COOKBOOK REVIEW: David Rocco's "Made in Italy"

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

My first day back on the mainland, from a summer of employment with Pelee Island Winery, and I received an email from Harper Collins Canada asking if I'd be interested in reviewing David Rocco's NEW "Made in Italy" cookbook. Uhh.... WOULD I EVER!

I love this guy. If you have never heard of him before, he is what I would describe as Canada's version of Jamie Oliver-- if Jamie Oliver were Italian. ;) If you are reading this from Canada, you have probably seen this guy on the Food Network. Always cooking Italian, often visiting Italy in each episode, and then of course sharing his meals with friends.

Rocco's "Made in Italy" was just released in bookstores today. I, however, had the fortune of having it arrive from the publisher yesterday. I immediately gave it a skim through and was impressed. But who am I to criticise an Italian cookbook? I was born here in Canada. I gave it to my father who gave it a skim through before ultimately handing it off to my mum. Italian mothers tend to be the "Queens of the Kitchen". My mother gave it an extensive look through, then said, "Hey Gio, so I bookmarked this recipe that I want you to make for dinner tomorrow while I'm at work". Great....

I LOVE cookbooks. I have an extensive collection and always eager to add more. The problem with cookbooks for me is that I NEVER follow the recipes. I rather use them as a source of inspiration to cook up a storm. So it was with great excitement when I read page 9 of Rocco's "Made in Italy". QUANTO BASTA (QB). There is no better indicator of this being an authentic cookbook than this one page. Quanto Basta is italian for as much as you need. This is my style of cooking, making each dish your own, and apparently Rocco's too. He puts it, "...use as much as you want or need. This is quanto basta, and it's my philosophy of cooking".

The recipe that mum wanted me to make tonight was Scialatielli Con Pomodori e Melanzane (translated: Neapolitan-style pasta with eggplant and mozzarella sauce). For those that aren't confident with the Quanto Basta philosophy, Rocco has the measurements written in the recipes for you. This recipe called for a few ingredients I had no time to make (ie. fresh pasta) and fior di latte (a cheese that is near impossible to find in small town Leamington, Ontario). I took the Quanto Basta philosophy to the next level, substituting the fresh homemade pasta (recipe included in the book) for Zehr's refrigerated store-made pasta, and the fior di latte got substituted for bocconcini. The recipe took less than 30 minutes to make (take that Rachel Ray) and turned out tasting amazing. Sure, I might be biased since I made it but dad getting up from the table for a second serving was definitely the seal of approval.

But what about mom? Well I got her approval too: "So can I pick another recipe for you to make tomorrow?"

My response: "Of course!"

Cookbook Rating out of 5: 

I loved the book. Easy to follow with the liberation of making the recipes your own. It contains beautiful pictures of not only the food you are attempting to make, but also incredible pictures from the towns in Italy Rocco explored, while writing this cookbook. They have me craving a trip to my parents' home country. To all my friends who always ask me how to cook the dishes I do... GET THIS BOOK. It has a lot of recipes for the foods I already make. But of course, I always make them my own ;)



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