Last week my cousin Sal asked me to recommend a good Italian cookbook that he could give as a birthday gift to a friend. My first reaction was to choose from the books I have featured on this site. There are some excellent ones like The Silver Spoon and Italian Family Dining. But, as I thought about it more I realized the one Italian cookbook that I would want if I could only have one was conspicuously missing, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking by Marcella Hazan.
Published in 1992, Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking is actually two earlier works of Hazan’s from the 1970s combined into one volume and updated. Essentials literally is an essential resource for anybody cooking Italian food at home, whether a beginner or expert. Hazan includes clear recipes for many great Italian dishes as well as tremendous detail on techniques for doing everything from rolling handmade pasta to cutting and pounding veal scallopine. I find myself referring to this classic time and again.
When I got home after touting the book to Sal, I took it out to leaf through and was inspired to try a recipe I hadn’t tried before, Baked Crespelle with Bolognese Meat Sauce. After making these crepes stuffed with Bolognese Sauce and Béchamel, there was no doubt I made the right recommendation.