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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Tom Valenti has been a chef at a number of fine New York restaurants (Alison on Dominick Street, Cascabel, and now Ouest), but this book has his home kitchen -- and yours -- in mind. Valenti thinks that if he can teach you how to regulate heat properly and master the art of seasoning, you can make great dishes at home in your own tiny space.
It's easy to fall for Valenti's kind of food -- slow-cooked, robust dishes that gestate for hours, like Braised Short Ribs, Roasted Duck with Sweet Onions and Turnips, Braised Lamb Shanks -- and there are great side dishes too, like Lemon Orzo, Parmesan Flan, and Celery Root Purée. Soups and pastas also shine. You don't always find chefs paying attention to sandwiches, but Valenti does, with a section that includes Saut&eactue;d Spinach Sandwich, and a Grilled Ham and Cheese. Valenti adds a few homey desserts (Prune-Walnut Bread Pudding, Lemon Pound Cake) to round out the meal.
Unlike many chef books, this one is exceptionally well written and contains hard-to-find seasoning advice. Valenti is a fan of acids in general, and white vinegar in particular, for brightening many kinds of dishes. He also keeps a dish of sugar next to the salt and pepper to achieve a certain "roundness of flavor," and also to enhance caramelization of onions. (Ginger Curwen)