Cookbook review — Antonio Carluccio’s simple cooking

I’m sure any regular readers of this blog will be well aware I am a huge fan of Italian cooking, so it will come as no surprise that I love the latest cook book by Antonio Carluccio. In this book Antonio Carluccio is pulling together all the ‘secrets’ he has learned from over 50 years of professional experience. In his introduction to the book he describes his love of Italian food and the principles of using the best ingredients possible, cooking them simply and not letting anything go to waste. These principles are evident through out the book. Most recipe contains ideas on how to make them more special or how to use up left overs. All the recipes are simple, usually no more than a page each including the a brief introduction to each dish, an ingredients lists, the method and any variations and tips.

The book has chapters on starters and salads, soups, pasta, gnocchi, polenta and rice, meat, fish, vegetables and deserts. Each chapter has a brief introduction and the recipes then follow, most of them illustrated with stunning photos. Extra information is also provided on cooking pasta, polenta and rice and there is also a good section on pasta sauces and the best type of pasta to pair with them.

Beetroot salad with mint is simplicity at its best and looks stunning and delicious. Pasta and bean soup, cep and cannellini bean veloute and simple fish soup are just a few of the soups that I look forward to cooking this autumn/winter. All the pasta recipes look stunningly simple, as do the risottos. Neapolitan beef olive stew, chicken baked with rosemary and garlic and tiramisu all look delicious and simple.

I tried my first recipe from the book one night last week after work – Cart-driver’s spaghetti. It was incredibly simple and quick to cook and tasted fantastic. It’s a simple pasta dish of tomatoes, tinned tuna and dried porcini. As I was cooking the recipe I wondered if it would be tasty as there were no herbs etc in it but I needn’t of worried as it was delicious (my review of Easy tasty Italian coming up tomorrow will explain how a dish this simple can taste so much better than expected). UK readers may have seen Antonio Carluccio cook this recipe last night on Market kitchen where you will have seen just how simple it is to prepare. Great as a simple, week night supper and the recipe is included at the end of this post.

This book is a great, simple cook book for those new to cooking with an interest in Italian cuisine. It is also good for any Italian cooking enthusiasts (like myself) will also appreciate the simplicity of all the dishes and Antonio Carluccio’s fantastic knowledge and passion for Italian food and cooking.

Cart-driver spaghetti
Serves 2

200g spaghetti
salt and pepper

Sauce
1 small onion, peeled and finely sliced
4 tbsp olive oil
2 ripe tomatoes, finely chopped
25g dried porcini (ceps), rehydrated and finely sliced
100g canned tuna in oil, drained

For the sauce, fry the onion in a pan with the olive oil until soft, about 5-6 minutes, then add the tomatoes and fry for 15 minutes. Add the sliced porcini and some of the liquid, along with the tuna and some salt and pepper to taste.

Cook the pasta in plenty of boiling salted water until al dente, about 5-6 minutes. Drain, mix with the sauce and serve immediately.

Thanks to Quadrille publishing for sending me this book to review.

Further information:
Antonio Carluccio’s Simple cooking
Published by
Quadrille publishing in 2009.
Hardback, full colour photographs, 176 pages.
ISBN 978 184400 734 9
Price £20
Available to buy now.

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