Former leading New Zealand publisher and bookseller, and widely experienced judge of both the Commonwealth Writers Prize and the Montana New Zealand Book Awards, talks about what he is currently reading, what impresses him and what doesn't, along with chat about the international English language book scene, and links to sites of interest to booklovers.
Friday, June 17, 2011
Italian Comfort Food
125 Recipes to Satisfy Your Soul Julia Della Croce Kyle Cathie - Hardback - $59.99
Italian food is always a firm favourite but there are certain dishes that really stand out and hit the spot when a deeply comforting, home-cooked treat is in order. Whether its Sphagetti Alla Carbonara or a baked pasta dish with a bubbling, melted cheesy top, the 125 recipes in this outstanding collection bring together everything that is mouth-watering and enticing about good and simple food that can be cooked fairly easily at home.
Julia della Croce is one of the leading cognoscenti of Italian food and cookery and brings her expertise to every chapter, from Welcoming Dishes and Bowlfuls of Soup to Pasta by Heart and Everyday Sauces. Including Meat, Fish, and Seafood Main Courses, as well as Vegetable Accompaniments, Sunday Treats and Baby’s First Meals – Italian Comfort Foodis anindispensable winter treat for family and friends.
About the author
Julia della Croce has been broadcast extensively on British, American and Canadian radio, and has made many appearances on television, including The Today Show and Food Network. She is the author of 13 cookbooks, which include, The Classic Italian Cookbook and Ultimate Pasta (Dorling Kindersley) that received widespread international recognition. Her work has appeared in newspapers and magazines including The Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, Food & Wine, and Cook’s Illustrated.
The publishers have kindly agreed to let me reproduce two recipes from the book, both if which I can warmly recommend:
Simmered White Beans
with Sausage and Tomato
A si∂e dish for 4
When I was growing up, my mother often reminisced about the things she missed from her
native Italy. The flavour of Italian beans was one of them. I have friends who carry beans back
from Tuscany – the home of true bean lovers – when they go there because Tuscan beans are
so flavourful. In this dish, the sauce and succulent fennel sausages give great flavour to the
beans, which become saturated with their juices.
1. In a frying pan over medium-low heat, warm the olive oil. Add the onion and
garlic and sauteÅL gently until totally softened but not browned, about 5 minutes.
Using a slotted spoon, remove the onion and garlic from the pan and transfer
to a bowl.
2. H eat the oil that remains in the pan and add the sausage meat to it, breaking it up
with a wooden spoon. SauteÅL until browned, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
Return the onion and garlic to the pan. Add the tomato pureÅLe, sage, stock or water,
salt and pepper to taste and bring to the boil. Add the beans, bring to the boil again
and immediately reduce to a simmer. Partially cover and cook gently for 10 to
15 minutes. Sprinkle with the parsley and serve hot or warm.
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
3 sweet Italian fenn el sausages
(about 225g total weight), casings
1 tablespoon tomato purée
3 chopped fresh sage leaves or
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
125ml Tasty Meat stock (page 213),
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
freshly ground black pepper
90g cooked, drained cann ellini
beans (page 84)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh flatleaf
Spaghetti alla Carbonara
Most versions of spaghetti alla carbonara outside of Italy include cream, but there is no
cream in the genuine recipe, which dates from World War Two. By some accounts, Italian
women invented the new sauce for pasta when presented with bacon and egg rations by their
American GI lovers. In any case, the sauce ingredients and method here are considered
by Italian culinary historians to be the original and authentic version. While carbonara sauce
was designed for spaghetti, I find fusilli are also a pleasant cut to use because the sauce collects
nicely in its grooves.
1. In a bowl, combine the beaten eggs with the grated cheese and season with salt
2. Select a serving bowl for the pasta and keep it warm.
3. Fill a saucepan with 4.7 litres water and bring it to a rapid boil over high heat.
Add the spaghetti or fusilli and the kosher salt together and stir. Check the packet
instructions for cooking time. Cook, stirring frequently, until the pasta is 2 minutes
away from being al dente.
4. Meanwhile, in a large frying pan, warm the olive oil. Add the pancetta or guanciale
and sauteÅL over medium heat until nicely coloured and crispy. Set aside.
5. When the pasta is ready, drain it, reserving about 250ml of the cooking water.
Transfer it to the frying pan with the pancetta and toss over low heat. Add 125ml or
so of the cooking water to moisten. Simmer until the water is nearly evaporated.
6. Remove the frying pan from the heat, transfer the pasta to the serving bowl and
immediately add the egg and cheese mixture, tossing vigorously to distribute the
sauce while making sure it does not coagulate into scrambled egg. It should not
exceed 70.C. If the pasta seems dry, add more of the reserved cooking water.
Serve at once, passing the pepper mill and the grated cheese at the table.
5 eggs, beaten
75g freshly grated Grana Padano
or Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese,
plus extra to serve
sea salt and freshly ground
450g imported Italian spaghetti
2 tablespoons kosher salt
4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
225g panc etta or guanc iale (cheek
bacon), thick ly sliced and diced
Italian Comfort Food
125 Recipes to Satisfy Your Soul
Julia Della Croce
Kyle Cathie - Hardback - $59.99 (distributed in NZ by New Holland)