cover image The Campagna Table: Country-Style Italian Cooking

The Campagna Table: Country-Style Italian Cooking

Mark Strausman. William Morrow & Company, $30 (256pp) ISBN 978-0-688-13474-7

Strausman, chef/owner of New York City's Campagna restaurant, rejects elaborate food fads in favor of fresh ingredients, simply prepared. His emphasis throughout the book is on making life easier for the cook while not sacrificing the quality of country-style Italian cooking. Many dishes--such as Italian Potato-Basil Salad and Involtini di Pollo al Taormina--can be served at room temperature. There's also Baked Button Mushrooms with Pesto, a staple of Campagna's antipasti. Because of its elegant simplicity, Penne A.O.P. (the initials stand for garlic, oil and tomato in Italian) is the restaurant's most requested recipe. Braised Striped Bass with Fennel, Pernod and Saffron delivers many of the flavors of bouillabaisse without the complications. Lamb and Pepper Stew is so adaptable that beef or veal can substitute for lamb, and fennel or turnips can replace red bell peppers. Techniques are simplified as well, as in Rosemary-Balsamic Pork Chops, which are roasted to hold juices usually lost during pan-frying, and Spaghetti with Brooklyn Clam Sauce, which is reportedly better with canned than with fresh shellfish. The book concludes with holiday menus, including Passover and Italian Christmas Eve. Strausman's relaxed approach to good food proves that there can never be too many Italian cookbooks. (Nov.)