Rocco DiSpirito & Henry Leutwyler
Hyperion, 2003 (2003)
Read an Excerpt
Reviewed by Mary Ann Smyth
hen asked exactly what he called his food, Rocco DiSpirito (don't you love that name?) answered after reflection, '
Rocco DiSpirito cuisine.
' Seems to me he came up with the right appellation. This food is definitely his own. And what food. But I'm ahead of myself.
is filled with joy. From the candid shots of friends and family in the front of this great cookbook to the variety of suggested menus and the recipes themselves, the book brings a smile to the reader. So be prepared to share your pleasure as you absorb its pages and cook the wonderful foods for your loved ones. Smile, be happy, and enjoy.
t was once suggested that DiSpirito's food be called '
' because of the combination of so many ethnic flavors – Bitter, Salty, Sour, Umani, Spicy and Sweet. Read the first chapter – '
'. You don't start a novel in the middle. Don't do it with a cookbook. Get inside the chef's head and see where he's pointing you. Then move on. DiSpirito's tips in Chapter 2 are a
. Then to Recipes. Each has a guide on the edge of the page that gives the total time required for the recipe, the proportion of
time, degree of difficulty, number of portions, and even a suggestion of an accompanying wine. A flavor guide (tiny colored dots) is included. Short of being in your kitchen, what more can the man do for you?
irst off are appetizers and
Sweet & Sour Tamarind Shrimp on Rosemary Skewers
. Wow! How about
Chicken Wings with Apricot-Truffle Vinaigrette
? I've never been much for chicken wings, but this could convert me in a flash. I'd kill for the
Goat Cheese Parfait with Grilled Leeks & Marjoram Vinaigrette
. It looks divine. Next up? Soups! With winter upon us, what can taste better than a steaming bowl of
Sweet Onion & White Peppercorn Soup
Saffron-Scented Seafood Soup with Potatoes
? I'd order a bowl of
Spiced Crab Ragout
right now. Salads. Right on. The
Lemongrass Lobster Salad
looks gorgeous. I'd vote for
Grilled Duck with Watercress & Citrus Vinaigrette
. No hesitation.
ow we're talking – Entrées.
Quick Miso Chicken
seems simple and full of flavor. There's
Seared Wild Salmon with Spring Onions & Rhubarb
Braised Beef Short Ribs with Truffled Taro Root
exotic enough for you? I can almost taste it after gazing longingly at the photo. And
Roast Loin of Pork with Cinnamon-Glazed Tart Apples
Szechuan Peppercorn-Rubbed Fillet of Beef
Rack of Lamb with Sour Cherry Glaze
. Too much. Like wild meat? Try
Venison with Chestnuts & A Port Reduction
. Side Dishes are next, a necessary item for the entrée. The idea of
would never have occurred to me, but looks immediately edible.
Truffled Taro Root
is just different enough that I must try it, as well as
Luxurious Potato Purée
. And the color of the
alone would tempt me to cook this dish.
he photo on the first page of the desserts section is
. You must see it. The
Warm Chocolate Cake
turned me on. As did the photo of the cake with all the electric blue
surrounding it. I must try
Summer Berries in Spiced Phyllo
. Nirvana. And
White Chocolate Risotto
? Wow! Then there are the items on the Reserve List designed to challenge advanced cooks, such as
Sauteed Foie Gras with Glazed Peaches
. The eight (count 'em) pages of photos depicting the process of making risotto to accomplish
White Truffle Risotto With A Gulf Shrimp Fondue
might just put me off. But then I am not an advanced cook. I know I could not handle the procedure for skewering and boiling the live lobster. But I sure would like to eat the finished product.
on't ignore the back of the book. It lists ingredients in the four flavors – remember sweet, sour, salty and bitter - with foods available during the twelve months of the year.
on your cookbook shelves. I predict it will become dog eared and smudged with various foods in no time at all. Obviously, I can't list all the amazingly innovative recipes. Not enough space. I just hope I've tempted you to acquire your own copy and start cooking, baby. Start cooking, and share the joy.
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