Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Italian
From Biba's Italian Kitchen
Published: June 1, 1995
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Midwest Book Review
From Spinach, Ricotta and Mascarpone Dumplings to a Chianti-enhanced Lamb and Potato Stew, this gathers a range of diverse and often unusual dishes from Caggiano's Italian heritage, presenting a solid collection of both Italian
basics and diversions from the norm. Newcomers to Italian cuisine will find this particularly inviting, while pros will find plenty of innovations.
From Biba Caggiano Come all the rich, flavorful recipes and The warm
good fun of her sensationally popular cooking show, Biba's Italian Kitchen, which has been called the most delightful cooking show on the air.
Following a childhood spent in Bologna, and an adulthood in the bosom of an Italian family in New York,
Biba Caggiano found herself in Sacramento, California, in 1968, unable to find the food that was familiar to her palate--and essential to her heritage. Working from memory, Biba recalled her roots and recreated authentic Italian flavor in this most
American of cities, and quickly became a local legend for her cooking classes and, ultimately for her famously delicious restaurant, Biba.
Biba's fantastic, simple dishes represent what the Italians call la buona cucina casalinga--more commonly
known as "good home cooking"--and are now available to all in From Biba's Italian Kitchen.
Biba's foolproof method relies on the senses, not on the repetition of rigid recipes. Do the tomatoes at the market look particularly fresh? Then it's time
to whip up a quick puttanesca sauce to top practically any pasta or meat dish. Are the porcini mushrooms especially eye-catching today? A tangy and woodsy sauce of porcini and tomatoes for. delicate spinach-ricotta gnocchi is just minutes away. Did a
batch of walnuts just arrive from your aunt out West? Walnut pesto is the only proper reply.Biba trusts her (and your)impulses, and encourages a casual but committed approach to food, two hallmarks of la dolce vita, the sweet life that From Biba's
Italian Kitchen promotes on every page.
Biba starts with a staple of Italian cooking: the elegant, integral antipasti. Simple or sophisticated antipasti show the instruments of the Italian symphony tuning up before the first act. Gorgeous red bell
peppers nestle with hunks of Italian bread and are topped by verdant parsley to make luscious bruschetta, plump little artichokes nuzzle with sun-dried tomatoes for sun-drenched carciofini all'olio; and fresh eggs with earthy potatoes and onions blend to
create rustic fritatta di patate e cipolle.
The harmony continues into the main dishes, a cavalcade of pasta, meat, and fish dishes that catch attention without disrupting a schedule. Prepare in haste and enjoy in leisure such delicacies as
seafood cannelloni, delectably bitter pasta with broccoli rabe, succulent osso buco, veal shank with tomatoes and peas, or classic tagliatelle with sweet prosciutto and fresh tomatoes.
A chapter on vegetable side dishes (whether grilled, sautéed,
baked, stuffed, roasted, braised, or steamed) shows how primizie--the first, freshest produce of the season--bring the vegetable garden to the urban table. Complete sections on pizza (of course!),risotti, the light yet hearty dishes, made from Italian
arborio rice, and polenta, the scrumptious cornmeal preparation that is the perfect foil to vegetable and meat alike, round out Biba's memorable tavola calda.
And dessert!Italian desserts! Juicy fig and jam tart, sinful mascarpone-zabaglione
mousse, juicy strawberries in red wine, and apple and amaretti cake serve as an elegant, graceful cadenza to the mellifluous meals in From Biba's Italian Kitchen.Striking every grace note, Biba conducts her culinary symphony, Biba conducts her culinary
symphony with verve, and makes a maestro of every cook.
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