Nightly Specials: 125 Recipes for Spontaneous, Creative Cooking at Home

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9780060555627: Nightly Specials: 125 Recipes for Spontaneous, Creative Cooking at Home
Review:

In Nightly Specials Michael Lomonaco, former chef at Manhattan's Windows on the World and Le Cirque, offers 125 easy dishes--food for everyday enjoyment. Avoiding complication and fussy invention, Lomonaco focuses principally on old favorites, like Maryland-Style Crab Cakes and Chicken Pot Pie, to which he often gives a satisfying twist. (His meatloaf, for example, contains pecorino cheese, tomatoes, and oregano.) Included also are "original dishes" like Hacked Chile Lobster, Corn Cakes with Smoked Salmon, and Beef and Porter Stew, also uncomplicated to prepare. The Lomonaco approach extends to tempting desserts like Triple Berry and Pecan Crunch Pie, Silky Coconut Flan, and a particularly good flourless chocolate cake. Recipe variations called Nightly Specials--you can, for example, exchange grilled chicken breast for the roast beef in a hash with mushrooms--round out this very attractive collection. All the dishes celebrate an improvisatory spirit that leads cooks to create menus based on what's freshest in the market--your own nightly specials. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly:

Mahi mahi is on special, kale is fresh, lemons are abundant; what should you make? Celebrity chef Lomonaco’s newest cookbook tackles the line between recipe and technique, offering home cooks a window into his world of inspired impromptu dinners. Simple but fancy-sounding dishes—like Marinated Salmon Carpaccio with Green Apple and Dill—act as templates. "Replace the salmon with sushi-grade tuna and the apple with 1 small mango and 1 small papaya," he suggests in a sidebar alongside the recipe. One of these little sections accompanies every recipe in the book, and though they’re small, they do help teach readers the logic behind creative cooking. "If you cannot find blood oranges, no problem," he assures in Ceviche of Bay Scallops and Blood Oranges. "Any orange will be fine. But also consider ruby red grapefruit from Texas." For a cook intimidated by the creative process (or one who lives in an area with erratic access to vegetables), these recipes nestled within recipes are a great favor. The dishes themselves are an odd mix of restaurant-fancy food from Lomonaco’s time at 21 and Windows on the World, old standbys (like My Mother’s Italian-American Meatloaf) and a mishmash of Asian and Latin flavors. His use of unusual starches like yuca, quinoa, "risotto," wheat berries and barley will appeal to carb-conscious eaters. There are a few confusing moments—he suggests looking for ginger that feels "soft to the touch" and recommends boiling collard greens for a whopping 90 minutes before sautéing—and the dessert section is surprisingly complicated. Overall, however, this strong collection of recipes will be welcome to any cook, and those in Lomonaco’s strong fan base won’t have any trouble finding a place for it on their shelves.
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