After a nearly 2-year break from the Canal House Cooking series (in which they produced the James Beard Award winning cookbook Canal House Cooks Every Day), Christopher Hirshheimer and Melissa Hamilton are back with another installment and continuation with their Volume No. 8: Pronto!
• Who wrote it: Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton
• Who published it: Canal House/Andrews McMeel Publishing
• Number of recipes: 77
• Recipes for right now: Porchetta-Style Chicken; Pasta with Sardines and Fennel; Pasta Salad with Broccoli Rabe and Salami; Harissa Mussels; Braised Pork with Romano and String Beans; Eggplant Cooked in the Coals; White Beans with Spicy Back Olive Vinaigrette; Fig Gelato.
• Other highlights: In this is the second volume in a series of three on Italian cooking, Pronto! emphasizes fresh, fast, and delicious Italian dishes. The emphasis is on quality produce combined with classics from the Italian pantry such as dried pastas, canned tomatoes, capers, various tubes filled with pastes, anchovies, olive oil. This is the book you will go to when you don't have much in the refrigerator and are puzzling over what to make for a quick dinner.
A charming introduction gives us glimpse into their working relationship as Christopher and Melissa prepare a lunch for guests in their cooking studio. After a few essays on wine and eating in Italy, we jump right into to the recipes which are divided into sections: Working Up an Appetito; Pasta*Pasta*Pasta; Pesce; Big Birds & A Little Rabbit; Carne; Eat Your Vegetables; Pizza*Pizza*Pizza; Dolce.
As with all the Canal House books, there are lovely photographs throughout from Christopher Hirshheimer as well as colorful illustrations from Melissa Hamilton. The book is small (127 pages) and has a stiff, sturdy cover. There is no index but one is hardly necessary for a book this size. This is a lovely, useful addition to the justifiably popular Canal House series.
• Who would enjoy this book? Who doesn't like Italian food? The ease and casualness of these recipes will have new and experienced cooks alike reaching for this volume. I can also see working as a wonderful gift, wrapped up with a few of the pantry items featured such as a tin of anchovies and a nice block of parmesan.
Find the book at your local library, independent bookstore, or Amazon: Canal House Cooking, Volume 8: Pronto! by Christopher Hirsheimer and Melissa Hamilton
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(Images: Dana Velden)