Thursday, October 29, 2015

Book Review: Happy Cooking by Giada De Laurentiis

I have a heart-felt space in my life for cookbooks. Cookbooks of any kind. Old, new, used, gifted. I love them all. I think I love looking at how people get creative in their cooking, even the fundraiser cookbooks. It's amazing what people come up with or re-invent.

I am so happy I got this book. I wasn't sure because I passed up the last few of Giada's books - not because they weren't great with amazing recipes, but because I wasn't sure I would actually make any of them. I look at all the pretty pages and I think, "I would eat that." But, will I make it? Meh. Not always.


I think when it comes to cooking, we have to feel inspired. At least, I do. I have to feel that I can play with it, get a great deal of joy out of it and plenty of leftovers. Particularly, if I am going to be in the kitchen for hours. I love the experience and the outcome - not one over the other. And, sometimes, I feel lackluster about recipes.

But, Happy Cooking, Giada's new cookbook, inspires me. At first, I was leafing through and I just wasn't so sure. I thought, "Beautiful. Delicious. Yum." But, I couldn't find the inspiration. And then, some recipes stood out.

Superfood Fudge Torte

Giada has been the queen of Italian cooking since her first cookbook and her first show on Food Network, Everyday Italian. Pasta, sauces, culinary comfort that meets California fresh. She's done it all and we've watched her transformation.

Her new book is more than that. Giada lives in California, the land of makeovers, make-betters, and make-mores. And, while her background will always lie in traditional Italian cuisine with California flare, her newest book is starting to transcend some of the California kitsch.

Happy Cooking includes many of her most popular things like pastas, sauces, and Aunt Raffy recipes, but there is an element of searching and creating true health that is inspiring to me. Giada is surpassing the typical "We have to eat this way to be healthy and perceived popular" California attitude and going straight to "Here are some great ideas for things that taste great, are easy to make, and some ideas about feeling great."

Yep. I said great three times in that last sentence.

Banana Tea that promotes restful sleep and calms the nerves
There are quite a few collaborative recipes in this book, including Alex Guarnaschelli, her daughter Jade, sleep experts, and other chefs and physicians. As most of us do, we spend our lives running, creating, doing, and being - when we have time - and, eventually, it catches up to us. I think this book is Giada's newest offering to help counteract that in her own life, as well as her readers' lives. There are recipes for detox soup, green smoothies, banana tea (helps promote sleep - who knew?), and more veggie-inspired recipes than I have ever seen her put in one book. Of course, there is no lack of meat, fish, and holiday meals, including a fabulous-looking Persimmon-Pumpkin Pie. But, as she says in many of her tips and suggestions dotted throughout the book, there's an overall theme: Be Good To Yourself.

I'm excited to start making and baking from this new delight. Beautiful imagery, pictures galore (a must for me), well-written recipes that always turn out, and choices upon choices upon choices. Giada is showing the world that it is not about sacrifice, it's about choices. And she's giving them.

A delectable sampling of some of the delicious divinity included in Happy Cooking (and things I plan to make): 

  • Spring Pasta Timbale
  • Superfood Fudge Torte
  • Banana Tea
  • Smoky Candied Carrots
  • Citrus-Chile Acorn Squash
  • Lemon-Roasted Fennel
  • Bacon Bourbon Brussels Sprouts Skewers
  • Peas, Pancetta, and Prosecco
  • Smashed Root Vegetables
  • Polenta Plank with Frank's Bolognese
  • Raffy's Polpettone Two Ways (braised in milk and marinara)
  • Persimmon-Pumpkin Pie
  • Old-Fashioned Buttercrunch

Smoky Candied Carrots

*This book was given to me by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review. I loved it. 

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