Fiamma: The Essence of Contemporary Italian Cooking

Michael White, Author, Joseph DeLeo, Photographer, Joanna Pruess, With , with Joanna Pruess, desserts by Elizabeth Katz, Photos by Joseph De Leo. Wiley $34.95 (272p) ISBN 978-0-7645-9931-6

Fiamma means flame in Italian, White tells us in his foreword—and his is the fire of the convert; of Norwegian descent, he grew up in Wisconsin and didn't taste real Italian cooking until he was 19. After cooking at Spiaggo in Chicago, he studied and cooked in Italy, married an Italian and ended up opening Fiamma and then Vento in Manhattan. Unlike some books drawing on New York restaurant menus, his recipes are perfect for the reasonably well-equipped and competent home cook, even absent a phalanx of prep and washing-up help. Pasta recipes include Gnocchi with Morels and Fava Beans. For main courses, seafood stands out: there's Tuna with a caponata of eggplant, as well as Grilled Swordfish with Artichoke Caponata. Often he and pastry chef Katz offer store-bought alternatives to scratch components, such as commercial vanilla, hazelnut or other gelato to replace the Wildflower Honey Gelato that accompanies Crustless Apple Tart, but the gelato recipes are so simple and so appealing that readers without ice cream makers are likely to buy one immediately. Appealing closeup photos are notably natural, suggesting real food from a kitchen, not a stylist's studio. (Oct.)

Reviewed on: 08/07/2006
Release date: 10/01/2006
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