Minestrone is a favorite. And it is officially soup weather, so the Minestrone alla Romagnola (pp 84-6) recipe was a no-brainer pick for me. And one I did not regret. This large batch fed us numerous times, over many days...and was filling and satisfying every time. I'm with Marcella, taking the time to slow cook a flavorful soup base is where it's at. Go onions and carrots and celery! Minestrone, is a soup par excellence, with simple ingredients making magic together.
Pan-Roasted Potatoes with Anchovies, Genoa Style. Period. Do I need to say anything else? Yes, I suppose I must, or you might not understand how crazy delicious these are. Crispy, golden, soft, salty, with a kick from the anchovies that is not at all fishy. Oh yeah. With slight deviance from the recipe, I added the garlic in with a few minutes left to cook, and then the parsley with a minute or two more in the pan before serving. Everything. was. just. right. There were no leftovers.
Foccaccia with Rosemary: it's hard to go wrong here. While I'm not a big bread baker, I've made my share—but never focaccia! Which I love. In fact, I think I might have subsisted on this delicious tomato-y scallion-topped focaccia in Santa Cruz during my college years. Anyhow, memory lane aside, this focaccia was very easy to make and has great olive oil flavor. And it's fun to stab it with your fingers for the "pockets". I would definitely top mine with sea salt next time and see if I could get the dough right with a little less flour, making it more moist and soft. Also, this makes a honkin' slab of focaccia. If you're not having a party, get ready to pop some in the freezer (per Marcella's advice) or make your friends and co-workers very happy with fresh baked bread. Heck, do both.
Eggplant Parmesan is another one of my mom's staples. But in this case, it has meant I've never made it myself. Yup, eggplant lover and all, I'd never made this beaut of a dish before. And there's no going back now. I think I cut the eggplant a bit thick, which meant it soaked up too much olive oil, which I didn't drain very effectively (apparently), so it was a bit heavy. I'd look to thinner slices, and less oil next time. But so glad this has made it into my repertoire, and I liked the colander layer technique for salting and "purging" the eggplant.
The best thing I can say about this book? I didn't want to stop cooking from it. You won't either. Though I do feel like I need to go on a diet after eating potatoes and focaccia and fried cheesy eggplant in just the past few days. Oh wait, next month's pick is The Dahlia Bakery Cookbook, so that plan is a farce. Onward I march in the name of Cook the Bookery...