When we were approached to review Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love: Delight Family and Friends with More than 150 Simple, Fabulous Recipes we were delighted to oblige. You see, a wonderful blogging couple, Todd Porter and Diane Cu of White on Rice Couple were the photographers for this cookbook. So, we knew right away the pictures would be stunning. And they are! Each one depicts either the ingredients or the dishes in mouthwatering detail. The photos make you want to cook everything in the book! Todd and Diane are truly amazing, and if you don’t know their blog already, please go and check them out.
I have also seen Cristina’s new TV show “Big Bowl of Love” on Oprah Winfrey’s new television network, OWN, and really enjoy the program. She is a great to watch. I especially love how honest and authentic her show is. Sometimes accidents happen in the kitchen and she isn’t afraid to share them with the viewers. There doesn’t seem to be any retakes on her show. This true to life attitude makes her very real and very accessible. It is like you are in the kitchen yourself, cooking with a friend. This book, like her show, is fun, approachable and just down to earth. Cristina really does “take the scary out of food” and makes being in the kitchen and creating incredible meals a breeze!
Just like the title says, this book is filled with very simple yet fabulous recipes. Each of the ten food sections begins with a wonderful personal story from Cristina’s own life experience. But it doesn’t stop there; each individual recipe also tells a tale from her life and is filled with her evident love of serving up delicious, wholesome meals for her family and friends to enjoy. She makes it easy for you to share the same love with your own family and friends through these delicious recipes. There are also plenty of “cook once, eat twice” recipes that help you stretch your main ingredient which in turn, saves you money! This is always important when you are feeding a family on a budget!
One of my favorite parts of the book is the Pantry and Staple Items section. Here, Cristina shows you what ingredients you should always have on hand, in the pantry and in the fridge, so you can whip up a home cooked meal at any time. You will never be at a loss again staring into the fridge saying “there’s nothing to eat”!
I also love that each recipe doesn’t take that long to prepare and that there is nothing complicated about any of the cooking methods. This book is perfect for first time home cooks as well as those who are seasoned cooks. There is something for everyone and each recipe is clear and simple. I can easily see myself recreating almost every recipe in this cookbook!
Here’s a few dishes that are on my immediate “to make” list:
- Chicken Tostada Salad
- Revised Italian Wedding Soup
- Avgolemono Soup with Orzo (I love this traditional Greek soup and can’t wait to try this version!)
- Chicken Potpie with Corn-Bread Crust
- Lamb Burgers Open-Faced on Olive Bread
- Red Snapper in Red Wine Sauce
- Giant Beans with Olive Oil, Garlic, and Tomato Paste
And every single thing in the dessert section! (Especially the Pumpkin Cheesecake and the Fourth-generation Rice Pudding!)
One afternoon when I was very short on time (between carpool home from school and shuttling the girls to dance classes), I made the Angel Hair with Olive Oil and Lemon. It took me all of 10 minutes to make from start to finish. And it tasted amazing! I love the tartness of lemons combined with the spice of black pepper and the sweet earthy mix of walnuts, cheese and salty pasta. The addition of mint was a nice surprise and really complimented all the flavors nicely. It’s such a simple dish, but it’s bursting with flavor. And it’s one dish that I will
Angel Hair with Olive Oil and Lemon
1Tbsp. kosher slat plus additional for sprinkling
8 ounces angel hair pasta
4 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
4 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 Tbsp. chopped Italian parsley
2 cups Parmesan cheese
1/3 cup chopped toasted walnuts
Walnut oil or olive oil
2 tsp. red pepper flakes (optional)
2 Tbsp. chopped parsley
2 Tbsp. chopped mint
Zest from 1 lemon
1 lemon, cut into wedges
Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. When the oven has reached its temperature, turn it off and place the 6 pasta bowls you are going to use for serving the angel hair inside.
Fill a pasta pot with 2 ½ quarts of water, and add 1 tablespoon of kosher salt. When the water has come to a boil, add the angel hair. Angel hair cooks quickly (approximately 3 to 5 minutes); do not overcook. The pasta continues to cook after you take it out of the water and you don’t want to end up with soft, soggy pasta, so test for doneness by tasting a few strands. They should still have a tiny crunch when you bite into them.
Take the angel hair out of the water with tongs, and place it in a warm pasta bowl. Do not discard the pasta water.
Into the bowl with the angel hair, add the olive oil, lemon juice and parsley. Mix gently with the tongs, then add a ladleful of the pasta water and mix again.
Remove the pasta bowls from the oven and divide the angel hair among them. Sprinkle a generous amount of Parmesan cheese (2 to 3 tablespoons) over the top of each serving. Add about 2 teaspoons chopped toasted walnuts to each serving and drizzle on some walnut or olive oil. Crack pepper to taste and sprinkle a teensy amount of kosher salt and red pepper flakes (optional) over each serving. Distribute the parsley, mint and lemon zest over the servings and serve with a lemon wedge.
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 5 minutes
Here’s a tip to making beautifully plated pasta that I actually learned on Cristina’s show. To create “Haystacks” use a large fork, such as a pasta fork or the fork from a meat carving set and gently turn the fork in the middle of your pasta until it is completely wrapped up around the fork. Slide a large spoon underneath to hold the bottom of the pasta pile and move it to your dish. Slide the spoon out and pull the fork out gently. You should be left with a gorgeous pile of swirled pasta!
Recipe Reprinted from Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love © 2011 by Cristina Ferrare. Permission granted from Sterling Epicure, an imprint of Sterling Publishing Co., Inc.
Where to Find More Cristina:
And on Twitter @CristinaCooks
And of course on OWN!
Did you know she also has a beautiful line of luxury Home Fashions? Well, she does! Check them out here.
Want to get your own copy of Cristina Ferrare’s Big Bowl of Love? Well, you can buy it here or win it by entering our giveaway!
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One random winner will be chosen via ‘And the winner is’ plugin. Once the winner is chosen, the winner will be contacted via email and if winner does not respond within 48 hours, winner forfeits prize and another winner will be chosen at random.
This giveaway is open to U.S. residents only. Please be sure to leave a separate comment on this post for EACH entry. All entries will be checked and verified. You must enter a valid email address or Twitter handle so we can notify you of your win, otherwise you forfeit the prize and another winner will be chosen. You have until 11:59pm EST on Saturday, April 30, 2011 to enter.
Disclosure: We received one copy of this cookbook to review and one copy to give away. We did not receive any other compensation for hosting this giveaway.