At the end of August, not long before I headed off on holiday, the lovely people at Gill & MacMillan sent me a copy of Catherine Fulvio's new cookbook, Catherine's Italian Kitchen to review. I managed to have a good read through it and try a couple of the recipes out before I headed off and I have to say that there are some excellent recipes contained in its pages.
Catherine runs the Ballyknocken Cookery School and Ballyknocken House. This book covers the recipes that were featured in Catherine's television programme of the same name that aired last year.
First, let me start with the layout of the book, it's a nice portable size, which is useful for me as I am always carting cook books back and forth between my flat and my parents' house. The table of contents is nicely laid out with subdivisions within the main sections, further helping you to find the recipe that you want. There is also an index at the back so that you can do a quick search by ingrediant to find a particular recipe. I find this particularly useful as some of my mum's older cook books don't have this and it can make it difficult to find the recipe you're looking for.
The front of the book has some useful notes on ingredients and a useful shorthand of marking recipes with E or F, to show whether it is easy or can be frozen. A set of conversion tables completes the information at the beginning of the book.
Each recipe includes a note from Catherine on the history of the dish, whether personal or general as well as a suggestion for a modification to the dish or a tip to help the dish be the best it can. I find these things particularly interesting, as I like the insight into why a chef or cook has chosen a particular recipe for their book.
I've tried out a few of the recipes on my friends and family, all of which have gone down incredibly well. Below are pictures of some of the dishes I made; rosemary focaccia, lemon granita and apple cake with olive oil.
However, the dish that went down the best was her slow roasted pork belly.
All in all I found the book to be very informative (the section on making your own pasta is particularly inspiring). There were a lot of interesting recipes, especially in the meat and fish sections, that I would never have thought of in regard to Italian cuisine, as the first things that spring to mind is pizza and pasta. The instructions were clear, concise and easy to follow. I would recommend this book to people looking for an Italian cook book that covers the basics but also has some more unusual dishes too.
If you want to see more by Catherine, her new series Catherine's Roman Holiday is currently airing on RTÉ One, Friday at 8.30pm. Gill and Macmillan also have a 20% discount off the book on their website.