Books: Cooking by Cuisine -> Cooking Italian
The Valentino Cookbook
Published: March 27, 2001
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Piero Selvaggio came to the United States from Italy as a teenager, having eaten in only one restaurant in his life--a truck stop near the consulate that issued his family's travel papers. His first job was as a dishwasher in a cafeteria at
N.Y.U. Thirty-five years later, Selvaggio's head must be spinning--his restaurants, Valentino in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, and Posto, also in Los Angeles, are considered among the best in the country.
Selvaggio has spent a lifetime learning
everything there is to know about Italian food and wine. With subtlety and elegance he mingles homemade Italian with delicate nouvelle style. The results are full-flavored and often breathtaking. Pasta Stuffed with Eggs, Spinach, and Ricotta, with Shaved
Truffles is a study in understatement--cut through the ravioli to discover a whole poached egg nestled in the ricotta and spinach mixture. Pumpkin Lasagna is a beautifully simple presentation of pasta, pumpkin, brown butter with fresh sage, and Parmesan;
crushed amaretti cookies lend a touch of sweetness. Lamb with Almonds, Walnuts, and Pine Nuts is a twist on a breaded cutlet--the combination of the fragrant, juicy chop with the crunchy aromatic nuts is truly memorable.
A chapter on salads
includes Valentino's famous Warm Chicken Salad with Gorgonzola Dressing, and soups include such hearty fare as Cream of Cabbage with Sour Cream. Risotto with Sweet Peppers and Corn is sure to become a favorite, especially if you follow Selvaggio's
step-by-step instructions for cooking risotto. Desserts include an easy-to-make, smooth Espresso Chocolate Custard; a mouthwatering Ricotta, Orange, and Chocolate Torte; and even the Panettone di Luciano, a panettone filled with ice cream. While many of
Valentino's dishes require elaborate preparation, just as many are quite simple. To help streamline effort in the kitchen, Selvaggio has separated advance and last-minute preparations wherever possible and made a wine recommendation for every dish in the
Selvaggio confesses from the beginning that he loves a meal made up of many small dishes. He recommends serving antipasti and small portions of everything else. When you realize that eating his way means you never have to choose, that you
really can have it all, his argument is very convincing. --Leora Y. Bloom
In 1972, with limited funds and only a modest culinary background, Piero Selvaggio opened a small Italian restaurant in a decidedly unglamorous Santa
Monica neighborhood. Now, almost thirty years later, Valentino is consistently hailed as one of the finest restaurants in the Los Angeles area and the nation, and Selvaggio is the consummate host and orchestrator of one of the most sublime dining
experiences imaginable. The Valentino Cookbook draws on Selvaggio's extensive experience as a restaurateur, a culinary explorer, and, most of all, a lover of food and wine.
In this charming and generous cookbook, he shares the lessons he has
learned in his ever-evolving love affair with fine cuisine. He gives us delightful personal anecdotes and an incredible collection of dishes, ranging from traditional to innovative: Petti di Fagiano Avvolti in Pancetta (Pheasant Breast Wrapped in
Pancetta), Filetti di Cervo con Salsa al Melograno (Venison Medallions with Pomegranate Sauce), and other wonderful entrees; an enticing collection of appetizers such as I Car-ciofi Ripieni di Lina (Lina's Stuffed Artichokes) and Gamberoni e Cannellini
alland#237;Olio Toscano (Shrimp and White Beans in Tuscan Oil); flavorful soups such as Passato di Verdura (Pureed Vegetable Soup) and Raviolini di Cappone (Small Capon Ravioli in Broth); delicate risottos; pastas as simple as Fusilli con Verdure Forti e
Pancetta (Fusilli with Bitter Greens and Pancetta) or as extraordinary as Uovo al Tarufo Dedicato a Nino Bergese (Pasta Stuffed with Eggs, Spinach, and Ricotta, with Shaved Truffles). And an extensive dessert section ranges from an elegant Lemon and
Grappa Crostata to the rich, crunchy Croccante Semifreddo.
With each recipe, Selvaggio, the most respected
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