This exuberant, delightfully unconventional cookbook is a warm, personal collection of recipes and reminiscences of the author's native Tuscany and a guide to a spontaneous way of cooking based on good taste and common sense rather than rigid rules.
In A Tuscan in the Kitchen, Pino Luongo, the creator of New York's successful Il Cantinori restaurant, presents 140 of his favorite recipes, from soups and antipasti to salads and desserts. The recipes include such tempting dishes as trout with balsamic vinegar, peasant-style risotto made with sausage and peas, roasted quail with tarragon, spaghetti with sea bass sauce, radicchio and orange salad, and baked peaches stuffed with walnuts and chocolate. Interspersed throughout in a spirited narrative are tales of his adventures as well as stories of family celebrations and the local traditions of the people who live in Tuscany's dries, hill towns, and fishing ports.
Mr. Luongo shows us how to cook the Tuscan way, using a small repertoire of ingredients and a few basic techniques to create dishes that taste delicious and can be endlessly varied. The ingredients in each recipe are broken down into a three-part list: pantry staples, like olive oil, pasta, and canned plum tomatoes; cold storage items such as eggs, butter, and cheese; and a handful of market foods that need to be purchased fresh. In the recipes, he gives basic instructions and guidelines for making each dish but does not give exact quantities. For instance, a recipe for tagliatelle with fresh garden vegetables suggests a variety of vegetables and herbs; the cook decides how many and how much of each to use, according to taste. Mr. Luongo teaches us the kind of flexibility good cookshave always practiced and encourages us to create our own personal style of cooking -- and have a wonderful time in the kitchen, too.
Filled with warmth and an irrepressible enthusiasm for life's pleasures, A Tuscan in the Kitchen is an original and inspiring cookbook.