May 2023 Cookbook of the Month: VENICE by Russell Norman

Welcome to the reporting thread for our May 2023 COTM, VENICE: FOUR SEASONS. OF HOME COOKING, by Russell Norman. We’ll use this thread for all discussion and recipe reports.


To report on a recipe, put the name of the recipe in ALL CAPS and include the page number, if it’s available to you. If you are the first to post about a recipe, please reply to this post. If someone has already posted about the recipe, reply to their post so all the posts about each recipe are linked for easy reference.

To respect the author’s copyright, please don’t post photos or verbatim copies of recipes. Links to recipes online are welcome, and you may post ingredients and summarize instructions in your own words.

Find links to past months’ books in the COTM Archive, and feel free to keep adding to them, or to report on recipes from Chowhound-era COTM, here.

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Well, I’m not buying the book and my library doesn’t have the ebook, so I went looking for what’s available online (please feel free to add more links to the list):

Venetian doughnuts (Fritole)
Frittata with prawns and dill
Mashed broad beans with gremolata
Almond cake
Duck rigatoni

Aged parmesan risotto
Frittata with prawns and dill
Sweet and sour slip soles

Grilled Radicchio
Swordfish Puttanesca
Zucchini, Mint and Goat’s Cheese Risotto
Almond Cake
Venetian Manhattan
Fritole (Venetian Doughnuts)
Roast Leg of Lamb with Anchovy and Rosemary
Chestnut and Wild Mushroom Risotto
Russell Norman’s Spinach and Ricotta Malfatti
Roasted Pork Involtini with Prosciutto and Garlic
Olive Oil Cake
Fennel, Mint and Orange Salad

Baby artichoke risotto
Broccoli and anchovy crostini
Red onion pizza
Crab and chilli linguine
Spaghetti with onions
Grilled asparagus, goat’s curd and speck bruschetta

Venetian Potatoes

Bigoli pasta in salsa
Broccoli and Anchovy Crostini
Smoked Mackerel Panzanella
Autumn Celery Salad


Thanks for doing that! I’ve requested it through interlibrary loan, but who knows when I’ll actually get it.


I am traveling til Sunday. Then I will be home the rest of the month. And then I will make ALL THE THINGS.


I hope this book starts getting some traction, given we’re a third of the way through the month and no one’s cooking yet. I just picked up my interlibrary loan copy and took a quick flip through. There are definitely a few dishes I’d like to make, though I probably won’t have a chance until the second half of the month.

Of course, for those without access to the book, @Saregama has done yeoman’s work in round up a ton of recipe links.


I’m afraid May got away from me, but I did purchase the book and have flagged some recipes, so I will do some off-month contributions eventually. A big gap in my repertoire is fresh pasta, so maybe others will come along on that journey with me.
Lucky me, I’ll actually be in Italy the end of the month, not Venice however.

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ESPRESSO MARTINI, pg. 74 (Spring)

I LOVE a good espresso martini. In fact, I am on the hunt for the best one ever. So, if you know of a spot I should visit… let me know!

Since this is the first recipe, albeit a cocktail recipe, I will chat a bit about my impression of Venice vis-a-vis Polpo. I think Polpo was his restaurant book. Venice is his home cooking book. Both are great for what they are. When recipes overlap, I find the ones in Venice to be slightly simpler. More homey.

Okay, back to this espresso martini. It mimics my favorite one from RecipeTinEats. It’s 3 parts vodka to one and half parts Kalhua or Tia Maria or probably any coffee-flavored liqueur to one and a half parts espresso with a dash or simple syrup and a garnish of three coffee beans. The RecipetinEats eschews the simple syrup determining that the sweetness from the Kahlua was sufficient with no sweetener needed.

EVERY recipe I’ve seen has three beans as a garnish.

This one is delish. Have I said I love a good espresso martini?!?! I know I did!



LLD is out of town, and Lulu was going to be home late but still needing dinner. This recipe looked appealing, and like something I could eat earlier and then quickly serve to her when she got home, and I figured I could serve it as an open faced sandwich (just stuck the stuff on a slice of sourdough bread). It worked perfectly, and we both enjoyed it a lot. No radicchio at the store (they say they’ve been having problems getting it in, anyone else had a problem?), so I went with plain old green cabbage, shredded thinly. You put tuna (complete with the oil), radicchio, horseradish (creamed is called for - this isn’t something I have seen in the store, so I just used prepared horseradish), mayo. Combine and season. Put it on toasted bread. That’s it! We both liked the addition of horseradish a lot, and I liked the little bits of crunch that the cabbage gave this.

eta: I tripled the recipe, and we had a bit leftover.


Thanks so much for this! My library hasn’t got the book and I am not buying cookbooks these days so this is really helpful. I will try to get a recipe in before the end of the month.

BRAISED PEAS w/ BASIL, pg. 72 (Spring)

I love fresh Spring peas. I don’t think I could love a Spring vegetable right off thee stalk as much as I love peas. So, I was really excited to find a recipe which barely cooks the pease allowing all their Springtime deliciousness to shine through.

You slice Spring onions thinly on the diagonal. The you slice a celery stalk down the middle and then thinly slice. Sauté both for a few minutes and add sliced garlic. Mr. Shark doesn’t like sliced garlic so I diced mine. Cook for a minute and then add in peas, having reserved a handful of the smallest peas. Add salt, barely cover with veggie stock, and bring to a boil. Simmer for a few minutes. Take off the heat and add in two handfuls of basil and reserve tiny peas. You want the peas to still be vibrant and green and barely cooked, not wrinkly and overcooked. Salt to taste and serve warm.

This is a super fresh recipe. I’ve never paired basil with peas. Or green onions, for that matter. My peas have mostly been with diced onions or carrots or nothing. I’ve had mint with peas. But not green onions or basil. And now that I have, I am pleasantly surprised and deliciously delighted. I think I will add more peas in next time. And there will be a next time as long as I can get fresh peas. This was a dead simple dish which came together in a matter of minutes. Easy to make and will go into the growing season rotation.



Like artic shark with peas, I was inspired by the surfeit of spring asparagus and intrigued by the technique on this one, so I gave it a try. John Dory is impossible to source here; I used some mahi mahi that was hanging around in the freezer. And I had no green peppercorns that are suggested to garnish. But I have no complaints about how this turned out, and it would probably be even better with a lighter fish.

Parcook/blanch trimmed asparagus. Poach filets in a mix of fish stock (I used a can) and lime juice. Halfway through cooking (3 minutes), turn the filets, add the asparagus and a half handful of basil. Remove from pan and keep warm while prepping the sauce – just boiling down the stock and adding some butter. Garnish with green peppercorns (I used a grind of black pepper) and basil.

This was an easy and elegant spring dinner, served with some plain boiled potatoes (because butter sauce). It would certainly be elevated by using the recommended fish and garnishes and better quality stock. But it was really nice using what I had at hand; I especially enjoyed the zip of lime, as an alternative to the usual lemon. Maybe a better complement to the basil? No pictures – I am still getting the hang of this HO format.



I stuck to the recipe this time, and was rewarded with another low effort/high impact dish. The biggest task was sourcing and scrubbing the clams. It all comes together in less than 20 minutes, once you get your pasta water boiling. Saute some garlic (I appreciated it was just one clove, not an overwhelming quantity) then add clams. While they are heating, add a glass of white wine and cover. Pasta goes in the pot to cook, while trimmed rapini is added to the clams. Mix in drained cooked pasta, chopped parsley and “a flourish of chile flakes”. Reserve some pasta water to add when finishing. Done and delicious.


Our June 2022 reporting thread is up here:


This was ridiculously good. I think you need to have really good tomatoes, but if you do, then absolutely make this. I used smoked trout instead of mackerel, and probably more of everything than the recipe calls for, but it was dinner, with nothing on the side. Chop the tomatoes and put them in a big bowl with salt, pepper, olive oil, and red wine vinegar and stir around a bit. Add the fish. He had you toasting the bread in a frying pan with a bit of butter (I added some oil too), but I think you could just put it in a toaster, to be honest. Do I love the way the bread tastes with the butter/oil? Heck yes. but with all the other big flavors from the fish and fresh tomatoes and basil, I think it would still be good just toasted. Toss in the broken up pieces of bread and some torn basil, and you’re done! Definitely a good summer dinner salad. I absolutely loved it.



That looks delicious. I can’t wait for tomato season to hit here.


July nominations are open.


I know it seems like I just skipped participating with this book, but I actually did make two recipes, but never got around to reporting them. So here I am. I made this recipe as written, except I used chard from my CSA box in place of lacinato kale. I probably included some diced chard stem along with the celery, because I usually do that. But otherwise, as written. I emphasize that because the picture in the book is waaay more tomato-y than what I got from this recipe. It only calls for a single 14-oz can of tomatoes, and I have to wonder if that was a mistake. I used exactly the amount of beans called for. Anyway, the soup was good, although I would have liked more tomato. It calls for some crushed fennel seed, which we really liked. My go-to ribollita has been (more or less) Anna Jones’ version, and this version doesn’t replace it, but I will include the fennel seeds next time I make it.



Apparently I didn’t take a picture of this dish. Anyway, it’s a simple affair, and in this case, came out looking almost exactly like what you see in the photo. You sauté some sliced onions, then add some stock and reduce it into a sauce, to which you add pasta. Very simple. And, it turns out, quite tasty.


Just a few comments on this book. I had been excited about the prospect of cooking from this book in March or April, but less so in May. It has a lot of recipe calling for spring vegetables, like peas and asparagus, and not so much for what I get in the warmer months, which around here include May. So I didn’t make some of the dishes that most appealed to me, because it was past time for that produce. But Mel, you say, surely you have a supermarket that stocks asparagus, and peas in your freezer! Yes, I do. but during CSA season, I can’t afford to make a meal that doesn’t include my CSA produce, because it takes a lot meals to use it all up. It can be a real challenge. I really have nothing against supermarket produce! But I just don’t have room in the fridge nor can I vacate a spot on the menu for it. So that brings me to my big issue with this book…

WTF is going on with the so-called seasonality here? I wouldn’t care so much if it didn’t bill itself as a seasonal book, but come on… you have a grilled “spring vegetable” pizza with zucchini, eggplant, bell pepper… and asparagus. The only place I see those vegetables all at the same time is in the supermarket. The first three are coming in my CSA box right now (summer!), and asparagus was back in early April. I might go back and make this pizza, sans asparagus, as a summer dish. But grrrr…

Then you get to the summer section of the book and find fresh peas (nope, not now, too late, only field peas in season) paired with broad beans (yep, summer). There’s fennel, which comes in season with asparagus around here, in early April. There is pea, chantarelle, and asparagus risotto. Once again, early spring vegetables paired with a late spring to summer mushroom in the summer chapter of a book. I just don’t get it. Anyway, it just worked out that this book had very little to offer me in the month of May. The two recipes I did make were good, as I would expect from this author, and I may revisit it at other times of the year as appropriate produce appears. But I am irked by the seasonal weirdess.