Deb Perelman is a chef and celebrated author of SmittenKitchen.com and The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook.
I was lucky enough to spend a lot of time in the cookbook sections of bookstores this past year as I promoted my own, and was embarrassed by the realization that my bookshelves at home were so thin on what most people consider essential cooking classics. I set to immediately rectifying this when I got home. This purchase was one of my first and I think it's impossible not to find a few dishes worth repeating forever in it, plus there's so much to learn from the front pages and details. Of course, I couldn't have known she would pass later this year, but it only makes this feel more essential.
Almost twenty years ago, with the publication of The Classic Italian Cook Book, followed by More Classic Italian Cooking, Marcella Hazan introduced Americans to a whole new world of Italian food. As Roy Andries de Groot wrote, Marcellas book is the most authentic guide to Italian food ever written in the U.S. Where other authors failed, Marcella has brilliantly succeeded in capturing (and conveying to the reader on every page) the feel, the aromatic scent, the subtle nuances of fresh country flavors and, above all, the easy uncomplication of Italian food prepared in the Italian style. Now a new generation is ready to master the art of Italian cooking, and their bible will be Essentials of Classic Italian Cookingthis new volume that combines the two books, updates and expanded throughout. Designed as a basic manual for cooks on every levelfrom beginners to accomplished professionalsit offers both an accessible and comprehensive guide to techniques and ingredients and a collection of the most delicious recipes from the Italian repertoire. From the Hardcover edition.
It was also my luck to come across this when I met Diane Morgan while on book tour, but I suspect I would have eventually fallen for this book either way. Not only is it stunning, it fills a bothersome gap in my cooking. Here in the Northeast, where our growing season is essentially dormant from November through April, roots, which store well in the cold, are the market mainstays but I was walking past most of them because I didn't have many more ideas for them outside "boil or maybe roast?" This book has hundreds of clever, delicious recipes to use a wide range of root vegetables, plus a lot of helpful information about each.
Contains information on familiar and exotic root vegetables and includes recipes featuring each vegetable, including horseradish vinaigrette, stir-fried lotus root and snow peas, and yuca chips.
I had seen the book around and found it beautiful (especially the gorgeous hand-sewn stitching on the binding, at least in the UK edition…) but feared it might be too simple for my needs. Then I actually ate at the restaurant while staying in the Soho part of London and proceeded to have my mind blown by every single dish; all were so much more complex than the short ingredient lists suggest; this kind of complexity from simple ingredients is exactly what most home cooks crave. I bought myself and two friends copies for the spinach-egg pizzettes alone (I could eat them for breakfast, lunch or dinner, any day and never tire of it), but already have another dozen small plates bookmarked.
A sophisticated collection of 120 lesser-known Venetian specialties from London's edgy Soho district restaurant is complemented by sumptuous photography and includes such option as warm duck salad with beets and walnuts, crispy baby pizzas with zucchini and warm autumn fruits with amaretto cream. 25,000 first printing.