Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Italian
La Mia Cucina Toscana : A Tuscan Cooks in America
Published: October 28, 2003
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From Publishers Weekly
In this muddled book, restaurateur Luongo (Simply Tuscan) takes the simple, unadorned food of Tuscany and other parts of Italy and makes it complex for no discernible reason. The concept is good: Luongo has now cooked in New York
City for two decades, and he sets out to illustrate how his native Tuscan dishes have mutated under those circumstances. Almost every recipe is accompanied by two headers, titled "Il Classico" and "La Mia Versione," which explain its origins. But most of
these explanations are based on an idea rather than taste-such as a recipe for Tuscan-Style Porcini Mushrooms in which Luongo explains that the cooking method used is one that would normally be applied to a fettina, a cheap cut of meat-leaving the reader
to wonder how taste and idea interact. Some of the recipes have no Tuscan roots at all, like a Tuna and Beet Carpaccio with Gorgonzola Cheese based on the famous beef carpaccio served at Harry's Bar in Venice, or an Eggplant-Chocolate Mousse that evolved
from an ancient Neapolitan eggplant dessert. Dishes that adhere most closely to the originals, such as a Baked Sea Bream on a Bed of Potatoes and Pecorino (which, Luongo admits, breaks the cardinal Italian rule of no-cheese-with-fish), are the safest
bets, while out-on-a-limb combinations such as Watermelon and Fresh Fava Bean Salad feel as if they use strangeness as an attention-getting gambit.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Pino Luongo, prolific
and irrepressible restaurateur (Le Madri, Coco Pazzo, Tuscan Square, and Centolire) and author of A Tuscan in the Kitchen and Simply Tuscan, has written a highly personal, completely innovative take on the food of his native region.
For more than
two decades, Pino Luongo has been one of New York City's most renowned restaurateurs. Inspired by the many culinary crosscurrents in this most cosmopolitan of cities, he has devised an original version of the food of Tuscany that draws on ingredients and
inspiration from Italy, America, and even Asia. Grouping recipes by key ingredients (such as grains and legumes, mushrooms, spring vegetables, and fall vegetables) instead of by courses, he explains the Old-World "Il Classico" roots of his recipes, then
takes them in exciting new directions with his own vibrant, New-World versions. In this brand new approach, the thick Florentine soup ribollita becomes a delectable filling for ravioli. Polenta replaces bread in pappa al pomodoro (tomato and bread soup).
The farro grain finds a new role as the basis of a warm salad made of mushrooms and arugula. Shellfish is happily married with the usually vegetarian dish caponata. There are poultry (Rigatoni with Chicken and Pea Ragout with Prosciutto), pork (Pork
Short Ribs, Tuscan Style), and meat dishes (Lemon and Oregano-Marinated Lamb Chops with Roasted Peppers) and for an unusual finish to the meal, he gives advice on serving cheese with unexpected accompaniments. A luscious selection of dolci includes
desserts such as Chocolate Pudding with Cherry Sauce and Citrus Zest and Almond Biscotti. Occasionally Pino Luongo looks back to Tuscany's glorious past for inspiration, as with the dessert dating from the Renaissance, Tagliatelle Torta with Apples and
Raisins. Based on dishes served in Pino Luongo's popular and acclaimed restaurants as well as recipes he has created at home through improvisation, La Mia Cucina Toscana will delight anyone interested in exploring something new from one of Tuscany's
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