Bill’s Italian Food

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Looked much more photogenic before I dished up.

I’ve been looking forward to making the above, tomato and mozzarella gnocchi bake, all week (as usual after school clubs and work kept getting in the way) but ooh it was worth the wait! Really simple, just some pre-cooked gnocchi baked in a tomato sauce with mozzarella and Parmesan (or in our case pecorino, as that’s what we had), it was gorgeous!

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The other item of gorgeousness made from Bill’s Italian food, was made last weekend, vegetable rolls, which were roasted red pepper and aubergine rolled up in a focaccia dough. I ate way too many of them, which turned out to be a good thing, as they weren’t so nice the next day, the moisture from the vegetables turning the rolls soft. They were gorgeous on the day though and I think this is a genius recipe that is soooo adaptable, I can think of all sorts of vegetables, cheeses and meats that could be adapted as fillings.

As for the book itself (a new purchase, so I’m doing a proper review for once), well as you’d expect with a Bill Granger book (and with its subject matter), it’s beautifully shot, just flicking through the pages makes me want to jump on the next plane to Italy, however I don’t think it’s a particularly practical book. I don’t think it’s particularly practical because looking through the recipes I can imagine having a hard time getting some of the ingredients and I live in London, in an area with two large well stocked supermarkets to choose from. Often when I look at a cookbook I imagine trying to use it whilst living where my dad lives (small town North Wales) and I can imagine there, trying to get the ingredients for half the recipes would be a nightmare. Basically this seems a very authentically Italian book (as far as I can tell about an Italian book written by an Australian and looking at it with my English eyes) and the ingredients are so authentically Italian you’d find it easier to get the ingredients actually in Italy. Also the book is not that practical in a family cooking sense, I don’t think it’s much of a coincidence that the two recipes I gravitated towards are recipes Bill describes as inspired by or particularly enjoyed by his daughters. I’m sure Bill’s daughters probably eat all the food in the book but they’re professional food writer’s kids, whereas my kids, quite a bit fussier. I feel, writing this, that I am probably being particularly harsh and yes I know I am but that’s the problem when you’re looking at a new cookbook by an author who has previously written books that you adore and get a lot of use out, when you open their new one and realise that your new purchase is probably going to be gathering dust within the month. However the gnocchi bake and the vegetable roll recipes are particularly good, useful recipes and I can see myself making them time and time again and are possibly worth the price of the book alone. I’m sure there’s also a few more recipes in there I might try in the future. That and the gorgeous photography which elevates the book almost to the travel book class, makes me glad, even with my whinging, that it’s in my collection.

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