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5 of the Best Italian Cookbooks of 2017 So Far

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Each region and city of Italy has their own iconic ingredient or recipe and their own style of home cooking. Whether it's the fish dishes and fritole of Venice to the prosciutto of San Daniele in the north to the risotto alla Milanese. The Genoan pestos of the north-west to the slow cooked ragùs of Bologna. The real Parmigiano Reggiano of the Emilia Romagna region to the crostini and ribollita of Tuscany. Traditional Roman Carbonara. The truffles of Piedmont. Neopolitan pizzas. The extra virgin olive oil of Puglia and the red chilli peppers of Calabria.

Italian food is an exciting cuisine, one of many, many regional specialties and traditions. But not only does this make it an interesting place for the foodie to visit, with so much choice it makes Italian gastronomy perfect for home cooking and experimentation. Unlike, say Indian or Chinese cooking, Italian recipes tend to use fewer ingredients, most of which are relatively common and readily available.

As you will see below, there is so much more to Italian cuisine than just pasta and pizza, there is a litany of choices to suit any occasion; the quick and tasty meal, the romantic meal, the light lunch, the sandwich or snack and there’s plenty for the seasoned pro who wants to get a bit adventurous. Italian food always has something to offer and the following books highlight this range.

Two Kitchens

Roddy fell in love with Italian food after emigrating to Rome, and over the space of a decade became a well known and award-winning food writer and blogger. Two Kitchens is her second book with the title referring to her kitchens in Sicily and Rome, and hence the regions represented throughout. The layout is bright and colourful, the food is uncomplicated, cosy and packed with flavour.

Recipes to try: Carmela’s beef rolls in tomato sauce - a meal of beef slices around vegetables, prosciutto and hard-boiled egg - is a wonderful wintertime dish. The rolls are simmered in a smooth passata and red wine sauce. It’s sumptuous. For dessert, try the chocolate and almond cake. A masterpiece of only seven ingredients (one optional).

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Aperitivo

Perhaps best known for her book Make Mine A Martini, Plunkett-Hogge is an acclaimed food and drinks writer with a number of books under her belt. Released earlier this year, Aperitivo: Drinks and snacks for the Dolce Vita is a book that brings the best out of the aperitif, the antipasti dish, the casual cocktail. It’s a beautifully laid out book which serves up delicious bites and a little bit of regional history behind each of them.

Recipes to try: As trends go, the soft and spreadable Italian nduja spicy sausage is a very popular ingredient these days. It’s incredibly tasty and versatile, bringing a deep umami flavour with a serious punch of heat. The deep-fried nduja croquettes are very simple to make and are the perfect partner to a cold beer or icy cocktail. Don’t fancy the heat? How about the creamy chicken liver crostini. An Italian classic spruced with herbs and a dash of lemon and marsala. Delicious.

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Laura Santtini's Pasta Secrets

Chef, food writer and self-proclaimed obsessive umami expert, Laura Santtini has created these recipes - all revolving around pasta, that indelible Italian ingredient. are all about partnerships and the fusions of textures and tastes to create very precisely balanced meals that make the most of everything on the plate, maximising that wow factor. The pasta here serves as the base for a whole range of dishes from the simple quick and easy to dishes that take a bit more time and preparation.

Recipes to try; the carbonara here is excellent. An essential Italian dish, here it is done with the minimal amount of ingredients and fuss, no flourishes or silly add ons or any of that butter or cream nonsense. Failing that, try the rich, comforting duck and red wine ragù. It’s absolutely stunning.

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Veneto

Veneto is the northeastern region of Italy, encompassing the gastronomic wonderlands of Padua, Verona and its capital Venice. Typical staples of the area include polenta, seafood, barbequed meat, ravioli and risotto. And no better guide to all this than Italian photographer and author Valeria Necchio. Her recipes are beautifully photographed and range from the simplistic to the rather imaginative/tricky.

Recipes to try: Okay, so first something simple - baked sea bream. Don’t be scared of fish. Just be gentle. I tinfoiled mine with the lemon and wine and it was so tasty, so mouthwatering. Or how about something a little trickier? Pan-roasted rabbit. This time I was scared as I’d never cooked rabbit before. I overcooked it, but still, very good, and that wine, rosemary and pancetta in the mix was sublime it must be said.

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Trullo

A trullo is a type of dry stone hut with a very noticeable conical roof found in Apulia, a region in southern Italy. Trullo is also the name of the restaurant/book under the guidance of the exciting chef manager and author Tim Siadatan, who presents us here with his British take on Italian cooking. It’s always rather awkward to hear people describe cooking as ‘serious’ but ‘laid-back’ - the two together seem so paradoxical, but in a way that is a fair definition of Trullo.

Recipes to try: don’t be put off by the foodie credentials and the ‘nose to tail’ style cooking. These recipes are easy to knock up, they taste fantastic and there’s something for everyone. How about the tagliarini with courgette and shrimp, chilli and lemon. Very simple. Very tasty. If that doesn’t interest you there’s always the ravioli of calf’s brain with sage butter.

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Shane O’Reilly has lived in Dublin all his life; that’s 34 years of memories and adventures around the city centre. While he watched as his friends emigrated during the recession, he started ... Show More

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