Book Review: Reading Menu
Reviewed by Mick Vann, Fri., Oct. 30, 2009
Giuliano Hazan's Thirty Minute Pasta: 100 Quick and Easy Recipesby Giuliano Hazan Stewart Tabori & Chang, 176 pp., $27.50
Cooking Tent demo: Saturday, Oct. 31, 2pm
Son of famed Italian cooking authority Marcella, director of his own cooking school in Verona, and frequent magazine and television culinary contributor, Giuliano Hazan has forged his own reputation as a champion of traditional Italian cooking. Thirty Minute Pasta: 100 Quick and Easy Recipes is his fourth cookbook. Here he strips authentic and flavorful Italian pasta dishes down to their bare essentials, presenting them in an organized and accessible style that even the most skill-challenged of cooks can understand and master. Hazan won the International Association of Culinary Professionals award of Cooking Teacher of the Year in 2007, and his logical teaching methods really come across on the page.
The beauty of these recipes is that they can all be assembled in about half an hour, using simple, uncomplicated ingredients. Hazan gives measurements that are practical and easy to follow (for example, herbs are measured by the sprig, onions by the half or whole), and when you follow the steps as he lays them out, there are no surprises. The recipe headnotes are full of history, personal stories, and interesting background, and the tempting photos add to the richness of the book.
Recipes are divided by main ingredient of the sauce, and vegetarians will be giddy at the options available. Under the vegetable section, I cooked a penne with spinach, onion, and ricotta with just a hint of cream and nutmeg, and a dusting of parmigiano. A deconstructed ravioli is superb, fast, and simple; a linguine with shrimp, mushrooms, porcini, tomato, onion, and a little cream makes you really appreciate the combination of briny sweet shrimp and rich earthy porcini. Hazan's latest title just keeps on satisfying, with so little effort on my part. It's a valuable addition to the kitchen library.