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Sep 15, 2013 04:48 AM

Italian Cookbook for beginners?

I want to get a few cookbooks for my friend who is getting married. She has no clue on cooking. (Unlike me:) When I give her a recipe I have to put exactly every last step. She is trying to learn, so I don't know which ones to give her. I was thinking about a Marcela Hazen, but I still think that is too advanced for her. I feel like Giada's books are easy for her to comprehend.

What do you suggest? Thanks!!

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    1. This book is just lovely, and as simple or as complex as your skills. It is a Hazan book, but the son of Marcela. For me, the photography of the raw ingredients are what make this book particularly special

      2 Replies
      1. re: smtucker

        STRONGLY endorse smtucker's suggestion of Giuliano Hazan's book. I've cooked through about a third of its recipes

        It's both exceptionally visual (including photos of all the ingredients as prepped for use), and also fairly thorough in its coverage of pasta-related specialties from Italy, including classics omitted from many books, even "classic" books, written for the US market. I have many cookbooks on Italian food, mostly from Italy or by Italians, and this one was fairly searching in its coverage of regional classic and modern specialties. I also find the vibrant photos of finished dishes a source of inspirations for what to cook.

        This book was also the source of a couple of points I mentioned in recent years on CH, such as clarification of the redundant pasta shape names -- an issue even in Italy, but more so in N. America where e.g. fusilli are marketed sometimes as "rotini" [Barilla] or "rotelle" [Golden Grain]) -- the book has a thorough glossary of shapes with the standard Italian terms, all w/ photos of course. And Giuliano Hazan's mention of unsubtle sausage seasonings in the US, and an easy remedy by making your own sausage _meat_ almost effortlessly -- it was a revelation -- most of the work in sausages is the filling, which is irrelevant in this book because the few recipes needing sausage use just the meat inside.

        1. re: smtucker

          I am going to look into this, smtucker!! I love Marcela's books, but I think they are too advanced for my friend. Plus she needs to see pictures!!

        2. I like Twelve: A Tuscan Cook Book Paperback
          by Tessa Kiros. It's not fancy Italian but nice comfort food. My favorite recipes are her ragu sauce, which I make in big batches and then freeze in portions for quick weeknight dinners or to make lasagne. I also really like the tomato bread soap recipe. It's best if you make this with good summer tomatoes, fresh basil and good virgin olive oil. It's so simple but really yummy.

          1. Not Giada. If you want popular TV chef brand level, Lidia is much better. She may be a brand, but she is also a chef who understands the exigencies of home vs restaurant food and the issues home chefs tend to have because of a lack of technique and discipline. (Off topic note to Lidia: stop with travelogues - they are the red flag of a PBS series turning into a lifestyle program for the retiree donor class and signal your series is about to go on life support. See "The Victory Garden" for reference.)