Watching her as a judge on Iron Chef America, I always thought Donatella Arpaia was cold and snobby.
However, after reading her hints for romantic cooking and seeing her up close and personal at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival, I've changed my mind. I think the independent Italian restaurant owner is fabulous!
Naturally I was excited to get my hands on her hot-off-the-presses cookbook, Donatella Cooks ($32). Did the book live up to my high hostess expectations? Find out after the break.
- Arpaia is known for "feeding people great food glamorously in beautiful settings," and with this book, she is able to translate that to the masses.
- It's a wonderful tome with glossy photos, stylish settings, and elegant entertaining ideas.
- The book is broken down into seasons, which is helpful for home cooks who create meals based on seasonal produce.
- If you're not into fashion, you may be turned off by it. One of the first images is of a pile of shoes next to a bunch of kitchen tools; she also provides outfit suggestions for what to wear to dinner parties.
- Recipes are written in paragraph form which are more pretty to look at, but harder to follow when cooking.
- Arpaia's recipes, style, and tips seem very similar to Giada De Laurentiis.
Recipes: I love the wide range of recipes featured in this collection. It's organized by season into sections: hors d'oeuvres; soups, salads, and small plates; pasta and grains; main courses; vegetables and side dishes; and desserts. Here are some fun favorites:
- Gorgonzola dolce, bacon, and onion crostini
- Fava bean puree with swiss chard
- Orcchiette with broccoli rabe
- Spinach and gruyere souffles
- coconut cake
Imagery: The clear and concise photography is stunning and the majority of the recipes have a photo.
Overall rating: Fans of Italian cooking and the finer things in life will go crazy for Donatella's classic and straightforward tips and techniques.