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Skinny Italian: Cookbook Review

June 8, 2010

Skinny Italian: Eat It and Enjoy It Live La Bella Vita and Look Great, Too!
Teresa Giudice, with Heather Maclean
Hyperion June 2010,
256 pages $19.99

I’m a very basic cook. When I read a cookbook, I like simple recipes, with easy-to-find ingredients, and easy-to-follow instructions. Beautiful pictures, and funny anecdotes throughout the text are a plus.

Flipping through Guidice’s book, I found a number of recipes I knew I wanted to try. Another plus for basic cooks like me is the guide she provides to some herbs common in Italian cooking. For basil, oregano, garlic, and parsley, as well as some others, Guidice lays out a helpful guide: where to store them, how to use them, and follows it up with an easy recipe that spotlights that herb’s flavor. I made the Gorgeous Garlic Shrimp over rice for two friends, and we were all delighted with our easy Italian dinner.  Though- I did tweak her recipe a little, by adding spinach and more garlic. Yum!

Others I’m eager to try: Pasta puttanesca, and steak pizzaiola.

Even though her instructions are accessible, and her prose is inviting, I’m going to hold off on both pizza, and attempting to make my own marinara from scratch… Tiny apartment kitchen, the impending summer heat. I will make the attempt when I’m a little more certain of my kitchen-fu.

Full disclosure: I’ve never watched The Real Housewives of Anywhere, so I wasn’t familiar with Teresa Guidice from The Real Housewives of New Jersey. Some of the book’s intentionally humorous asides and references to people on the show blew right past me. But I enjoyed her upbeat prose, and the way she built her cookbook persona. Her references to her mama, her family and her Italian heritage make the book cozy and approachable. I like that she makes a point to get her family and her kids involved in cooking and eating good food.  Maybe she goes overboard with the adjectives and effusion. (Not sure how snapper gets to be sexy- but I’ll make sure and cook the recipe before I make final judgment there.)

My only other minor quibble with the book is one of style. The page layout makes it difficult to pin down what the serving sizes and quantity information for the recipes are, at a quick glance. Which could be important in a cookbook that’s all about staying healthy and maybe even weight loss. I do like that the emphasis is on enjoying flavorful recipes with friends and family, rather than feeling deprived or restricted.

Definitely planning to return to this cookbook, and make it one of my go-to books for learning the basics of Italian recipes.

Thanks to Allison at Hyperion for sending me this cookbook.

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