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Nightly Specials: 125 Recipes for Spontaneous, Creative Cooking at Home Hardcover – November 2, 2004

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Editorial Reviews Review

In Nightly Specials Michael Lomonaco, former chef at Manhattan's Windows on the World and Le Cirque, offers 125 easy dishes--food for everyday enjoyment. Avoiding complication and fussy invention, Lomonaco focuses principally on old favorites, like Maryland-Style Crab Cakes and Chicken Pot Pie, to which he often gives a satisfying twist. (His meatloaf, for example, contains pecorino cheese, tomatoes, and oregano.) Included also are "original dishes" like Hacked Chile Lobster, Corn Cakes with Smoked Salmon, and Beef and Porter Stew, also uncomplicated to prepare. The Lomonaco approach extends to tempting desserts like Triple Berry and Pecan Crunch Pie, Silky Coconut Flan, and a particularly good flourless chocolate cake. Recipe variations called Nightly Specials--you can, for example, exchange grilled chicken breast for the roast beef in a hash with mushrooms--round out this very attractive collection. All the dishes celebrate an improvisatory spirit that leads cooks to create menus based on what's freshest in the market--your own nightly specials. --Arthur Boehm

From Publishers Weekly

Mahi mahi is on special, kale is fresh, lemons are abundant; what should you make? Celebrity chef Lomonaco’s newest cookbook tackles the line between recipe and technique, offering home cooks a window into his world of inspired impromptu dinners. Simple but fancy-sounding dishes—like Marinated Salmon Carpaccio with Green Apple and Dill—act as templates. "Replace the salmon with sushi-grade tuna and the apple with 1 small mango and 1 small papaya," he suggests in a sidebar alongside the recipe. One of these little sections accompanies every recipe in the book, and though they’re small, they do help teach readers the logic behind creative cooking. "If you cannot find blood oranges, no problem," he assures in Ceviche of Bay Scallops and Blood Oranges. "Any orange will be fine. But also consider ruby red grapefruit from Texas." For a cook intimidated by the creative process (or one who lives in an area with erratic access to vegetables), these recipes nestled within recipes are a great favor. The dishes themselves are an odd mix of restaurant-fancy food from Lomonaco’s time at 21 and Windows on the World, old standbys (like My Mother’s Italian-American Meatloaf) and a mishmash of Asian and Latin flavors. His use of unusual starches like yuca, quinoa, "risotto," wheat berries and barley will appeal to carb-conscious eaters. There are a few confusing moments—he suggests looking for ginger that feels "soft to the touch" and recommends boiling collard greens for a whopping 90 minutes before sautéing—and the dessert section is surprisingly complicated. Overall, however, this strong collection of recipes will be welcome to any cook, and those in Lomonaco’s strong fan base won’t have any trouble finding a place for it on their shelves.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Cookbooks (November 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060555629
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060555627
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,166,601 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By rodboomboom HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on November 8, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Many great restaurants have their wait staff announce when taking orders: "Tonight's special are ....." I'm one of those that attentively listens and asks questions and frequently orders from specials.

Turns out my thinking is like Lomonoco's: this is where chef's creativity is being experimented with, usually to highlight an ingredient just found, or use up ingredients that are around, or to try something new to see how it catches on before making it on permanent menu.

He believes this nightly special concept is an important intersection for the home chef, since the restaurant chef has little time to get too exotic with the line chefs and must provide clear and not-too-detailed steps to get these specials out.

Here in this creative and sizeable collection Lomonaco of TV fame (FoodNetwork and Epicurious) and 21 Club and Windows on World has had background and experience to let his imagination and zest for food to be displayed in over 125 "spontaneous and creative" recipes for the home chef.

They are nicely broken into usable groupings, i.e. soups, salads, fish, beef, etc. What is nice and usable is the concept being adapted by lots of wonderful chefs such as Ming Tsau and others is that of basic recipe with tradeoffs and substitutions of both ingredients and techniques. These options make it superb for home chef who wants to do more with food than simply micro or heat up in pan, but wants to minimize labor over stove and prep area. These still take some time to prepare and only addition would have been nice is estimates provided of prep time and baking/cooking time.
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27 of 29 people found the following review helpful By B. Marold HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on December 6, 2004
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
`Nightly Specials' is written by Michael Lomonaco with an assist by ace New York City celebrity chef co-writer Andrew Friedman and with photographs by the Rothstein husband and wife team who also did Eric Ripert's `Return to Cooking' opus. Michael Lomonaco was the head chef at the Windows on the World recipe on September 9, 2001. By pure chance, he was not in the World Trade Center when the terrorist attacks occurred.

The premise of this book is clear made clear in the title, as it focuses on the restaurant chef's practice of constructing daily specials from either what is especially good in the market today or ingredients which may be left over from a dish yesterday which did not move as well as expected. While this is a great lesson for home cooks, Lomonaco cannot take a lot of credit for revealing and elaborating on this practice, as Tom Colicchio did it brilliantly in his first book, `How to Think Like a Chef'. Colicchio's book did not impress me greatly when I first read it, but constant repetition of this principle by countless other chefs have revealed exactly how important this technique is to the professional chef. And, as my skill in cooking grows, I find myself going more and more to this way of thinking in deciding what to make for dinner today.

Almost all celebrity chef books strive to either present the very best techniques from their fine dining restaurant or make a genuine attempt to adapt their favorite home and restaurant recipes to the skills and budget of a home kitchen. The very best of the first type are, for example, `The French Laundry Cookbook' by Keller and Ruhlman and `Tru' by Rick Tramonto. These books make no pretense that you will be able to duplicate their dishes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By G. Winkler on February 7, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have had this book for about six years. Although our collection is about 35 books, I use this one most frequently. We love to prepare gourmet or restaurant quality meals most days and this book does not disappoint. The photos are mouth-watering and the recipes are laid out logically (while this is resting, do this). This book purchase is for my daughter who also loves to cook. I think she will love it, too! Bon Appetite!
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