Tour the market with Marcella Hazan

Recommended without reservation:

ingredientiIngredienti: Marcella’s Guide to the Market by Marcella and Victor Hazan, from Simon and Schuster, pre-order for Kindle at $10.99 (USD) or hardbound at $12.94 USD (list price, $20.00); scheduled for release Tuesday, 12 July 2016. (NOTE: Prices are subject to change without notice to Sis; always verify prior to purchase, please.)

Although she died in 2013, Marcella Hazan leaves a legacy to today’s cooks in the upcoming publication of a book based on the handwritten notebooks filled with her thoughts on how to select, and how to use, the very best ingredients for classic Italian cooking.

Her husband and longtime collaborator, Victor, translated these notebooks from her native Italian and finished writing and editing them to produce Ingredienti: Marcella’s Guide to the Market. The book is illustrated with lovely sketches, lively green line drawings of various ingredients.

It’s not the most comprehensive primer on produce, but it is a book that should appeal to both new and accomplished cooks – and both home and professional ones – and some tips and tricks are unique. I particularly appreciate Marcella’s lessons on protecting such ingredients as garlic and onions in an excessively hot and humid climate, lessons that I have not found in other how-to cookbooks written by those lucky enough to live under food-friendly weather conditions.

Ingredienti is not a recipe book. Marcella does describe her preferences for preparing each ingredient, but you won’t find specific quantities or detailed instructions, simply ideas for how to prepare ingredients for cooking – or serving – and most of all for a guide to select each at the peak of perfection.  The writing is casual and very, very personal – as if the “godmother of Italian cooking” were your very own godmother, sitting with you in her kitchen and sharing a lifetime of lessons over cups of espresso.

The result is a book that is a joy to read. Marcella held very strong opinions, some I share and some I do not. I absolutely agree that one must know how to shop before one can know how to cook, but I don’t share her disdain for red and sweet onions. Still, it is her perspective that makes the book so well worth reading no matter how much you do, or do not, know about picking produce and pantry staples and whether you do, or do not, share her likes and dislikes.

Each chapter is essentially an essay on each ingredient, and one that combines both information and instruction. These make the book ideal for a leisurely read . . . but the writing may tempt you to race right through from beginning to end, as I did. Either way, enjoy!featured

Description:  From the inimitable woman who popularized Italian cuisine in America, Marcella Hazan’s simple and elegant manual on how to shop for the best ingredients and prepare the most delicious meals is a must-have for every home cook.

When Marcella Hazan died in 2013, the world mourned the passing of the “Godmother of Italian cooking.” But her legacy lives on, through her cookbooks and recipes, and in the handwritten notebooks filled with her thoughts on how to select the best ingredients—Ingredienti. Her husband and longtime collaborator Victor has translated and transcribed these vignettes on how to buy and what to do with the fresh produce used in Italian cooking, the elements of an essential pantry, and salumi (literally, salted meat).

Before you know how to cook, you must know how to shop. From Artichokes to Zucchini, Anchovies to Ziti, Ingredienti offers succinct and compelling advice on how to choose vegetables, pasta, olive oil, Parmigiano Reggiano, prosciutto, and all of the key elements of Marcella’s classic meals. Organic isn’t necessarily best, boxed pasta can be better than fresh. Marcella’s authoritative wisdom and surprising tips will change the way you cook. Her clear, practical guidance in acquiring the components of good cooking is helpful wherever you choose to shop—in supermarkets, farmers’ markets, specialty food stores, or online.

Based on 60 years of almost daily visits to the market to choose the ingredients of that day’s meal, Ingredienti is a life’s work, distilled—an expression of Marcella’s judgments, advice, and suggestions. Uncomplicated and precise, this volume will be essential to home cooks eager to produce meals in the same delicious style Marcella was the first to introduce to America.

About the authors:  Marcella Hazan (1924-2013) was born in Cesenatico, a fishing village on the northern Adriatic shore of Italy. She studied for a career in the sciences and received two doctoral degrees from the University of Ferrara in Emilia-Romagna. In 1955 she married Victor Hazan, an Italian-born American, and moved with him to New York, where she began teaching Italian cooking classes in her apartment. In 1973 she published her first cookbook, The Classic Italian Cookbook, which introduced Americans to authentic Italian food. Her cooking schools in Italy draw students from around the world. Hazan was the recipient of two Lifetime Achievement Awards (from the James Beard Foundation in 2000, and the IACP in 2004) and a knighthood from her own country. She was the author of five additional classic cookbooks and a memoir, including Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking ($20.99, Kindle, and $20.65, hardcover, both USD), Marcella Cucina ($31.29 USD, hardcover), Marcella’s Italian Kitchen ($19.90 USD paperback) and Amarcord: Marcella Remembers ($12.99 USD, Kindle; $14.47 USD, paperback).

Victor Hazan Marcella’s lifelong collaborator and writing partner, is an authority on Italian wine and food. He is the author of Italian Wine. He lives in Longboat Key, Florida.

NOTE:  Sis received a complimentary advanced reading copy from Simon and Schuster via NetGalley with the expectation that she would write a review reflecting her own opinions and only her own opinions.  And this she has done.

Classic Italian Cooking — without gluten!

The Gluten-Free Italian Cookbook:  Classic Cuisine from the Italian Countryside 

Recommended without reservation to anyone who needs or wants to cook classic Italian food that just so happens to be gluten- (and wheat-) free.
by Mary Capone, from $24(USD)
by Mary Capone, from $24(USD)

by Mary Capone, 224 pgs., 2nd edition published by The Wheat-Free Gourmet Press in paperback; from $24.00 (USD) at Amazon.com

Mary Capone knows Italian food, and she uses both her heritage as an Italian-American and her training as a professional chef to craft recipes for gluten-free fare that you can easily prepare and serve, to yourself or others, no apologies necessary. She doesn’t make you choose between good food and food that is good for you or your gluten-intolerant family and friends.  Whether you cook without gluten some of the time or all of the time, this is one cookbook that should be in your kitchen.

I purchased the first edition soon after it was released, having sampled some of Mary Capone’s recipes — specifically her oh-so-tender Italian thumbprint cookies — from a free holiday download made available several years ago by the publishers of the magazine formerly known as Living Without.  I’d love to see the newer edition because my family was thrilled from the first recipe I tried to the last.  If my husband had his way, I’d have worked straight through the cookbook from beginning to end, serving him each and every one of the offerings inside.  One day, I promise, I will.  He thought several of the recipes were worth the price of the whole book, and I wholeheartedly agree.

We had been disappointed by so many poor excuses for gluten-free cookbooks, from celiacs who had never cooked (and perhaps never should?) to celiacs who had been on gluten-free diets so long they just didn’t know how food could and should taste.  But, with The Gluten-Free Italian Cookbook, no one has to compromise.  Not on taste, nor on texture. You can prepare any, and every, recipe in the book and serve the result with the certainty that no one has to know that these delightful dishes are gluten-free . . . unless you choose to tell them.

“My desire was, and still is, to invite the gluten-free palate to sing with flavor,” Mary Capone wrote in the introduction to her first edition.

This is one invitation every gluten-intolerant palate should accept.

The book includes a recipe for gluten-free pasta which I am eager to try — my husband bought me a pasta machine so I can. In the first edition, Mary Capone also listed her preferred brand of prepared gluten-free pasta — the same that an Italian-American friend with celiac siblings had recommended to me — for those who are daunted by the idea of making fresh pasta.  In the years since the first edition was published, newer and even better pastas are available for those who cannot tolerate gluten.  We especially enjoy Barilla’s gluten-free pastasAncient Harvest (quinoa) pastas and, when we can find it, DeLallo’s gluten-free pastas.

Aside from the opportunity to add to any cook’s gluten-free repertoire, this cookbook is also a joy to read and an expert primer for gluten-free cooking of any kind.  Read the introduction.   Read about her struggles to create a gluten-free pasta dough worthy of her late Aunt Carmel . . . and how her aunt, dead some 10 years, provided the inspiration that led to what she considers one of her crowning successes.  Enjoy the photographs, whether they showcase the dishes, illustrate the procedures or introduce you to her Aunt Carmel and other relatives.

This is a book to be savoured, whether you’re reading it in the kitchen or in your favorite book nook.

About the Author:  Growing up in an Italian household filled with restaurateurs and great cooks, Mary Capone learned the foundations of classic Italian cuisine from her family’s boisterous kitchens. As a celiac, she has since reinvented this scrumptious cuisine to meet the needs of gluten-free dieters in her popular book, The Gluten-Free Italian Cookbook: Classic Cuisine from the Italian Countryside. Her articles and recipes have appeared in The Herb Quarterly, Energy for Women, Eatingwell.com, Living Without Magazine, Livingwithout.com, Delicious Living Magazine and Delight Gluten-Free. She is currently the director of The Wheat Free Gourmet Cooking School and has taught over 1500 students from around the world. She lives in Boulder Colorado with her loving family.

 Find the author’s products at Bella Gluten Free.