Friday, March 23, 2012

Weekend Cooking- Weeknights With Giada

Weeknights With Giada by Giada de Laurentiis
Published by Clarkson Potter, ISBN 978-0307451026
240 pages, $35

I bought Giada de Laurentiis' first cookbook, Everyday Italian, when it published in 2005. I've seen some of her TV shows on the Food Network and her appearances on the Today Show.


Her latest cookbook, Weeknights With Giada promises 'quick and simple recipes to revamp dinner' that will take less than an hour to cook. Giada has a young daughter Jade, and many of her recipes in this book are geared to appeal to young children.

There is a cute photo of Jade eating Mini Meatball Sandwiches, and two other recipes that kids would enjoy are Pastina with Peas & Carrots and Pirate Pasta, both of which feature lots of chopped vegetables, which can be tough to get kids to eat. Adding them to pasta accomplishes that, and it allows you to use up vegetables you have in your refrigerator.

Giada and her family have breakfast for dinner once a week, which I used to enjoy when my sons were young. Pancakes, eggs, sausage and hash potatoes were always a treat for dinner, but now that they are men, that doesn't cut it.

There is an entire chapter of Breakfast for Dinner recipes that I would like to try, including Breakfast Tart with Pancetta & Green Onions, Peach and Cherry Fritatta and Crispy Breakfast Pita, with spinach, prosciutto and mascarpone cheese.

This is a twist on a piadina, an Italian flatbread. For weeknight ease, instead of making a dough, I use store-bought pitas as the base. They get topped with a creamy mascarpone spread, a salty bite of prosciutto, a lightly dressed arugula salad and a fried egg. Serves 6.
6 (6-inch) pita breads
Extra-virgin olive oil
6 large eggs
¾ cup (6 ounces) mascarpone cheese
Grated zest of ½ large lemon
Kosher salt and freshly ground
Black pepper
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
3 packed cups (3 ounces) arugula or baby spinach
8 ounces thinly sliced prosciutto
Heat a grill pan over medium-high heat or preheat a gas or charcoal grill. Brush each side of the pita breads with ½ teaspoon olive oil and grill for 2 to 3 minutes on each side, until crisp. Remove from the grill and cool slightly. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium-high heat. Crack the eggs directly into the pan and cook until the egg whites are set, 2 to 3 minutes. Combine the mascarpone cheese, lemon zest, ½ teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper in a small bowl. In a medium bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons olive oil, the lemon juice, 1 teaspoon salt, and ½ teaspoon pepper until smooth. Add the arugula and toss until coated. Spread each pita with 2 tablespoons of the mascarpone mixture. Divide the prosciutto on top. Divide the arugula and mound on top of the prosciutto. Carefully place a fried egg on top of each pita. Season the eggs with a pinch of salt and pepper, and serve.
Crispy Breakfast Pita from Weeknights With Giada

Some of the other interesting recipes are Rustic Vegetable and Polenta Soup, Caramelized Onion, Chicken & Grapefruit Salad and Couscous with Watermelon, Watercress and Feta Cheese.

At first glance, I wasn't crazy about this cookbook, but upon further perusal, I found more recipes that I would like to try, among them Crispy Chicken with Rosemary Lemon Salt, Fig & Brie Panini, Scallion & Mozzarella Cornbread and Grilled California-Style Chopped Salad with Shrimp, which if I remember correctly, Giada served Prince William and Princess Kate when they visited California last year.

There are a lot of photos, many of them with Jade in them, and a few of the photos of the food looked not very appetizing to me.  (I had an uncorrected proof of the book, so perhaps they were edited out in the final edition.) Giada has branched out from Italian to include recipes with quinoa, tofu and soy in them; those did not appeal to me as much. 

I think if you like Giada, you'll like this book, and if you have young children, there are recipes here that seem fresher and healthier than the typical kiddie fare. 

rating 3.5 of 5 stars

This post is part of Beth Fish Reads' Weekend Cooking.  If you have anything related to food, cookbook reviews, novel or non-fiction book reviews, recipes, movie reviews, etc., head over to Beth Fish Reads and add your post. Or, if you want to read food related posts, head over to read what some interesting people have to say about food!




14 comments:

  1. I DO like Giada. her recipes often seem too simple to be really good, but they are delicious! and that one looks like a winner!

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  2. I like Giada, her recipes work for me. Can't wait for the book, I have it on pre-order. I'd love to try the Breakfast Pita, it looks delicious.

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  3. Good review! And, the breakfast pita picture is literally mouth-watering! Thanks for sharing :)

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  4. I've always fancied the idea of breakfast for dinner. The Breakfast Pita looks yummy, and with store bought pita bread, sounds very simple to make. Thanks for featuring this book. I enjoy watching Giada on the Cooking Channel.

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  5. My husband isn't crazy of breakfast for dinner, but when there's a night he can't be home for dinner, my girls and I instantly think 'breakfast for dinner!' I'd love to try the Breakfast Pitas next time.

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  6. I talked about this one last week, :). I also have her Everyday Italian, but was not too fussed on this one. The recipes are not simple and quick in my opiut I also liked the breakfast for dinner section.

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  7. I think I would really enjoy that breakfast pita, any time of the day!

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  8. I've always been a fan of Giada. I think her recipes are generally very doable and I like her flavor combinations. Breakfast for dinner is a great idea-- especially an omelet.

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  9. I love Giada! I miss the times when I was in college and could watch her show every day and then experiement in the afternoon. She always seems to have the freshest recipes. Yum!

    And love Breakfast for Dinner (BFD in our household).

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  10. That Breakfast Pita looks and sounds delicious. What a great idea! I'd like to try that for lunch as well as breakfast and dinner.

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  11. I too am a fan of Giada and breakfast for dinner! The breakfast pita looks gorgeous! Here is my recipe for homemade Chewy Granola Bars

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  12. I like the sound of that Fig & Brie Panini, but I'm not sure my kids would go for it :) I don't have any of Giada's cookbooks; this might be one for me to try from the library before I buy it.

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  13. We don't often do breakfast for dinner. Then again, we don't often do anything special for breakfast!

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  14. I've never tried any of Giada's recipes and don't watch her TV show, but my mom's a huge fan of hers.

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