As they said on Monty Python…and now for something completely different!
This month, the blog is doing something special on women and magic. Well, I have been called a witch (Or was that a slightly different word? No matter.) but I find my magic spells are really more akin to receipts and recipes. With that in mind, I decided to review some real love potions… delicious Italian recipes for food guaranteed to ensorcell.
Extra Virgin is a beautiful book written by the two stars of the Cooking Channel show of the same name. DEBI MAZAR made her film debut in Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas, has appeared in more than fifty feature films, and is known for her role on HBO’s hit series Entourage. GABRIELE CORCOS was raised in Tuscany. Together they are the producers and cohosts of Cooking Channel’s primetime show Extra Virgin and the creators of UndertheTuscanGun.com. They live in Brooklyn with their two daughters.
I have watched their show a few times, and found it to be a lighthearted look at blending two cultures into one slightly offbeat family. Mazar is a New Yorker through and through, known for palling around with Madonna. Corcos is a musician and producer, who learned to cook from his Tuscan grandmother and mother. They both seem to enjoy food, and have serious fun making fresh and flavorful food for their family and friends. One of my favorite episodes showed Gabriele making outdoor grilled pizzas with his daughters little friends, entertaining them with “magic” black pepper in a bowl of water.
The cookbook is an absolute delight. It is a hefty size, making you think “Wow, I am going to have a year’s worth of meals out of this!” You will be right. Open the book and find the only (and I do mean only) downside to this fantastic cookbook. Someone thought it would be helpful to have a roster of Cooking Channel and Foodnetwork celebrity chefs fill the front cover with blurbs attesting to the value of the cookbook. Frankly, they came off as shills, and I really didn’t care what they thought, since they are all part of the same corporate stew. I glanced at the names and then skipped the baloney.
Once you get to the text, you are assaulted with the most beautiful food porn photographs that I have seen in a long time. The eye appeal of this layout is astounding. Every photograph is framed in the perfect setting to emphasize the gorgeous dishes. You can almost smell the garlic rise up from the glossy pages. You cannot leaf through this book without getting hungry.
The recipes themselves are simply and clearly stated. The ingredients are listed first, and in good order, so that you know exactly what you need before you start cooking. The instructions are easy to follow, and require no expert skill. Even a fairly new cook should be able to make a credible version of Gabriele’s pastas and sauces. The risottos sound like a gift from the gods, and the desserts could be defined as aphrodisiacal.
Throughout the various chapters, Mazar and Corcos relate anecdotes about their families, give tips on entertaining, talk about making food a means of sharing love. These essays are warm and inviting, and make the book something a cut above a collection of recipes. You come away with a good feeling about Mazar and Corcos, and a desire to duplicate that warmth.
I love to cook. And I love to eat good food. Extra Virgin is a feast for the eyes and a seduction of your taste buds. I strongly recommend you pick up a copy and send your kitchen on a whirlwind tour of Tuscany.
In accordance with FTC guidelines for bloggers and endorsements, I would like to clarify that the books reviewed by me are either purchased/borrowed by me, or provided by the publisher/author free of charge. I am neither compensated for my reviews nor are my opinions influenced in any way by the avenues in which I obtain my materials. I received this book for free from Blogging for Books for this review.
- Print Length:272 pages
- Publisher:Clarkson Potter (May 6, 2014)
- Sold by:Random House LLC
Reviewed by: Paula Tupper
July 3, 2014