Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Cookbook Review: Giada's Kitchen

I love Giada de Laurentiis! I've been a fan of her shows on the Food Network and the recipes I've tried from her shows have always turned out fabulously for me, so when I saw that she had a new cookbook coming out I was totally stoked and knew I'd have to get my hands on a copy. My good blogfriend Karen recently gifted me with Giada's Family Dinners, which I have read through but haven't tried cooking from yet - sorry Karen, but I guarantee you it's on my to-do list! (Previous dishes blogged about here are Giada's Ravioli Caprese and her salmon & tomatoes.)

So, today Giada's Kitchen comes to your friendly neighbourhood bookshelves. Subtitled "New Italian Favourites," the flap states that Giada "takes us down a new path, sharing her love of food with clean, vibrant, simple flavors and bursts of bright colors that look as beautiful on the plate as they are delicious." In the introduction, Giada tells us that through her exploration of every type of Italian cooking imaginable, her own style has been evolving, and the recipes in this book have been inspired by her culinary journeys.

For the purposes of this review, I made two dishes from this volume. I had planned on making one more, the Spicey Calamari Stew on page 48, but my local overpriced grocery store was out of squid. So, I stuck with two dishes: Fregola Salad with Citrus and Red Onion (page 81; I used orzo as I couldn't find fregola at the store - which is owned by a huge Italian family and sells all kinds of other Italian specialty foods, just no fregola) and Beef Roast with Spicey Parsley Tomato Sauce (page 140; my dad supplied the roast, which was buffalo).

Both dishes were super easy to make, and as Giada promises in the intro, contain "clean, vibrant, simple flavors" and indeed have "bursts of bright colors." A traditional roast beef meal can be heavy with starchy potatoes and lots of gravy, and this version was so much lighter and much more interesting. I'm not the hugest fan of the typical roast beef dinner - never have been; once or twice a year is fine, but every week (as was often the case when I was growing up) was way too much for me. The roast recipe piqued my interest because it was paired with this simple sauce made from tomatoes roasted with the beef.

I will admit here that I've never made the perfect roast beef - probably because I don't make it at all, so I don't get the practice. In last night's case, I overcooked the buffalo way too much and I was annoyed with myself . Even though I cooked it for the recommended amount of time for its weight, and despite the fact that it was still frozen in the middle, it still was dry and almost flavourless. But the sauce was great! And the orzo salad paired well with with meat dish and was itself very fresh and light, so all was not lost.

For dessert, I served a hazelnut pie, but that's a post for another time (soon!).

The verdict: yes, this book is worth it and it totally delivers, based on my two experiments from it. The styling is amazing and all of the recipes appear to be easy and quick, and I am so looking forward to trying more from this book - and from Giada's Family Dinners, too.

Full Flickr set here.


Captain Karen said...

No worries - you are one busy gal and I know you'll get to it eventually. What was in the salad (without giving away the recipe)? It looks very interesting.

And I've never attempted a roast. Like you, I'm not a big fan especially since I like my meat cooked all the way through and most others prefer their's a bit less well-done (ie not burnt!).

Emily Rose said...

Thanks for the review. I don't eat or cook red meat or chicken (I do seafood though)- in your opinion does this cookbook contain enough recipes without meat for it to be of use for me? I love Giada's show too! Thanks!

lemon_tart said...

I hate Giada herself... there is something about her big dumb smile that irritates me to no end. However, I do enjoy her cooking more than I care to admit -- thanks for the review!

Meg said...

I think I may have to check out this cookbook when I go to Borders this weekend!

Wandering Coyote said...

Karen: I took out Family Dinners last night to take another look, and I am definitely going to have another family dinner soon!

Emily Rose: The book has chapters on salads, veggies, snacks, desserts, a kid-friendly food chapter, and there are non-meat recipes in there. If you can get to a bookstore, check it out first, but if you don't eat meat and like Giada, it shouldn't be a problem.

Lemon: thanks! She had to grow on me too, but I'm glad she did.

Meg: definitely give it a look. Not sure if there are enough pumpkin recipes in there for you, though! ;)

Wandering Coyote said...

Karen: Oh, re. the orzo salad: orzo, orange and grapefruit sections & their juices, fresh herbs, olive oil, red onion - very simple. If you want the recipe, let me know.


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