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Love cookery books and have a shelf full; some more used than others! My most recent purchase is Nigella Lawson's Italian cook book,Nigellissima.I am a fan of Nigella and have had good experiences of her recipe which always turn out well.
This is a hardback book with a RRP OF £26. However I bought my copy from the book people and paid £9.99.There is a lengthy introduction where Nigella talks about her love of all things Italian and discuses classic Italian ingredients such as black rice ,orzo, anchovies and marsala.There are also pasta cooking tips.
The first recipe section is entitled *pasta*. There are simple easy to make recipes such as one for curly edged pasta with lamb rage and another for fettuccine with mushrooms,marsala and mascarpone- both delicious! The chapter also has classic recipes such as lasagne. If you fancy trying something really different you could try making the back to black spaghetti that uses squid ink spaghetti, something I had never heard of! My favourite recipe in this section has to be the prawn pasta Rosa. It is really easy to make and has a chilli kick. There are several risotto recipes including a lovely one with crabmeat.
The next chapter is entitled *flesh, fish and fowl*.As you would imagine this is not for vegetarians! There are recipes for lamb including lamb steaks with anchovies and thyme. I am not a lover of pork so have not tried any of the pork bases recipes. However there are several choices including a recipe for pork loin with Parma ham and oregano. The beef section has another of my favourites; meatzza using minced beef. As you would expect there is a recipe for Italian meatballs. This recipe gives you some tips on making great tasting meatballs quickly.
The chapter includes fish dishes, with my favourite being one for Italian tempura prawns. The chapter concludes with chicken recipes. The Italian roast chicken with peppers is simple to make and tastes wonderful!
After all that meat it is a relief to get to the next chapter! This one deals with vegetables and sides. I love aubergines so was keen to try the recipe for baby aubergine with oregano. Again it was easy to make and tasted lovely! There are some classics such as peas with pancetta and cherry tomatoes with olives. The recipes all use classic Italian ingredients such as basil, thyme and ricotta cheese and many use chilli flakes. All the recipes will give an interesting twist to everyday vegetables.
The next chapter is entitled *sweet things*.The section has some classics such as panna cotta and tiramisu .There are also some more unusual recipes such as one for liquorice pudding (lovely!) My favourite recipe in this section has to be the vanilla mousse with berries and pistachios. I love sweet things, but even I could not be persuaded to make try the recipe for chocolate pasta with pecans and caramel!
The final chapter is entitled *an Italian inspired Christmas*. This section has all you need to make your Christmas Italian. There is a recipe for Parmesan shortbreads and another for polenta triangles with chilli tomato. I love the recipe for mountain macaroni, a real comfort dish with a difference! For the main Christmas you could try turkey breast with stuffed Italian sausage and marsala steeped cranberries. The chapter also has recipes for chutneys, cakes and puddings.
Cookery books are sold by their illustrations, or so I have been told! This one is beautifully illustrated with numerous full colour photos of the food. The recipes I have tried mainly use easy to source ingredients that won't break the bank.
On the negative side many of the recipes serve 2 people. If you are cooking for a family you will need to double the recipe. The Christmas section gives quantities for up to 8. Many of the recipes use quite a bit of chilli and many children may not enjoy the hot spicy taste. I simply adjust the amount of chilli I use!
Overall this is a good recipe book if you enjoy Italian food and need some inspiration and new recipes. It is too easy to slip into the spag bol habit! This book has inspired me to try many new recipes and (nearly) all have turned out well.
Nigellissima is Nigella Lawson's 9th cookery book. Twelve years after "How To Eat" was published, Nigella shows that she can still enrapture the everyday cook with scrumptious food that's easy to prepare and delightful to eat. However, if you're looking for genuine Italian cookery, beware: by her own admission, this isn't quite authentic Italian food; rather it's Nigella's own take on it which, frankly, is just as good as the real thing as far as I'm concerned. In the few weeks since its publication I've already made more recipes from this book than from, say, Giorgio Locatelli's "Made in Italty" which is twice the size and offers recipes that are considerably more authentically Italian. Nigellissima works because the recipes are simple - just as Italian cooking should be - rather than complicated and expensive like the Locatelli book.
Like her more recent books, the majority of recipes are illustrated so that you can see precisely what you're making before you start and, should you be unfamiliar with a particular dish, you can make a more informed decision about whether to make it or not. This does perhaps give the impression that the book is packed with more recipes than it actually is but really, there are plenty to choose from. Each recipe is introduced with an explanation of the dish, its background or simply how it should be served and eaten. As usual, Nigella writes in such a warm, familiar way, it's almost like she's in the kitchen with you and, truthfully, I find this far more genuine than her TV persona which can sometimes be a little like a performance. If the look of a recipe isn't enough to persuade you to make it, the introduction often tips the balance.
The book groups recipes into sections, beginning with Pasta and followed by a rather evocative title of "Flesh, Fish & Fowl" before moving onto Vegetables and Sides and then desserts and cakes. Happily, the final chapter is "An Italian-Inspired Christmas", supplementing the delicious recipes in "Nigella Christmas" with further delights for the festive season. At 250+ pages, there is plenty of choice in each chapter, and despite my best efforts, I couldn't find one that seemed too difficult, time consuming or unappealing. For me, a cookery book isn't complete without a section of puddings and, of course, Nigella happily obliges with a variety of cakes and desserts - some of which are quite unusual, such as a Chocolate Olive Oil cake: perhaps not a recipe which goes back hundreds of years but it's easy to see how Nigella's taken the humble chocolate cake and Italianified it, transforming it into something moist and delicate.
The only thing I dislike about this book are the notes: in earlier books, notes accompanied recipes concerning variations or freezing guidelines. In Nigellissima, the notes are in an appendix which means flicking backwards and forwards for extra tips. However the notes themselves are useful and do supplement the recipes effectively, perhaps begging the question of why they weren't included in the recipes in the first place.
Overall Nigelissima is a pleasure to read and a pleasure to cook from. Like so many of her books it's one I know will end up battered and bruised through overuse: just how cookery books should be.