Saturday, December 9, 2017

Cooking With Nonna

I grew up in an area with a large and vibrant Italian immigrant community.  We had a lot of really good Italian restaurants, an annual Italian heritage festival, even an Italian language local radio station.  I grew up, moved out of the area and found myself looking forward to trips back, so I could get my real Italian food fix.

Even though my own family are Irish (through and through), my closest friends were almost all Italian, and I grew up eating and loving so much beautiful Italian food.  I even had my own honorary Nonna Giulia, my best friend's grandmother.

This book is packed full of real Italian home cooking recipes.  The pictures of family gatherings made me very nostalgic.  There's a real connection between family and food.  Hospitality means feeding people with love.  That's a very basic and very real connection; one that this book celebrates and illustrates very well.

It starts with an introduction, including two vital basics of Italian cooking, pasta doughs and sauces.  There is also a good basic introduction of tools and techniques.  The intro chapters comprise about 10% of the total content and do a good job of building up to the techniques and recipes which come after.  And wow, what recipes they are!  Nearly every recipe I remember adoring as a kid is included in this book, pasta e fagioli, focaccia, veal,  tortelli, gnocchi, and bunches more.

The recipes are arranged in chapters in order of their place in a meal; appetizers, soups & salads, vegetables, pasta & first course, second courses, pasta & breads, desserts, and cookies.

I've tried several of the recipes included in the book and in every way they've lived up to my memories of special occasion foods from my past.  The seven layer cookies (which, admittedly are Italian-American) were fabulous and didn't last out the evening.  Pasta e fagioli soup with foccacia bread was a simple, warming, wonderful meal.  These recipes are beautifully simple and do-able.  I'm NOT a gifted cook, but the instructions and tutorial photographs are well done and the results are wonderful.

This is a good all-around Italian cookbook and has many regional specialty recipes.

Cooking With Nonna is a warm and inviting cookbook with delicious well prepared dishes.  248 pages, by Rosella Rago, published by Quarto - Race Point.

Four stars plus nostalgia and *yum* value.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.

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