Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking American
The Cafe Pongo Cookbook: More Than 220 Recipes from the Hudson Valley
Simon and Schuster
Published: September 10, 2001
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Seven-year-old Café Pongo has made Tivoli, New York, a culinary destination. Located in the fertile Hudson Valley, the restaurant offers American fare with an international twist: food enjoyed equally by a loyal local clientele and visitors
from all parts. The Café Pongo Cookbook, the work of Valerie Nehez, the restaurant's founder, captures the food and flavor of the restaurant (named after her beloved dog) in over 200 approachable recipes and many diverting anecdotes. Readers seeking
formulas for countrified fare that also packs a flavor punch should welcome the book.
The chapters reflect the restaurant's morning-to-night menu: an opening section on breakfast specialties includes such winners as Poached Eggs with Zucchini
Fritters and Roasted Red Pepper Coulis, and Fresh Cranberry Pancakes with Caramelized Pineapple and Ginger Compote. Other chapters--which include recipes for soups, salads, sandwiches, entrees, starters, and sides--offer such treats as Spicy African Soup
with Yams and Shrimp and Hominy Cakes with Cilantro Crème Fraîche. A special section of dishes for non-meat eaters makes the book universally useful, while all will enjoy baked goods and desserts like Chocolate Espresso Torte, Maple Brioche Sticky Buns,
and Crispy Crawly Blackberry Pudding (as it bakes, the batter "creeps" into the berry crevices). With drink recipes and photographs that introduce readers to the restaurant's "family," the book should become a favorite resource for simple yet
sophisticated eating. --Arthur Boehm
North of the hustle and bustle of New York City lies an oasis of small-town America, the quiet Hudson River Valley hamlet of Tivoli. Virtually abandoned after its boom years at the
beginning of the twentieth century, when steamships carried workers across the river to factories in Saugerties, this "no stoplight" town has gone through a renaissance along its main thoroughfare, and visitors find themselves relaxing and eating great
food inside the welcoming doors of funky, casual Café Pongo.
The Café Pongo Cookbook captures the relaxed style and sophisticated cuisine of the restaurant with more than 220 recipes adapted for the home cook, including Poppy Seed Almond Hot
Cakes with Maple Cream and Almonds, Beet and Shaved Fennel Salad with Clementine Vinaigrette, Shrimp and Hominy Cakes with Cilantro Crème Fraand#238;che, Pan-Seared Penne and Greens with Feta and Pine Nuts, Barbecued Lemon Chicken with Crushed Cumin and
Coriander Seeds, Steak with Caramelized Onions and Merlot Reduction, and Bread Pudding with Golden Raisins and Apricot Glaze.
In her warm and inviting voice, Valerie Nehez, the original chef/owner of Café Pongo, recounts her memories and brings
her culinary know-how to each dish, making you feel almost as comfortable re-creating the recipes as you would be relaxing in a wooden chair inside the restaurant.
With over 25 black-and-white photographs throughout, The Café Pongo Cookbook will
make you feel nostalgic for the restaurant and the Hudson Valley, whether you've been there before or only visited vicariously through this book.
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