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Recommendations for an Italian cook book?

iliria Jul 17, 2011 12:52 PM

I have been looking for ages to buy one however i have encountered some difficulties. I.e. The Silver Spoon has quite a lot of mistakes in it and not enough pictures (or no pic at all?).

And La Cucina: Regional Cooking of Italy is printed in American measurements and some recipes have no measurements at all.

So I have stayed away from the above books, but am still not sure what decent Italian cookery book there is out there. Anyone can recommend one?

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  1. h
    Harters RE: iliria Jul 17, 2011 02:36 PM

    Assuming that you're looking for a book with metric measurements, Silver Spoon is probably still the way to go (in spite of the lack of photos).

    You might also want to search out a secondhand copy of Marcella Hazan's "Classic Italian Cookbook" but you need to exercise care. Although Italian, the book was originally published for the American market and uses their measurements and ingredient names. However, there is a version re-edited by Anna del Conte using metric measurements (and British ingredient terminology).

    4 Replies
    1. re: Harters
      iliria RE: Harters Jul 17, 2011 03:27 PM

      My worry regarding Silver Spoon is that quite a few reviewers have said that the English version has quite a few mistakes in the amounts used in quite a few recipes. So I have decided to wait for a new edition where they may have hopefully corrected those mistakes.

      And I tend to stay away from the books published for the American market because I don't want to have to go through a conversion chart everytime I cook a recipe.

      1. re: iliria
        Monch RE: iliria Jul 17, 2011 07:08 PM

        Concur about Silver Spoon, but my vantage point is inspiration.

        Silver Spoon just never inspired, or "grabbed", me.

        1. re: iliria
          Sherri RE: iliria Jul 18, 2011 09:18 AM

          iliria, I am one of the negative reviewers for Silver Spoon. Look at the recipe for "Green Sauce" - dill pickle??????? potato??????? When I wrote to the publisher, I received a pro forma letter which did not answer my questions and I was nailed here on CH as an American who wanted everything spelled out for her, etc. I've often heard the SS compared to The Joy of Cooking as a good bride-beginner book but I pity the poor bride. I think you were wise to pass on this one.

          Harters is dead-on correct about the Italian version of Marcella Hazan's "Classic Italian Cookbook". It would be my first choice.

          1. re: Sherri
            Harters RE: Sherri Jul 18, 2011 10:28 AM

            Whilst I wouldnt be first in the queue to include potato or eggs in salsa verde, are we saying this is an error in the translation of the book from Italian or that these are ingredients included in the Italian version, which has been published since1950, that we think Italians are wrong to include?

            Just for clarification, I'm not suggesting buying an Italian version of Hazan but the British version

      2. m
        Matahari22 RE: iliria Jul 17, 2011 02:59 PM

        I second the Marcella Hazan reccommendation. For Northern Italian I like, Biba's Northern Italian Cooking, by Biba Caggiano. For Southern Italian and food that I grew up on, like my great grandmother made, The Food of Southern Italy, by Carlo Middione.

        2 Replies
        1. re: Matahari22
          financialdistrictresident RE: Matahari22 Jul 17, 2011 06:36 PM

          Second Biba Caggiano.

          1. re: Matahari22
            Bada Bing RE: Matahari22 Jul 18, 2011 11:53 AM

            I have also liked Biba's books. The measurements aren't metric, though. (Not in mine, anyway.)

          2. Delucacheesemonger RE: iliria Jul 17, 2011 03:01 PM

            Another vote for Marcella Hazan. Her books are routinely on Ebay or half.com and are wonderful.

            1. Jay F RE: iliria Jul 17, 2011 05:39 PM

              Do any of Giuliano Bugialli's cookbooks have useful British formatting? Some of them feature quite beautiful photography, and I prefer his way of doing things to Marcella's in a lot of instances. I prefer his way of making egg pasta, and his stracotto and pot roast. These are in the first cookbook, The Fine Art of Italian Cooking.


              I see when I search on amazon.uk that there's a very highly rated Italian Cookery Book by Katie Caldesi. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Italian-Cook...

              Given that it's actually called a *cookery* book, I'm guessing it's intended for the UK market. It seems to have lots of photos. It looks interesting to me, but I've never read it.

              1. p
                pasuga RE: iliria Jul 17, 2011 06:26 PM

                A few years ago my brother's family had a student from Rome living with them for her junior year in high school. I don't think she thought much of American food although my SiL is quite a good cook! VBG At Christmas she had her mother send over a cookbook for all the women in our family. It's called "The Delights of Good Italian Cooking" and has tons of beautiful color photos. No author given - edited by Paolo Piazzesi. The ingredients are all given for American and European and British cooks. i.e. a random recipe I opened to called for 6 ML/ 2 FL OZ/ 4 TBSP red wine. A lot of emphasis on very fresh meat and vegetables. Some for meats that aren't easy to find in the US like rabbit and pheasant.

                I'm also very fond of the two cookbooks by Wanda and Giovanna Tornabene. Their focus is on Sicilian cooking and they have wonderful pictures and anecdotes throughout both books. Their restaurant is a former medieval abbey which had been the family home for generations. Quite isolated - and their food so good that Prince Charles was brought for a visit by friends when he was on a private vacation. The first book is "La Cucina Siciliana Di Gangivecchio." The editions I have were done for the American market but I'd be very surprised if they aren't out there with British/European measurements.

                3 Replies
                1. re: pasuga
                  pasuga RE: pasuga Jul 17, 2011 06:38 PM

                  Sorry - correction - the first book was "Sicilian Home Cooking" and it's available from Amazon UK although apparently out of print.


                  1. re: pasuga
                    financialdistrictresident RE: pasuga Jul 17, 2011 06:46 PM

                    pasuga, not sure where you are in the U.S. Rabbit and pheasant should not be hard to find. Our local green market carries pheasant. We get rabbit and other game from the butcher or from a local CSA.

                    1. re: pasuga
                      Gio RE: pasuga Jul 18, 2011 05:31 AM

                      I second the Tonabene book, Additionally, their book, Sicilian Home Cooking: Family Recipes from Gangivecchio by Giovanna Tornabene and Wanda Tornabene and Michele Evans is equally wonderful.

                    2. financialdistrictresident RE: iliria Jul 17, 2011 06:34 PM

                      Italian Regional Cooking by Ada Boni

                      1. paulj RE: iliria Jul 17, 2011 06:46 PM

                        500 Best Ever Italian Recipes (editions in the USA are by Hermes House) has been the most useful Italian cookbook, particularly for quick pasta meals.

                        1. h
                          Harters RE: iliria Jul 18, 2011 02:03 AM

                          Another one that's not yet on my shelves but will be soon is Angela Hartnett's "Cucina". Even though a Michelin starred chef, it looks as though it's in the same casual home-cooking style as "River Cafe Easy" (which is on my shelf and might be worth a look).

                          That said, the books I use most often are a couple by Antonio Carluccio - "Italian Feast" and "Vegetables".

                          All have metric measurements.

                          1. Gio RE: iliria Jul 18, 2011 05:44 AM

                            Harters mentioned the River Cafe Easy book and there's another, River Cafe Two Easy, both serve up delicious and fairly authentic Italian food. And then there's Generao Contaldo, Jamie Oliver's guru. Here's his UK Amazon page:

                            Jamie himself has a pretty nice Italian cookbook, Jamie's Italy:

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Gio
                              Harters RE: Gio Jul 18, 2011 07:01 AM

                              I've got Contaldo's "Passione" which was, I think, his first book. Named after his now closed London restaurant which was our favourite place when visiting the capital. Unfortunately, the recipes have never really appealed that much.

                            2. w
                              Westy RE: iliria Jul 18, 2011 06:22 AM

                              Hmmm...it would depend.

                              A book for simple Italian food: Sicilian Gentleman

                              A little more complex: Jamie's italy

                              A litle more complex than that: Da Silva

                              Red Sauce: Patsy's

                              No idea whee to put it, but I like it: http://bravocookbook.com/

                              4 Replies
                              1. re: Westy
                                Gio RE: Westy Jul 18, 2011 07:17 AM

                                Westy, what is the title of the Da Silva book? Is that author Maria Da Silva?

                                For a minute I thought you were referring to the Da Silvano cookbook from the restaurant of the same name:


                                1. re: Gio
                                  Westy RE: Gio Jul 18, 2011 07:24 AM

                                  That is it -Da Silvano. That is what i get for NOT checking my spelling. Thanks.

                                  1. re: Westy
                                    Gio RE: Westy Jul 18, 2011 07:32 AM

                                    I have the book but cannot remember if I've ever cooked from it. I guess that says something, doesn't it? The author is certainly enthusiastic enough...
                                    Do you have a favorite revipe from Da Silvano?

                                    1. re: Gio
                                      Westy RE: Gio Jul 18, 2011 09:03 AM

                                      I'll look it up when i get home, but I recall a very good grilled swordfish recipe.

                              2. s
                                Shasty RE: iliria Jul 18, 2011 10:38 AM

                                For Basic, amazing Southern italian type food i recommend,

                                1. Dom Deluise's " Eat This, It will make you feel Better"
                                2. Raos original cookbook.

                                both enjoyable, great pictures, stories and will have you salivating at every page.

                                1. c
                                  ChiliDude RE: iliria Jul 18, 2011 12:12 PM

                                  I wear my Italian cookbook while I'm preparing Italian food. My apron given to me by my youngest daughter has a statement on it, "I don't need a recipe...I'M ITALIAN." All my descendants have Italian genes, but I do not.

                                  But if it involves baking, I then turn to my baking bible...The Italian Baker by Carol Field, HarperCollinsPublishers (there are no spaces between the 3 words.), 1985. Baking is chemistry.

                                  However, If you really need an Italian cookbook, try Sophia Loren's Recipes & Memories, GT Publishing Corporation, 1998. The units of measure are those used in the US. I bought it for the photographs.

                                  1. s
                                    sedjatcooks RE: iliria Jul 23, 2011 06:53 AM

                                    Anything by Biba Caggiano. She does mainly northern italian food, but her recipes are simple and everyone that I've tried has worked and tasted wonderful. Try A Taste of Italy, Trattoria Cooking, or Biba's Italy to start.

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