Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Italian
Simply Tuscan : Recipes for a Well-Lived Life
Published: April 18, 2000
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Will America's appetite for all things under the Tuscan sun ever be satisfied? Not likely with Pino Luongo's Simply Tuscan. Luongo, owner of 10 restaurants and Manhattan's market Tuscan Square, may have spent the past 20 years in the Big
Apple, but he is still synchronized to life in the Tuscan countryside. Simply Tuscan honors those rhythms with its seasonal organization and easy mix of food lore, travelogue, and personal reminiscences. Luongo opens with spring (though fall is his
favorite season for cooking); in this section, the Italian passion for simplicity--which Luongo constantly endorses--achieves quintessential form in a mache salad topped with quail eggs. The fall section is studded with such treasures as a trio of
recipes showcasing the revered tartufo bianco, or white truffle. All the reader really need remember, though, is Luongo's offhand remark on his favorite way of enjoying this delicacy: shaved over fried eggs. Simply Tuscan speaks to cooks of all
abilities. The pared-down arrangements of summer and spring will yield memorable results for less-confident cooks who take care to use only the most immaculate and best ingredients. More familiar hands will welcome the savory complexities of the fall and
winter menus. Professional cooks will want the book for its bomboloni recipe alone. A favorite from Luongo's childhood, this sweet fritter is used to evaluate potential pastry chefs for his restaurants. If you can't make bomboloni, you'll never cook for
Pino. --Sumi Hahn Almquist
Renowned restaurateur, bon vivant, and armchair philosopher Pino Luongo presents a year of Tuscan menus, with recipes for living the good life.
Pino Luongo is Tuscan to his toes--by birth,
in sensibility, philosophically, and in the way he lives his life. To be Tuscan, Pino says, "is to honor all your senses." And he believes that everyone would benefit from having a little bit of Tuscany in his or her life, which is why he has written
Welcome in the spring with a menu of quintessentially seasonal recipes, such as Artichoke, Romaine, and Pea Soup, followed by Roasted Veal with Lemon and Sage, and sweetened with Panna Cotta with Strawberries and Balsamic Vinegar.
Or welcome your in-laws with a meal they'll never forget: Zucchini Soup with Mint, Ricotta Ravioli with Osso Buco Gremolata, and Upside-Down Warm Apple Tart.
Follow Pino to the seashore in summer, where, as he says, "the beach makes us wild with
energy," to partake of a Summer Night Seafood Extravaganza--Crispy Fried Shrimp with Summer Vegetables in Sweet and Sour Vinaigrette, Trout Roasted Porchetta-Style, and Lobster and Cannellini Beans in Guazzetto.
Celebrate Thanksgiving Tuscan-style
and, Pino promises, it will give you something else to be thankful for. Start the meal with Farro, Swiss Chard, and Butternut Squash Soup. Follow it up with Goose with Vineyard Stuffing instead of the usual turkey. Try Mashed Potatoes with Leeks in place
of the candied sweets, and finish with Spiced Poached Pears with Vin Santo Sabayon.
Winter means comfort food all over the world, and in Tuscany this might mean Oven-Baked Leg of Pork Glazed with Chestnut Honey, a Carrot and Apple Purée, and
Caramelized Baba Scented with Orange.
All of these recipes and many more, accompanied by Pino's wise and witty commentary on the occasions for which they were devised, are intended, in his words, to "convert you to Tuscanism...once you get a taste
for it, there's no turning back." And this beautifully designed, lavishly illustrated, deliciously tempting book of recipes is certain to do just that.
Some of the recipes, such as Cacciucco, a fish and shellfish stew, or the Easter Torta with
Cheese, are totally, typically,
traditionally Tuscan; others, like Crabmeat Ravioli in Ginger-Scented Vegetable Broth and the Bay Scallop and Asparagus Risotto are modern interpretations, which, nevertheless, remain truly Tuscan in
SIMPLY TUSCAN is intended, in Pino's words, to "convert you to Tuscanism--once you get a taste for it, there's no turning back."
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