Scott Conant's New Italian Cooking

Scott Conant, Author, Joanne McAllister Smart, With
Scott Conant, Author, Joanne McAllister Smart, With with Joanne McAllister Smart. Broadway $35 (296p) ISBN 978-0-7679-1682-0
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Conant, chef/owner of New York's L'Impero—which won a James Beard award for the country's best new restaurant in 2003—brings together the best of Old World cooking and modern twists in this sumptuous cookbook. Italian food; the use of fresh, seasonal ingredients; simple foundations giving way to complex flavors—Conant takes all these trends and whips them up into a fabulous mix of recipes, offering a perfect blend of easier weeknight dishes as well as weekend extravaganzas. His food has "an Italian soul": some traditional elements remain, but inventive surprises add excitement. To wit, Conant's Spaghetti Puttanesca (Scotty's Style) uses both plum and cherry tomatoes, and tones down the amount of capers, black olives, anchovy and garlic so that the flavors continue to build as one eats. "Boneless" Osso Bucco turns the classic "bone with a hole" dish into a deeply flavorful revelation thanks to a reversal of order in two of the steps. Conant includes dishes adapted from his restaurant, which may find readers happily spending an entire weekend afternoon in the kitchen, making stews and fresh pasta, as well as quick-cooking fish, chicken and meat dishes. He smartly alerts readers up front as to which recipes fall into which camp and includes plenty of fascinating asides on, for example, seasoning with salt or transforming pantry staples like olive oil and canned beans into the elements of delicious pasta dishes. Wine recommendations accompany each recipe in this invigorating collection. Photos. Agent, Patricia van der Leun. (Oct.)

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