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Often, when I’m together with friends or family, and the topic turns to food (when doesn’t it turn to food?), we find ourselves inevitably discussing food shows and cookbooks.

Whenever Giada De Laurentiis’ name comes up, the reaction is interesting. There are those that admire her, those that ADMIRE her, those that dislike her and those that enjoy her work.

I own all of her cookbooks and find myself in the position of saying that I really like her cookbooks, but don’t particularly care for her cooking show. That might sound strange since what she prepares on her show appears in her cookbooks, but my objection to her show has more to do with the way that she’s presented. I think she’s a great cook with some really good recipes thereby making it unnecessary to show all those cleavage shots! I know. I know. That’s part of what makes her show popular. I just think it undermines her.

Anyway, now that I’ve gotten that off my chest (no pun intended), the purpose of this post is not to discuss Giada’s show, but rather her newest cookbook, Giada’s Kitchen.

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If you’re familiar with any of her other cookbooks, this one follows the same layout. It’s organized by food category. Recipes are accompanied by gorgeous full-colour photos. There’s even a section for the younger ones (but the older ones can enjoy it too) and also a feature that I’m noticing in more and more cookbooks: a section with suggested menus made of recipes from the book.

It’s a winning formula from her previous books so there was no reason not to repeat it here and it works very well.

If nothing else the picture will make you happy.

I just really like Giada’s recipes. They’re structured for maximum flavour using some of the cornerstones of Italian cuisine (olive oil, cheese) with a lot of ease thrown in (olives, store-bought roasted peppers). There’s a very good mix of recipes as well, whether you’re looking for something to serve at a party or something to make on a quiet Friday night at home.

But my favourite part of this cookbook is the Desserts section, which I think is particularly strong. In fact, that’s one of the reasons why I enjoy her cookbooks. She does not ignore the best part of any meal … the dessert!

So what did I try? Well, not as many recipes as I would have liked but here are some nibbles to entice you into stuffing this into someone’s stocking this Christamas!

Cantaloupe, Red Onion, and Walnut Salad

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Easy and delicious, it’s a great salad for a dinner party. Add some thinly sliced Prosciutto di Parma and people may never leave your house again.

Orzo-Stuffed Peppers

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If you’re a bell pepper fanatic (as I am), this is like heaven. You’re basically using a bell pepper as a bowl for your pasta. Sign me up!

Orange and Chocolate Zeppole

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Just buy the book and make them. That’s all that needs to be said.

Lemon Ricotta Cookies with Lemon Glaze

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It’s hard to resist a lemon cookie but when it’s made with ricotta, it’s impossible to resist!

Just consider this one Giada’s best one and one that you should put on your holiday gift list. You know the one. Where you list all the presents that people should buy for you …

Ciao!