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on August 26, 2002
Along with Ada Boni's Regional Italian Cooking (sadly out of print), this is the best Italian Cookbook I have ever come across. The recipes are magnificent, easy to follow, and a great introduction to real Old World Italian cooking for Americans and other English speakers. The soggy spaghetti drowning in tomato sauce and pizza buried under mountains of meat and cheese, which often passes for "Italian" cooking in the United States bears little resemblance to the real food of Italy. In this wonderful book, Marcella not only provides great authentic recipes but discusses in detail how to eat in the Italian style. She lays out the logic of eating in courses (a very civilized way to eat) and even discusses how to select the freshest produce, so essential to great Italian cooking. And unlike many cookbook writers, she is literate and entertaining! My one small criticism of the book is that she does not include the Italian names for the recipes: It would be nice to see these below the English names, but this is a minor point. I would agree with other reviewers: If you only buy one Italian cookbook in your lifetime, this should be it.
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on July 5, 2000
This is an incredible book. I have read it from cover to cover, and even lugged it on vacation to read (yes, I am a bit obsessive). Everything that I have tried so far has been wonderful. Marcella's recipes are very approachable, and, best of all, they work! I am not Italian, nor have I ever been to Italy, so I can not speak to it's authenticity as Italian cuisine, but I can speak to the fact that this is wonderful food. She does insist on high quality ingredients, with which I am in total agreement, but I wish that she had included name brand names and resources in this updated edition. I have yet to be able to find anchovies in salt--even on the internet! The tomato and butter sauce is now my favorite pasta sauce, the veal marsala is delicious, and the cream and butter sauce is also wonderful. She goes into incredible detail about making pasta, as well as pairing fresh and factory products with the appropriate sauce. I would highly recommend reading the first part of the book before diving into the recipes, because she discusses several cooking techniques, as well as how to determine quality in your ingredients. If you love simple, wonderful food, you will not be disappointed with Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking.
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on December 1, 1998
This is it: The single indispensable cookbook -- not just for Italian food, but for good food. Marcella's (sometimes acerbic) commentary on ingredients and recipes is wonderful, but the reason to buy this book is for the dishes. Almost everything I've made from this book has been an absolute treat, from the succulent mushroom and ham pasta sauce to the delectable stuffed tomatoes. And with the size of this compendium, you'll never run out of new tastes to try.
My one quibble? The desserts don't seem to measure up to the rest of the dishes. The two I've tried -- lemon almond cookies and the farm wive's pear tart -- were disappointing. The cookies tasted great, but had the texture of cardboard, while the "tart" was more like a clafouti; although I baked it far longer than the recipe called for, it remained doughy and wet. With all that ripe pear in the batter, though, it certainly tasted acceptable!
With two disappointments out of the 30-or-so fabulous recipes I've tried, this is still single finest book I've ever cooked from. (and much better than her recent huge success Marcella Cucina). Oh, the soups! Oh, the pastas! Oh, the vegetables! Oh, Marcella!
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on February 19, 2002
I've owned this cookbook for about five years now, and have never made one of these recipes that turned out badly. I've become known among our friends and family for my homemade pasta with Bolognese sauce, and the pasta with sausage and peppers is absolutely heavenly (and easy, too!). There's nothing that impresses your guests more than homemade pasta. (Marcella also gives tips for preparing many of the recipes ahead of time, so they're great for dinner parties.)
The recipes are based on the idea of spotlighting a few fresh ingredients and using techniques that bring out the best in those ingredients. Some of the recipes are a bit involved, but many of them can be thrown together in a few minutes, once you get the hang of it.
This is not necessarily a cookbook you'll pull out every night of the week, but once you learn the concepts and techniques, I've found that you can apply the principles to whatever you have in your refrigerator.
(I also bought another Marcella Hazan cookbook, but I keep coming back to this one. It's much more basic and straightforward than "Marcella Cucina"-- save that one for later, when you're ready to move on to more exotic fare.)
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on December 29, 1999
This book is well written and entertaining. The recipes are easy to follow and tasty. But, what I found to be most useful are the tips and tricks to Italian cooking. It clearly describes how to use olive oil, basil, and other herbs and spices. It tells you the origin and uses of Italian ingredients, as well as how and when to select them. The skills you will learn from this book will go a long way! The only thing this book lacks is photos. If you are like me and thouroghly enjoy seeing what your creation should end up looking like, then compliment this book with another. My best X-mas gift was "The Complete Italian Cookbook" by Carlo Bernasconi and Christian Teubner ISBN:1-898250-85-5. This is a 1999 book and not yet available through Amazon. Plan on spending a bundle, but it's dynamite! And for the photo lovers like me, it has 440 pages of recipes with at least one photo per recipe. Many photos are taken to show the step-by-step process. ALL photos in this book are HIGH quality color. You will find more photos in this book than your local-corner photo lab!
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on February 15, 2001
I agree with the other reviewer here: this is the one cookbook I'd keep if I could only have one. This book takes you so far beyond spaghetti and meatballs you won't believe it. It is also meticulous, thorough, and yet very enjoyable just to read. Here are my favorite recipes:
1. The Bolognese Pork Roasted in Milk - this recipe is insane. It is like a wonderful chemistry set experiment you can eat. Marcella says it would be one of her top 10 choices of recipes that embody the genius of Italian Cuisine.
2. The Lemon Chicken - Also amazing. Easy to do, wonderful. Great summer dish.
3. Veal Stew w/Tomatoes and Peas
4. Veal Stew w/White Wine and Sage
Also, some of the standards are given great treatment:
1. Eggplant Parm
2. Osso Bucco (this is by FAR the best version I've seen of this).
3. Fried zucchini.
This makes a great gift too because it isn't full of esoteric stuff that only foodies (no derision intended) would make.
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on April 17, 2000
I divide my life into two periods: Life Before Marcella Hazan and Life After Marcella Hazan. Life is better now.
In my pre-Marcella life, I sought flavor in more and more ingredients--more spices, more herbs, more cheese varieties. My recipes were longer than the space shuttle's pre-flight checklist.
Marcella taught me the truth about flavor: it can spring from a few carefully selected ingredients, lovingly prepared.
Take Marcella's Tomato and Butter sauce for example: it is probably the best thing I've ever had in my mouth, yet there's almost nothing in it. Marcella reveals the key to this magic: imported Italian tomatoes (yes, it does make a difference) simmered slowly (uncovered) with butter and onion.
Similarly, the pork braised in milk is full of mouth-watering flavor. The ingredients: pork and milk. And the chicken with two lemons? You guessed it; the ingredients are two lemons and a chicken.
These foods will make you happy.
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on June 17, 2002
I gave my first copy of this to one of my best friends in 1999. I have been searching for one ever since. Now I have it, thanks to Amazon.
This book does what every cook in the world would like to do; ensure that every recipe comes out like it should. The book is flawless. The directions are from a woman who has been a chef forever. She has used every recipe. How many of us have bought a cookbook that did not show the recipes were tested?
If you buy this book and are a person with a limited budget, you are golden to go.
I have been cooking for 10 years with an army wife budget, and when I use these recipes, I get requests for the secrets. This book is the key to good cooking. It uses good ingredients, easy instructions, and the stories behind them leave the chef with a feeling of history.
Food should be so.
It is a celebration of meeting, eating, and tradition.
You can not go wrong with this book.
I love you Marcella.
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on September 28, 2009
Marcella hazan is the best when it comes to Italian cooking. I have cooked from another of her books and the results are always excellent. Get this book and find out that she is the Julia Child of Italian cuisine, exceot Italian recipes are often very simple and focus on quality ingredients without a lot of tedious and time consuming processes.
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on March 20, 2001
Oh Marcella - If only I were your child. I could have eaten your food instead of the Kraft Macaroni and Cheese castle I grew up in.
I cook a great deal. I own an awful lot of cookbooks. This is the most used book in my collection. Pages stained, binding broken, it's almost time to buy a replacement.
Her Roasted Lemon Chicken is a marvel of simplicity and taste. Her Roasted Chicken with Rosemary. Her Beef Marsala. Her Stewed Greenbeans and Tomatoes. Her Tomato and Butter Sauce, which I practically live on. God, she's just amazing.
There is a klunker or two among the roses. The pear tart is just awful. I tried making it a few times because it just read so well I couldn't imagine it was the recipe and not me making it so bad. But no. It's the recipe. The spinach and potato tart/pie (can't remember the recipe title) isn't very good. But that's about it. Everything else - wonderful.
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