“Gino’s Italian Escape” – Our Verdict

Kirstin: Well this book, while not perfect, had me wanting to travel to Italy.

Maureen: It was a wonderful way to spend the month.

Kirstin: I know. Indulging in all our favourite flavours. Any favourites? I personally loved the broccoli and pasta recipe. But I have to say I was very dubious about the photography. Not of the recipes themselves, but of the scenes around Italy. They had been processed in some very strange, almost polaroid-like style which did not suit the book at all.

“Gino’s Italian Escape”
Overall Grade (A- F): Kirstin: B. Maureen: B.
Best recipes: Kirstin: Broccoli and pasta. Maureen:
Grade for Photography (A-F): Kirstin: C: The shocking cover and pictures inside of Italy let the general good quality of the pictures down, I’m afraid to say.
Any disasters? No.
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Kirstin: Bookshelf. For the time being. Maureen:

“Gino’s Italian Escape” – Our Verdict

“Italian Sausages with Braised Lentils” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

CBAMSausagesOr, in Italian: Salsicce e Lenticchie

Maureen: I made this one especially for Dad.

Andrew (14): Why Dad?

Maureen: Because Dad LOVES lentils. He is its number one fan.

Nicholas (10): I can’t say I agree with him.

Tim: Why don’t you agree with me?

Nicholas: Don’t you remember that time we had lentils on New Year’s Day?

Tim: Yes. We try to do that every year. It’s supposed to bring us good luck for the year.

Nicholas: Yes, well, I didn’t like them then, and I don’t like them now.

Maureen: But then you’ll NEVER have good luck for the year!

Nicholas: I don’t care. I don’t like them. Never have, never will.

Maureen: OK. How about everybody else?

Andrew: Meh. I like the sausages. I like the lentils, but I don’t love them.

Tim: I love it all, but especially the lentils.

Maureen: Which is exactly why this is dinner tonight.

“Italian Sausages with Braised Lentils” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

“Slow-cooked Pork Belly with Radicchio” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

Tom: Oh my goodness, this smelt amazing!

Kirstin: That is the beauty of slow roasting pork, isn’t it? Last year I burnt some pork while slow roasting it, so I was super careful this year and took it out much earlier than the recipe said. I didn’t trust our oven not to burn it.

Tom: I think you could have kept it in longer as the fat might have rendered more.


Kirstin: Good point! I shall leave it for longer next time.

Miles: Nom!

Ella: It tastes really good with the bread too.

Kirstin: Oh yes, I also had a go at making fougasse, but that’s another story…

“Slow-cooked Pork Belly with Radicchio” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

“Pea, Asparagus and Mint Risotto” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

CBAMRisottoNicholas (10): Yeah! Risotto!

Maureen: Yes. It’s everyone’s favourite. What do you think?

Andrew (14): There’s something strange in there.

Maureen: That would be the mint. I don’t think I’ve ever made a risotto with mint in it.

Andrew: Well, I don’t like it.

Nicholas: Neither do I.

Tim: What’s with the asparagus this time of year? Talk about food miles.

Maureen: Yes, the asparagus did come all the way from Peru to join us.

Tim: That’s absurd.

Maureen: I agree. But I wanted to make risotto, and this one sounded nice.

Tim: Well, the next time you want to make an asparagus risotto, wait until the spring, when they’re in season here.

Maureen: I completely agree.

Andrew: This is fine, but I like our usual risotto better.

Nicholas: Me too.

Maureen: Do you mean the one with lashings of butter and cheese?

Tim: Yup. That’s the one.

Maureen: OK. So noted on the record. No asparagus in autumn and lashings of butter and cheese. Got it.

“Pea, Asparagus and Mint Risotto” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

“Crispy Fillet of Sea Bass with Herby Couscous” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

Or, in Italian: Spigola in Padella con Cous Cous Alle Erbe

CBAMSeaBassMaureen: Fish Friday!

Tim: I understand that you were the one who picked sea bass, Nicholas.

Nicholas (10): I did! I thought it sounded nice, since I like sea bass and we always like couscous.

Andrew (14): That’s true, we do.

Maureen: What do you think?

Nicholas: I like it, but I don’t like the olives.

Andrew: I like it, but I don’t like the tomatoes.

Tim: I like it all.

Maureen: Me too. Sea bass is always a winner.

Tim: How much did it cost though?

Maureen:Yes, sea bass is a bit on the pricey side, as it cost almost £30 for two fish that produce four large fillets. But I think it’s worth it.

TIm: Yes, it’s good, but is it really five times better than the trout we had a few weeks ago? That was delicious, and such good value.

Maureen: That’s a fair point, the trout tasted just as good and was much, much cheaper to buy. The good thing is that we’ve tried all different sorts of fish with our Fish Friday experiment.

Tim: FFFTW! Fish Friday For The Win!

“Crispy Fillet of Sea Bass with Herby Couscous” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

“Orecchiette with Broccoli, Garlic and Chilli” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

Kirstin: I was taught how to make a version of broccoli pasta from an Italian. She used orecchiette too but dried chilli and the broccoli was mashed.

Tom: I remember that recipe!

Kirstin: I used to make it all the time. But I could easily make this one all the time instead!

Tom: The chilli is really good with the broccoli.

Kirstin: And unfortunately I mentioned that there was tomato in it (just 6 small cherry tomatoes, quartered) so the kids aren’t being very interested in this.

Tom: Their loss.

Kirstin: Indeed!


“Orecchiette with Broccoli, Garlic and Chilli” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

“Minestrone” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

CBAMMinestroneMaureen: Another Meat Free Monday!

Andrew (14): What is this?

Maureen: I guarantee you’re going to like it. It’s minestrone, which is just the Italian way of saying vegetable and pasta soup.

Nicholas (10): It smells good.

Tim: I’ll bet it’s good for us too.

Maureen: It is. All good stuff. Vegetables, vegetable stock, more vegetables and pasta. Yum.

Andrew: I really like it.

Nicholas: So do I.

Tim: Me too.

Maureen: This is going to be delicious for my lunch tomorrow too.

Tim: Another Meat Free Monday success story then.

If you would like to make this yourself, either for Meat Free Monday, or any other day of the week, click through this sentence to see the recipe in Google Books.

“Minestrone” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

“Italian Beef Stew with Yellow Peppers and Olives” and “Creamy Parmesan Polenta” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

Or, in Italian: “Stufato di Manzo” and Crema di Polenta con Parmigiano”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMaureen: I know. You are amazed that I made beef stew, since you all know that it’s the one food I have spent my lifetime hating. Yuck. But I thought since it’s Italian beef stew, I might like it better. Plus, I’m going to try polenta again. This is all about trying things.

Tim: You didn’t like the last polenta I made.

Maureen: True that. I didn’t like it AT ALL. I like this polenta much more.

Andrew (14): I feel the opposite. I liked the other one better.

Tim: This one was interesting, because it was made with milk and water. The other one just used water. This one had butter in it, while the other one had olive oil.

Maureen: Dairy ALWAYS makes things better.

Tim: Corn and butter go together like…

Maureen: …two peas in a pod.

Nicholas (10): I liked everything tonight but the polenta.

Maureen: I have a monumental, earth shattering statement to make: I LIKE THIS STEW!

Nicholas: No way!

Andrew: Where is my mother and what have you done with her?

Maureen: Ha ha ha. No, I can’t believe it myself, but I really like it. I think it’s because it has this nice tomato sauce.

Tim: Given that there’s only 400 grams of beef in this, this made much more than I thought it would.

Maureen: Should I make this again?

Andrew: The stew, yes. The polenta, no.

Nicholas: I agree with Andrew.

Tim: I liked everything. Would eat again. Happily.

To make the Italian beef stew, click through this sentence to see the recipe via Google Books.

To make the polenta, click through this sentence to see the recipe via Google Books.

“Italian Beef Stew with Yellow Peppers and Olives” and “Creamy Parmesan Polenta” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

“Tray-baked Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

Kirstin: This was incredibly easy to make.

Tom: And it’s incredibly delicious too.

Kirstin: He didn’t suggest any carbohydrates to go with it, so I made some focaccia.


Miles: Yessss! I love focaccia!

Kirstin: But what do you think of the chicken, Miles? Try having a little piece of pancetta with each mouthful of chicken.

Miles: I’m not so sure about the chicken.

Kirstin: I shall just have to cook this more so they come around to our way of thinking.

“Tray-baked Chicken with Tomatoes and Olives” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

“Brill Roasted with Sweet Pepper Sauce” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”

Or, in Italian: “Tagliata di Pesce con Salsa di Peperoni Dolci”

CBAMFishSorry, faithful readers. There’s no dialogue for this recipe, as it was one of those nights those with children will be familiar with: everyone was at a different place at a different time. But even amid the chaos, we could decide that we liked this very much.

Yes! Fish with breadcrumbs again!! I’m beginning to think that we’re riding some sort of food trend here. First, it was Gwyneth Paltrow in “It’s All Good.” Then it was Jamie Oliver in “Save with Jamie.” I may have even made a few of my own variations between testing those two recipes. Now it’s Gino’s turn.

It’s very much like the other two recipes, though, in Gino’s favour, he did use butter in his version. Hooray for sensible amounts of butter! I have found, in my experience, that butter makes EVERYTHING better. I’m all for healthy eating, but if you’re willing to throw some butter in there, I’m all for that too.

Unfortunately, our lovely fishmonger– called, aptly enough, The FIshmonger– didn’t have brill on this particular Friday, so I had to get the turbot instead. Turbot can be a bit pricey, as it’s not the bargain that trout can be, but it’s a lovely fish that’s not at all “fishy”, so the boys (and their friend), really liked this, especially when used with the aforementioned butter and breadcrumbs.

The red pepper sauce was really easy to make, and really gave the dish some interesting flavours. Without it, I think it would have been a bit bland, though things can always be livened up with vegetables and other side dishes.

Would I make this again? This is beginning to seem like a silly question for a fish-with-breadrcumbs recipe. Obviously, the answer is yes, because I’ve already made a version of this multiple times this year. Would I make this version again? Definitely yes. Maybe next time we’ll all be able to sit down together to enjoy it.

If you would like to try this recipe for yourself, Google Books has helpfully downloaded the entire Gino book. Click through this paragraph to see the recipe.

“Brill Roasted with Sweet Pepper Sauce” from “Gino’s Italian Escape”