After a year back in town, I finally sorted out my LAPL library card privileges. Much to my surprise, the Highland Park branch has a very extensive cookbook selection. I LOVE Italian food and culture, even minored in Italian at USC. As such, I immediately snagged the Giada’s Kitchen: New Italian Favorites off the shelf. I was never a big fan of her Food Network cooking show, but I do own a very nice skillet from her Target line. 🙂
The book is organized into the following sections: appetizers & drinks, sandwiches & salads, pasta!, main courses, desserts, ending with easy recipes for kids. Each recipe comes with an introductory paragraph to explain why she included the dish in the book and often her unique twist on a classic Italian favorite. Almost all the dishes include a guiding photograph, which I find very helpful to judge the end product. In each chapter, she selects one to do a full photo spread of the steps.
Before returning the book to the library, I set out to make my own Italian feast with a selection of five recipes.
The first round, I decided to start off easy with an appetizer dish. I used to love the cheese stuffed mushrooms from Waitrose when I lived in London. This recipe was a nice chance to learn how to make them myself for a change. I substituted olive tapenade and eggplant red pepper for the plain black olives & sun-dried jar of red peppers from the recipe.
Before starting on my main dish, I ended up eating the whole plate above! Super tasty and very likely will make again.
Giada’s Carbonara :
I followed the mushrooms with her asparagus carbonara with basil aioli. It’s a very simple twist on a classic. Stir-fry the asparagus, make the aioli with basil, oil and spices, then top with a fried egg. The aioli looked very thin in my opinion. I’d probably add more egg white next time and definitely more basil. The finished product paired with a Spanish wine because that’s all I had on hand.
Tuna panini with garbanzo spread:
I decided to do a lunch for my third experiment. The garbanzo spread was much easier than expected – can of beans, lemon juice, fresh mint and garlic basically.
Tuna mixed with the same olive tapenade from before and marinated artichokes for the filling. I didn’t have a baguette, so just toasted some regular wheat bread. It doesn’t look as pretty, but it was delicious.
Red Pepper Corn Muffins:
My next round was my very first attempt at muffins. I’m not much of a baker, but I love savory dishes. For Giada’s muffins, I re-used the eggplant red pepper spread instead of the recipe’s call for sun-dried tomatoes. Added it to one box of jiffy corn muffin mix, small jar of corn and buttermilk. Dumped the mixture into muffin tray holes….and voila!
The last round was meant to be a dessert project from the kid’s section: Marscapone cupcakes with strawberry glaze. I decided to hold off because I have tons of brownies leftover from my V-day sampler box from Good Girl Goodies!
I would highly recommend this cookbook if you’re looking for healthy twists on Italian favorites. All the recipes have very clear directions. If you’ve barely mastered your own spaghetti bolognese using a jar sauce and chopped veggies, you could certainly pick up this book and improve your skills greatly. And if you love prosciutto, this book is for YOU.
If you fancy it, you can read my other reviews on my tumblr, Confessions of a Pop Culture Addict.