By Ethan Stowell, Leslie Miller, Ten Speed Press, $35.00, 228 pages
Surprises abound for readers who expect the usual Italian recipes in Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen. The first section is appetizers made with such ingredients as chickpeas and lambs tongue, clams and geoducks and octopus. The following section is soup recipes with fascinating ingredients such as artichokes, oxtails, farro, and duck eggs. There is a kabocha and porcini soup. Does anybody know what a kabocha is? Eventually, after a section on starches such as gnocchi and polenta, there is a section on pasta. Pasta! The all-time favorite Italian dish. My hopes soared! But the recipes turned out to be things like pasta with rabbit paws and radiator, pasta with fava beans and snails, pasta with sea urchin, trofie with nettle pesto. These things may be delicious, but where does one go to purchase some of them? Are you ready to try panzanella with pig’s ear?
Those who crave something new and different will find many ideas in this book. Throw a party with veal cheeks or leg of goat. Relish the squid and skate! For dessert there is rhubarb soup and roasted figs. For the rest of us there are recipes for chocolate ice cream and almond cake, which don’t sound all that Italian, but who cares when it comes to dessert? There are plenty of recipes for ordinary food for the less-adventurous such as roasted fingerling potatoes and basic tomato sauce.
Reviewed by Fran Byram