Friday, December 16, 2011

Review - The Silver Spoon: The New Edition

A small slice of The Silver Spoon.

Cake with Orange Icing taken from the chapter Dessert Cakes caught my attention, with an easy to follow recipe. The sponge has a moist soft crumb and although I made more icing than specified in the recipe, I felt the liquid measurement was too generous and not enough icing sugar. True to say I didn't make the icing to the recipe, and perhaps next time I make this, I will stay with the recipe!

I was delighted when asked to review the above book - memories of a magnificent display showcasing Phaidon Press in a department store at Westfield Shopping Centre London, came flooding back.

The revised edition has a fabulous new red cover and is the heaviest cookery book I have come across. In total there are 1,504 pages, 400 colour photographs, over 2,000 recipes, and chapters including First Courses, Vegetables, Meat, Fish, Desserts and Baking, just to name a few. Italy's best-selling cookery bible, The Silver Spoon, was first published in English in 2005 by celebrated publishers Phaidon Press, has sold over one million copies worldwide and is also the most successful Italian cookbook of all time. There are chef endorsements from Giorgio Locatelli to Gennaro Contaldo and praise from leading UK newspapers and magazines.

The book promises to set alight the nation's taste buds for authentic, home-cooked Italian food and is fully revised and updated for modern kitchens. The Silver Spoon is the definitive book on Italian cooking and stands alongside other culinary classics such as The Joy of Cooking and Larousse Gastronomique.

Most of the recipes are traditional and regional Italian dishes, whist others are more contemporary additions. For the English edition, the ingredients and cooking times of some recipes were updated in the light of changing tastes and lifestyles. Others have been left virtually untouched to retain their unique characteristics.

The Silver Spoon offers the opportunity to make Italian gastronomy part of your life, whether you are cooking simple family dishes or something for a special celebration.

Eating is a serious matter in Italy and as soon as the temperature falls, everyone is ready for a warming plate of Braised Beef with Barola, which is the recipe I chose to make. The beef topside was placed in a Barola, vegetable and herb marinade for 7 hours, browned all over and cooked on the hob until tender. I kept some of the cooked marinade vegetables back and pureed the remainder with the cooking liquid to make a sauce. A straightforward recipe, easy to make, a photograph to accompany the recipe and a great one pot dish.

A section in the book includes 23 Silver Spoon Celebrated International Guest chefs from around the world and their menus, including contributions from Theo Randall, Ruth Rogers and Georgio Locatelli here in the UK, Paolo Lopriore (Italy), Mario Batali (United States) and Robert Marchetti (Australia).

How did I fair in a domestic kitchen, located on the Shropshire/Staffordshire border and where to begin with a book such as this! My overall experience using the book was excellent, although to date I have only cooked two of the recipes, this is a very exciting book for lovers of Italian cuisine (and this includes me). The recipe selection is from easy, to recipes for the keen cook and gourmet. I'm not sure if I would recommend this book for a beginner because it assumes a level of cooking ability and confidence. Interestingly, I always presumed this book would be beyond my capabilities and now after studying the book, albeit over the last two weeks, it has proven me wrong.

More photographs have been added to this revised edition, but a photograph speaks a thousand words and even more photographs would be appreciated. To do justice to The Silver Spoon, I will revisit this again next year and make a few recipes, post them on the blog and give an account of how I get on.

Hopefully, the Fresh Pasta Chapter will encourage me to dust off my pasta machine, there are so many delicious recipes....maybe, next year!

Thank you to Phaidon Press and Lucy for the review copy.

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