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The Antipasto Table


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Not to be confused with the ubiquitous Italian-American ``antipasto salad,'' genuine ``antipasti'' are delightful hot or cold hors de'oeuvres--the kind of delicacies perched on the ``antipasto table'' at restaurants and trattorie all over Italy. And although, according to Scicolone ( Fish Steaks and Fillets ) in Italian ``antipasto'' means ``before the meal,'' these ``are not mere appetizers.'' In some Italian restaurants, devouring antipasti is a course-after-course indulgence similar in concept to dining on Spanish tapassic . Recipes here, though admirably detailed with substitutions and well-organized methods, are particularly impressive for their simplicity and ease of preparation. Among them are sauteed peppers with balsamic vinegar, orange, parmesan and walnut salad, and mussels with caper mayonnaise--including a method for cleaning and preparing mussels and clams. Instructions for home-drying a bumper crop of ripened plum tomatoes are here, as well as recipes for such uniquely Italian specialties as crusty, chewy Tuscan bread, crispy semolina focaccia and crunchy Sardinian flat bread. An up-front ``antipasto pantry'' section and menus for combining antipasti make this volume doubly useful. Author tour; HomeStyle Book Club alternate. (June)

Scicolone, a cooking teacher and consultant, offers a large collection of simple but fresh and vibrant recipes, most of which can stand on their own as antipasti or be combined with other dishes as the centerpiece of a light meal. The Bread and Focaccia chapter is especially good; Fava Beans with Prosciutto and Parmesan, Wild Mushroom Corstini, and Smoked Salmon with Fennel are among the tempting dishes in other categories. A good companion to Christopher Styler's similar Primi Piatti ( LJ 3/15/89).

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