When I first looked through Hazan Family Favorites by Giuliano Hazan, it felt familiar, as if I had been cooking from it for years. In a way, I had, through his mother. Many of Marcella Hazan’s recipes- pesto, béchamel, minestrone-are included in the younger chef’s book. However, Giuliano shares not only his love of Italian cuisine but the everyday foods of his family. It is a fascinating and personal tale that traverses religions and continents, each recipe a link to their heritage.
It is also a story of tradition and innovation. Italian latkes and ham and cheese crespelles may seem incongruent but are very much part of Giuliano’s multicultural upbringing. He draws from both his Christian and Jewish background and merges them to be his own. However, it is the Arabic style of cooking, the commonality of his paternal and maternal grandparents, that unifies his kitchen.
Giuliano’s search for the flavors of his childhood culminated in a collection of recipes that spans four generations. While he serves the same stuffed zucchini his grandparents once made for him, his daughters, Gabriella and Michela, are now creating their own signature dishes.
The fettuccine with orange, inspired by his youngest was the first recipe I attempted. It is genius! Within an hour I had lunch on the table with enough time to style and photograph before it was devoured (delicious even with readymade pasta). My husband had only one word to describe it- “fantastic!”
I may have too many cookbooks- overflowing from their bookcase, scattered on the kitchen table, in a pile near my bed. Yet with all the cookbooks there are only a select few that I always return too. These are my kitchen companions, a bit splattered a stained, but right there where the action is. Over time, the pages hold not only recipes but the memories of making them. Hazan Family Favorites is going to be one of them.
What are the attributes of my favorite cookbooks?
- I’m always searching for interesting ways to use fresh, seasonal ingredients and avoid most factory made products. With the sea fifteen minutes away, foods featuring the bounty of the Mediterranean region will obviously be more useful to me (there are no mangosteens to be found here).
- As a working mother, I come home in the afternoon and race to get the food ready before the kids get back from school. In Israel the main meal is in the middle of the day so a quick sandwich is not adequate. I’m always looking for creative recipes that are neither complicated nor time consuming.
- Size is important. While coffee table editions catch the eye they are often impractical. Large, panoramic books are cumbersome and don’t fit on the kitchen counter and can’t be propped up.
- A connection. Recipes are boring without context. History, culture, art, personal memoir, even humor is part of the culinary world. Without this the book reads like a lab manual, just a brunch of protocols.
- It’s not only about the text. Beautiful photography adds visual appeal and is often the first reason why a book gets noticed. Of course without quality content this isn’t enough.
- For the compliments!
Hazan Family Favorites rates 6/6.
Other recipes I tried:
Tagliata with garlic and parsley- A few simple ingredients can do wonders to a steak.
Risotto with fresh tomatoes, peas and porcini- My very first risotto! Finally a recipe that doesn’t call for broth since I rarely have it on hand.
I received a copy of the cookbook from the publisher