Diary of a Tuscan Chef

Cesare Casella, Author, Eileen Daspin, Author, Eileen Daspin, Joint Author Broadway Books $35 (352p) ISBN 978-0-385-48547-0
Having cooked for New Yorkers since 1993 (at Coco Pazzo, Il Toscanaccio, Il Cantinori), Casella presents traditional recipes from his native Lucca that are often tweaked with ingredients more likely to be found in New York City than in Tuscany (e.g., ginger and lemongrass). Dividing the book by seasons, he offers menus built around seasonally fresh ingredients and suggests appropriate wines. Ten four-course meals (antipasto, prima and seconda piatta, dolce) contain menu combinations that evoke specific moments in Casella's life: one winter menu, L'Arrivo a New York (Arriving in New York), combines beans, mushrooms and game with Chick-Pea and Leek Salad; a smoky Pasta with Mushroom Sauce (cremini, shiitake, oyster and portobello); Rabbit, Hunter's Style cooked in white wine with garlic, sage, rosemary and olives; and a creamy Country Apple Tart. Celebrating Spring vegetables is a menu called Cesare Va in Dieta (Cesare Goes on a Diet), which features a Seven-Vegetable Salad; Do-It-Yourself Vegetable Soup (he encourages improvising); Chicken in Paper, with bell and chile peppers, tomatoes and cinnamon; and light Meringue Cookies. Although many recipes may take time to prepare, they are easy to follow and don't require special equipment or rare ingredients. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 03/02/1998
Release date: 03/01/1998
Genre: Nonfiction
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