Marking The River Cafe's momentus 30th birthday, River Cafe 30 features 120 recipes from across three decades of bold and accomplished Italian cooking at the iconic London institution. From modern updates to some of the best loved recipes from the first River Cafe cookbook to 30 new recipes and plenty of stories and tips from Ruth Rogers throughout.
"It's hard to choose a favorite Italian cookbook: as a child, I used to swear I could eat pasta every day and never get tired of it. And my go-to pasta bible, Giuliano Hazan's The Classic Pasta Cookbook, is sadly out of print. (Plus, Erin snagged Urban Italian! Bah!) But the other Italian cookbook I turn to over and over again is Jamie's Italy, which has gorgeous matte-finish pages and so many appealing, unfussy recipes. The pasta e ceci (chickpea soup) is a cold-weather staple for me: it's rich and savory, with lots of rosemary and a fresh, fragrant handful of basil. The dish is best with homemade chicken stock, but you can use canned chickpeas, so it's totally easy to make if you have stock in the freezer."—Maggie Hoffman, Drinks Editor
The best of Anna del Conte, Amaretto, Apple Cake and Artichokes is packed with delicious recipes along with tips, anecdotes and reminiscences about Anna's life in Italy and London. Packed with inspiring information from the best way to make a tomato sauce and a tiramisu to more unusual dishes such as nettle risotto and chestnut mousse, each chapter is devoted to a different ingredient.
From inception, this was destined to be a classic. Del Conte details – and in 1987 it was the first time anyone ever had – all of Italy’s regions, ingredients, techniques and dishes. The organisation by alphabetical order makes it as perusable and practical as an actual dictionary. If you consider that at that point Italy, as a unifed whole, was a mere centenarian, wrestling the diffuse, intensely regional nature of its geography and its cuisine into something this digestible really took some doing. A herculean effort, lauded as loudly abroad as it was at home.
The only cuisine that deserves to be called Italian cooking, writes Hazan by way of introduction to this celebrated 1992 title, is la cucina di casa: “there are no high or low roads in Italian cuisine. All roads lead to the home.” And it is how she then proceeds to unpick the fundamentals – to map out the way home, if you will – that sets the book apart. Starting with the triumvirate of Italian technique – battuto, soffritto and insaporire, which build flavour from the bottom up – she goes on to list the contents of the Italian pantry, before taking you through the various stages on a menu. Her chapter on soups, for example, opens with the idea that “A vegetable soup can tell you where you are in Italy, almost as precisely as a map.” Through eloquent prose and piercing insight, Hazan manages to unlock her country’s soul.
Pesto – Probably Liguria's most famous recipe, widely enjoyed beyond regional borders, is a green sauce made from basil leaves, sliced garlic, pine nuts, pecorino or parmigiano cheese (or a mix of both) and olive oil. Traditionally used as a pasta dressing (especially with gnocchi or trenette, it is finding wider uses as sandwich spread and finger-food filler)
When most Americans think of Italian food, spaghetti with meatballs and pizza come to mind. However, they’re generally unaware that Italy has a very diverse selection of choices. Many of these exotic recipes and techniques are available in books at any major bookstore. Traditional Italian cookbooks often contain detailed directions and color photographs useful for teaching authentic methods to cooks with any level of experience.