Let's Cook Italian: A Family Cookbook by Anna Pradoni, illustrations by Emanuela Ligabue, 96 pp, RK: 3

I love to cook and I love to feed family and friends. My maternal grandparents were Italian and my grandmother had her own catering business and dreams of running her own restaurant. Family gatherings at her house were always a treat and she was always trying something new. Of course this is a love that I wanted to pass on to my three children, but it was very hard to find cookbooks for kids that appealed to my tastes and theirs, had an appealing format and had recipes that kids could actually make. In fact, I only reviewed ONE cookbook that met these standards in the first seven years of this blog - Kitchen for Kids by Jennifer Low. However, last year I discovered Quarto Books, a publisher of non-fiction books that "educate, entertain and enrich" the lives of their readers. Their books for kids are especially excellent, whether the subject is cooking, science, gardening, music, art or doodling. And, while I usually prefer a cookbook with photographs, their three Family Cookbooks are wonderful, especially because they are bilingual!

Let's Cook Italian: A Family Cookbook by Anna Prandoni with illustrations by Emanuela Ligabue has a fantastic format, as do all three books in this series. Imagine a large format paperback book (see the yellow and brown spine in the picture to the left) that has had two thick cardboard covered slapped onto it. Not only does this book look great and promise to hold up well in little (messy) hands as well as in the kitchen, the format allows it to lay flat when opened or stand up by itself!

Let's Cook Italian is divided into six sections: Starters, First Course, Vegetables, Second Course, Desserts and Snacks. The page layout begins with the name of the recipe, followed by a box with the ingredients on the right and four crucial pieces of information: servings, prep time, cooking time and degree of difficulty. On the left hand side of the page are two boxes, one that describes the recipe and another titled, "With the Kids," which shares childhood kitchen memories Pradoni as well as ideas to engage your kids in the kitchen. The recto and the verso pages are identical, with the recto in English and the verso in Italian with one exception - a small box with three words in translation appears on one page or the other for each recipe pair.

Most recipes have six ingredients or less and are varied and traditional. There is Veal in Tuna Sauce, Tuscan Tomato Bread Soup, and Stuffed Zuchinni. Second Course dishes include Milk-Braised Veal Roast, Steak Pizzaiola and Cod Marchigiana Style. Desserts feature, of course, Tiramisù, as well as Piedmontese Chocolate Pudding, Stuffed Peaches and Heavenly Cake, a lemon cake made fluffy from whipped egg whites. For a sample recipe, try the Vermicelli

Source: Review Copy

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