Liguria: The Cookbook: Recipes from the Italian Riviera, written by Laurel Evans, features the incredible cuisine of Liguria in northwestern Italy along with personal stories and beautiful photography. A few highlights include Condiggiòn (Summer Salad), Ravioli di Magro (Meatless Ravioli), Coniglio all Ligure (Ligurian-Style Rabbit), Torta di Zucca (Pumpkin Tart), and Sciumette (Pistachio Cream Floating Islands). I will also be sharing her recipe for Frisceu (Fried Dough) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from Rizzoli in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Laurel Evans was born in Texas and is currently based in Italy with her family. She is a freelance writer, recipe developer, television personality, cookbook author, mom, and creator of the award-winning bilingual blog, Un’Americana in Cucina (an American in the Kitchen), with her husband.
Together with her husband, they have also published four cookbooks in Italian about American cuisine.
Liguria: The Cookbook
Liguria: The Cookbook begins with Laurel’s first memories meeting her mother-in-law in Moneglia and a short, yet beautifully descriptive introduction to the region. I absolutely love the detail in how she talks about the ways her family in Italy have made such an impact in shaping her cooking and overall life.
For those new to Ligurian cooking, a basic pantry guide is incredibly helpful with notable ingredients and how to use them. Between the recipes, Laurel has included a closer look at items such as Acciughe (Anchovies), Olio Extravergine d’Oliva (Extra-Virgin Olive Oil), Focaccia, and Basilico Genovese (Genovese Basil). There is also an illustrated map of Liguria at the beginning of the book.
Chapters are divided based on course: Antipasti (Appetizers), Primi (Pasta, Risotto & Soups), Pesce (Fish), Carne (Meat), Verdure (Vegetables), Forno (Breads), Dolci (Desserts), and Vino (Wine).
The gorgeous photography is provided by Laurel’s husband, Emilio Scoti. Across the pages are wonderful family photos and memories to pair with the recipes. Many of the dishes are also accompanied by a full-page photo.
Measurements are listed in US Customary. Titles are written in the original language with English underneath. Each recipe has a headnote with background information, personal stories, helpful tips, and serving ideas.
Frisceu (Fried Dough)
The recipe for the Frisceu (Fried Dough) was inspired by Laurel’s local trattoria, Trattoria Pagliettini. A yeast-based batter is combined and allowed to rest for about an hour, then little spoonfuls of the dough are dropped into hot oil and fried until crisp and puffy.
I knew this recipe was a keeper when the kids kept coming up with reasons to come into the kitchen (water, forgot a pencil, etc…) as they were frying. The stack of fried dough got smaller and smaller with each visit. It was a struggle to keep aside enough for the photos! Claire also asked to make them again as I was uploading the photos for this post.
For a little extra flavor, I mixed finely diced sage into the batter. Other options include marjoram and spring onion. On the very next page, Laurel also has a recipe for Frisceu di Baccalá (Battered and Fried Salt Cod).
Fry the Frisceu just until crisp and light beige in color. They shouldn’t become dark golden brown.
Serve the Frisceu immediately with a sprinkling of salt to taste. I paired them with slices of prosciutto and other cured meat (or anchovies) along with a glass of Vermentino.
I also made Salvia Fritta (Fried Sage Leaves), Picagge Verdi (Green Ribbons), Kizoa di Castelnuovo Magra (Sausage-Filled Focaccia from Castelnuovo Magra), and Latte Fritto (Fried Milk).
The Salvia Fritta (Fried Sage Leaves) from Laurel’s Zia Lidia is the very first recipe in the book. Crispy sage leaves are a favorite of mine, but this was my first time ever coating them in a batter. They were absolutely fantastic! Since the amount of batter is more than enough for the sage leaves, I also fried a few onion slices as well.
I especially love all the pasta found in Liguria and was immediately drawn to the Picagge Verdi. Blanched greens (borage or substitute with Preboggión) are finely chopped and mixed into an egg-based dough, then rolled into thin sheets. The sheets are cut into wide ribbons and boiled until al dente. Pair the ribbons with desired sauce or simply olive oil and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano.
The Forno (Breads) chapter is packed with such an amazing variety of Focaccia. I tried the Kizoa di Castelnuovo Magra first. “This rare, sausage-stuffed focaccia is the specialty of Castelnuovo Magra, a charming hilltop village near La Spezia.” A layer of Italian pork sausage is crumbled between two thin sheets of dough, then baked until golden.
The Latte Fritto (Fried Milk) was another wonderful recipe. A creamy milk custard with vanilla and orange is refrigerated overnight, cut into diamonds, and covered in breadcrumbs before frying until golden. I loved the contrast between the rich custard and thin, crispy crust.
Liguria: The Cookbook is such a fantastic choice for those interested in the regional Italian cuisine of Liguria. There are recipes for any time of day and all skill levels. Many come together quickly with just a handful of ingredients while others like the homemade pasta and bread take a little more effort or planning.
Most of the ingredients are readily available in the average American supermarket. A few items that may require further searching include salt cod, chickpea flour, semolina flour, borage, carnaroli rice, lavender, rabbit, dried porcini mushrooms, specialty cheese, hazelnuts, and orange flower water.
Frisceu (Fried Dough) Recipe
Excerpt from Liguria
Frisceu (Fried Dough)
- 2 cups (9 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon active dry yeast
- 1/2 teaspoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt plus more for serving
- 1 tablespoon finely diced marjoram or sage or 2 tablespoons finely diced spring onion, optional
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sparkling water you may use tap water in a pinch
- Vegetable or grapeseed oil for frying
- Salt to taste
- Combine flour, yeast, sugar, and salt in a large bowl; whisk until blended.
- Add herbs or onion pieces, if using.
- Slowly pour in the water and stir until smooth. Cover with plastic wrap and set aside to rise until the dough doubles in size, about 1 hour.
- Heat 2 inches of oil in a wide, deep straight-sided skillet or wok over medium-high heat until a drop of batter sizzles immediately and floats to the top when it touches the oil.
- Using two little spoons, drop small (1/2 teaspoon) balls of dough into the hot oil.
- Fry, turning occasionally with a spider or slotted spoon, until the balls have puffed and are golden in spots, about 2 to 3 minutes. (Frisceu should be crunchy and light beige with golden patches, not dark golden brown.)
- Transfer the Frisceu to a paper towel-lined plate, sprinkle with salt to taste, and serve immediately with a glass of crisp vermentino and salty slices of prosciutto or anchovies.