As a caterer and friend to Puppies and Worms I was asked to do a guest blog for them on my favorite and not so favorite cookbooks. For this first guest blog, I have chosen Giada De Laurentiis as my chef and her book Giada’s Kitchen: New Italian Favorites (Hardcover) as my book to review.
Recently, I received this book from a friend who loves to cook as much as I do. We are both known to be able to throw a good dinner party. I do it professionally as a caterer and do weddings, parties for companies, birthdays, and my friend Ally can throw together a meal from scratch in 45 minutes to feed her family of 5 that is always delicious, nutritious, and beautiful.
I was very excited to have received a book by Giada De Laurentiis as I love watching her on the Food Network when I am working out on the elliptical machine at home or sitting and zoning out on a weekend when I am not working the whole time.
The first recipe I tried by Giada was a recipe with a chocolate cake, mascarpone cheese frosting, and sugar hazelnut candy decorations. The cake was elaborate and took many steps. To help the home cook out, Giada allowed the home cook to take a chocolate cake mix from the box to make the cake. The next step was to make the mascarpone frosting with confectioners sugar and vanilla. The third step was to make simple syrup and pour it over toasted hazelnuts and then chill to create a hard sugar candy to use on top on the cake as decoration and also inside the frosting for crunch. The fourth step was a mixture of chocolate chips, orange zest, and granulated sugar, all food processed to sprinkle on top and around the frosted cake. The cake looked beautiful in her 2 page photo spread, and the cake sounded delicious with all the right ingredients of chocolate, sugar, Italian cream cheese, hazelnuts, and everything else!
I assembled the cake, put it in the fridge and took it out to bring to my sister’s house for a dinner party. When I took it out of my fridge, the whole cake collapsed. The cake looked like someone dropped it from the 2nd floor of a building. I almost wanted to cry with the amount of work this cake took. After getting over the initial shock, I decided to figure out what went wrong.
I believe the mascarpone cheese – all 16 oz of it was actually too heavy for the cake. I am not sure if this cake was capable of sitting or if it had to be served immediately. All in all the cake was a bit of a disaster and the taste of it on a scale of 1 to 10 was probably a 7. I expected a 10 with the look of it in the photos and the ingredients, but in the end it was a 7.
The next day, I decided to give the book another chance. I decided to make some easy pecorino cheese crackers that Giada said were great as snacks or great for soups. The recipe looked easy enough and the photos looked beautiful so again I gave it a whirl. The recipe was simply 1/2 cup of butter, 1 1/4 of grated romano pecorino cheese, 1 cup of flour, and salt and pepper. Giada said to first cream butter and cheese together, then add flour, salt and pepper. When done, I was supposed to just take little spoonfuls of the mixture and roll them into little balls and press them onto a cookie sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. When they came out, they were super salty, and very crumbly. Not what I was expecting for a nice snack.
I love Giada’s shows. She always seems to come up with nice easy recipes, and I always want to make something from her recipes as soon as I finish watching her shows. But this recipe book has not been great so far.
Unlike the Barefoot Contessa, whose cookbooks I have used for clients and personally for years and years, I am not sure Giada’s recipes were tested over and over again. I have never had to try a Barefoot Contessa over. Every single time I use my Barefoot Contessa cookbooks from the first time to the last time, every recipe has always been great.
Let my friends at Puppies and Worms know your thoughts. I am sure they would love your opinions. Write me back if you disagree. Comments are welcome.
Go here to check out the book on Amazon.com Giada’s Kitchen: New Italian Favorites