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Marcella Cucina

Marcella Cucina

5.0 2
by Marcella Hazan, Alison Harris (Photographer)

Since the publication of her first book, The Classic Italian Cookbook, more than 20 years ago, Marcella Hazan has been hailed as the queen of Italian cooking in America. Marcella, whose name conjures up a splendid world of food for the devoted millions who love her books and attend her cooking classes, is back again with her finest book yet, Marcella


Since the publication of her first book, The Classic Italian Cookbook, more than 20 years ago, Marcella Hazan has been hailed as the queen of Italian cooking in America. Marcella, whose name conjures up a splendid world of food for the devoted millions who love her books and attend her cooking classes, is back again with her finest book yet, Marcella Cucina. Filled with the passion and personality of its author, it is a book not only of fine food and its careful preparation but of personal reminiscences and penetrating commentary about the sensual pleasure of food and its place in our lives.

In vivid introductory essays and seductive headnotes, the narrative of an extraordinary culinary life unfolds. With each memory of a trip, a meal or a flavor, we are treated to the perspective of a great cook and teacher—one who believes that the finest Italian cooking is found in the home. In Marcella Cucina, she focuses on regional cooking, turning her sharp eye to every area of Italy and offering a rich array of flavors and textures from cities and villages alike. Best of all, Marcella cooks at your side with easy-to-follow instructions and lavish full-color photographs that teach you her techniques—from preparing homemade pasta to cleaning artichokes—and allow you flawlessly to re-create her magic in your own kitchen.

Editorial Reviews

The Barnes & Noble Review
October 1997

The New York Times calls her "the Queen of Italian Cuisine"; Julia Child calls her "my mentor in all things Italian." Whether it is from her four previous cookbooks, her numerous television appearances, or her world-famous weeklong master cooking classes held in her Venice apartment, Marcella Hazan is recognized as one of the world's great cooking teachers and a key influence on the phenomenal popular growth of Italian cuisine in America and other countries. She and her husband, Victor, an authority on Italian wines, have decided to end their classes in Venice and have collaborated to present her final and most personal cookbook, Marcella Cucina.

"Marcella Cucina is a very personal book," Marcella says. The book documents in pictures and recipes not only the remarkable food she has discovered in her life but also an epoch of her life with Victor, her husband, head taster, and writing collaborator. Its engaging essays and recipe headnotes reveal the pleasures of a culinary life shared intimately, recollecting stories of the discovery of wonderful dishes in beautiful and unexpected places, the challenge of cooking simple food perfectly at home, and the enjoyment of many marvelous flavors across the years of a long and creative marriage.

Marcella Hazan's fifth and final cookbook was originally intended to be an academic research book featuring interviews with different chefs throughout Italy, from Sardinia to the Marches, Sicily to Friuli-Venezia Giulia, Calabria to Piedmont. However, when Marcella took the recipes home andpreparedthem, she had revised them in her mind, creating personalized versions that could only have been created by her. The recipes are from different eras in her life, from her childhood table in Emilia-Romagna to recent sojourns on Long Island, cooking Atlantic seafood. Whether the recipes are from celebrated chefs in Venice, dinner at a neighbor's, or a chance encounter in a cheese shop, Marcella has tested each dish to prove that it could be prepared easily and successfully in America and, as always, meets her and her husband's discriminating standards. Marcella Cucina contains ten chapters of nearly 200 carefully selected recipes that she loves, including appetizers, soups, pasta, risotto and polenta, fish, poultry and rabbit, meats, vegetables, salads, and desserts, all of which have passed her most stringent tests: They taste good to her; they please her husband; and they speak to them both "with a convincing Italian accent."

Every recipe in Marcella Cucina has been stamped with the unmistakable, authoritative character of Marcella Hazan. Whatever the provenance of the recipe, each has been "recast in the foundry of my senses," she writes. Each is presented with headnotes, instructions, and in many instances, photos that provide the reader not only with the techniques needed to reproduce the dish but clues to the taste considerations that have guided Marcella in perfecting it. Simple or complex, each dish is made with only ingredients that are essential, a testament to her long-held belief that "what you keep out is as significant as what you put in." More than just a recital of ingredients and cooking instructions, Marcella Cucina is written in eloquent, evocative prose, peppered with entertaining anecdotes, and presents cooking with the fullness and richness of Marcella's own experience of it in life.

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Edition description:
1st Edition
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.50(d)

Read an Excerpt

Fricasseed Chicken Abruzzi-style with Rosemary, White Wine, Cherry Tomatoes, and Olives

For 4 persons

Small, ripe, thin-skinned, very savory cherry tomatoes have become extremely popular and widely available in Italy in recent years. They are destined for the salad bowl, but one can certainly cook with them, if one is careful about choosing a preparation where they will show to best advantage. If you are making a sauce in which you need a lot of tomato, it would be more efficient and economical to use the plum or round varieties grown for the purpose. But when I had this particular chicken, I thought I saw in it a good opportunity for the miniature tomato.

In the original dish there was tomato of conventional size cooked the necessary 20 minutes or more, and the taste was close to the familiar one of chicken cacciatora. It seemed to me that I could capitalize on the brief cooking time cherry tomatoes require to achieve favor that was fresh and sprightly. Thus you will see that the tomatoes are put into the pan when the chicken is already done, and they stay no longer than is necessary for their skin to begin to crack. The resulting sweet and juicy taste is just what I was hoping for.

With that taste, olives similar to the strong-flavored ones of Abruzzi no longer seemed to be the most congenial ones to use, so I chose taggiasche olives, the small, mellow ones of the Italian Riviera. If you cannot find them, you can substitute French nicoise olives, which are similar.

I rarely have an occasion to mention how attractive an Italian dish is because presentation doesn't get much attention from this cuisine. This chicken, however, whose nut-browncolor is a rich foil to the red of the nearly intact whole tomatoes and the black of the olives, appeals no less to the eye than it does to the palate.

A 3 1/2-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
4 or 5 whole peeled garlic cloves
2 teaspoons rosemary leaves, chopped very fine
Chopped hot chili pepper, 1/4 teaspoon or to taste
1/2 cup dry white wine
Two dozen cherry tomatoes if no larger than 1 inch or proportionately fewer if larger
A dozen small black olives in brine such as Italian Riviera or French nicoise olives; see headnote

1.Wash all the chicken pieces in cold water and par dry with kitchen towels.

2.Choose a skillet or sauté pan that can contain all the chicken pieces in one layer without crowding. Put in the oil, garlic, and rosemary and turn on the heat to high. Add the chicken, the skin side facing down. When that side has been well browned, turn the pieces and do the other side. Sprinkle with salt, add the chili pepper, and with a wooden spoon turn over the contents of the pan three or four times.

3.Add the wine and as it bubbles, scrape loose with the wooden spoon any browning residues sticking to the bottom of the pan.

4.Put a lid on the pan and turn the heat down to low. Cook for about 35 minutes, turning the chicken over from time to time. If you should find that the-juices in the pan have become insufficient to keep the meat from sticking to the bottom, replenish them when necessary with 2 to 3 tablespoons of water.

5.When the chicken is very tender--the meat should come easily off-the bone--add the tomatoes and the olives. Continue cooking just until the tomatoes' skin begins to crack. Transfer all the contents of the pan to a warm platter and serve at once.

Ahead-of-time Note: You can cook the chicken through to the end of step 4 several hours in advance. Rehear gently bur thoroughly when completing the recipe. Add the tomatoes and olives only after the chicken has been fully reheated.

Simplest Leek and Chickpea Soup

4 ample, 6 moderate portions

We had the briefest of honeymoons, Victor and I, a single winter night in a pensione in Sirmione, a narrow peninsula at the southern end of Lake Garda, a tongue-like extension of land impudently stuck into the underbelly of the huge lake.Sirmione has since been devastated by tourism and the cheap shops and souvenir stalls that cater to it, but it was empty then, and the most romantic of places.We clambered over the ruins of a Roman bath, past a grove of olive trees planted before the birth of Christ, to reach the lake's icy edge, our exhalations dissolving in the wintry mist as we gaily chucked stones to see who could send them bouncing farthest over the water.

The evening we arrived the pensione served us leek and potato soup, an event that to this day Victor seems to recall more sharply than anything else that took place during our stay.It was, admittedly, a splendid soup, and both of us have adored leeks ever since.

I use leeks in many ways, nearly always in combination with another vegetable, such as the dish of leeks and artichokes in one of my previous books, a great favorite of ours.None of the things I do, however, is so simple as this aptly named "simplest" soup.Except for trimming the leeks and slowly cooking them in olive oil--not a daunting task for even the least expert of cooks--the most difficult things you have to do are opening a can of chickpeas and grating some Parmesan.

There is something about the flavor of chickpeas that yearns to be coupled with a member of the onion family.There are many such matches, but none more congenial than this one.

2 1/2 pounds leeks
3 tablespoons extra virgin
olive oil
One 16-ounce can
chickpeas, drained
A beef bouillon cube
Black pepper ground fresh
1/2 cup freshly grated
Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese

1.Trim away the root end of the leeks and any part of the green tops that is wilted, bruised and discolored, or dry.Cut the remainder into thin disks.Soak in several changes of cold water.Drain and spin or shake dry.

2.Put the leeks in a medium saucepan, add the olive oil and salt, turn on the heat to medium low, cover the pan, and cook the leeks at a slow pace, turning them over from time to time, until they are nearly dissolved.

3.While the leeks are cooking, skin the chickpeas by squeezing off the peel between your fingers, When the leeks are very soft and creamy, add the chickpeas, enough water to cover by 1 to 2 inches, and the bouillon cube.Turn over the contents of the pot with a wooden spoon, put back the lid, and cook for another 15 minutes.

4.Take two or three ladlefuls out of the soup and puree them back into the pot through a food mill, or chop briefly in a food processor.Add liberal grindings of black pepper to the pot, swirl in the grated Parmesan, cook for 5 minutes longer, taste and correct for seasoning, and serve.In the final stage of cooking, adjust density to suit you.This soup tastes best to me when it is neither too thick nor too runny.

Ahead-of-Time Note: You can prepare everything even a day in advance, up to, but not including, the moment when you add the pepper and Parmesan.When resuming cooking, warm up thoroughly before executing that last step.

Meet the Author

Marcella Hazan was the acknowledged godmother of Italian cooking in America. The recipient of two Lifetime Achievement Awards (from the James Beard Foundation in 2000 and the IACP in 2004), she was the author of many classic cookbooks, including Marcella Says… and Marcella Cucina.

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Marcella Cucina 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ChefGiovanni_of_LI More than 1 year ago
with a cookbook by Marcella! This is the only other Italian cookbook I have besides her "Essentials" collection. Every recipe I've made is "special occasion safe," even if I've never made it before.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I've had this book for several years and it is used more than any other. Virtually all the recipes have been wonderful.