|A must-have cookbook!|
I couldn’t say “yes” fast enough when Sterling Publishing asked me to review Anna del Conte’s new cookbook, Italian Kitchen! Most of you know that I moved to Naples when I was nine years-old and to Rome when I was 13. I lived in Italy with my family for seven years, then returned to Rome for a semester my sophomore year with the University of Dallas.
When my family returned to the States, I was really surprised by what passed for Italian food – keep in mind, this was long before we could import Italian staples like Prosciutto and real Mozzarella. But the dark, rich, thick sauces and thick crust pizzas piled with tons of toppings were not like anything I’d ever encountered in Italy. Southern Italian food is seasonal, fresh, and light. Neapolitan pizza has a thin crust and only a couple of toppings on it. Anna Del Conte’s cookbook is all that I know Italian cooking to be.
I must have tabbed 30 recipes to try but we decided to start with Risotto con le Sogliole – Risotto with Dover Sole – which was a revelation! With almost 20 risotto recipes on our blog – and countless others we haven’t posted – we were amazed at how much better the results of Anna’s recipe were than our traditional method. So, we’ll be using her method from now on. It was so creamy, delicious, and authentic that we could close our eyes and imagine we were back in Rome! And the Sole, just slipped into butter for a quick turn, was amazing. We didn’t have any dill in our garden, so I made a gremolata from dried dill and what we did have in our garden: lime zest and chives. It was absolutely amazing! Simple, fresh, and delicious.
Despite it’s elegant appearance and delicious flavor, this dish is so easy to make. We don’t get fresh Sole in California, so we used frozen fillets and they worked great. This is a perfect dish to make for company because the risotto can sit and the fish can be fried at the last minute.
|A perfect meal!|
It may seem extravagant to use Dover sole in a humble dish such as a risotto, but I assure you that it is necessary. You only need a small amount of Dover sole, and it makes a great difference to the dish. The delicacy and firm texture of the fish is in perfect harmony with the soft creaminess of the risotto; none of the other ingredients disturbs the happy balance of flavors.
Serves 4 as a main course
5 tbsp unsalted butter
2 tbsp very finely chopped shallot
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 cups light fish stock
1 3/4 cups Italian rice, preferably Carnaroli
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp fresh dill
12 oz skinless Dover sole fillets
4 tbsp freshly grated Parmesan
1. Heat 4 tbsp of the butter and the shallot in a heavy-bottomed saucepan. Add a pinch of salt and saute until the shallot is soft and translucent.
2. Meanwhile, heat the fish stock in another saucepan to simmering (keep it at the lowest simmer all through the cooking of the risotto).
3. Add the rice to the shallot and stir to coat with butter, then saute for a minute or so until partly translucent. Add the wine and let it bubble away, stirring constantly.
4. Add about 2/3 cup simmering stock, stir well, and let the rice absorb the liquid. Continue adding stock little by little until the rice is nearly done, then mix in half of the dill and continue cooking.
5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining butter in a nonstick frying pan. Cut the fish fillets in half, lengthwise. Slide them into the butter and saute for 3 minutes. Turn them over and saute for another minute. Sprinkle with salt and pepper.
6. When the rice is al dente, mix in the Parmesan and the juices from the fish fillets. Turn into heated dish. Place the fish fillets neatly over the top and sprinkle with the remaining dill. Serve immediately
Excerpt from Anna del Conte’s Italian Kitchen
|So delicious! If you take a bite & close your eyes, you may find yourself in Italy!|
This cookbook is beautifully photographed and filled with recipes we can’t wait to try! Whether you are a novice cook, or experienced chef, if you are looking for an authentic Italian cookbook to add to your collection, this is it! Anna’s instructions are methodical, easy to follow, and yield wonderful results. First published in four separate volumes, these recipes are now together in a single, exquisite edition.
Here is a wonderful article about Anna Del Conte that was just published in The Independent. I only hope I will be as creative, productive, and energetic as Anna when I’m in my 80’s. She is truly amazing. Anna Del Conte is the grande dame of Italian cooking. She was born in Milan and moved to England as a young woman in 1949, where she became the first cookbook writer to specialize in Italian food. She has written seven Italian cookbooks and a memoir.