Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Italian
Make It Italian : The Taste and Technique of Italian Home Cooking
BARR, NANCY VERDE
Published: November, 2002
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From Publishers Weekly
Barr, who cooked alongside Julia Child and authored We Called It Macaroni, shares her nonna's wisdom in a book organized by traditional Italian courses. Adjusting for Americans, Barr portions pasta and soup as whole meals. She
provides extensive information on everything from shopping and tools to terminology to how to make scaloppine. The strength is in her unique approach to the recipes: instead of a rigid prescription, ingredients are categorized yet flexible. For example,
ingredients for Spicy Bay Scallops with Capers and Lemon are under headings for the fish, the aromatic, the deglazing liquid, and the finish. There are four variations on this recipe alone. Cooks get license-and the tools-to experiment. The soup section
is especially strong, with a table on how to create your own and examples such as Fennel Soup with Ham and Soup with Porcini and Cornmeal. Chapters begin with a "primary recipe," such as Tomato, Mozzarella, and Basil Pizza, and advance, for example, to
Potato Pizza. The only drawback to this approach is the cross-referencing necessary. Barr provides just enough guidance, writing, for Nonna's Chicken with Garlic and Rosemary: "Don't be alarmed by the large amount of garlic" because it will sweeten.
Recipes are traditional Southern (her family is from Ischia) with some surprises (e.g., Roasted Monkfish with Roasted Red Pepper Sauce and Sweet-and-Sour Lamb Stew from Apulia). The salad chapter ("the stomach's toothbrush") is straightforward-the way it
should be. The dessert section emphasizes puddings (Lemon "Cooked Cream" with Berries) and mix-and-match sauces (Chocolate-Espresso Sauce and Dried Tart-Cherry Sauce for puddings or ice creams). This book is worth having for anyone who loves Italian
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Make it Italian . . . But how to achieve the genuine Italian flavor that we Americans love so much?
According to Nancy Verde Barr, author of the incomparable
We Called It Macaroni, the secret lies in knowing one's ingredients and how to cook with them; it is a birthright that is passed down through generations of Italian families. She learned by watching her grandmother, Nonna, and now, in this wonderfully
instructive and warmhearted book, she translates that hands-on experience into a primer of techniques and tastes that will become our Nonna in the kitchen.
First she introduces us to the Italian cupboard -- essential ingredients that give Italian
dishes their distinctive flavors. Then, for each category of food, she gives us a Primary Recipe, detailing the right cooking techniques, timing, seasoning, and finishing touches to achieve the perfect balance of taste and texture. Countless variations
follow, enabling us to put into practice all we have learned.
For example, once we have mastered Penne and Marinara Sauce, we can confidently whip up Linguine with Tuna and Pea Sauce or Rigatoni with Eggplant Sauce or Ziti with Sausage and
The perfect formula for making Veal Scaloppine with Lemon and Parsley invites us to use pork, chicken, or turkey, or to try rolled, stuffed, and breaded versions.
Fresh fish and seafoods are roasted, sautéed, steamed, or braised
according to what is the best for each species. The detailed instructions for Roasted Whole Red Snapper can be applied to small stuffed sardines; the formula for Sautéed Tuna Steaks with Prosciutto and Tomatoes works beautifully for Sautéed Monkfish
Medallions with Pancetta and Cream.
The same principle applies to vegetables, the glory of the Italian table. The right cooking techniques bring out the best in each seasonal offering, from Roasted Green Beans to Smothered Broccoli
The desserts she gives us are her own favorites, homey and simple to make -- light Semolina Pudding, "cooked creams" like the classic Panna Cotta, tender sponge cake (and its reincarnation in her version of Tiramisand#249;), some fruit
delights, and the formula for crisp biscotti.
There are charts throughout to guide us in creating our own recipes out of the lessons we
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