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The Silver Spoon
Phaidon Press
ISBN 0714845310

****Tongue in cheek warning.****
You're probably sick of hearing the rave reviews on this behemoth (you know: blah blah, 2000 recipes, every Italian kitchen has had one for 50 years, Italian bible of cooking, beautiful photography, etcetera, etcetera), so here we go, we're going to try to pan it at epicurean. Yes.
First off, a couple sentences as example:
"Place two sage leaves on each portion and season with salt and pepper. Roll up, wrap in the pancetta slices and secure with toothpicks."
I mean come on, I'm lost here - shouldn't that have taken up at least two or three flowery paragraphs?
But no, the entire recipe it comes from - 'Chicken Roulades with Sage' - clocks in at a puny 90 words total of instruction. All of the recipes are like this. Look down below, see what we mean, we'll wait. The photos accompanying many of the recipes are surely just setting us up for disappointment (such 'preparing simple food with fresh ingredients in starkly rustic-yet-elegant setting' photos abound in The Book). As if we should be so easily fooled. Surely we can't follow these simple directions and reproduce such attractive results.
It must be chock full of recipes that end up not tasting very good. We haven't found them yet, but will update this review when they show up. Any book that has recipes for ostrich, octopus, oxtail, orecchiette and omelets has to be fallible at some point.
It seems a little shady really, almost trying to come off as attractive as a coffee table cookbook (it practically is the size of a coffee table - ha!) but is too heavy to lug around the house, so you end up having to buy two copies - one for the kitchen, and one for the shelf or table with reinforced legs.
It is just too easy too obsess over, and only comes with two ribbon markers - it needs about 50 to be truly useful.
See, this tome is found in the cooking section of stores, but is really an avocation - not just a book at all - make no mistake. It is tricksy.
So take that, Phaidon Press, you have been denied your flowery one liner praising the book. Oh, all right:
Amazing - The Silver Spoon is required reading, owning, eating, and living.
You need to get it.

Serves 4
4 skinless, boneless chicken breast portions
8 fresh sage leaves
3 1/2 ounces pancetta, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
radicchio salad, to serve

Lightly pound the chicken with a meat mallet. Place two of the sage leaves on each portion and season with salt and pepper. Roll up, wrap in the pancetta slices and secure with toothpicks. Heat the oil in a skillet, add the roulades and cook, turning frequently, until browned all over. Cover and cook over low heat for about 20 minutes, adding 1 tablespoon hot water if necessary. Serve with a radicchio salad.
Serves 4
4 artichoke hearts
1 tablespoon olive oil
scant 1 1/4 cups smoked pancetta, chopped
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
4 eggs
salt and pepper

For the sauce
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
salt and pepper

To make the sauce, melt the butter in a pan, stir in the mustard and flour and cook for a few seconds. Gradually stir in 1 cup water, alternating with the vinegar, and season with salt and pepper to taste. Cook, stirring constantly, for 5 minutes. Blanch the artichoke hearts in boiling water for a few minutes, then drain and slice into eight rounds, Arrange in a ring on a warm serving dish. Heat the oil in a skillet, add the pancetta and cook, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes until tender. Drain and sprinkle in the middle of the dish. Bring a pan of salted water to a boil, add the vinegar and poach the eggs for 3-4 minutes. Remove with a slotted spoon, place on top of the pancetta and spoon the sauce over them.
Serves 4
3 1/2 ounces prosciutto slices, halved
1 pound 2 ounces veal scallops
8-10 fresh sage leaves
1/4 cup butter
scant 1/2 cup dry white wine
This is the only main course in Italian cuisine whose recipe has been officially approved and laid down. This is the recipe that the panel of cooks agreed upon in Venice in 1962, Saltimbocca, incidentally, means jump into the mouth. Place a half slice of prosciutto on each scallop, put a sage leaf on top and fasten with a toothpick. Melt the butter in a skillet and cook the veal over high heat on both sides until golden brown. Season with salt, pour in the wine and cook until it has evaporated, then remove the toothpicks and serve.

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Recipes © 2005 Phaidon Press - reprinted with permission