Author: Silvia Colloca
Lantern RRP $39.99
Review: Monique Mulligan

‘Italians are passionate and opinionated about their food and I am no exception!’

Book Cover:  Silvia's CucinaMy in-laws, a colleague and writer Fiona Palmer (my recent Stories on Stage guest) have all returned from trips to Italy, raving about the views, food and psycho drivers. Hearing their stories, you can imagine I’m in a heightened state of Italian-food envy (which I partly appeased by having a wood-fire pizza and wine night at mine at the weekend). Now, with the delivery of another Italian-themed cookbook,¬†Silvia’s Cucina, for my growing collection, you can imagine I’m busting to get cooking.

Silvia’s Cucina takes cooks and Italiophiles into the kitchen of Italian-born food lover, blogger and actress Silvia Colloca. ¬†Although she lives in Australia, her Italian identity remains strong – in fact, she believes she found her “authentic Italian identity” in her Sydney kitchen. She points out that not only is there no one Italian cuisine, but the belief that Italian food is unhealthy is incorrect. Her aim is to show that Italian food can be healthy, simple and light when they are based on fresh, seasonal ingredients. This is how Italians really eat, she maintains. I believe her – every Italian cookbook I have shows the same dedication to fresh, seasonal ingredients. Even though I am not Italian, it’s also how I prefer to cook.

Inside Silvia’s kitchen there are goodies such as twice-cooked cinnamon galettes, watermelon rind jam, white wine and fennel crackers, Abruzzese fisherman’s stew with garlic toast, ricotta gnocchi with cavolo nero pesto, and strawberry and mascarpone cake. Is your mouth watering yet?

The trouble with cookbooks like this is that I want to make nearly everything! My mind was whirring with thoughts like “Oh, I want to make that … and that … and that” – from savoury to sweet, I had a cooking wishlist as long as my heavily-laden review shelf! Each recipe begins with a story behind the recipe or a memory, adding a personal touch to the book. While many of the recipes are on the simple side, others are somewhat wordy, meaning cooks will need to pay extra attention – my tip – read the recipe through first! The food has been beautifully styled, with a rustic-homey design complementing the theme, and the layout is clean. Photos of happy children enjoying the food is a fitting reminder that food and family go hand in hand … I just don’t remember mine ever looking so tidy when they ate!

Here are just a few things on the aforementioned wishlist:

  • Torta di Yoghurt (Yoghurt cake) – I make a lemon yoghurt cake regularly so I’d like to compare this one;
  • Italian hot chocolate (don’t ask why, I just need to make this);
  • Crostata Di Marmellata (jam tart) – I also make this regularly, but I have some home-made marmalade to use up;
  • Pici alle Briciole – I have visions of Monkey helping me make pici (as long as he doesn’t think it’s a job), but I think I would make a different sauce since only Blue Eyes and the cat would eat anchovies;
  • Il Pepose (A feisty Tuscan stew) – looks like comfort food to me; and
  • every single dessert in the Dolci section.

Available from good bookstores and Penguin Australia. This copy was courtesy of Penguin Australia.

Bookish treat: See my list above. All of them!




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