COOKING ITALIAN FOOD BY MARC VETRI
Review by Barb & Ron Kroll
Rustic Italian Food
(Ten Speed Press) ISBN 978-1580085892 158008589X
Take Italian cooking lessons from Marc Vetri, owner of some of the best Italian restaurants in Philadelphia. In Rustic Italian Food, he shows you how to make pasta, salumi and Italian dishes with step-by-step instructions and photos.
After training at Taverna Colleoni dell'Angelo, a Northern Italian restaurant in Bergamo, Lombardy, Chef Vetri specialized in Italian cuisine. He teaches you about fresh ingredients, cooking equipment, how to prep ahead and how to vary basic Italian recipes, as well as garnish them.
Jeff Benjamin provides information on how to pair these Italian dishes with wine, beer, coffee and other beverages.
The 291-page cookbook is organized by type of food, from salami to sauces. Each chapter begins with an index of recipes, a discussion about ingredients (e.g., robiola, an Italian cream cheese), Italian cooking techniques (e.g., how to make salami) and serving suggestions (e.g., use hazelnut honey as a spread for lamb mortadella sandwiches).
Marc Vetri's recipes include pasta (mortadella tortellini with pistachio pesto), bread (fig and chestnut bread), preserves (shallot marmalade), meat (duck terrine), fish (tuna ricotta fritters), vegetables (fennel gratin) and desserts (chocolate hazelnut tartufo).
Some of the recipes in this Italian cookbook are complex and time-consuming, like the fennel salami. Others are fast and easy recipes, such as eggplant fries and rosemary roasted potatoes.
Food and wine pairing
Many of the Rustic Italian Food recipes come from the Vetri restaurant menu (e.g., spinach and ricotta gnudi). A sources chapter provides the names of stores and websites where you can buy chestnut flour, pure mustard oil and other hard-to-find cooking ingredients.
For each of the 120 recipes in Marc Vetri's cookbook, Jeff Benjamin adds notes about pairing Italian dishes with wine (e.g., Medici Ermete, Lambrusco di Salomino di Santa Croce Concerto with pizza). He also pairs Italian foods with beer (pork liver terrine with Birrificio Italiano, Scires NV, Lombardia), soft drinks (Naples pizza with San Pellegrino Chinotto, a citrus-flavored dark malty soda) and coffee (traditional tiramisu with Miscela d'Oro Espresso).
Comparison of Parmesan and grana padano cheeses
Sidebars discuss Italian cooking ingredients, such as which olive oils to use for cooking and eating (novello or first-cold-pressed olive oil for drizzling over pasta and fruity Tuscan olive oil in cakes). Chef Marc Vetri also makes recommendations for ingredient substitutions. For example, you can use less-expensive vecchio grana padano (aged 20 months) as an alternative to mid-vecchio Parmigiano-Reggiano to save money and still have a similar texture and sharp flavor.
Photos by Kelly Campbell depict cooking techniques, such as grinding, seasoning and stuffing meat into casings for salumi, as well as Italian dishes made from recipes in Rustic Italian Food (so delectable that your mouth will water).
- Foreword by Mario Batali
- Introduction: A Return to Real Cooking
- Bread and Pizza
- Pickles and Preserves
- Meats and Fish
- Simple Vegetables and Sides
- Rustic Desserts
- Sauces and Other Basics
Marc Vetri is chef and owner of Osteria, Amis, Alla Spina and Vetri restaurants in Philadelphia.
David Joachim is the author, co-author and editor of more than 35 cookbooks.