books on her life in Tuscany, you will not be disappointed with The Tuscan Sun Cookbook. It contains so much more than just great recipes. Frances has a way of transporting you right into her kitchen in Cortona. The pictures are beautiful and you finally get to see what some of the people she writes about in her books look like. If you love Italy and everything Italian, even if you are not a cook, this is an essential addition to your bookshelf!
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5.0 out of 5 stars I'M BACK IN ITALY June 20 2013
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I visited Italy 6 years ago and feel in love. The first week I attended a Cooking School in Tuscany then spent a week on the Amalfi Coast. I so enjoyed Frances Mayes book "Under the Tuscan Sun" before my first visit. Reading about her friends, recipes, the simplicity of Tuscan life in "Every Day in Tuscany" makes me yearn to return. BELLISSIMO!
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5.0 out of 5 stars What a Beautiful Book! Sept. 13 2012
By Pamela
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I love the movie "Under the Tuscan Sun". It is a story of hope and new beginnings. And this is the book to go with it. It is beautiful, the recipes are amazing, not your usual italian-cookbook ones. They are easy to do, delicious and they also look so good.The chapter on entrees is really awesome. Lots of things to offer for a divine dinner with friends. (They will love you forever)
Photography is BEAUTIFUL. Recipes are AMAZING! What else can you ask for? if you like Italian food and like to entertain Family and friends, (or your special someone) this is the book for you.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.8 out of 5 stars  83 reviews
66 of 70 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really lovely, useful, and invigorating book..... March 17 2012
By David Terry - Published on
I've just finished reading, for the first time, my copy of "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" (which became available yesterday). I'll be going back to it, of course, later in the day.....but my first thought is "Oh, I'll be giving this to so many friends" .

"The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" is just a lovely, really generously-spirited book. I was immediately reminded of another most-favorite book of mine, Robert Arbor's "Joie de Vivre". Both his and Mayes's books gently (unlike Signora Marcella Hazan's markedly strict skoolmarming) suggest/remind the reader that you don't have to actually be Italian or French, or own a villa or a chateau (or have more-time-on-your-hands-than-God-does) in order to ENJOY cooking and entertaining in a way that eventually might become second-nature to you. Both books remind me of Julia Child's superb (and very useful) "The Way to Cook".

All three books make a basic, quite practical point: Stop turning yourself into some harried, anxiety-filled kitchen-drudge, as though you were opening a restaurant or auditioning for your own Food Network show...when you're supposed to be enjoying your friends, family, and the actual cooking/eating.....and keep it (the food, table-settings, "dinner party etiquette", etcetera) refreshingly simple. The Mayes, Arbor, and Child have all obviously hit the right note....particularly during these days when (as I've noticed all too frequently) folks set themselves up for anxiety/"failure" by acting as though they have to compete with restaurants and whatever-they've seen in magazines. It's good (particularly since no one among my friends or in my family is in the least a "professional" cook) to have found a third book that emphasizes the self-defeating futility of approaching cooking&entertaining as though they were a competitive sport.

In short?.... "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" very clearly suggests how folks could be having a lot more fun both in the kitchen and at the table. I'll be happily giving away copies of "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" to a number of family members and friends (I've already made my list for next Christmas and various birthdays).

Rather obviously, "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" isn't an exhaustive ( which too often translates into "exhausting" for most people), encyclopedic compendium of Italian cuisine. Nor does it in the least pretend to be such (which is a good thing, in my own book, so to speak).

Thanks to the Mayes for their obviously sincere and genuinely joyful work. I don't, as a very general rule and over the past twenty years, write gushing reviews....but this book (including the photography and layout) hits all the right notes. I expect that many people will get a lot of pleasure and inspiration from it.


David Terry

28 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Feels Like Tuscany - Wonderful Collection March 19 2012
By Gail - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I am a huge fan of Frances Mayes' books. This cookbook is a culmination of all of her books. Through the readings, I've come to know Frances and husband Ed, and her friends, and the foods they love and cook together. So glad the recipes included in her books have now come together in a beautifully done book, and beautiful pictures too! I've already made a chicken and wine dish that was absolutely delicious and easy to prepare. I have flagged numerous pages of recipes I plan on making. I love the stories that surround each page and recipe. If you love Frances Mayes, and Tuscany, you must have this book in your collection. You can vicariously travel to Tuscany by reading and cooking these easy-to-make recipes. Enjoy!
17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A "must have" for anyone who loves Italian food. April 2 2012
By Rick on Long Island - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
A beautifully written and photographed book that transports the reader to hills of Tuscany. Following the true course of "la cucina povera" (the poor kitchen) you'll learn how to create masterful Tuscan and Italian dishes utilizing only a few quality ingredients. If you enjoyed the luscious prose and delicious artistry of "Under The Tuscan Sun," "Bella Tuscany" and "Everyday in Tuscany," let Frances and Ed Mayes whisk you to a Tuscan paradise in your own kitchen.

Breathtaking photography takes this up another notch and the book inspires creativity in both the food you can create and the inviting tablescapes the authors have prepared for their lucky guests. Accompanying stories and anecdotes allow the reader to sit along side at the Mayes's table as they create their food as you would. Food prepared not by professional chefs but by people who have genuine love for good food, well prepared. A glass of a fine wine is all that is needed to create a total sensory experience. This one is a "don't miss" and sure to become a treasured favorite in your collection.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Living Under the Tuscan Sun Oct. 8 2012
By Sheryl Turping - Published on
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Wow! We have made several recipes out of The Tuscan Sun Cookbook and it has already become one of our favorites. Try the Pesto recipe on pg 26,Cannellini Bean and Sage on pg 44, Orecchiette With Shrimp, pg 77, Pappa al Pomodoro, pg 96, Ossobuco, pg 130,Fried Zucchini Flowers, pg 49, Beef Tenderloin with Balsamic Vinegar, pg 135...Sumptuous!
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delicious peasant food! April 14 2012
By Toni - Published on
Ahhhhhhhh, the food of the peasants! Earthy, pure, simple, fantastic! That about sums up my love for the recipes within the Bramasole walls of Frances and Ed Mayes cucina!

In a most simple, but most elegant way of preserving some of the most basic foods that graced the table of those that worked the Italian fields, this is a compilation of dishes that fulfilled, and filled, the souls of the working people, way back when.

In yet another wonderful book offered from the life that is Frances Mayes, and her wonderful husband, Ed, these recipes focus on the Tuscan region of Italy. In her previous books, Frances has taken us into the history of the Tuscany, from the golden days to the current days. This business that began as a journaling of sorts, of buying an old run down farm house, has blossomed into Tuscan life, history, and now, food. And now, through their years of dividing their time between Tuscany and California, they have come to know and love the country, the region, and the food.

Each region of Italy is known for different styles of cooking, with its respective area pretty much dependent on the region it's located, whioh would dictate whether they were strong on seafood, or grains, or wine, etc. For the Tuscan region, which is lcoated just about center of the "boot", it encompasses a little of everything, and the Mayes have done well by their writing to leave you wanting more.

The photography is close and clear; beautifully done through an amateur lens of Frances and her friend, which increases your appreciation of their efforts. The lighting, the settings, the staging of the final dishes are all inviting. A string of garlic cloves, fresh vegetable and fruits, fields of sunflowers, pasta being tossed, friends around a table, make this a wonderful book that can literally pull you in to the moment if you give it a chance.

What this isn't is a teaching manual; with the exception of making Agnolotti, there are no photographic tutorials. But unless you have never cracked open a cookbook or even know what pasta is, you would be hardpressed not to be able to make any of thses fantastic dishes. Each recipe has a little sidebar of facts and information that help you to understand what and why you are making this dish. And though there is not an accompanying photo for each dish, it will come together for you as you see what becomes of your efforts.

In most Italian homes, there are about 6 courses starting with ANTIPASTI, then PRIMI, SECONDI, CONTORNI, then ending with DOLCE and APERTIVI to help you in perfectly digesting your meal. Many of the friends, and family of friends, helped to produce this lovely book and the Mayes give beautiful credit to all. For fear of being labeled as a "Ralph Kramden blabbermouth" for giving away too many recipes and/or details of books/cookbooks, I'll try to be general. But I guarantee that anyone will be very happy to sit at your table if you serve any of these dishes! So....the book is presented as:

LA CUCINA: A thank you and/or introduction of sorts to all those who helped make the book possible. Old history, recent history, and local legend help bring the joy of the Tuscan region into the pages and it is done so with gratitude.

KEYS TO THE PANTRY: Your list of hints, suggestions, and do's for stocking a good Tuscan kitchen.
A couple of basic recipes are also included which are the foundation for some of the other dishes.

ANTIPASTI: In any part of Italy, you wouldn't start of meal without first getting your gastronomic engines started, hence "anti" pasti (before the pasta, which is what many ate back then and now). So there are numerous plates of bruschette with tasty toppings, veggies, and cold meats to serve.

PRIMI: Your "first" round of good food to entice and tingle the palate! There are pasta's, lasagna (which is a pasta, I know, but it's prepared differently), soups, risottos, and pizza's.

SECONDI: The "second" entree which usually are the meats such as chicken, pork, rabbit, steaks, fish. For me, the "Chicken Under a Brick" was fantastic; add the "Polenta" as a side dish with the "Prawns and Cherry Tomatoes", and it was a meal fit for a Tuscan king!

CONTORNI: These are the side dishes that embellish the plate and palate. Baked peppers, fava beans with potatoes and artichokes, zucchini, chard, and fennel are all able to find their way to your table courtesy of the Tuscan heritage. along with more ideas.

DOLCI: The best part of any meal, if you still have room. Now in general, most Italy Italians aren't known for being eaters of heavy pies and pastries. They tend to prefer fruits with a light cream, an easy tart, and such, so that is what you will find in this particular section. But wait! Don't get emotional! There are definitely enough recipes for cakes, bread puddings, etc for those of us who couldn't imagine dessert without some sort of flaky or sweet dough.

APERTIVI/DIGESTIVI: The last note of this gastronomic symphony; an apertif!!! The perfect end to a most perfect meal. And while there are only 2 recipes, there is a listing of different liqueurs that can accompany any meal, depending on your preferences.



Well, I guess I didn't give away too much, so hopefully you'll want to know what is exactly within the lovely pages of this book. Yes, I am a hopeless romantic and the sights and dreams of Italy have an inexplicable pull for me. But though I am lost within the covers of this well-written book, my family and friends seem to be gastronomically making out rather well, so not bad, hey? Peace!
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