It has been a long time since we have worked with a cookbook that everyone has loved unequivocally. Despite the fact that most of the recipes we made were labor intensive, time consuming and sometimes involved making 2-3 recipes for a recipe, everyone said that they would continue to cook from the book and re-visit the recipes they had made again.
With music from the movie Big Night streaming in the background, we gathered at the table and spent 3 hours sharing stories about what we made and sampling each dish one by one. In the end, it was impossible to choose our top 3-5 like we usually do, everything was so good.
This book is thoughtfully written and well laid out. We appreciated the front matter with Tips for Planning a Big Night In, Equipment, and Ingredient Information. Domenica makes meal planning a cinch with the Menu Suggestions in the back which were well thought out. Full of mouth-watering photography and appealing recipes, it was hard to choose which to make. We ended up making 18 dishes (19 if you count 2 Minestrone soups) – now that’s what I call a Big Night In – Italian family style!
The Cooks Notes, Do Ahead advice, and Goes With sections that were included in most recipes were constructive and wise. They gave us a good feeling for Domenica, at times we felt like she was in the kitchen with us or had become a friend whom we could phone if we needed cooking advice.
Overall, we liked the layout and design elements of the book. A couple people found the ingredient font size too small and hard to read especially with the darker colored ingredient boxes.
Our meal was served in three courses.
Soup and Salad
Minestrone Soup – made by 2 people
Smoky Ham and Corn Chowder
Winter Endive and Orange Salad
Calabrian Fennel Salad
Main Courses and Sides
Three-Cheese Stuffed Red and Yellow Peppers
Fresh Tuna Stew with Olives and Herbs
Roast Pork Loin with Carrots, Fennel and Onions
Roasted Squash Wedges
Tomato and Cheese Tart
Frank’s Garlic Bread
Blood Orange Granita
Baked Farro Pudding
Toasted Coconut Crostata
Quotes heard through out the night:“There were so many great recipes for dinner parties”
“This was a pain in the ass to make but it is so good I’ll make it again”
“The recipes were straightforward and ingredients easy to find.”
“I enjoyed reading the head notes”
“The pictures were great and so many of the recipes looked so good it was hard to choose what to make”
“Loved the Do Ahead notes”
“Many of the head notes were great to read because the author would tell the reader how the recipe was personal.”
Stay tuned for some of the recipes. They will be featured on MKMT throughout December.
Big Night In More Than 100 Wonderful Recipes for Feeding Family and Friends Italian-Style
by Domenica Marchetti
2008 Chronicle Books