cover image The Italian Slow Cooker

The Italian Slow Cooker

Michele Scicolone, . . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $22 (232pp) ISBN 978-0-547-00303-0

Scicolone (The Sopranos Family Cookbook ) turns her attention to the slow cooker (or “crockpot”) for preparing homey Italian dishes. In this accessible cookbook, she presents unintimidating recipes (which often suggest the ingredients simmer around 165 degrees for six to eight hours) that serve up hearty dishes with a minimum of fuss. The wide variety of main dishes—seafood, meats, veggies and legumes—and corresponding soups and sauces, capitalize on the flavor that only slow-cooked food can deliver. The sauces are the book's standouts, with recipes for ragus made with chunky pork shoulder or spicy Tuscan sausage, for example. She also includes recipes for a creamy polenta with gorgonzola and mascarpone; risotto-style farro with parmesan; seafood couscous made with halibut, shrimp and scallops; and braised beef with anchovies and rosemary. While her approach is certainly inventive and appealing, some recipes make one wonder whether a slow cooker is actually necessary (the stuffed peppers might be baked just as easily). That said, this cookbook will certainly relieve the time pressure on busy family cooks. (Dec.)