With so many new cookbooks entering the marketplace, how does one decide which cookbook to purchase these days? Cookbook reviews are certainly one way to make a decision. I always look at reader’s reviews before I hit “purchase.”
You may also decide to buy a cookbook based on the background or experience of the author. Giuliano Hazan operates a cooking school in Verona, Italy with his wife Lael, in addition to offering cooking classes in the states. He is the son of Marcella Hazan, an award wining cookbook author.
Giuliano has written four other cookbooks: Every Night Italian, How to Cook Italian and Thirty Minute Pasta. His work appears in Cooking Light magazine and you may have seen his guest appearances on The Today Show.
His most recent book, Hazan Family Favorites, tells Giuliano’s personal journey with food and cooking through words and photographs. It brings his own children, Gabriella and Michela, into the kitchen as a new family tradition. Many chefs and cookbook authors are discussing the topic of bringing family back into the kitchen and cooking fresh foods at home.
Many parents struggle to find the time or interest to cook healthy meals for their families. This cookbook is a reminder of how approachable home cooking can be. Many of the recipes can be prepared quickly and with easily accessible ingredients.
There are recipes for basic grilling and roasting fresh vegetables and fruit, which lend themselves perfectly to the summer months. Naturally, there are a number of pasta dishes and risotto recipes. While some recipes suggest making homemade pasta, you can substitute prepared pasta for a quicker preparation.
I made two recipes from the book. Meatballs with Tomatoes and Peas and Strawberry Gelato. I chose the meatball recipe to try a traditional Italian main course from the book. Giuliano says that his grandmother, Nonna Mary, would serve this dish with a rice pilaf (recipe is in the book).
I wanted to serve the meatballs with pappardelle, so I added more tomatoes to create a sauce for the pasta. I used ground sirloin from a local Georgia beef producer and frozen peas, as fresh peas were not available. I thought the meatballs were very flavorful and we enjoyed the sauce with the pasta. This would be a perfect meal to make for a family dinner. Giuliano suggests making a large batch since the meatballs keep well when frozen and can be reheated very quickly.
The next recipe I made was for Dolci, or dessert. Local strawberries are in season, so I used these beautifully sweet strawberries to make gelato. I adore frozen desserts, particularly in the warmer months. Gelato has less butterfat (and sometimes no dairy products), so it is a lighter dessert, which is preferable this time of year. This recipe adds a small amount of heavy cream that is whipped by hand to resemble the texture of yogurt.
The finished gelato was a beautiful pinkish-red color and burst with fresh strawberry flavor. It had a tanginess which made for a nice contrast to the sweetness. It would be a perfect ending to any meal.
I would recommend serving the gelato directly from the ice cream machine or after a short period of time in the freezer once removing it from the machine. Alternatively, leave it out at room temperature 15 minutes to soften the gelato, if you need to freeze it several hours before serving.
There is a nice balance of recipes in this book, ranging from simple to prepare to more involved. Many of these recipes, like the Zucchini Frittata, lend themselves to substitution or the addition of other ingredients to accommodate your own taste preferences.
For those of you that are interested in learning about rustic Italian cooking, Hazan Family Favorites would be a nice addition to your cookbook collection. Good home cooking is easily attainable with basic, fresh ingredients and can be done in a reasonable amount of time. With everyone’s lives so hectic, wouldn’t it be nice to take some time in your kitchen with your family and create some of your own traditions around food.
Here are two other reviews of Hazan Family Favorites:
Nona Mary’s Ciambella from Lora at Cake Duchess
Veal Rolls in a Tomato Wine Sauce from Jamie at Life’s a Feast
*Disclosure – I was sent a copy of this book by the publisher to review. All opinions expressed are my own.
* Cover photograph by Joseph De Leo
Yield: Approximately 1 quart
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes
3/4 pound fresh strawberries
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup water
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup heavy cream
1. Remove the green tops of the strawberries and rinse them in cold water.
2. Place the berries and the sugar in a food processor and blend until puréed. Add the water and lemon juice and continue blending until all the ingredients are mixed together thoroughly.
3. Whip the cream with a whisk until it begins to thicken and acquires the consistency of yogurt. Add the puréed strawberries and mix thoroughly.
4. Pour the mixture into an ice cream maker and freeze according to manufacture’s directions. Serve right away or store, tightly covered, in the freezer. It should keep for several days before ice crystals begin to form.
Reprinted with express permisssion
Copyright © Giuliano Hazan 2012, All Rights Reserved
Hazan Family Favorites