cover image New Classic Family Dinners

New Classic Family Dinners

Mark Peel, with Martha Rose Shulman. . Wiley, $34.95 (288pp) ISBN 978-0-470-38247-9

In this sophisticated yet homecentric cookbook, Peel, the longtime chef/owner of Los Angeles’s Campanile restaurant has assembled favorite dishes from his famed Monday night Family Dinners. In signature style, Peel, writing with Shulman (Mediterranean Harvest ), elevates the common vernacular of comfort food —veal scaloppine, grasshopper pie—to refinement with select ingredients like smoked mozzarella and homemade vanilla ice cream, respectively, plus a bit of extra-mile technique (running a pureed potato leek soup through a sieve or toasting and grinding spices for a shrimp boil. If a reader needs an excuse to revive clams casino in the home kitchen, he’s given ample justification with a simple, no-fail recipe, but if there is a hankering, say, for a more seasonal, green market dish like fresh shell-bean ragout, Peel’s got it covered, too. Peel offers tips on menu planning, choosing produce and environmentally friendly seafood choices. The skill level required varies—making Peel’s labor-intensive lobster potpie will demand more experience than his tuna confit. In most cases the ingenuity of process trumps conceptual creativity, and readers will find comfort in the familiarity of the dishes, which will make any home table proud. (Oct.)