From the Publisher
“Every time I go to New York, I see Mario at the [Union Square] farmers’ market. It is his attention to fresh, seasonal ingredients that makes these dishes so irresistible.”
“Historically, when we adapt an ethnic cuisine to our own uses we start with the most ordinary and work our way up, frequently making a mess along the way. In our lifelong search for the genuine we need a guidebook to get close to the pinnacle and, in the case of Italian cuisine, it has been delivered in the shape of Mario Batali’s Babbo Cookbook, which is a new standard of excellence. Babbo is my favorite American restaurant and this book allows me to bring its grace to my home kitchen.”
“Funny. Bold. Beautiful. Full of life and full of flavor. From the Blood Orange Bellini to the Mint Love Letters (irreverent ravioli) and Barbecued Skirt Steak with Endive, this book is pure Mario. Great food, great snapshots (they exude the restaurant hustle-bustle), and Joe’s great wine notes take you right to the heart of the Babbo experience.”
—Rick Bayless, chef, author, and host of Public Television’s Mexico—One Plate at a Time
“Babbo is revelatory—the freshest ingredients, simply or elaborately prepared, combine into nothing short of a celebration. If food could rule the world, Mario Batali would be Emperor. In fact, he is. Or should be.”
The Barnes & Noble Review
Mario Batali is almost a household name, thanks to his TV shows, books, and famous New York restaurants, including the flagship, Babbo.
Batali's knowledge and understanding of authentic Italian food runs deep, but his real trademark is taking traditional trattoria-style recipes and tweaking them by adding an unexpected ingredient or two, like using apple cider in Friulian-style braised pork cheeks, barbecuing octopus, or spiking braised short ribs with a horseradish gremolata.
The Babbo Cookbook features some 150 recipes from the restaurant, adapted for the home kitchen and illustrated with 150 full-color photos. It includes such signature pasta dishes as Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage, and Beef Cheek Ravioli. From his antipasti and pasta to fish, meat, and vegetables, Batali loves to deploy ingredients not so commonly used at home, like duck eggs, cardoons, boar sausage, and even mint; but read the recipes, and you'll be ready to expand your horizons.
Here's some great advice on vegetables that gives you a good idea of Batali's philosophy and a taste of the book at the same time: "The best thing to do if you are having trouble deciding what to serve with a dish is to go to the local greenmarket, find out what is in season, and buy it. Take it home, cut it into one- or two-inch pieces, put it in a roasting pan, drizzle it with olive oil, and toss it into a 475° F oven. Cook it until it's cooked through and maybe starting to get a little dark on the outside edges. Remove it from the oven and allow it to cool for 5 minutes. Squeeze a little lemon juice on it, season it with sea salt and pepper, and just serve it as it is."
The Babbo Cookbook also features an essay on the restaurant's style of hospitality, some good advice on wine selection, serving, presentation, and menu planning, and seven stylish aperitifs -- salute!
This book reads not only as a guide to modernized Italian cooking, but also as a very successful advertisement for its phenomenally successful namesake New York City restaurant. While it offers recipes for signature dishes such as Mint Love Letters with Spicy Lamb Sausage and Beef Cheek Ravioli, it also includes descriptions of some of the workings of the restaurant, such as a brief essay on the difference between side dishes offered in traditional restaurants in Italy and the side dishes offered at Babbo. The recipes are excellent clearly written and easy to follow and carefully edited for the home cook but some of the ingredients and equipment called for will be difficult for laypeople to acquire, and many recipes are quite complex. Planked King Salmon with Cucumbers and Balsamic Vinegar calls for an 8-by-12-inch cedar plank; Bollito Misto requires calf's tongue, a capon and cotechino sausage. And Marinated Fresh Anchovies with "Giardiniera" and Lobster Oil requires boning fresh anchovies but fails to provide instructions. Still, the mixtures of flavors in dishes such as Whole Roasted Branzino with Braised Fennel and Lemon Oregano Jam and Joe's Veal Chop with Chanterelles, Roasted Garlic, and Campari are irresistible. Desserts follow the same traditional-Italian-with-a-twist formula just as successfully: Olive Oil and Fresh Rosemary Cake is a refreshing version of an Italian "keeping cake," and Pumpkin Cake with Toasted Pine Nuts and Olive Oil Gelato combines traditional flavors in surprising ways. Forecast: This book is as classy and culinarily tempting as the restaurant it represents. Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Batali is the co-owner of three New York City restaurants and host of two popular Food Network television series. His first book, Mario Batali Simple Food, presented many of the dishes from his original restaurant, P". Babbo, which he opened in 1998 to great success, is known for its emphasis on organ meats and other specialty cuts, and included here are recipes for Batali's famous Beef Cheek Ravioli, Salted Jellyfish Salad with Golden Tomatoes, and the like. But there are also many recipes for such mouthwatering if less "exotic" dishes as Mint Love Letters (i.e., herbed pasta squares) with Spicy Lamb Sausage and Black Bass in a Lemon Brodetto. Most of the recipes are shown in stunning close-ups, and Batali's "front of the house" partner, Joe Bastianich, provides commentary on serving wine and related topics. Batali's TV series will ensure demand beyond the restaurant's fans; for most collections. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Read an Excerpt
Ziti with Tuscan-Style Cauliflower
We call all vegetables cooked in this manner "Tuscan-style," fitting, as I learned this blanch-free method in Faith Willinger's Florentine kitchen, perhaps one of the most Tuscan in Italy.
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, finely chopped
1/2 bunch fresh mint, leaves only
1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 heads of cauliflower, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 pound ziti
Pecorino Romano, for grating
1. Bring about 6 quarts of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons of salt.
2. In a 12- to 14-inch sauté pan, heat the olive oil over high heat until almost smoking. Add the onion, mint, red pepper flakes, and garlic, and sauté over medium-high heat until the garlic is just golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the cauliflower and cook until tender, about 7 minutes.
3. Cook the ziti in the boiling water according to the package directions, until tender yet al dente. Drain the pasta and add it to the pan with the cauliflower. Toss over high heat for 1 minute, then divide the pasta evenly among four heated bowls, grate Pecorino over each bowl, and serve immediately.