Once upon a time, I lived on what felt like an isolated island.Â I was working on a political campaign in Brunswick County, NC (another life), and my residence for that time was a charming little house on Oak Island, a few steps from the beach.Â Perfectly wonderful.Â Except, I didnâ€™t really know another soul on the island, except for a few campaign contacts. They were good people, but I knew them only through their support of my candidate. I had no friends of my own on this island.Â Just my work, and my cute little house by the beach.Â So I took to watching the Food Network on Saturday mornings, because it felt comforting, welcoming. Giada and Rachel and Ina, et al, were cooking lovely meals and feeding people great food, an elemental part of good and happy living. I wanted to be part of that.Â
During that time, one of my favorite Food Network shows was Giada de Laurentiis,â€™ Everyday Italian.Â I loved it then and love it now because she is so enthusiastic about the flavor and beauty of the food, and so enjoys the process. And, most importantly, she makes you feel like you can do this too. I find the show irresistible and enchanting. (Plus, sheâ€™s real, real purty. But I digress.)Â So I boughtÂ the cookbook Everyday Italian: 125 SimpleÂ and Delicious Recipes, and set about mastering its recipes. Iâ€™m still working on that project.
As a person who hasnâ€™t done a lot of cooking in my life, I find Giadaâ€™s cookbooks very appealing, because the recipes are fairly simple, and at the same time elegant and delicious.Â Sure, Iâ€™d love to cook from Julia Childâ€™s Mastering the Art of French Cooking, but whoâ€™s got the time?Â Not to mention recipe lists the length of which will make your head spin, and challenging (to this novice) techniques which I have not yet mastered.Â
But now, Everyday Italian, thatâ€™s a different story. There are times when I donâ€™t even feel like cooking, but then I page through this cookbook, and get inspired. Partly because I know the recipes are novice-accessible, and at the same time lovely and delicious. And partly because if I want fast and good, I know Iâ€™ll find a recipe in this book thatâ€™s easy, quick, and requires few ingredients.Â Plus, the results are (usually) impressive enough to wow your dinner guests with. Theyâ€™ll think you are an amazing cook!Â (Really. Giadaâ€™s Ravioli with Balsamic Brown Butter got me rave reviews from the person I cooked it for.) Several of the recipes Iâ€™ve blogged about here come from this cookbook, or Giadaâ€™s show: lemon spaghetti, caprese salad, pancetta biscuits, and the afore-mentioned ravioli with balsamic brown butter, etc. If you, like me, are trying to expand your cooking knowledge, and want some easy, elegant meals to add to your repertoire, then Giadaâ€™s Everyday Italian would be a very good choice.
Feel free to leave suggestions in the Comments section for other great cookbooks,Â and your own favorites!