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The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen

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Tuscan food tastes like itself. Ingredients are left to shine. . . . So, if on your visit, I hand you an apron, your work will be easy. Well start with primo ingredients, a little flurry of activity, perhaps a glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and soon well be carrying platters out the door. Well have as much fun setting the table as we have in the kitchen. Four “Tuscan food tastes like itself. Ingredients are left to shine. . . . So, if on your visit, I hand you an apron, your work will be easy. We’ll start with primo ingredients, a little flurry of activity, perhaps a glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and soon we’ll be carrying platters out the door. We’ll have as much fun setting the table as we have in the kitchen. Four double doors along the front of the house open to the outside—so handy for serving at a long table under the stars (or for cooling a scorched pan on the stone wall). Italian Philosophy 101: la casa aperta, the open house.” —from the Introduction   In all of Frances Mayes’s bestselling memoirs about Tuscany, food plays a starring role. This cuisine transports, comforts, entices, and speaks to the friendly, genuine, and improvisational spirit of Tuscan life. Both cooking and eating in Tuscany are natural pleasures. In her first-ever cookbook, Frances and her husband, Ed, share recipes that they have enjoyed over the years as honorary Tuscans: dishes prepared in a simple, traditional kitchen using robust, honest ingredients.             A toast to the experiences they’ve had over two decades at Bramasole, their home in Cortona, Italy, this cookbook evokes days spent roaming the countryside for chestnuts, green almonds, blackberries, and porcini; dinner parties stretching into the wee hours,  and garden baskets tumbling over with bright red tomatoes.             Lose yourself in the transporting photography of the food, the people, and the place, as Frances’s lyrical introductions and headnotes put you by her side in the kitchen and raising a glass at the table. From Antipasti (starters) to Dolci (desserts), this cookbook is organized like a traditional Italian dinner.             The more than 150 tempting recipes include: ·         Fried Zucchini Flowers ·         Red Peppers Melted with Balsamic Vinegar ·         Potato Ravioli with Zucchini, Speck, and Pecorino ·         Risotto Primavera ·         Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Sausage ·         Cannellini Bean Soup with Pancetta ·         Little Veal Meatballs with Artichokes and Cherry Tomatoes ·         Chicken Under a Brick ·         Short Ribs, Tuscan-Style ·         Domenica’s Rosemary Potatoes ·         Folded Fruit Tart with Mascarpone ·         Strawberry Semifreddo ·         Steamed Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Sauce   Frances and Ed also share their tips on stocking your pantry, pairing wines with dishes, and choosing the best olive oil. Learn their time-tested methods for hand rolling pasta and techniques for coaxing the best out of seasonal ingredients with little effort.             Throw on another handful of pasta, pull up a chair, and languish in the rustic Italian way of life.


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Tuscan food tastes like itself. Ingredients are left to shine. . . . So, if on your visit, I hand you an apron, your work will be easy. Well start with primo ingredients, a little flurry of activity, perhaps a glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and soon well be carrying platters out the door. Well have as much fun setting the table as we have in the kitchen. Four “Tuscan food tastes like itself. Ingredients are left to shine. . . . So, if on your visit, I hand you an apron, your work will be easy. We’ll start with primo ingredients, a little flurry of activity, perhaps a glass of Vino Nobile di Montepulciano, and soon we’ll be carrying platters out the door. We’ll have as much fun setting the table as we have in the kitchen. Four double doors along the front of the house open to the outside—so handy for serving at a long table under the stars (or for cooling a scorched pan on the stone wall). Italian Philosophy 101: la casa aperta, the open house.” —from the Introduction   In all of Frances Mayes’s bestselling memoirs about Tuscany, food plays a starring role. This cuisine transports, comforts, entices, and speaks to the friendly, genuine, and improvisational spirit of Tuscan life. Both cooking and eating in Tuscany are natural pleasures. In her first-ever cookbook, Frances and her husband, Ed, share recipes that they have enjoyed over the years as honorary Tuscans: dishes prepared in a simple, traditional kitchen using robust, honest ingredients.             A toast to the experiences they’ve had over two decades at Bramasole, their home in Cortona, Italy, this cookbook evokes days spent roaming the countryside for chestnuts, green almonds, blackberries, and porcini; dinner parties stretching into the wee hours,  and garden baskets tumbling over with bright red tomatoes.             Lose yourself in the transporting photography of the food, the people, and the place, as Frances’s lyrical introductions and headnotes put you by her side in the kitchen and raising a glass at the table. From Antipasti (starters) to Dolci (desserts), this cookbook is organized like a traditional Italian dinner.             The more than 150 tempting recipes include: ·         Fried Zucchini Flowers ·         Red Peppers Melted with Balsamic Vinegar ·         Potato Ravioli with Zucchini, Speck, and Pecorino ·         Risotto Primavera ·         Pizza with Caramelized Onions and Sausage ·         Cannellini Bean Soup with Pancetta ·         Little Veal Meatballs with Artichokes and Cherry Tomatoes ·         Chicken Under a Brick ·         Short Ribs, Tuscan-Style ·         Domenica’s Rosemary Potatoes ·         Folded Fruit Tart with Mascarpone ·         Strawberry Semifreddo ·         Steamed Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Sauce   Frances and Ed also share their tips on stocking your pantry, pairing wines with dishes, and choosing the best olive oil. Learn their time-tested methods for hand rolling pasta and techniques for coaxing the best out of seasonal ingredients with little effort.             Throw on another handful of pasta, pull up a chair, and languish in the rustic Italian way of life.

30 review for The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes from Our Italian Kitchen

  1. 5 out of 5

    Onceinabluemoon

    4.5 oh my tastebuds are dancing!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Arrel

    Very nice book with wonderful photos of food and Tuscany, interesting text and good recipes. Frances Mayes and husband Edward spend part of each year in nearby Hillsborough NC, so we have managed to meet and visit with them. Worth owning as a visual feast, but the recipes are good too!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Raidene

    Delicious recipes sit side by side with beautiful photographs and evocative prose. Exactly what one would expect from the poet and author Mayes.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sandy

    I do love my cookbooks! When a message about cookbooks, popped into my inbox, I immediately started looking at my local library to see if they had any of them, as I like to sample them before I actually buy them. They had 4 of them so I felt very lucky. The Tuscan Sun Cookbook looked promising but I wondered how complicated the recipes were and how exotic the ingredients might be, but I remained hopeful. After looking through the book though, I was surprised at my finding. First off, let me say, I do love my cookbooks! When a message about cookbooks, popped into my inbox, I immediately started looking at my local library to see if they had any of them, as I like to sample them before I actually buy them. They had 4 of them so I felt very lucky. The Tuscan Sun Cookbook looked promising but I wondered how complicated the recipes were and how exotic the ingredients might be, but I remained hopeful. After looking through the book though, I was surprised at my finding. First off, let me say, that the pictures inside this book are beautiful. Imagine a nice summer day, you’re in the hills of Italy enjoying lunch with your friends. A photographer has stopped by to take some shots and now, those pictures are inside this book. Although there aren’t pictures of every recipe in this book, the ones that are there, look very appealing. Each recipe does come with how many it serves, the ingredients list and step-by-step instructions. Accompanying each recipe, is a small paragraph or two that describes a bit about that recipe. The book consists of recipes that would actually be served in Tuscany according to the authors. The book is broken up into many sections. The Essential section had a few recipes that I enjoyed. Tomato Sauce (with bay leaves -I love bay leaves!), a Soffritto (looks delicious), Besciamella, a Brine, and Pesto. The Antipasti section contained appetizers. The Primi section was pasta and it began with making pasta and Giusi’s Ragu which looked nice and hearty. Angry Pasta? Oh yes, black olives and red pepper flakes made this recipe stand out. Lasagne with Ragu, using the same ragu, as mentioned before but adding it to a lasagna. Next was the Second section which was meats and I found Chicken Under a Brick and Chicken with Olives and Tomatoes. The Contorni section was salads and vegetables and the last section was Dolci which consisted of desserts. There is an Aperitivi E Digestivi section which is the closer for their meals: the bitter elixirs. There are 2 recipes in this section (Nocino and Riccardo’s Limoncello) which accompany the author’s comments on this topic What I didn’t find in this book was exotic ingredients or complicated recipes. That was a win for me. I did come across some new words, such as Fascicles of Summer Vegetables but as the author pointed out in their paragraph, fasces in Latin actually means a bundle of iron sticks. The author continued on in their comments, talking about Emily Dickinson’s fascicles of poems. Strawberry Semifreddo? I’d never heard of Semifreddo before but I learned that this dessert is not gelato or sorbetto but that it’s easy to make and doesn’t require a fancy machine. I did find some recipes that wouldn’t work for me but might for others. Recipes that included ingredients like fish, lamb, veal, and rabbit. All-in-all, this cookbook was a great find for me. If you’re into Tuscan dishes or want to try something different, this is one cookbook you should check out.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Bethany Chaney

    I bought this cookbook before we went to Tuscany for a month 5 years ago so we could cook local recipes. I discovered some true gems on that trip that became favorites both I and my friends would turn to many times over the years. We went back to Tuscany for a month this year and I found that I made some of the gems but also continued to find new recipes to try and love. For me, that is the story of an amazing cookbook. Plus its wonderful to read the anecdotes around each recipe on where they I bought this cookbook before we went to Tuscany for a month 5 years ago so we could cook local recipes. I discovered some true gems on that trip that became favorites both I and my friends would turn to many times over the years. We went back to Tuscany for a month this year and I found that I made some of the gems but also continued to find new recipes to try and love. For me, that is the story of an amazing cookbook. Plus it’s wonderful to read the anecdotes around each recipe on where they found them.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Great sounding Italian recipes and the text and photos are wonderful!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Terry

    Nice book This is a nice book that brings the reader to Italy. But The recipes are hohum - nothing special. Recipes that anyone who cooks Italian already knows.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sonia

    Beautifully illustrated, great recipes. Good for gardeners with an over-abundance of tomatoes!

  9. 5 out of 5

    Virginia Campbell

    One of my favorite "mindcations" is "Under the Tuscan Sun". In my version, everything has the beautiful glow of Renaissance reds and golds. Even I am beautiful and glowing. Rustic, yet regal, my villa is filled with light, laughter, gorgeous food and great wine, good times and good people. Acclaimed writer Frances Mayes set the wheels of my mind in motion when I saw the film version of her book, "Under the Tuscan Sun", and then I added to my enjoyment of the film by reading her books and One of my favorite "mindcations" is "Under the Tuscan Sun". In my version, everything has the beautiful glow of Renaissance reds and golds. Even I am beautiful and glowing. Rustic, yet regal, my villa is filled with light, laughter, gorgeous food and great wine, good times and good people. Acclaimed writer Frances Mayes set the wheels of my mind in motion when I saw the film version of her book, "Under the Tuscan Sun", and then I added to my enjoyment of the film by reading her books and following her blog. Now Frances and her husband Edward Mayes, an accomplished poet, have given their readers a very special gift: "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook: Recipes From Our Italian Kitchen". Cooking and reading are two of my favorite pastimes. The more complicated your life, the more demands made on your time, the more you need to take the time to care for yourself. Food is not just a necessity for life, it is a pleasure for all of our senses. Cooking should be something that you enjoy, never just a chore. "The Tuscan Sun Cookbook" celebrates the food and lifestyle of a region both simple and spectacular, a glorious combination of earth, sea, and sun. The well-stocked pantry, the bounty of the sea and the soil, basic, well-used pans and utensils, and timeless food preparation techniques are all highlighted here along with incredibly beautiful, vividly-hued photographs. My favorite photo in the book is the first one, which shows Frances and Ed in the kitchen of "Bramasole", their home in Cortona, Italy. Their love of each other, and the joy of their extraordinary life together clearly shines in the appealing, inviting image. Then there are the recipes, which are organized by course and expanded and illuminated by the involving stories and delicious images spread throughout the book. All of your senses will be engaged and satiated. Inhale the aromas, treat your eyes to the visual feast, and then savor the flavors of food, fabulous food such as: "When-in-Rome Artichokes"; "Fiorella's Red Pepper Tart"; "Pasta Shells with Shrimp and Three Cheeses"; "Angry Pasta"; "Minestrone: Big Soup"; "Risotto Primavera"; "Pizza with Caramelized Onion and Sausage"; "Chicken Under a Brick"; "Beef Tenderloin with Balsamic Vinegar"; "Sea Bass in a Salt Crust"; "Peach Gelato"; "Folded Fruit Tart with Marscapone"; and "Fig and Walnut Tart". There are wine suggestions for many of the recipes, and a special chapter on wine and other libations closes the book. Frances and Ed Mayes will capture your culinary imagination and leave you longing for the golden warmth of the Tuscan sun. Review Copy Gratis Clarkson Potter Publishers

  10. 5 out of 5

    Sharon

    Absolutely fabulous cookbook. Great photos and wonderful recipes with so many tips and cross references. But the delight of the stories of life in Bramasole and the new house, neighbors and village life, mix with the joy of life and great ingredients of the seasons making for some truly memorable and easy cooking. So far only made a few dishes, from the earlier books and articles and a couple from this book but they are all repeats and excellent. Recommend all her books for the shear joy of Absolutely fabulous cookbook. Great photos and wonderful recipes with so many tips and cross references. But the delight of the stories of life in Bramasole and the new house, neighbors and village life, mix with the joy of life and great ingredients of the seasons making for some truly memorable and easy cooking. So far only made a few dishes, from the earlier books and articles and a couple from this book but they are all repeats and excellent. Recommend all her books for the shear joy of living, color and texture of wonderful Italy and Tuscany and her wonderful descriptions of food, culture, herbs, flowers, art, people and generally all things.... I expect to use this book over and over again for years to come and many good meals.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Charlotte

    If you've NEVER read a cookbook along these lines, EVER, then this will be great for you. However, I have two dozen exactly like it, so I would have preferred more recipes, less dull storytelling. I did very much appreciate the warnings about expired olive oil, however, but she should have gone even further...since most people don't know that most of it is not even olive oil anyway. I think I got one recipe from this entire book.

  12. 4 out of 5

    K.M.

    This is a gorgeous book. Even if all you do is page through it to look at the pictures, it's worth reading. Check it out of the library if you want to try it before you buy it. There's a nice section on making pasta. There is just enough writing to be complementary but not so much as to be a distraction from the recipes and the pictures. The recipes are organized by course. You don't have to be a reader of all of Frances Mayes books to appreciate this one.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Fun to read, contains several Mediterranean recipes Id like to try. Worth looking at just for the gorgeous table settings. Definitely a lifestyle cookbook, as evidenced by the suggestion that three types of pecorino should be included in your pantry staples. The recipe instructions are beautifully concise I dont think a single recipe took up more than one page, and often there were two per page. Fun to read, contains several Mediterranean recipes I’d like to try. Worth looking at just for the gorgeous table settings. Definitely a lifestyle cookbook, as evidenced by the suggestion that three types of pecorino should be included in your pantry staples. The recipe instructions are beautifully concise – I don’t think a single recipe took up more than one page, and often there were two per page.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Brianna Elsass

    Thought about not including it here but since it actually had some light stories included and I actually sat down to read it cover to cover before I attempted anything in the book, I figured I could. Pretty good, the food reminds me of my travels to Italy... I have found something else for the Christmas list this year!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Barbara VA

    Is it possible to give a book more than 5 stars? I loved this for the writing,the photos, the stories and then the food! My shopping list this morning is incredibly long and as hot as it is, over 95*, I am craving the hearty soups of roasts and chestnuts of winter as I am the lemony seasoned veggies and gelatos! I am hungry!!!

  16. 4 out of 5

    Teri

    This is a beautiful cookbook that turns simple ingredients into spectacular, colorful dishes. Gorgeous, inviting photographs and funny, heartwarming anecdotes are intertwined with 150+ Italian recipes, none of which take up more than a single page. Love it! Try the Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Artichokes & Chickpeas -- YUM.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Cindyjaxn

    This is a glorius cookbook. Not only do the recipes seeem enticing but it is jammed packed with gorgeous pictures and beautiful writing. This goes beyond the typical regional cookbook by giving us insight into the people who actually cook and eat the recipes in the book. Bravo!

  18. 4 out of 5

    Kimberly

    Lovely book with great recipes and beautiful photos. Makes you want to pack your bags and go to Italy. The recipes are supposedly pretty simple for the authors, but not your average ingredients or skill level for someone with next to no culinary skills (like me).

  19. 4 out of 5

    April

    A sensory experience. Not necessarily a book I'll use to cook, but certainly a very pleasurable armchair trip to Italy, complete with food! I had thoroughly enjoyed her other books, so I already had the reference, and enjoyed revisiting her experience.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Lori Berezovsky

    This has become one of my favorite cookbooks, partly because very recipe I've tried has been delicious, but also because it is filled with beautiful photography that takes me back to the one trip to Italy I've made (so far). It's perfect!

  21. 4 out of 5

    Misty Nagel

    Oh my goodness - this is a mouth-watering book to read and to look at. There are so many simple, basic Italian recipes that I wanted to copy every other page (I had borrowed it from the library).

  22. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    Great Read!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    A beautiful look at Tuscan cuisine--mouthwatering recipes and such a gorgeous book! If you like Italian cooking, it's a must read.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Tracy

    Christmas present for Mom?

  25. 4 out of 5

    Therese

    If you liked the novel from Frances Mayes, wait till you read the cookbook. Delightful and mouth-watering!

  26. 5 out of 5

    Donna

    The recipes and photos make you really want to go there and experience Tuscany!

  27. 4 out of 5

    Brooke

    So fun! I've already made 7 or so recipes and they have all been so wonderful! By the way, I had no idea homemade ravioli was so simple!!!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Judy

    Loved this. Everything sound so doable.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Prestoni

    Haven't tried manre pies, but have thoroughly enjoyed the ones I have. Beautiful book to look at as we'll, especially if you have read her book, under the Tuscan sun, as well.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Angie Niles

    I'm a huge huge fan of Frances Mayes' book Under the Tuscan Sun and so want to be Diane Lane in the movie. Reading even more about her life in Tuscany and the amazing recipes was so fantastic.

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