Italy Al Dente: Pasta, Risotto, Gnocchi, Polenta, Soup

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9780688148775: Italy Al Dente: Pasta, Risotto, Gnocchi, Polenta, Soup
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Pasta, polenta, gnocchi, risotto, soup--these are the heart and soul of Italian cooking. Simple, hearty, and filling, these dishes can satisfy any craving, any time.

Do you like pasta? Biba gives you pasta--three chapters of pasta, eighty-seven recipes in all. Prefer your pasta stuffed? How about Eggplant-Goat Cheese Tortelli with Fresh Tomatoes and Black Olives or Spinach Cannelloni with Duck and Wild Mushroom Stuffing? Want to try a new spin on lasagne? Lasagne with Walnut Pesto and Ricotta might be just the thing. If you like to keep it simple, Biba can feed your hunger with inspired but quick-to-the-table recipes like Spaghetti with Hot Anchovy Sauce or Pasta with Spicy Broccoli.

Polenta and gnocchi are the quintessential Italian comfort foods and Biba's hearty recipes serve up satisfaction and surprising variety--Potato Gnocchi with Osso Buco Sauce; Saffron Gnocchi with Mushrooms, Prosciutto, Asparagus, and Cream Sauce; Polenta with Fontina, Butter, and Sage; and Soft Polenta with Pancetta, Garlic, and Hot Pepper, to name only a few.

Risotto and soup--what better choices can one have on a cold, wet evening? Whatever you're in the mood for--or have on hand--there's a risotto to fit the bill. Savor Risotto of the Fisherman; Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash; Risotto with Three Cheeses; or Risotto with Sausage, Beans, and Red Wine. And soup lovers will delight in what Biba has to offer--from thick vegetable minestre like Tuscan Chick-pea and Pasta Soup and Artichoke, Leek, and Rice Soup to lighter fare like Angel Hair in Broth.

Italy at Dente keeps the flavors direct and the recipes simple. If you like Italian, this is a cookbook for the kitchen counter.

Italy al Dente is Italian food that is "just right." There singular recipes are perfectly on target -- precisely the food we want to eat every day, day after day: the simply perfect pasta, flavor-filled gnocchi, hearty soups, steaming risottos, and comforting polenta -- the tastes we crave when we think Italian.

Legions of Biba admirers -- who have brought hundreds of thousands of copies of her cookbooks -- know that no one hits this high note quite as well as she does. Recipe after recipe, each is a peak moment, with dishes like Simmer Spaghetti with Uncooked Tomato Sauce Squash-Eggplant Tortellini with Butter and Sage, Ricotta Gnocchi with Walnuts and Gorgonzola, Barley and Porcini Mushroom Soup, Soft Polenta with Bolognese Meat Sauce, and Risotto with Roasted Butternut Squash. This is simple cooking at its best.

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Review:

"Though good Italian cooking should be rooted in strong regional traditions," Biba Caggiano writes in her introduction to Italy al Dente, "I also believe that one should not follow rules slavishly because ... food adapts itself to new modes.... Flexibility in the kitchen is essential, the quality of ingredients is everything, and simplicity of execution is a must. Another important prerequisite of the Italian cook is fantasia, or imagination and creativity."

One might view this book, then, as a guide to Italian fantasia, Biba style. Start with brodo, or broth, and move right along to Bean, Cabbage, and Rice Soup. Or Barley and Porcini Mushroom Soup. Biba Caggiano has been in the Italian food game long enough that she is determined to come up with special treats for her old fans and new followers alike.

Both elegance and simplicity lace their ways through this cookbook as it addresses Italian foods found most often at the front end of the meal: soups, pasta, risotto and rice dishes, gnocchi, and polenta. Biba is determined to take the reader right to the heart and soul of Italian cooking. Risotto with Duck Ragu? Case closed. --Schuyler Ingle

About the Author:

Biba Caggiano is the author of Northern Italian Cooking, Modern Italian Cooking, and Leo Buscaglia's Love Cookbook with Biba Caggiano, From Biba's Italian Kitchen, and Italy alDente. Her cooking show, Biba's Kitchen, was seen on the Learning Channel, and she is the chef/owner of Biba's restaurant in Sacramento, California, where she lives.

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