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The most important, consulted, and enjoyed Italian cookbook of all time, from the woman who introduced Americans to a whole new world of Italian food. Essentials of Italian Cooking is a culinary bible for anyone looking to master the art of Italian cooking, bringing together Marcella Hazan’s most beloved books, The Classic Italian Cook Book and More Classic Italian Cooking, The most important, consulted, and enjoyed Italian cookbook of all time, from the woman who introduced Americans to a whole new world of Italian food. Essentials of Italian Cooking is a culinary bible for anyone looking to master the art of Italian cooking, bringing together Marcella Hazan’s most beloved books, The Classic Italian Cook Book and More Classic Italian Cooking, in a single volume, updated and expanded with new entries and 50 new recipes. Designed as a basic manual for cooks of all levels of expertise—from beginners to accomplished professionals—it offers both an accessible and comprehensive guide to techniques and ingredients and a collection of the most delicious recipes from the Italian repertoire. As home cooks who have used Marcella’s classic books for years (and whose copies are now splattered and worn) know, there is no one more gifted at teaching us just what we need to know about the taste and texture of a dish and how to achieve it, and there is no one more passionate and inspiring about authentic Italian food.


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The most important, consulted, and enjoyed Italian cookbook of all time, from the woman who introduced Americans to a whole new world of Italian food. Essentials of Italian Cooking is a culinary bible for anyone looking to master the art of Italian cooking, bringing together Marcella Hazan’s most beloved books, The Classic Italian Cook Book and More Classic Italian Cooking, The most important, consulted, and enjoyed Italian cookbook of all time, from the woman who introduced Americans to a whole new world of Italian food. Essentials of Italian Cooking is a culinary bible for anyone looking to master the art of Italian cooking, bringing together Marcella Hazan’s most beloved books, The Classic Italian Cook Book and More Classic Italian Cooking, in a single volume, updated and expanded with new entries and 50 new recipes. Designed as a basic manual for cooks of all levels of expertise—from beginners to accomplished professionals—it offers both an accessible and comprehensive guide to techniques and ingredients and a collection of the most delicious recipes from the Italian repertoire. As home cooks who have used Marcella’s classic books for years (and whose copies are now splattered and worn) know, there is no one more gifted at teaching us just what we need to know about the taste and texture of a dish and how to achieve it, and there is no one more passionate and inspiring about authentic Italian food.

30 review for Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking

  1. 5 out of 5

    Cynthia Paschen

    My favorite when it comes to Italian food. I love Marcella, though my Italian friend Christiana says Marcella and her adorable husband are "trailer court Italian." We actually own TWO copies of this book, the nice newer copy you pick up to leaf through, and a tattered older copy that I learned Italian cooking from. It has a permanent rip for the risotto recipe, the polenta recipe, the braised carrot with parmesean recipe and something else. Oh yeah, the braised leeks. Ah-MAHZ-ing. Marcella can be My favorite when it comes to Italian food. I love Marcella, though my Italian friend Christiana says Marcella and her adorable husband are "trailer court Italian." We actually own TWO copies of this book, the nice newer copy you pick up to leaf through, and a tattered older copy that I learned Italian cooking from. It has a permanent rip for the risotto recipe, the polenta recipe, the braised carrot with parmesean recipe and something else. Oh yeah, the braised leeks. Ah-MAHZ-ing. Marcella can be a bit preachy when it comes to ingredients. This grated on me at first, but I grew to love her persnickity attitude. I also love that she cooks with 1)a big glass of wine and 2)a cigarette hanging out of her mouth. I am not a smoker, but she makes it look endearing somehow. I actually thought about stalking Marcella when I was in Venice last summer, but I was afraid she'd beat me up.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Maru Kun

    Time to tackle one of those eternal verities: to choose good, or to choose evil; is it nature, or nurture; hang to the left, or to the right? Can a cookbook be treated as read based on completion of a statistically significant sample of the recipes or do I have to go over every page of the damn thing? Having majored in chemistry, I long fancied myself as a talented cook. My family did not agree, with my wife often bitterly complaining about the state of the laboratory after the experiment was com Time to tackle one of those eternal verities: to choose good, or to choose evil; is it nature, or nurture; hang to the left, or to the right? Can a cookbook be treated as read based on completion of a statistically significant sample of the recipes or do I have to go over every page of the damn thing? Having majored in chemistry, I long fancied myself as a talented cook. My family did not agree, with my wife often bitterly complaining about the state of the laboratory after the experiment was complete. So my white coat was hung up for a decade or more. But, after realizing that the food industry cares as much about my health as the finance industry cares about my savings, I decided to start cooking again. This time I changed my approach, sticking to two rules: keep it simple – no glossy pictures or overly fussy recipes that always go wrong; choose a country and specialize in its cuisine. This second rule has enhanced the whole experience. I get to appreciate food in a cultural context, understand regional variation and be better able to master techniques and approaches common to multiple dishes. I choose two cuisines, Turkish and Italian. And it worked! In fact this approach worked so well I am now expected to cook every Saturday, which is not quite the outcome I wanted but at least I get to eat what I like. My Italian cooking was only a success because, with the help of goodreads.com, I could select a cookbook as excellent as this. I cannot praise this book too highly. Every recipe has come out decently and some brilliantly. Most of the recipes are simple but there are enough more challenging ones to add variety. Another great help was a blog written by a group of people who have cooked every recipe in the book and posted the results. Marcella Hazan often added comments to the blog. I won’t be cooking every recipe, but that’s mainly because it is impossible to get some of the ingredients in Japan (kidneys for example - where do they all go?) But I have done enough to know that this book deserves its five stars. Marcella Hazan passed away in 2013 at the age of eighty-nine. Thanks you Ms. Hazan. I now look forward to eating my own dinners. What more can I say than that.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    I've never used this reviewer's cliche before, but if I could give it ten stars, I would. If you think your pasta sauces are good, make hers and stand astounded. If you think you have a handle on making pasta, pizza, gnocchi, soups et cetera, let her school you. If you want to eat really, really well every night, then work your way through this cookbook. This is widely considered to be the definitive Italian cookbook, by a woman considered to be the Julia Child of Italian cooking. You will learn, yo I've never used this reviewer's cliche before, but if I could give it ten stars, I would. If you think your pasta sauces are good, make hers and stand astounded. If you think you have a handle on making pasta, pizza, gnocchi, soups et cetera, let her school you. If you want to eat really, really well every night, then work your way through this cookbook. This is widely considered to be the definitive Italian cookbook, by a woman considered to be the Julia Child of Italian cooking. You will learn, you will laugh, you will have "a-ha!" moments galore, you will immediately seek out her other cookbooks. Above all, you will cook and eat. And it will be glorious. She is opinionated, but her opinions happen to be right. For example, it is widely known that she believes "salad dressing" to be an act--a ritual, even--rather than an object: using coarse salt, olive oil, red wine vinegar, and nothing else. Using her method, our family craves salads like never before, and we're absolutely and for all times done with buying any salad sauce from a bottle. Not that she's mean about it--not at all. Her "tellin'-it-like-it-should-be"-ness reminds me a lot of my Granny. It's truth-telling in a loving, knowing, grandmotherly way. Oh, please--get this book and cook.

  4. 5 out of 5

    christina white

    This book is what I consider one of the three essential reference texts for anyone who is serious about the culinary arts. I have learned almost everything I know about Italian food from this book...and I'm still learning from it after ten years! I brought this book with me the year I lived in Milan and tried to cook my way through it...it was impossible since it is such a tome. Fabulous recipes which are easy to execute thanks to brilliantly clear instructions. A prodigy of James Beard, you can This book is what I consider one of the three essential reference texts for anyone who is serious about the culinary arts. I have learned almost everything I know about Italian food from this book...and I'm still learning from it after ten years! I brought this book with me the year I lived in Milan and tried to cook my way through it...it was impossible since it is such a tome. Fabulous recipes which are easy to execute thanks to brilliantly clear instructions. A prodigy of James Beard, you can't go wrong with Marcella.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    O mia cara Marcella! Thanks to her I will never eat bottled tomato sauce again! I have used this cookbook on a near daily basis since I received it as a gift two months ago. I have made and frozen almost all of her tomato-based sauces and I cannot imagine ever opening another jar of Prego in my life. Chicken cacciatora, pan-broiled steaks with tomatoes and olives, spaghetti alla carbonara... So many favorite dishes, so few days of the week.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jules

    Marcella is the cranky Julia Child, but she does know her Italian cooking and with her husband who writes/translates into english her books teaches you the basics of Italian cooking. Her pesto and Bolognese recipes are amazing and staples in our house. You have to put up with her snottiness (which just cracks me up), but it's worth it. Marcella is the cranky Julia Child, but she does know her Italian cooking and with her husband who writes/translates into english her books teaches you the basics of Italian cooking. Her pesto and Bolognese recipes are amazing and staples in our house. You have to put up with her snottiness (which just cracks me up), but it's worth it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Susanna - Censored by GoodReads

    We have cooked many recipes from this cookbook, and they have all turned out well. I almost think you could pick a recipe at random, and it would be good. I think we eat from this book at least once or twice a week.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance

    You won't find a better cookbook about classic Italian cooking than this one. It covers everything you need to know---pasta, pizzas, soups, risotto---and Marcella Hazan exuberantly shares not only her recipes but also her thoughts and opinions about the ways others do Italian cooking. You won't find a better cookbook about classic Italian cooking than this one. It covers everything you need to know---pasta, pizzas, soups, risotto---and Marcella Hazan exuberantly shares not only her recipes but also her thoughts and opinions about the ways others do Italian cooking.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Casper van der Schaft

    Haven't made every recipe yet, but I am planning to do so. The recipes simply haven't failed me yet (and probably will not). It also includes some in-depth knowledge on cooking skills specifically used for traditional Italian recipes as well as more general used skills and knowledge about ingredients. For inexperienced cooks it might pose a bit of challenge as it doesn't save you from gaining years of cooking experience. Though, to me this is the Bible of Italian cooking. Haven't made every recipe yet, but I am planning to do so. The recipes simply haven't failed me yet (and probably will not). It also includes some in-depth knowledge on cooking skills specifically used for traditional Italian recipes as well as more general used skills and knowledge about ingredients. For inexperienced cooks it might pose a bit of challenge as it doesn't save you from gaining years of cooking experience. Though, to me this is the Bible of Italian cooking.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Kira

    I love this cookbook! At the time I bought it, I was living in London with an italian man who was homesick and dreaming of mama's cooking back in Venice. I felt like the author, Signora Hazan, was my own private teacher and my live-in guinea pig definitely approved of the risotto (one of my first endeavors). And don't think it's all just pasta and starches! There are lots of recipes for soups that are easy and satisfying as meals, as well as frittate (like quiche), more than 150 pages on meats, t I love this cookbook! At the time I bought it, I was living in London with an italian man who was homesick and dreaming of mama's cooking back in Venice. I felt like the author, Signora Hazan, was my own private teacher and my live-in guinea pig definitely approved of the risotto (one of my first endeavors). And don't think it's all just pasta and starches! There are lots of recipes for soups that are easy and satisfying as meals, as well as frittate (like quiche), more than 150 pages on meats, then vegetable dishes, breads, salads and desserts. This is not tasteless, non-fat italian food that you can have on the table in 20 minutes or less. If that's what you're after, forget Marcella and go buy a jar of Prego. If however, you want to learn how to make the real deal, are willing to buy good quality ingredients and take the time to do it right, this is the cookbook for you. Unlike most cookbooks I own, almost every recipe I've tried has turned out heavenly, and she really teaches you how to cook, and how to vary the recipes. I have a reputation as being a good cook of italian food and most of my friends think it's because I know a lot of italians, but really it's because of this book (though I have to credit my Aunt Milena for teaching me how to cook lasagna the real way :^). I also have another of her cookbooks "Marcella Cucina" which is more about different recipes and less about fundamentals of italian cooking. Stick to this book for a great starting place for basics of sauces, meats, equipment and how to shop for the various ingredients. My recommendation is to begin here and move onto Marcella Cucina after you've learned some of the techniques. Buon Appetito!

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    I'm a not-very-good cook who would love to be a great chef. Hazan's cookbook was recommended by a friend who is a fantastic cook, and it was absolutely illuminating. About 30 pages in, I thought "man, I'm doing everything wrong!" And you will feel like that as you read this book. She has very exacting standards, and she is very peculiar about ingredients - only fresh, whole cloves of garlic that you chop yourself, never the stuff in a jar, etc. But by faithfully following her recipes to the lett I'm a not-very-good cook who would love to be a great chef. Hazan's cookbook was recommended by a friend who is a fantastic cook, and it was absolutely illuminating. About 30 pages in, I thought "man, I'm doing everything wrong!" And you will feel like that as you read this book. She has very exacting standards, and she is very peculiar about ingredients - only fresh, whole cloves of garlic that you chop yourself, never the stuff in a jar, etc. But by faithfully following her recipes to the letter I have managed to make some really tasty stuff, and learn a lot about flavor, food, and kitchen techniques in the process. This will be one cookbook that I definitely buy!

  12. 5 out of 5

    Ethan Miller

    This is a wonderful and classic cookbook. My mother has used it for years and gave me a copy some years ago and I go to it often. For pasta dishes, meat dishes, salads. There are some extraordinary dishes in this book that you have most likely not had before and will cherish for all your years as a cook and food lover. A great book for a beginner or an expert cook or anyone in between. One for the ages of your kitchen.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joyce

    Excellent! Can't go wrong with Marcella even after 30 years. Excellent! Can't go wrong with Marcella even after 30 years.

  14. 5 out of 5

    G.G.

    If you only have room for one Italian cookbook on your shelves, this is it! Beautifully written, wonderfully opinionated, as the title says: essential.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sam McGuire Worley

    I returned to this book today to look up a recipe, but I have read and reread this classic for about two years. We need a button here for "always reading." I returned to this book today to look up a recipe, but I have read and reread this classic for about two years. We need a button here for "always reading."

  16. 5 out of 5

    Ku

    A masterpiece. Marcella lays out the philosophy and reasons behind Italian cooking. The recipes are good of course but it's not the point, it's really about the soul of Italian cooking that you can keep for a lifetime. A masterpiece. Marcella lays out the philosophy and reasons behind Italian cooking. The recipes are good of course but it's not the point, it's really about the soul of Italian cooking that you can keep for a lifetime.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cara

    Probably one of the most comprehensive Italian cookbooks I've come across to date. While I did borrow this from my local library, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking seems an indispensable cookbook for just plain good, beautiful, delicious Italian food. The book is filled with countless authentic recipes from Italy's many diverse regions, ranging in difficulty, but none that seem undoable for most home chefs. The step-by-step instructions are easy to follow. The recipes generally do not requir Probably one of the most comprehensive Italian cookbooks I've come across to date. While I did borrow this from my local library, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking seems an indispensable cookbook for just plain good, beautiful, delicious Italian food. The book is filled with countless authentic recipes from Italy's many diverse regions, ranging in difficulty, but none that seem undoable for most home chefs. The step-by-step instructions are easy to follow. The recipes generally do not require unusual, hard to find or overly expensive ingredients (which I always find a plus). Each recipe I made--and it was only a handful--were delicious and not too time consuming. While there are no photographs of the dishes, which I am willing to forgive and forget in this case, there are probably over 600 amazing recipes, folks! 600+ glorious delicious-ness-es (dishes so good I made up an adjective for them) ready to be made and delivered to your stomach. If you're looking for an Italian cookbook, just one, a bible of sorts, to last you probably for-ev-er, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking is it.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    A brilliant work of comedy! That would be anytime Marcella waxes authoritarian about the exact timing for adding dried pasta to rapidly boiling water. ;) Well, this is your book if you want authentic, well-organized, and delicious instructions to prepare meals featuring lasagne, sauteed spinach, pesto, homemade pasta, or a shockingly simple sauce for spaghetti (recipe: heat olive oil. Add garlic - optionally, add as much hot red pepper as you can hack - cook for two minutes. Toss with spaghetti a A brilliant work of comedy! That would be anytime Marcella waxes authoritarian about the exact timing for adding dried pasta to rapidly boiling water. ;) Well, this is your book if you want authentic, well-organized, and delicious instructions to prepare meals featuring lasagne, sauteed spinach, pesto, homemade pasta, or a shockingly simple sauce for spaghetti (recipe: heat olive oil. Add garlic - optionally, add as much hot red pepper as you can hack - cook for two minutes. Toss with spaghetti and enjoy). From this book I prepared outstanding meals for guests: dishes that I hadn't tested beforehand; I made truly exceptional minestrone for 20; I tossed together fresh produce for yummy thrown-together tomato sauces, and produced Italian cuisine to try out for myself and my friends. It's one of those cookbooks where the recipes will turn out properly if you follow the steps, time after time (but you might spend all day stuffing cannelloni).

  19. 4 out of 5

    Evan Hansen

    "Cooking" in the United States has often become an exercise in precisely following instructions in glossy magazines that are more travelogues and guidebooks for the upper middle class than actually learning anything. I have been extremely pleased to find brief but high quality cultural explanations, multiple variations of dishes, and a focus on simplicity and authenticity in this compendium of Hazan's earlier cookbooks. It's broken down intuitively into various types of dishes and ingredients, a "Cooking" in the United States has often become an exercise in precisely following instructions in glossy magazines that are more travelogues and guidebooks for the upper middle class than actually learning anything. I have been extremely pleased to find brief but high quality cultural explanations, multiple variations of dishes, and a focus on simplicity and authenticity in this compendium of Hazan's earlier cookbooks. It's broken down intuitively into various types of dishes and ingredients, and the patterns in her recipes become quickly apparent, providing an excellent guide to the cuisine. I'm only part way through -- that is, I've skimmed the entire book and am literally reading each page now as though it were a novel -- but it has become crystal clear to me that this book is beyond compare, especially in the realm of Italian cooking. Everything I'm making this week is from this tome, and what little I've already toyed with has been excellent. Highly recommended!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca

    This is the cookbook I probably use most often. Marcella's recipes, for as intimidating as they may sound (risotti, stuffed squid, spinach and ricotta gnocchi, carciofi alla romana, etc.) are all authentic, easy to follow, and turn out properly every single time. Furthermore, there's lots of great information about ingredients (and how to select the best and freshest), history and culture as relates to ingredients and dishes, and overall good, sound cooking common-sense. She is occasionally more This is the cookbook I probably use most often. Marcella's recipes, for as intimidating as they may sound (risotti, stuffed squid, spinach and ricotta gnocchi, carciofi alla romana, etc.) are all authentic, easy to follow, and turn out properly every single time. Furthermore, there's lots of great information about ingredients (and how to select the best and freshest), history and culture as relates to ingredients and dishes, and overall good, sound cooking common-sense. She is occasionally more of a purist than I am, but isn't that the kind of teacher you'd like to rebel against from time to time? I've made this chicken marsala recipe a thousand times, so that I've got it memorized, and people go bonkers for it every single time.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lfrisch

    This book was recommended to me by a Chef when he was teaching me the art of making fresh pasta. It is easy to use with the recipes being very clear and basically spot on. I love that Marcella has also included additional notes at the end of the recipes giving clarification and "Do ahead" pointers. I started with the pasta recipes and now have moved into the main entrees. If you want a good starting point to produce results that will match a Chef, I suggest Drunk Roast Pork or make the Bolognese This book was recommended to me by a Chef when he was teaching me the art of making fresh pasta. It is easy to use with the recipes being very clear and basically spot on. I love that Marcella has also included additional notes at the end of the recipes giving clarification and "Do ahead" pointers. I started with the pasta recipes and now have moved into the main entrees. If you want a good starting point to produce results that will match a Chef, I suggest Drunk Roast Pork or make the Bolognese Meat Sauce to use in lasagna. Warning: these 2 recipes will take a good portion of the day to produce, but with the season changing to winter, it is the perfect time of year to heat up the kitchen.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Emily Lindenberg

    This is truly the essentials of Italian cooking. Not only do you learn how to butterfly and chicken breast, stuff a squid and de-bone a leg of lamb, but her recipes are also basic, flavorful and the majority of them are easy to make with everyday ingredients you have in your pantry. Her bottom line is building flavor. If you take nothing except one lesson from this book, take her advise about being a patient cook and taking the time to build a strong base flavor with good olive oil, garlic, onio This is truly the essentials of Italian cooking. Not only do you learn how to butterfly and chicken breast, stuff a squid and de-bone a leg of lamb, but her recipes are also basic, flavorful and the majority of them are easy to make with everyday ingredients you have in your pantry. Her bottom line is building flavor. If you take nothing except one lesson from this book, take her advise about being a patient cook and taking the time to build a strong base flavor with good olive oil, garlic, onion, celery and carrots. If anyone wants to borrow this, i have it after my sister reccomended it to me. Thanks Rebecca.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Rob Durante

    My goto Italian cookbook. This is the essence of Italian cooking simple recipes using great ingredients. The recipes are simple and logical. Italian does not have to have garlic and gravy like sauce to be Italian. American's often learned what Italian food was from emigrants from the south Italy that opened restaurants using red checkered table clothes. These neighborhood eatery's of the 60's and 70's often used too much garlic and served food of poor quality in my opinion. Hazan will broaden yo My goto Italian cookbook. This is the essence of Italian cooking simple recipes using great ingredients. The recipes are simple and logical. Italian does not have to have garlic and gravy like sauce to be Italian. American's often learned what Italian food was from emigrants from the south Italy that opened restaurants using red checkered table clothes. These neighborhood eatery's of the 60's and 70's often used too much garlic and served food of poor quality in my opinion. Hazan will broaden your horizons and ground you in food the way you will find in in Italy. True Italian is at the heart of slow cooking and farm to fork.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    This book combines Hazan's first two books, the Classic Italian Cookbook and More Classic Italian Cooking. While the combined volume is convenient, something is lost. Specifically, in the original works, Hazan gave suggest accompaniments for each recipe. You pick a Primi course, for instance, and she suggests Secondis, and vice versa. This helps you to come up with a truly Italian meal, as two courses are characteristic there. I have found this to be very valuable, and it has been omitted from E This book combines Hazan's first two books, the Classic Italian Cookbook and More Classic Italian Cooking. While the combined volume is convenient, something is lost. Specifically, in the original works, Hazan gave suggest accompaniments for each recipe. You pick a Primi course, for instance, and she suggests Secondis, and vice versa. This helps you to come up with a truly Italian meal, as two courses are characteristic there. I have found this to be very valuable, and it has been omitted from Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking. Although her first two books are out of print, it's worth looking for them at used book stores and online, as they are more useful than the newer tome.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    As a novice cook, this book has a wealth of knowledge for the uninitiated. Some parts I felt were rather hard to follow. I assume these are for the more advance cooking talents. Still a great and useful book to add to the shelves.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    She's a wonderful traditionalist in many ways -- sometimes the recipes take on more steps than necessary, but she is -- was -- a taskmaster. And more than a few of us like that about her. She's a wonderful traditionalist in many ways -- sometimes the recipes take on more steps than necessary, but she is -- was -- a taskmaster. And more than a few of us like that about her.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Best Italian Cookbook...Tastes Like You are There!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Minchilli

    A classic that all those interested in Italian cooking should have on their shelves. Like many others, this is the book that truly taught me the basics of Italian cooking.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

    I still look to this book for recipes of many classic dishes that I rarely make but should make more frequently.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Gael Lundeen

    Absolutely essential. Amazing cooking methodologies. Don't miss the Ragu, Bolognese Style on page 127. Our book falls open to that page. Absolutely essential. Amazing cooking methodologies. Don't miss the Ragu, Bolognese Style on page 127. Our book falls open to that page.

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