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Having just come back from visiting my inlaws in Italy I was keen to do some Italian cooking. This cookbook was given to me as a gift from my mother who saw Gino at a cookery demonstration. This is his second book and the first time I have tried his recipes although I have seen him on various tv chef programmes.
The first thing I should mention is that this is not a traditional layout such as starters, mains, deserts instead it is divided into the type of occasion. The chapters are:
Recipes for two - this I like as my husband and I like to have a special meal every week and this has given me some good ideas for example salmon and leek parcels. Some of the ingredients are more expensive but these are meant to be special meals. The gnocchi with truffle oil is lovely and worth buying the truffle oil for.
Recipes for one - I like that this book acknowledges that there are a lot of single people out there who like to cook for themselves.
Everyday suppers - I really like to have ideas for day to day cooking and these recipes are easy to follow for example the lamb shank in red wine and mashed potatoes. For a vegetarian alternative there is the vegetable bake which I prefer with broccoli than cauliflower. Naturally there is also Gino's lasagne. The toad in the hole involves frying onions with the sausages but I prefer to keep my onions separate and to make red onion gravy.
Easy but impressive - this title appeals to me as I like to entertain but dont want to be stressing in the kitchen. Unfortunately I havnt found the recipes that impressive. For example pasta, mushrooms, peas and mascapone is more of an everyday supper.
Party food - this chapter has recipes mostly to feed 6 to 8 people. It has recipes such as artichoke and spinach tart which is great to take on picnics. The recipes are pretty straightforward such as the baked salmon with tomatoes, potatoes and anchovies. My favourites have to be the deserts however. Who could resist chocolate souffle with raspberry and grand marnier sauce. Mmmmmm!
Most recipes have photographs which I like as I like to know what the finished meal should look like.
Not the greatest Italian cook book but some nice ideas. The recipes would suit inexperienced cooks as they tend to be easy to follow and do not involve lots of technical cooking. Most of the ingredients are easy to obtain and likely to be found in your local supermarket. I sometimes find Gino on the tv a litle irritating but you can ignore his funny comments in this book and get straight down to the cooking. As I said earlier my copy was a gift but it is at the time of writing this review on sale on Amazon for £9.74.
I would just like to add Gino's tip for cooking.
Pour yourself a nice glass of wine, throw everyone else out of the kitchen, make sure your ingredients are fresh and of good quality and that your knife is sharp and finally only cook if you are in a good mood.
This book was a random gift from hubbie a couple(?) of years ago. I'd never heard of Gino D'Acampo at the time, and frankly I took one look at the cover and the subtitle "Italian food has never been so sexy" and thought oh dear!
I started to read through some of the recipes and my heart sank further. Not at the recipes themselves (on to them later) but at the cheesy little intros to some of the dishes. Sample: "There are two things that my wife can't get enough of. First, well I leave it to your imagination. Second is this dish..." Just cringey - it made me want to shut the book and consign it to a dark corner. However, knowing my husband would be disappointed if I didn't at least try something from the book he'd bought me, I persevered and decided on one of the recipes that looked not bad - I think it was the Rigatoni with white ragu.
And a few days later I made it. And it was really good. So I tried another recipe, and again it tasted great. And so on with everything I've tried from this book - at least a dozen recipes and they've all come up trumps! So now I just make sure I skip the intro, take a good look at the lovely pictures of the dishes and read the recipes themselves - all of which are very clear.
The food in this book is generally Italian themed but it's very varied, and includes D'Acampo's twists on things like toad in the hole and the odd curry too. The recipes are generally very simple to make - some of them deceptively so, with the results being far more impressive than the effort required! In particular I've found that the Beetroot rosti with smoked salmon and horseradish cream is becoming a favourite starter if we have friends for dinner. It tastes great, looks great (and quite fancy!) but is quite simple can actually be mostly prepared in advance so is hassle-free on the night. Other favourites include the above-mentioned white ragu and Chicken breast in martini sauce.
As for the desserts, well I've just realised I haven't actually made any of them. A few don't look bad, but I think they've just never appealed as much as puds from alternative sources.
Apart from the cringe-quotient, the one thing that I would complain about in this book is the structure. It is divided into sections titled Romantico, Per me, Per tutti i giorni, Facile facile and Salute, i.e. romantic recipes for two, recipes for one, everyday suppers, easy recipes, and party food for sharing. Apart from the pretentious use of Italian chapter titles in an English language book, what annoys me is that this structure seems fairly arbitrary. The recipes for one can make great recipes for any number - just increase the quantities. I find myself wanting to use recipes from completely different chapters for very similar occasions, so it's not a logical distinction. And it makes it more difficult to find the recipe you're looking for - it could be anywhere in the book, so I find myself constantly trawling the index for an old favourite rather than being able to flick through the relevant section quickly. A minor quibble, but there you go!
However, as far as the recipes and dishes in the book, it has become a firm fixture in my kitchen, both for trying out new ideas and returning to trusted and delicious favourites. Highly recommended. If it was just for the recipes alone it would get five stars!