Friday, May 24, 2013

Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love Cookbook and Recipe for Sea Bass with Soy Glaze

Cristina Ferrare's cookbook showcases her love for preparing simple recipes and turning pantry ingredients into tasty food, many with color photos.

Best-selling author Cristina Ferrare brings to life simple recipes in a colorful way in her book, Cristina Ferrare's Big Bowl of Love. Her cooking show on the Oprah Winfrey Network by the same name features special guests, giving viewers a glimpse of simple entertaining and home cooking, celebrity style. More than 150 recipes are listed in the cookbook, and many are featured together with color photographs of the finished product.

In the introduction of Big Bowl of Love, Cristina Ferrare shares ideas on stretching food for several meals, something she learned through her grandmother's example, and how creating meals with the family brings everyone closer. From appetizers to desserts, she provides hints and suggestions on how to create the dish your own.

Overview and Cookbook Sections

Flipping through the book at first glance, you'll notice the many full color photographs with the recipes. Most recipes have an introductory paragraph suggesting what to serve with it, or how you can use the leftovers. The 'Cook's Note' at the bottom of select recipes has shortcuts, ingredient substitutions, or tips on preparing the dish. For example, Cristina suggests in her Chicken Piccata recipe to do it in batches to avoid overcrowding and to prevent a gummy finished product, and in her Caramelized Carrot Soup with Green Apples she shows how to toast walnuts and coconut.

There are 11 different recipe chapters: Appetizers; Salads; Soups; Pasta and Risotto; Chicken; Beef and Lamb; Fish; Vegetables; Desserts; Dressing, Sauces, and Salsas; and Pantry and Staple Items. The Pantry and Staple Items chapter shows the importance of a well-stock pantry and a good staples supply (like produce, spices and dairy products), and her list of 10 essential items to have in any kitchen.

Big Bowl of Love: Recommended for Cooks Wanting Fresh Ideas for Staples

Big Bowl of Love has clear and colorful photographs that accompany many of the recipes. The recipes all call for simple ingredients that are already inside most pantries at home, or that can be quickly found in the supermarket. The instructions are easy to follow, and Ferrare's Cook's Note sections are sprinkled throughout for quick variations or substitutions.

With the desire to create more family style meals on busy nights, readers will find that Cristina Ferrare's cookbook Big Bowl of Love captures the spirit of creating fabulous food in an easy way.

Here's Cristina Ferrare's list of 10 essential items for both the pantry and refrigerator:
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Fresh lemons
  • Kosher salt
  • Chicken broth
  • Cannellini beans (if you don't know, they're white kidney beans)
  • Low-sodium soy sauce
  • Scallions (green onions)
  • Canned chopped tomatoes
  • Dijon mustard
  • Fresh garlic
I'll add to the list, and my reasons:
  • Orange blossom honey (sweetener, quick yogurt dips, topping for waffles/pancakes, etc., and my little boy is gaga over pb and honey sandwiches)
  • Garbanzoes (hummus, add to pasta, kid's snacks, etc.)
  • Solid light tuna in olive oil (I like the flavor better than albacore, and the texture is levels above the chunk light - salads, pasta, easy lunches)
  • Sherry & balsamic vinegars (sauces, dips, vinaigrettes, dressings)
  • Smoked paprika (my new favorite spice)
  • Popcorn (for plain air popped - I have kids, it makes a quick healthy snack)
  • Marsala (I use it frequently, gives a nice 'mushroomy' flavor to just about anything)
  • Seasoned rice wine vinegar (why I'm not sure, but the kids love it on anything)
  • Fresh carrots (cooking, dipping, snacking, even our dogs like them)
  • Frozen edamame (healthy, kids love them, end of story)

Recipe: Sea Bass with Soy Glaze and Cucumber Salsa

This recipe makes 6 servings.


Cucumber Salsa:
  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded & chopped
  • 1 1/2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 Tbsp rice wine vinegar
  • 2 scallions, chopped
  • 1 Tbsp chopped cilantro
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1/4 cup mirin
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp dry white wine Fish:
  • 6 (3-oz.) sea bass fillets
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp sesame seeds
  1. Make the cucumber salsa first. In a bowl, combine the cucumber, soy sauce, vinegar, scallions, and cilantro, and mix well. Cover and set aside. You can make the salsa the day before and store in the refrigerator.
  2. To make the sauce, in a medium saucepan over low heat, stir together the soy sauce, mirin, sugar, and wine. Stir frequently until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 3 minutes. Pour the sauce into a small bowl and set aside.
  3. Dredge the sea bass in the flour. Heat a skillet on medium-high until hot. Add the olive oil and heat until hot but not smoking. Sauté the sea bass for 2 1/2 minutes on each side, until browned. Reduce the heat to medium; then pour in the sauce mixture and cover with a lid. Cook until the fish is cooked through, about 5 to 6 minutes.
  4. Place the fillets on a platter, and pour the pan juices over the top. Serve immediately with a sprinkling of sesame seeds and the salsa on the side.

Book Information
Recipe adapted and used with permission by the publisher.

Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher and any opinions expressed are my own.

Renee Shelton
The Cookbook Papers


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