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From Barnes & NobleThe 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! (Ginger Curwen)