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I don't often write about books - and this is my 1st review about a cook book. I do like to do some home cooking, but often I just don't have the time, and then there is the expensive and stress of sourcing all the different ingredients. Italian is probably my most favourite food, but Chinese runs it a close 2nd.
There is often a Book stall that comes to my work (conveniently after payday) and although I usually have a quick glance and not buy anything as there isn't anything that would really appeal to me (and often the books can be picked up a little cheaper on Amazon) but when I spotted this and had a quick flick through it then I thought I may as well pay the £6 as the recipies looked simple enough and some nice food choices.
The chef Gino I have always thought was alright ever since I watched him on I'm a Celebrity, but I think he can come across as a bit arrogant as well.
The sections in the book cover all the different eating things - breakfast, Salads, Fish, Meat, Side dishes, Desserts etc. I admit I sometimes think the layout and language through the book can be a bit cheesy, but as long as it helps me cook the dishes that are shown with pictures then it's fine with me.
To make the dishes is easy enough. The ingredients are listed simply, and it is easy to follow the instructions for to prepare them. Each Dish feeds 4 people and of the few dishes that I have now made the portion sizes are pretty big, so handy for me to take in for the next days lunch! With some of the dishes there is a good few ingredients goes into it by the time you buy everything and it often adds up to a bit of money, but the Food that I have made so far from this has been tasty and flavoursome.
A good Cook book that is easy to follow and the food is just what I like to eat.
"Italian food is like Italian men, Minimum effort, maximum satisfaction. Fantastico!" - Gino D'Acampo
Think making Italian food is just boiling a little spaghetti and adding some pasta sauce, well think again. This book, which was winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook award for best Italian cookbook is written by Gino D'Acampo and features modern Italian food.
Gino D'Acampo is a bit of a celebrity who has cooked on shows like This Morning. He is rather god looking too and fun to watch when he is cooking so I thought his book would be quite entertaining and a fairly easy one to follow. In the inside sleeve he says that, "this book is a way of answering all the questions that people ask him about Italian food. It is a cookbook of modern Italian style and full of effortless but sexy dished."
The book has 10 different food chapters with quite interesting names. They are as follows:
Aperitivi & antipasti
Sunshine and salads
Pasta, soups & risotto
Legs and feathers
A bit on the side
Say it with food
I was actually amazed at how many different types of recipes they are in this book. Sometimes we get a bit stuck when making Italian food and just like I've said above, make spaghetti, lasagne or risotto. There are so many recipes in here with an Italian flare and twist that taste delicious and are easy to make.
For example there is a lovely recipe which uses baked aubergines, another one featuring crispy chicken with gorgeous Italian serrano ham and some really interesting ways to cook up vegetables in a Italian. It's not just all pasta which I love.
With each recipe Gino writes a little about the inspiration behind the recipe such as family or his love of a certain area in Italy and the ingredients that comes from it. The recipes are actually really easy to follow and do not include very many steps. There is nothing worse than a cookbook that has so many directions you get bogged down. I have made a few recipes from this book now and they are flavourful without being fussy and quick to do as well. It's food that the whole family will enjoy. My little girl has had some of the chicken dishes and really like them so I will be making them again.
Theres a nice conversion chart in the back of the book and also a very handy index which lists all the dishes you are looking for. I have the paperback version of the book which was published in 2011 but the book was originally published in 2007. It has an ISBN of 978-1-85626-744-1
I picked up this book at The Works for my brother for his birthday after he said he was short of recipe books and a quick flick through made me think it looked like it was suitable recipes for a couple to cook. When I got it home and had a proper look it was full of such delicious looking recipes that I decided to keep it for myself and find something else for him!
I've made quite a few recipes out of the book and they have all been really nice, they do tend to be quite expensive so I generally have a look through when I'm cooking something for a special occasion. My main criticism of the book is the time it takes to prepare the dishes, I don't know how Gino does it but he writes what looks like a very simple and straightforward recipe and it doesn't feel complicated when I do it, just seems to take much longer than expected.
My favourite recipe is Crispy Chicken Breasts Topped with Taleggio an Serrano Ham. This is expensive with all the fancy ingredients you need (cheese, ham, chicken breasts, anchovies, mixed nuts) and is a little time consuming to make although you can prepare a lot of it earlier in the day, but it is a really nice meal, and I usually cook it as a romantic meal for me and my partner. I also particularly like Panforte, which is a dessert pretty much made of melted chocolate and nuts, very squidgy and melting and delicious, although again very expensive. Gino suggest that this recipe serves 4 although in actual fact it would serve at least 12 and could probably do up to 20. I'm not sure if this is a misprint, but he does have very generous portion sizes in other recipes too. In fact, he's the only food writer I have found where I do less than what he says rather than more (we're a big greedy in my house so a meal for 4 would usually do the 2 of us with a bit left over for one lunch the next day!)
I picked this up for £5 when The Book People came to sell books at my work.
It appealed to me because I love Italian food but was interested in something a bit different from the traditional dishes I am used to cooking and eating in restaurants.
Gino introduces you to the Italian way of cooking and some of his advice is useful - such as spend less time on cooking a dish and more time on buying the right ingredients. His arrogance can be grating at times, though, and there are some dishes that I think he just put in to show how he could put his "Gino- spin" on something when the traditional way tastes better. It was refreshing to hear him say you should do more exercise instead of trying to make diet versions of his dishes although in some cases you would have to do a half marathon! I counted the calories in one dish and it came to over 1000 - half of what the average woman should eat a day. I find that the recipes make very over generous portions so if a recipe says "serves four" I usually divide it into six to avoid there being a lot of waste/damage to the waistline!
The book is divided into sections:
*Aperitivi & Antipasti (cocktails and canapés)
*Sunshine & Salads
*Pasta, Soups & Risotto
*Legs & Feathers (meat and poultry)
*Veg Out (vegetarian)
*A Bit on the Side (side dishes)
*Sweet things (desserts)
*Say It With Food (dishes he suggests cooking for your loved ones for special occasions).
My favourite recipe out of the entire book is the Double Chocolate Mousse with Pistachio & Chilli. It's deliciously naughty with a drop of Grand Marnier in it. My mum wasn't keen on the chilli though so I would leave that out if you were making it for anyone who's not keen on spice.
The French Bean with Sun-dried Tomatoes, Feta & Mozzarella salad is also great and went well with a BBQ we had.
Cannelloni with Courgettes, Rocket & Mascarpone was disappointing. This is one of those dishes I mentioned above, which is better the traditional way with spinach and ricotta.
All the recipes in here are the type of stuff I would make when entertaining. The ingredients aren't cheap to source and I think someone who was a novice would struggle to follow some of the recipes. All in all, a fabulous book though that is great for your taste buds but maybe not for your friends and families waistlines!