Weeknights with Giada: Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner Hardcover – Mar 27 2012
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"De Laurentiis delivers on her promise—the book is full of quick, easy dishes that follow her formula—simple and pleasing."
About the Author
GIADA DE LAURENTIIS is the star of Food Network’s Everyday Italian and Giada at Home, a judge on Food Network Star, a contributing correspondent for NBC’s Today show, and the author of five New York Times bestselling cookbooks. She attended the Cordon Bleu in Paris and worked at Wolfgang Puck’s Spago restaurant in Los Angeles before starting her own catering company, GDL Foods. Born in Rome, she grew up in Los Angeles, where she now lives with her daughter, Jade. Visit her at www.giadadelaurentiis.com.See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Compared to her first couple of books, her recipes have become more "contemporary" and have more of a California touch in them (as well as Italian). The recipes are also more sophisticated and I liked the use of healthy ingredients like Quinoa.
However, I agree with other reviewers that this is not really "weeknight" material for most non-experienced cooks. Though there are some great paninis and soups, most require learning about some new ingredients and require a previous shopping trip.
I see it more of a Friday evening and weekend entertaining cookbook than weekday meal for a bunch of hungry kids. It also has some good brunch recipes.
The good news is that more experienced cooks will probably enjoy this book more than Giada's first couple of books, which required a lot of pre-prepared ingredients. They were a lot more realistic about being "Everyday" recipes.
Overall, I enjoyed the healthy ingredients and the Californian-Italian feel of the recipes, which are still manageable for a home cook.
Yummy excellent ideas for meal.
Enjoy her outlook and combinations of foods.
A good buy. Highly recommend to the italian lover of food.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
When I saw the title of Giada's newest cookbook, I got excited. It seemed that as she moved forward in her career, Giada's cooking had become more complex and not as accessible to the everyday person to work with a busy schedule. In fact, with Giada's more recent move to food that's designed to entertain, I've found that there are fewer and fewer of her new recipes that I can tackle -mostly due to complexity and time constraints. I was hoping that Weeknights with Giada would go back to her roots more and offer dishes that could fit around my job and life.
I was a little disappointed. A handful of the recipes here do fall into that category of "weeknight dinners," but most really don't: at least they don't fit my definition of weeknight meals. Most recipes here take the more complex entertainment approach. The result certainly seems tasty, but doesn't work as recipes for a working woman trying to put good food on the table Monday through Friday. Really, if the title had just been different, my disappointment wouldn't be so high.
Weeknights offers a handful of different categories: soups and salads, bruschettas, sandwiches and pizzas, pastas and grains; meat, poultry and fish; something called "change of pace," breakfast for dinner, veggies and sides, and desserts. The soups and salads section feels fairly basic and straightforward, with cioppino, gazpacho and a tasty beef and cannellini bean minestrone recipe. Bruschettas, sandwiches and pizzas offers some seriously foodie-oriented recipes that pretty much require a grill, panini press or grill pan, including a tasty-looking argula, pesto, ricotta, and smoked mozzarella pizza. Pastas and grains, Giada's signature dishes, was actually somewhat disappointing, it felt like a re-tread of many previous recipes with edits or virtually the same spirit. The section on meat, poultry and fish had a little more spunk to it, with some unique recipes, including a great take on balsamic-glazed chicken.
The "Change of Pace" section was particularly interesting and unexpected. This is where the concept of "revamping" dinner that's expressed in the title is really utilized. Giada takes a break from her usual Italian-inspired approach and explores a variety of other types of foods, including Filipino, Greek, Thai, Asian, Mexican and South American-inspired dishes that really stir things up in Giada's cooking. Even though this isn't Giada usual type of thing, "Change of Pace" was actually my favorite section of the entire cookbook, it felt more fresh, accessible and had genuinely tasty treats, such as sweet and spicy greek meatballs, Asian chicken salad, Thai lettuce wraps and Tilapia fish tacos with arugula.
Breakfast for dinner gave a few good twists on traditional breakfast recipes to make them a little heartier for dinner. If you're into this sort of thing (I'm not), then is a really unique section with great variety. Veggies and sides was fairly comprehensive, though it feels like it's not really needed here. The dessert section was particularly good, as I thought it was the best collection of desserts that Giada has ever offered, with some tasty-looking mini pumpkin cupcakes with chocolate frosting and chocolate mascarpone pound cake.
Though not as accessible as previous cookbooks, there are still some tasty recipes in here that are worth the time and effort. However, I wouldn't call this a "weeknight" friendly cookbook.
The title, of course, is Weeknights with Giada:Quick and Simple Recipes to Revamp Dinner. Many of the recipes are quick and simple, but a disproportionately large number just involve too much prep work and dirtying too many kitchen appliances, pans, and implements for me to feel good about attempting the recipes on a weeknight when I have worked all day, picked my toddler up from childcare, and have to get something on the table quickly. However, I understand that these are her recipes for a typical day in her life. I just fail to see how these recipes are much simpler than any other she has published before. There are many other cookbooks out there that deliver on weeknight recipes made from wholesome ingredients with efficiency in preparation/cleanup.
Sections include: soups and salads; bruschetta,sandwiches, and pizzas; pasta and grains; meat,poultry, and fish; change of pace; breakfast for dinner; veggies and sides; and desserts.
I was disappointed by the "Change of Pace" section which, as promised, is a departure from her light Italian fare. These recipes seem to be a variety of Asian, Spanish, and South American recipes. I do realize that the title of the book said nothing about it being an Italian cookbook, but I was still a little thrown by the inclusion of these recipes. Many of them just don't interest me. I also found a few of the ingredients a little hard to locate. For example, the three grocery stores in town and the three major Asian markets do not carry black forbidden rice. Giada states to substitute brown rice but that pretty much turns the dish into hum drum fare that could easily be skipped in favor of any other home recipe.
I was particularly pleased with the "Breakfast for Dinner" section. There is a breakfast tart with pancetta and green onions which practically leaps off the page, it looks so delicious. There is also a smoked salmon crostata and baked potatoes with sausage and arugula begging to be tried. I don't live in a household where crepes with peanut butter and jam or a peach and cherry frittata is an acceptable main course.
I also found the "Veggies and Sides" section to be promising. I can't wait to put the fried smashed potatoes with lemon on the table. Many of these recipes seem easy to prepare and more in line with what Giada typically creates. For example, scallion and mozzarella cornbread will be a winner in my household.
The desserts section is nicely executed. It is a small chapter of easily prepared cakes and cookies, many of which will not cause you to dirty more than a mixing bowl and spoon at most. The majority of the ingredients for these desserts will already be in any well-stocked pantry and will cause you little trouble, if any.
I prepared her minestrone soup and thought the flavor was fairly well balanced and enjoyed the heartiness added by ground beef. It made a generous pot that was stretched into two days of meals for our family of three. I have also prepared her salmon cakes with yogurt sauce. They were delicious and a welcome step off the beaten path of the usual tired salmon patty but the mixture was very loose and did require some additional crackers be added even after her step of refrigerating them. They also took around an hour to prepare which is pushing it for a weeknight.
Overall, I felt the "Change of Pace" section did seem to permeate the entire cookbook. In the "Meat, Poultry, and Fish" section, there is a beef and mushroom skewers with soy and scallion butter and many French-inspired main entrees. It is a nicely photographed (when food is actually photographed...I am so tired of pictures of her family), easy to navigate cookbook with a thoughtful new concept as far as Giada's home cooking. I was expecting more of an Italian cookbook though with a greater number of shortcut great Italian pastas and soups. I am not sorry that I purchased the book and do recommend it overall. There are some genuinely great recipes in here. I do intend on trying out many of her newer ideas. I just don't feel most of them are that easily carried out after a busy day working and caring for my family.
A beautiful book with lots of photos that show off the food and and Giada and her friends and family. (Yes, they are so photogenic.)
The book is divided as follows:
Soups and salads
Sandwiches and pizzas
Pasta and grains
Meat, poultry and fish
Change of pace
Breakfast for dinner
Veggies and sides
Many recipes are healthy and look very good, as Giada incorporates more whole grains and pastas into her recipes. The family eats meatless on Mondays for health. That said, my chief complaint is how much meat is used in most recipes. For example, there is a full pound of bacon in the cauliflower soup. (It sounds delicious, however, and I will make it with about 1/3 of a pound.)
Giada explains to the reader how to save time cooking. As a former caterer/chef, I think she gives some good advice. For example, when using a food processor, if you need to process several items, do them in the order that you don't have to clean machine between ingredients. Great advice--I often think twice about using my processor because clean up is so time consuming.
Some time saving tips are silly; pre-cooked brown rice, for instance. Yes, brown rice takes about 50 minutes to make, but it is chiefly unattended. Start it when you begin to cook and it'll be ready when rest of meal is finished. Pre-cooked brown rice is just not that tasty and costs much more than raw does.
Giada shares what she considers staples in her kitchen: marinara sauce, store bought pizza dough, frozen vegetables like artichokes, peas and edamame....all good choices. (My two cents--Trader Joe's canned artichokes in water and great and instantly ready for any recipe.)
I am going to try the asparagus soup with herbed goat cheese tonight and will report back. Many recipes look terrific and I look forward to trying them. I also look forward to the cauliflower soup with (less) bacon.
I also like the "Change of Pace" chapter where the author gets away from her signature Italian food (not that there is anything wrong with that delicious cuisine) and explores dishes from around the world. Note--I tend to cook "around the globe," Korean being my latest kick, so I really appreciate this. Cooking different cuisines really keep meals interesting and varied.
If you are a beginner cook, you may not find this book that easy, but for the average cook, most seem easy and very fast. Lots of fresh veggies, too. Dessert is not my thing, but Giada includes some great looking ones.
Author, Harmonious Environment