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Nightly Specials: 125 Recipes for Spontaneous, Creative Cooking at Home    by Michael Lomonaco & Andrew Friedman order for
Nightly Specials
by Michael Lomonaco
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2005 (2005)

Read an Excerpt

* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Chef Lomonaco tells us that 'Nightly specials are where restaurant cooking and home cooking converge' - they involve spontaneity, and are ways to exploit 'seasonal or sporadic' ingredients, use up fresh foods, and 'road-test' new dishes. He shares recipes for his own favorites, some of them created at Windows on the World (the cookbook is dedicated to friends and co-workers there).

Chapters range from 'A New Leaf' (Salads) through 'Daily Breads', 'Super Bowls' and 'True Grits' to 'The Shell Game', 'On the Line' (Fish), 'Winging It' (Poultry), 'Prime Ribs and Final Cuts', 'You Want Fries with That?' (Potatoes and Vegetables) to 'Just Desserts' (love the titles!) The full page photos of dishes make me salivate, and the author suggests variations on most recipes, helpful if you're missing an ingredient or simply want to personalize to your own family tastes. I found the cookbook's format a little confusing, in terms of where each recipe begins and ends, but that was a minor problem.

We tried and enjoyed the tasty 'Beets with Basil, Thyme, and Toasted, Breaded Goat Cheese' over the holidays, and I plan to sample 'Grilled Ginger Chicken Salad' soon (it has fresh ginger and also jalapeno). Didn't get to 'Leek and Onion Tartlets with American Caviar' (made with phyllo) yet, but that will also be on our menu soon. There are two Bruschetta recipes (one with white beans, the other with chicken liver), and the Grilled Vegetable and Jack Cheese sandwich will make a delicious lunch.

The Alpine Baked Pasta (with leek and spinach) appeals for a cold winter night, and we always enjoy Risotto (there are inspiring suggestions for variations here). Hacked Chile Lobster, anyone? I've never cooked a lobster, but this spicy recipe motivates me to try. Bacon-Wrapped Sea Scallops with Wilted Lemon Spinach would make a tasty dinner party appetizer, and there are all sorts of appealing fish recipes, many using chile. Black Currant-Lacquered Duck Breast sounds fantastic, or how about Charred Beef Medallions with Poblano-Tequila Sauce? Yumm!

On to Desserts and Triple Berry and Pecan Crunch Pie, or a Silky Coconut Flan (I traveled southern Europe many years ago, sampling flans in every country and can never pass one by), or a simple Plum and Peach Cobbler. They all look irresistible. If you're interested in making your own spontaneous Nightly Specials, then I recommend Chef Lomonaco's tempting cookbook to you - use his suggestions to vary recipes and make them your own.

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