Easy Home Cooking Italian Style is a beautiful cookbook. The cover with its tempting lemon cream horns draws you in. The pages look like parchment and each has a simple decorative border.
The author, Liliana Battle, was a contestant on Masterchef but was knocked out in the round where she made her family’s favourite celebration cake – a rainbow cake. It is the last recipe in the book. One of my daughters made it for her own daughter’s birthday this year. It is, indeed, a special celebratory cake.
But this is a book of everyday food with many traditional recipes while others have been given a twist such a Limoncello Tiramisu on p288. It is also a family book whether it’s evening meals with a small family or family banquets for the extended family.
Photos from the past are scattered through the book, and the extended family can be seen having very happy times. Liliana Battle pays tribute to her mother and aunt in schooling her in traditional Italian cooking.
Whenever I pick up an Italian cookbook I check to see its take on three standards – minestrone, risotto and pasta carbonara. A standard minestrone is here – a great standby in winter, as is a variety of risotto.
Liliana Battle presents ‘cheat’s’ risotto, pastry and lemon curd. Personally, I prefer to go the long way round for risotto and lemon curd, but I always use frozen pastry.
At the start of the book there is a section on the Italian Pantry – staples in most Australian households these days, I would suspect.
This is followed d by The Italian Freezer. Meatballs and tomato sauce are staples. It never occurred to me to freeze meatballs, but I will do so next time I make them using her Best Ever Meatball recipe from page 215.
Flour should be kept in the fridge because of weevils, the author says.
The sections of the book are breakfast, Soup, Fish, Chicken, Meat, Salads and Vegetables, Cakes and Biscuits, Desserts and the Rainbow cake with its own section.
This is a book for the experienced cook or beginner. It would make a thoughtful gift or a treat for yourself.
Easy Italian Cooking by Lillian Battle RRP $40, hardcopy