by Rose Gray
List Price: £20
The celebrated authors of River Caf'e9 Cookbook Easy, Rose Gray and Ruth Rogers, have combined their wonderfully fresh approach to modern and classic Italian food with a sharp eye on the huge market of time-poor gourmands.
It's not overstating it to say that the authors' River Caf'e9 was at the vanguard of the foodie revolution. However, for many people, this revolution has been more aspirational than achievable, as the punters turned on by radicchio and rocket are the very same ones who may have the least time to try recipes out--never mind trying to source specialist ingredients, fiddling with truffles or building their own wood-burning oven. River Caf'e9 Easy is a boon with easy-to-follow and easy-to-make recipes presented clearly and attractively, each beginning with a shopping list. Kicking off with bruschetta, each combination of gnaw-inspiring ingredients arranged on toasted slabs of Italian bread is shot from above to form a space-saving yet clear menu mosaic with presentation suggestions. Pasta is divided up into Spaghetti, Short Pasta and Tagliatelle to show how each suits a different type of sauce from the simple cucina rustica of garlic, chilli, parsley and the omnipresent extra virgin olive oil or butter, parmesan and pecorino tossed with spaghetti, to more robust ingredients of tomatoes, seafood and sausage that nestle in the hollows of short pasta, to the richer cream-based sauces holding figs and chilli or dried porcini and sage to thick ribbons of tagliatelle. Cooking processes for meat, seafood and game dishes are simple yet sophisticated and many are ideal for barbeques, family meals and dinner parties as well as being easily scaled down for singles or couples who want to brave a step away from microwave meals. As expected from this source, the cakes and desserts are to die for, with an easy version of the River Caf'e9's legendary Chocolate Nemesis.
As well as an Italian store cupboard feature with a list of the perennial ingredients readily available that you should have on hand to whisk up meals at any time and a section on basics such as peeling tomatoes and sauces such as aioli and salsa verde, many recipes include tips and short cuts on ingredients, methods and equipment. River Caf'e9 Easy works both as a quick meals bible and a great introduction to Italian country cooking. --Fiona Buckland