Saturday, August 28, 2010

Weekend Cooking- a review of "New Italian Kitchen" [66]

Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen: Bold Cooking from Seattle's Anchovies & Olives, How to Cook A Wolf, Staple & Fancy Mercantile, and Tavolàta by Ethan Stowell
Tenn Speed Press, ISBN 978-1580088183

It seems that the author of this book is quite the up and coming young chef! He is the owner of a number of restaurants in the Seattle area, all those named in the title of the book. And I must say, they are some interesting names for a restaturant. Bon Appétit named his restaurant, Anchovies & Olives, one of the Best New Restaurants of 2010,  he was nominated for the James Beard Foundation’s Best Chef: Northwest award, and he was one of Food and Wine magazine's 2008’s Best New Chefs. And now he is the author of a soon to be released cookbook, New Italian Kitchen.

From the book's description...
Ethan Stowell's New Italian Kitchen: Bold Cooking from Seattle's Anchovies & Olives, How to Cook A Wolf, Staple & Fancy Mercantile, and Tavolàta
"Welcome to Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen--not so much a place as a philosophy. Here food isn’t formal or fussy, just focused, with recipes that honor Italian tradition while celebrating the best ingredients the Pacific Northwest has to offer. We’re talking about a generous bowl of steaming handmade pasta--served with two forks for you and a friend. Or perhaps an impeccably fresh crudo, crunchy cucumber and tangy radish accenting impossibly sweet spot prawns. Next up are the jewel tones of a beet salad with lush, homemade ricotta, or maybe a tangle of white beans and clams spiked with Goat Horn pepper--finished off with a whole roasted fish that begs to be sucked off the bones. Oh, some cheese, a gooseberry compote complementing your Robiola, or the bittersweet surprise of Campari sorbet.

This layered approach is a hallmark of Ethan’s restaurants, and in his New Italian Kitchen, he offers home cooks a tantalizing roadmap for re-creating this style of eating. Prepare a feast simply by combining the lighter dishes found in “Nibbles and Bits”—from Sardine Crudo with Celery Hearts, Pine Nuts, and Lemon to Crispy Young Favas with Green Garlic Mayonnaise—or adding recipes with complex flavors for a more sophisticated meal. Try the luscious Corn and Chanterelle Soup from “The Measure of a Cook;” or the Cavatelli with Cuttlefish, Spring Onion, and Lemon from “Wheat’s Highest Calling.” Up the ante with a stunning Duck Leg Farrotto with Pearl Onions and Bloomsdale Spinach from “Starches to Grow On,” or choose one of the “Beasties of the Land,” like Skillet-Roasted Rabbit with Pancetta-Basted Fingerlings. Each combination will nudge you and your guests in new, unexpected, and unforgettable directions.

Every page of Ethan Stowell’s New Italian Kitchen captures the enthusiasm, humor, and imagination that make cooking one of life’s best and most satisfying adventures. It’s got to be good--but it’s also got to be fun."

Well, that sounds quiet interesting but does the book live up to it?
As far as the look of the book, something that is important in my enjoymant of a cookbook, it is hard to say. My copy is an ARC and all the photos, granted a very large number of photographs, are in B&W. Hopefully in the final book the photos will be in color. If not, that is a big negative.

But that is not my issue with the book. My issue are the recipes. Don't get me wrong...many sound wonderful, things I would love to try in one of his restaurants. Ones I would like to make myself, which is, after all, the point of a cookbook, right? But...many call for ingredients that would be impossible to find in my local area. Now I don't live in a metropolitan area but it's not really the sticks either. And I am sure I could find some of them if I drove an hour+ to Philadelphia..maybe. And it is not one or two is many, many of them. Duck eggs, rabbit paws, nettles, alligator pears, ramps, skate wing, veal cheeks, pigs ears, maloreddus, quail, lambs tongue, live prawns, uni, wood sorrel...three recipes for geoduck!
Yes, I do know what geoduck is..I saw it on Dirty Jobs once. And maybe, just maybe it is available in Seattle, but I sure can not buy it at my local fish market. And we have lovely farms market around here, but I did not see any nettles for sale, and no ramps either.
I just do not think Mr. Stowell and I are shopping at the same stores.

It may be a lovely book filled with fascinating recipes and hopefully beautiful photographs and foodies will enjoy paging through. But for the average cook, even the most adventurous cook, there are a lot of pages you  might like to read..and then page on, looking for something you can actually make this weekend.

My thanks to the Amazon Vine program for an ARC of this book.
The book will be published by Ten Speed Press on September 21, 2010

This is my contribution this to this week's Weekend Cooking.
"Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend."
Be sure to check out the other entries this week. As always, hosted by Beth Fish Reads.


  1. That has been my experience with so many restaurant cookbooks: The recipes sound great but they have not been modified for the home cook. They use too many unusual ingredients, require a gazillion steps, or call for specialized equipment.

    So sorry that this one falls into that category. I've noticed all the buzz about Stowell in the cooking magazines and was excited to see your post about his upcoming book.

  2. Doesn't sound like the cookbook for me as I do live in the sticks (as far as I'm concerned anyway) If I wouldn't cook squirrel, I sure as heck wouldn't cook rabbit paws! Euuuuwwwwwww

  3. BethF, I guess I don't usually look at the cookbooks from these sort of chefs...honestly, I don't see the point of publishing recipes like these, except as a sort of publicity thing for the chef.

    Kaye, I did think of your squirrel recipe when I started looking at this book. I bet he could get you some squirrels!!

  4. You had me laughing at that incredible list of ingredients-that's a lot of obscure stuff. Not a book for me either but great post!

  5. Your new follower from Weekend cooking.


  6. I don't know if I'd want to to make...or eat something that calls for veal cheeks, pig ears, lamb tongue etc. Doesn't sound very appetizing to me!

    I would like to own the book though :)

  7. Thanks for the review of this one. While I live near enough to Seattle to enjoy a visit to the restaurant, or to purchase these items in a specialty store there, it just isn't gonna happen.

    I'm not adverse to specialty ingredients at all, but those aren't ingredients that appeal to the average person's tastebuds. Mama has always told me that I'm above average in everything, including my palate. (Gotta love an encouraging Mama!) Unfortunately, these simply don't appeal.

  8. My Nona is rolling in her grave over this one. Thanks for taking the time to go through it so I don't have to. My kinda italian cooking (learned at the knee of Nona) was simple simple simple. Readily available ingredients. Don't need to impress with weird stuff.

  9. You really think rabbit paws are weird? why I have a bag of them right here! Got them on special at the supermarket. lol

  10. yikes! this cookbook sounds like my nightmare. i'm still getting used to using ground pepper and onions when i cook! i need simple recipes with ingredients that i can find in my local little market. sorry you had a rough time with this one. i wouldn't eat 99% of the ingredients you listed! :)

  11. I can get the duck eggs, and if I took the quail my friend would be rather upset with me. And the pig ear, I think her pigs would rather keep them.
    I was hoping for an italian cookbook that wasn't just pasta with red sauce. Seems to be mostly what I find in restaurants around here, though to be honest there i not a big Italian population near here either.

    I have a few cookbooks that I consider as coffee table books. I'll not cook anything from them, but the pictures are terrific.


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