Most will already know of Gino D’Acampo from television programmes like ‘Daily Cooks’, ‘Good Food Live’, or ‘Ready Steady Cook’, and some might even own a few of his cookbooks. His recipes are always easy to follow and each of them are bursting with exquisite flavours that make us want to cook them again and again.
Gino’s new cookbook accompanies his new television series, Gino’s Italian Coastal Escape in which he visits his homeland, travelling up Italy’s west coast. If his name and his new television series aren’t enough to you to purchase a copy, then a skim through the book certainly will.
The cookbook is organised by Antipasti & Soups; Italian For Two; Fish and Seafood; Meat & Poultry; Pasta, Gnocchi & Risotto; Pizza & Breads; Vegetable; and Desserts. In between these chapters are two-page sections the specialties of the regions on Italy’s western coastline; Calabri, Campani, Lazio and Tuscany. The index cross references the recipes well so they are easy to find.
The recipes themselves are well structured, with a simple layout and a readable font so they are extremely easy to read. Gino introduces each recipe with poetic language worthy of an Italian and gives suggestions on what to eat with the dish. In some of them, he includes little anecdotes which make one smile from amusement. Ingredients are listed in the order that they are used in the cooking instructions. However, some of the ingredients aren’t easy to find in a UK supermarket, or are more expensive. For example, the recipe for “Sea Bass Baked In A Rosemary Salt Crust” calls for 3 kilograms of rock salt, which is not easily justified for a family dinner.
All the techniques that Gino uses are well defined, and includes step-by-step instructions for particular culinary methods, such as kneading so anyone unfamiliar with these methods.
Most of the recipes come with full colour photos of the dish that make your mouth water. And the best part about them is they are realistic in that your own recreations of the recipe come very close to how Gino’s has been captured in the photographs. There are also photos from Gino’s trip of himself, the Italian land and seascapes, and local shops, which I feel captures the diversity and vibrancy of the Italian culture. There is also an illustrated map of Italy with the regions clearly labelled so readers can see where the regions that Gino writes about are.
So far, I have cooked two dishes from Gino’s Italian Coastal Escape; Prawn and Scallop Gratin (from the Antipasti and Soups chapter), and Baked Courgettes with Parmesan and Mozzarella (from Vegetables). Unfortunately, I didn’t follow the recipes exactly, as I substituted one ingredient in each recipe as we didn’t have the listed ingredient in the house. Despite the substitution both dishes, when they came out of the oven, smelt absolutely divine, and tasted even better. The Gratin smelt exquisitely of the garlicky butter which tasted even better with eaten with warm rustic bread; and the Baked Courgettes were saturated with the warm smell of scent of the baked cheese, and though simple in its ingredients, the combined flavours made for a rich and very filling dish.
I would definitely recommend Gino’s Italian Coastal Escape. Its full retail price of £20, I think is justified for the hours of enjoyment that both seasoned cooks and novices will get out of it to make delicious Italian dishes that they can serve to loved ones.
The only thing I will add now is, happy cooking!
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