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4.8 out of 5 stars
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4.8 out of 5 stars
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on April 16, 2013
I have owned this book for a little over a year. In that time it has become my reference for classic Italian cuisine. Clear and straight forward recipes. All the tips you need to achieve success. Good for the beginner and for the advanced home cook. The proof as always is in the eating and i have not had a poor experience.
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on October 5, 2003
The very first recipe I tried out of this book was a great success. My ten-year-old daughter, her friend, and I followed one of the recipes for making homemade linguini (flat spaghetti), by rolling out the dough, cutting it into strips, and boiling it in water! Then we ate it with tomato sauce, and it was a GREAT SUCCESS!
This book is very comprehensive. It could be called the "Joy of Cooking," of Italian Cuisine, having chapters on just about every possible type of Italian food. Directions are given for making EVERYTHING from SCRATCH, the traditional, Italian way. So buy this book if you are a GOURMET cook, who enjoys spending hours in the kitchen-it is NOT for the busy housewife who has to get a quick dinner on the table. Completely separate chapters include Fundamentals, Appetizers, Soups, Pasta, Risotto, Gnocchi, Crespelle, Polenta, Frittate, Fish and Shellfish, Chicken-Squab-Duck-Rabbit, Veal, Beef, Lamb, Pork, Variety Meats, Salads, Desserts, Focaccia-Pizza-Bread-Other Special Doughs, and At the Table.
So far, my family has enjoyed every recipe we have tried.
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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 19, 2002
I bought the first volume of this cookbook as a paperback edition in the late 70's and added the second volume a few years later. These cookbooks really taught me how to cook. I was thrilled to see that the two volumes were available in a single volume hardcover because my two paperbacks were just worn out. This book will teach you everything you need to know about Italian cuisine. The thing that I appreciate most about Marcella's books are that the recipes are designed for normal people who cook for their families and themselves, not chefs. The recipes do not demand unusual ingredients or techniques. My husband came home from fishing with a bluefish the other day, and Marcella had a wonderful recipe for it and I didn't need to dash off to the market for any unusual ingredients, just what I had in the larder, potatoes, red peppers, garlic and onions. The best bluesfish I ever ate! Everything I have cooked from her recipes is just basically good food and delicious. Our all -time favorites: Bolognese meat sauce (!!, my 13 year old son is such a fan, he has learned to cook this himself), veal chops (or pork chops) with anchovies (my husband didn't think he like anchovies but now is a complete convert), steak pan-fried with Marsala. All the soups are wonderful. A great resource: I haven't found a recipe yet I don't like. If I were on a desert isle and had to pick only one cookbook, I would pick this one.
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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 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 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 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 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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