Giada De Laurentiis has come out with another cookbook, "Happy Cooking." Because I am a Giada groupie, my fiance, bless her soul, gave me a signed copy of the cookbook for Christmas. Admittedly, Giada's cookbook is the only "celebrity chef" cook book that I own. Most of my recipes are either in my noodle or locked away in a safe written in my mother and grandmother's handwriting (my grandmother's recipes are approaching their 100th birthday!).
So, like any other cook book, I perused its pages and the first thing that struck me is that it certainly lives up to its name. Its pages are bright and full of colorful pictures. There are dozens of pictures of Giada and every one of them shows her smiling or laughing. After all, who can resist Giada's million dollar smile? The cookbook is awash with Giada's bright and bubbly personality from cover to cover.
As for the cook book itself, the recipes cover a wide variety of categories from breakfast and chicken wings to traditional Italian dishes and desserts. However, the book does not dwell exclusively on Italian dishes. There are excellent recipes for such things as Asian style chicken wings and some great ideas for side dishes such as asparagus. There's even a recipe for "banana tea" that can be found hidden among its pages. Banana tea! Who knew?
However, the shining feature of this cookbook is the fact that it is very accessible to the average cook and yet, would appeal to advanced cooks and chefs as well. The recipes are well written and are easy to follow. Each recipe has a blurb written by Giada that explains the dish's history and how she came by it; some of which are family recipes.
However, the cookbook does have a traditional side to it as well. There are recipes for every traditional Italian course from Antipasti to Caffe in addition to traditional and not-so-traditional recipes for breakfast, lunch and snacks of all kinds. There is even a section for holiday treats.
The cookbook covers the major protein categories from seafood to beef and pork as well as salads, starches and deserts. Each section contains several good offerings for each, some more than others.
However, no cookbook is perfect, not even from Giada. The only real flaw that I found with the book is that it seemed to slightly lack focus and went out of its way to be overly simple. Granted, this sort of thing is more of a matter of individual preference that will vary from reader to reader. Specifically, there were more recipes for things like snacks and treats than there were for the various categories of proteins. For example, there are more recipes for breakfast dishes and novelties such as "detox drinks" and "clean living" than there were for protein recipes like beef and pork. Whether or not this was the intent is unclear. However, I would like to have seen a bigger selection of recipes in the various protein categories than what was offered. Again,that's just my personal preference.
Overall, with a price tag under $20, Giada's cookbook, "Happy Cooking," is good buy and a worthy edition to any cook book collection. The recipes are fun, bright, simple and offer a wide variety of ideas and flavors which is both its strongest point and perhaps, its weakest.
I would give this book a solid 3 out of 5 stars.
NOTE TO THE READER: 1 star = did not like it at all. 2 stars = ok. 3 stars = very good. 4 stars = outstanding (rarely do I give 4 stars). 5 stars = it's the holy grail ( I have never seen a cookbook that meets the requirements of this category and I have read a lot of cookbooks over 25 years!).
DISCLAIMER: I am not a professional critic. My review is a reflection of my own opinions and experiences and are to be taken as such. I have no affiliations of any kind with any vendors nor are my reviews "paid reviews."