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The Silver Spoon - Phaidon

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Author: Phaidon / Edition: New edition / Hardcover / 1263 Pages / Book is published 2011-10-24 by Phaidon Press Ltd

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      24.04.2013 12:59
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      Only for the experienced cook

      A year ago my Dad gave me a copy of "The Silver Spoon" cookery book. Before I unwrapped the present I wondered if he had bought me a brick because this book is really heavy! I know it's odd to start a cookery book review with this but it has had a bearing on how often I have subsequently looked at the book. I like cookery books that I can idly browse n the kitchen while the kettle boils or my toast is in the toaster. I can't idly browse through this book. I have to lug it through to the living room and sit down properly to read it at the table.

      On the upside there are a lot of recipes in here. There are over 2000. And the recipes are tried and tested. The book is an Italian book now translated into English. It was first published in Italy in 1950. At the beginning of the book they explain that there are differences in Italian cookery books from English speaking ones. Typically Italian ones don't contain many instructions and English ones do, so they had to add in some details in the instructions while trying not to lose the Italian essence of the book. Therefore, each recipe name is in Italian as well as English.

      To give an idea about the breakdown of recipes in each section:
      - sauces are pages 45-90
      - antipasti, appetizers and pizzas are pages 91-200
      - first courses are pages 201-350
      - eggs and frittata are pages 351-396
      - vegetables are pages 397-586
      - fish crustaceans and shellfish are pages 587-734
      - meat and offal are pages 735-874
      - poultry are pages 875-946
      - game is pages 947-986
      - cheese is pages 987-1000
      - desserts and baking are pages 1001-1120
      - menus by celebrated chefs are pages 1121-1200

      Many pages have two recipes on a page. There are not many pictures throughout the book so if you need a picture to check how something should look then this is definitely the wrong book for you.

      At the front of the book there are some notes about the ingredients used, an explanation of cooking terms, and a description of tools and equipment required.

      In some of the sections there are extra notes. In fish there is some information on types of cooking, suitable side dishes and useful herns. In meat there is information on the types of cuts used in Italy.

      Overall I see this as a reference book rather than a using cookery book. I've only occasionally made one of these recipes, and usually for a special occasion when I wanted to make something different. The recipes have been nice - monkfish stew with turmeric rice was particularly good - but I'm not tempted to take such a hefty book off the shelf and work my way through it very often.

      It's also a quite expensive book, selling at around £15 on Amazon. So I can only partly recommend it.

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        19.06.2012 15:02
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        A must-have for fans of Italian cooking

        My husband bought me this, I think in the hope that I would venture away from spaghetti bolognaise! I think it has worked. It is a veritable encyclopaedia of Italian cooking, with thousands of recipes (yes, I do mean thousands) organised into chapters such as antipasti eggs and frittata and poultry. However, and it is a downside for a lot of people, there aren't many pictures and the ones that there are do not have the bright light and prettiness that we are used to nowadays in cookbooks. Is that really a bad thing? Well I suppose it stops that sense of disappointment when your finished dish doesn't look quite as shiny and delicious as the one in the book, but I find not having a picture sometimes stops me making a recipe. Maybe that's just me. (Mind you, heaven knows how big the book would have been if they had put in pictures of all the recipes!)

        That said, I have used this book a lot - mainly for dishes that I've had in Italian restaurants and want to try to recreate at home. The recipes are set out in a very straightforward way and most of them use ingredients that can be bought in big supermarkets. I think a novice cook might struggle a little with some of the recipes - they do pre-suppose some knowledge of cooking techniques.

        My favourite thing about the book is its straightforward layout; and particularly that in the chapter on vegetables the recipes are grouped by vegetable, so it's easy to find something fresh to do with that odd looking vegetable in the bottom of your veg box!

        I would say this is a must-have for any real fans of Italian cooking. It is functional, but not pretty.

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        18.04.2012 23:21

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        A really classic book to get to grips with traditional Italian cooking.

        I bought this book for my husband for Christmas only because I wanted it!! I was aware this was THE Italian classic cookery book and I love Italian food.
        This is a HUGE book and with over 1500 pages, you certainly get value for money.
        The book is clearly divided into sections ( vegetables, eggs, fish...) and I like the fact that the name ofeach recipe is given in Italian.
        The ingredients and recipes are very clearly laid out and instructions are easy to follow. Admittedly,some of the ingredients might be a little challenging to get hold of but nowadays most Italian staples can be found in most supermarkets.
        Unfortunately ot every recipe is illustrated but I would say about half of them are. The best bit about cookery books are the pictures....and these aren't great, a little old fashioned maybe, but hey, the food still looks pretty good!
        I can see already that some of these recipes are going to become regulars in our house!

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