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And as luck would have it, this is the way celebrated New York City chef Tom Valenti "loves" to cook. Considered Manhattan's grandmaster of comfort food, Valenti has made this beloved cooking his trademark. In fact, on any given night, you'll find him in his wildly successful Upper West Side restaurants Ouest and 'Cesca feeding the world's A-list -- Bill Clinton, Steven Spielberg, Charlie Rose, Jerry Seinfeld, Judy Collins, Joan Didion. Because, of course, this is the food they "love" to eat, too.
In "Tom Valenti's Soups, Stews, and One-Pot Meals, " Valenti and coauthor Andrew Friedman dish up the flavor we've come to expect from a New York chef, without any of the fuss. This is food that gets better a day or two after it's made, food to make on the weekend and savor throughout a busy week, food that is perfect for dinner parties and family celebrations.
Here are 125 realistic recipes for the home cook -- most made in one pot -- and all based on the fact that the right ingredients, left alone to cook in a single vessel with virtually no intervention from the cook, steadily build glorious flavor and leave far fewer pots to clean.
The book includes "Variations" and "Tomorrow's Table," tips on ways to embellish a dish by adding vegetables or meats or provide economy by stretching it into another satisfying meal by simply adding another ingredient. Valenti and Friedman embrace what they term "cooking in the real world," encouraging home cooks to use canned stocks and beans whenever appropriate. They discuss key ingredients; offer a section on condiments, garnishes, and accompaniments; provide a list of mail-order sources; and recommend cookware (though you won't need a lot).
Tom Valenti, a working chef and chef/owner of two top-rated New York restaurants, also loves to cook and entertain at home, but he hates to do the dishes. That deep-seated dish-doing dread led him to develop the 125 recipes that appear in his new book, Tom Valenti's Soups, Stews, and One-Pot Meals, written with Andrew Friedman. When he's working, Tom has prep cooks and dishwashers galore; at home, he's like most of us, sailing solo in his kitchen without a support group. As a result, his favorites are dishes where everything cooks together in a single vessel, where there's a steady building of flavors. Tom is a realist; he knows that you and I cook in what he calls the Real World, a place where stock comes out of a can and shock-and-awe plating techniques are not part of the deal. I have to admit that finding "store-bought" broth in the ingredient lists for some recipes removed the pang of culinary guilt I always feel when substituting for the homemade stock that never seems to find its way into my freezer. Tom's style is relaxed and easy, with added advice for using leftovers creatively and for alternative ingredients. You'll savor his Butternut Squash Soup with Minced Bacon, Tubetti with White Wine and Clams, Mushroom-Braised Short Ribs, Sausage and Cabbage Stew, classic Coq au Vin and other fabulous recipes. This chef isn't showing off, he's sharing what he savors most.