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Mario Batali Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages

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Mark Ferri (Photographer)

Sure to excite lovers of the best Italian cooking, Mario Batali Simple Italian Food: Recipes from My Two Villages re-envisions classic home cucina with enticing results. Batali, known to fans as “Molto Mario” from his Television Food Network shows, and as chef-owner of Manhattan’s much-loved Po and Babbo restaurants, presents nearly 250 of his favorite recipes, traditional and innovative, for delectable salads, pastas, grilled specialties, ragus, and desserts, among others. The collection, inspired by the cooking of Borgo Cappene, a hillside village in northern Italy, and Greenwich Village, where Batali culls exemplary ingredients for his restaurants, reflects Batali’s commitment to simple cooking–impeccable ingredients sensibly combined and properly prepared. Arranged by courses, antipasti through formaggi and dolci (cheese and sweets), the uncomplicated dishes include White Bean Bruschetta with Grilled Radicchio Salad, Baked Lasagna with Asparagus and Pesto, and Roasted Porgy with Peas, Garlic, Scallions and Mint. Gorgonzola with Spiced Walnuts and Port Wine Syrup with fresh fruit would make a lovely conclusion to any dinner. Throughout, Batali provides advice on dish preparation; there are 32 pages of color photos and dozens of black-and-white shots of life in Batali’s two villages.

Mario Batali Holiday Food

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Quentin Bacon (Photographer)

With the infectious enthusiasm of a kid on Christmas morning, Mario Batali–who presides over a culinary empire that includes the popular Food Network television show Molto Mario, four acclaimed New York restaurants, and a wine store–presents four complete menus for the holidays and captures all the fun and festivity that epitomize Italian celebrations. True to the commitment to simple cooking evident in his first book, Simple Italian Food, the dishes here deliver maximum flavor and enjoyment without being overly complicated. Batali’s version of the famous Italian seafood extravaganza traditionally served on Christmas Eve–known as the Feast of Seven Fishes–includes no fewer than 15 enticing dishes. Marinated Fresh Anchovies are both surprisingly delectable and delightful in their simplicity. Salt Cod with Capers and Mint, Grilled Lobster with Herbs and Arugula, and Sea Bass Ravioli with Marjoram and Potatoes would each be showstoppers as the centerpiece of any meal. Served together, they comprise a truly unforgettable feast. The Christmas Day menu is equally lavish, centering on a succulent boned turkey breast stuffed with chestnuts and prunes, while the New Year’s Day spread is pure decadence. Photos, along with helpful wine suggestions and practical advice on technique, accompany each menu. Throughout, Batali paints a portrait of his Italian-American family that reminds readers that the simple joy of being together is what the holidays are really about. The 60 simple yet elegant recipes can be mixed, matched, and adapted for any occasion. Served together or separately, each is cause for celebration.

The Babbo Cookbook

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The Babbo Cookbook is a gorgeous affair–nearly every recipe is accompanied by a color photo of the finished dish. One of the most coveted reservations to have in New York City is at Babbo, Mario Batali’s flagship restaurant in Greenwich Village. In The Babbo Cookbook, Batali (author of Mario Batali Simple Italian Food and Mario Batali Holiday Food) takes readers behind the scenes of his popular restaurant–from the kitchen to the front of house–sharing 150 recipes for his innovative Italian fare and offering tips on menu selection, service, and presentation. Along the way, Batali expertly captures the intimate buzz, the warm hospitality, and the generous attention to detail that makes Babbo a singular dining experience. Two of Babbo’s signature dishes, Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage (little ravioli stuffed with a filling of sweet peas, mint, heavy cream, and Parmigiano-Reggiano) and Beef Cheek Ravioli (so good the book recommends doubling the filling and freezing a batch), are broken down and made more than accessible to the home cook. Other exceptional pasta options include Pumpkin Lune with Butter and Sage (finished with a dusting of Parmigiano-Reggiano and amaretti cookie crumbs) and Gnocchi with Oxtail Ragù (a reinterpretation of a Batali family classic, still served at Salumi, his father’s must-visit Seattle shop). Chapters “Mare (From the Sea)” and “Terra e Bosco (From the Earth and Forest)” offer Crispy Black Bass with Endive Marmellata and Saffron Vinaigrette (“‘crispy’ sells more food than a barrage of adjectives,” Batali reveals) and a succulent Osso Buco with Toasted Pine Nut Gremolata. There’s a wonderful section on pre-desserts and cheese, and in “Dolci” pastry chef Gina DePalma wraps things up with Maple and Mascarpone Cheesecake, Meyer Lemon Semifreddo, and a tempting cookie plate.