“I’d Rather be Cooking” is very different from many Italian cookbooks. Filled with over 150 easy-to-follow and diverse recipes, the author, Maria Francisco has compiled her favorite recipes into a book that truly incorporates flavors from around the globe. It should be stated that although many of the recipes are Italian in origin, Italian American and traditional American favorites (with an Italian infusion) add a different dimension to this cookbook. Readers will find dishes ranging from Niciose Salad to Bouillabaisse and Sushi to Empanadas, but you will find that more than half of the recipes are traditional Italian, such as Veal Milanese, Manicotti and Pasta Cacio e Pepe.
It is clear that the author has not only a great passion for cooking, but for a passion for bringing together an array of different styles of cooking, preparation, ingredients and flavors. Among the standouts are Maria’s recipes for seafood. Her favorites include classics such as Clams Oreganata, Shrimp Scampi and Linguine in Clam Sauce, as well as recipes for Lobster Roll, Seared Scallops over Lentils and many more.
“I’d Rather be Cooking” is also great for anyone who is new to Italian-style cooking or who is looking to expand their repertoire. The recipes are easy to follow; whether it is the ingredients or the preparation, Maria’s step-by-step consistency and approach will make the creation of each dish a success. Many ideas are presented that can be prepared for both everyday dining and for special family and friends get-togethers. In the case of appetizers, she covers an A-Z assortment, from Arancini to Zucchini Flowers, with some interesting ideas throughout. Figs Stuffed with Gorgonzola is a standout.
More than two dozen recipes for pastas and sauces are included. These provide an excellent backbone for the book, since recipes include how to make pastas as well as sauce preparation. Maria’s Sunday Gravy recipe begins the chapter, which soon takes readers on a culinary tour from the north of Italy to the south in Sicily. Selections include Pesto, Bolognese, Filetto di Pomodoro, Carbonara, Puttanesca, with numerous homemade pastas.
In the book’s main courses, you will find meals that range from the traditional to the unexpected. Staple recipes that should be part of every Italian American cook’s kitchen are found here – meatballs, braciola, Veal Marsala and Florentine Steak, to name but a few. Maria also includes such elegant dishes as Crown Lamb Roast, Beef Wellington, Osso Buco and Chicken Savoy.
A chapter just on rubs and other sauces includes recipes that are useful throughout the course of the year. The chapter on vegetables also shows the author’s culinary passion, creativity and also how she embraces her family roots with dishes such as Italian winter squash), broccoli rabe with anchovies and how to jar olives.
The book concludes with desserts and cocktails, most of which are very easy to prepare. The 19 recipes range from non-baked sweets to twice-baked recipes, such as her White Chocolate Cranberry Biscotti.
Many of the recipes included in “I’d Rather be Cooking” have been passed down from the author’s Sicilian ancestors and you will also find instructions on how to jar your own tomato sauce and make homemade ricotta cheese. “I’d Rather be Cooking” is available at Amazon.com.
Maria Francisco, was born Lilla Maria Territo in Ribera, Sicily. Surrounded by a family of great cooks, food has always been a centerpiece in her life. She was raised in a traditional Sicilian household, where the family meal was served in a relaxed manner each day and everyone gathered at the table. After her family came to America, she maintained those traditions and continues to bring friends and family to the together, believing that good food is the way to everyone’s heart. When she is not whipping up a recipe in the kitchen, Maria enjoys spending time with her friends and family as a wife and the mother of two children.