Book Reviews

Book Review: Rustic Italian

Mark McEwan, a noted chef and food show celebrity, owns four restaurants and a gourmet food shop in Toronto.

His cooking is revered by thousands in the city and beyond.

In this extremely well illustrated book chef McEwan provides easy to follow Italian rustic recipes in 11 chapters, starting with soups and following with salads, starters, pizzas and panini, pastas and gnocchi, risotto, fish, meat, side dishes, and basic recipes for “staples” like stocks, compound butters, spreads etc.

Each chapter starts with a short introduction explaining its importance in the Italian cuisine.

He emphasises that Italian cooking philosophy is based on seasonality of ingredients, and “shine” in their simplicity, but require utmost attention in cooking. In truly good cooking, the cook must be accurate, and use the best ingredients available. No one, however, skilled in cooking and experienced can create a memorable dish with second-rate ingredients.

All recipes are clearly written, easy to follow by any experienced cook with some enthusiasm to produce enjoyable meals for the family. The author also points out that once you master a recipe you can experiment by changing quantities of ingredients, delete some, and add others.

The short articles on Italian beans, balsamic vinegar, polenta, wood-burning oven, San Marzano tomatoes and mushrooms provide sufficient information to understand their importance and how to buy them.

Most recipes also provide wine suggestions but they are too vague to be of value i.e vintage, name of the winery, region of production are missing all of which are important.

Overall, this is an excellent cookbook on rural Italian cooking, if you want to impress you family or friends with flavourful meals, this book ought to be in your library and used frequently.
Highly recommended.

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