Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Catherine’s Italian Kitchen – simple, but magical

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With my collection of recipes spanning seven centuries and five continents, I have finally run out of space for cookbooks. Any new cookbook entering the house means ruthlessly letting go of one that no longer earns its place: gone are Gary Rhodes, Michael Barry, Ken Hom and Nico Ladenis. Keith Floyd is teetering on the edge, poised to make room. A cookbook has to ‘bring to the table’ something that isn’t already on the shelf.

Reading the contents of Catherine Fulvio’s new book (sent to me by Gill & McMillan), Catherine’s Italian Kitchen, I am glad it is not a menu otherwise I would starve before I could narrow down the dishes to the bunch I would like to try first. This is my kind of food – all of it - simple, but magical.

If I were forced to choose, then I might start with the Marinated Aubergine with Goat’s Cheese and Herbs from the Antipasta, Starters and Salads section. This dish takes about 15 minutes to put together and would make a delicious starter or a light lunch. While that was cooking I would nibble on a variety of breadsticks – salt, cumin/poppy/sesame seed, or black pepper and rosemary.

I would have difficulty choosing the main, but would probably settle on a glorious fish dish – Sea Bass with Fennel and Garlic, or Seafood Skewers with Lemon, Almond and Rocket Couscous. There are plenty of robust flavours to choose from in a variety of sides.

Then, if I still had room, I’d plump for the Hazelnut and Orange Honey Tart or the Amaretto and Almond Truffle Torte or perhaps a homemade icecream.

The recipes use good, simple, easily obtained ingredients. The steps are short and clearly explained. The book is full of mouthwatering food photos by Hugh McElveen with a variety of ‘on location’ photos taken in Rome and Sicily by Rory McCabe adding local colour.

This cookbook will not be ousting one from the shelf for the simple reason that it will be joining Elizabeth, Julia, Delia and other selected favourites in my kitchen, and acquiring that unmistakable cook’s seal of approval – a patina of splatter and splashes from frequent use.

Catherine’s Italian Kitchen by Catherine Fulvio
Published by Gill & Macmillan
ISBN 978-0-7171-4806-6
List price €19.99

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