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Antonio Carluccio’s Simple Cooking

Simple CookingAntonio Carluccio’s Simple Cooking – Antonio Carluccio
Quadrille – 2009
Photography: Alastair Hardy

Antonio Carluccio holds a rather special place in my heart – this is the first of his recipe books I have used but I adore his restaurant chain. So much love for that place. I have had more breakfasts in them than I can remember and an embarrassing number of dinners. I’ve eaten at various London locations, Nottingham and Stratford-Upon-Avon, Leicester…anyway, the point is that I love his style of Italian cooking. This cookbook however, was a little underwhelming.
The introduction was fabulous and I sort of fell in love with him – honest and humble it was a lovely mini biography. The basics at the start was much shorter than most but simple and the unfussy method really suited the rest of the book and set you up well.
I was probably least impressed with the opening couple of sections on starters/salads/soups. They were simple as the title promised but rather uninspiring. The veggie section was cracking however and some really interesting dishes here both for side dishes as well as for full on vegetarian meals. There are also some great pasta dishes with a nice section of information about both pasta and sauces. The risotto section was also nicely done with some good staples there.
Rather surprisingly the best section was the puddings. I was honestly not expecting that, although Italians do have the best sweet dishes (anyone want to take me to Venice? There’s this little cake shop on a bridge…and the chocolate shop in San Tomà…and the vast number of pastry shops along the Strada Nova. *Sigh*). Where was I? Oh yes, puddings. The Ricotta Tart looks good enough to live in and there is an amazing Tiramisu recipe that I cannot wait to try. Tiramisu is one of those dishes where I always look out for new recipes as I search for the perfect one.
I think that the problem I had with the book was that there was not enough detail or real basics for a true beginner and yet not enough new ideas for people who had mastered the simplest recipes. There were few really different combinations of ingredients or interesting methods of cooking. It’s a very cheery little cookbook but I’m not sure what it is trying to be – it either needs to go further back to basics or amp it up a bit and throw in some more challenging and adventurous flavours. I’ve also picked up “Carluccio’s Complete Italian Food” to read so I’m hoping for great things from that one!

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