A LITTLE FOOD FLIGHT READING
MASSIMO Capra, author of OnePotItalianCooking (Allen & Unwin, $35), learned about food while cooking with his parents on the family farm in Cremona, Italy, the source of his deep attachment to natural foods.
He later trained in Parma, the home of Italy’s much-celebrated ham, and cooked professionally in Italy before migrating to Canada, where he co-owns two Toronto restaurants, Mistura and Sopra.
Capra’s book is organised under chapters devoted to soups, salads and eggs, risotto and polenta, pasta, fish, poultry, meat, vegetables and sweets, with about 10 recipes in each.
But who would have thought dishes cooked in a single pot could be so varied and look so dramatically different? (The dolci are a bit of a cheat, including carnival doughnuts and roasted pears beside the single-pot parfaits and puddings.)
What is never far from these pages is the commitment to the robust and rustic food Capra learned to cook from his earliest days. Full-page colour photographs show feasts in a pot such as ferretti al ragu di carne, handmade noodles with ragu, which has veal and pork ribs and chunks of Italian sausage peeping through an unctuous-looking tomato sauce.
Meats and seafood are expected one-pot dishes, and what can beat a fish stew? (There are shrimp with cannellini beans, roasted scallops with bacon, squid stew in its own sauce, mussels with peas and white wine.) But risottos include surprises such as wild strawberries with white asparagus and parmesan, and a fava bean polenta with chicory.
There are old favourites, too: risi e bisi (rice and pea soup) from the Veneto, and the Tuscan bread salad panzanella toscana. Poultry covers pheasant and turkey as well as chicken and duck.
But with all this earthiness, the vegetables are among the most alluring dishes. Milanese fennel cutlets, baked cardoons (artichoke stalks) with pecorino and caramelised lemon carrots will be high on my agenda. Judith Elen