One of the most respected chefs in the country, Paul Bertolli earns glowing praise for the food at California’s renowned Oliveto restaurant. Now he shares his most personal thoughts about cooking in his long-awaited book, Cooking by Hand. In this groundbreaking collection of essays and recipes, Bertolli evocatively explores the philosophy behind the food that Molly O’Neill of the New York Times described as “deceptively simple, [with] favors clean, deep, and layered more profusely than a mille-feuille.”
From “Twelve Ways of Looking at Tomatoes” to Italian salumi in “The Whole Hog,” Bertolli explores his favorite foods with the vividness of a natural writer and the instincts of a superlative chef. Scattered throughout are more than 140 recipes remarkable for their clarity, simplicity, and seductive appeal, from Salad of Bitter Greens, Walnuts, Tesa, and Parmigiano and Chilled Shellfish with Salsa Verde to Short Ribs Agrodolce and Tagliolini Pasta with Crab. Unforgettable desserts, such as Semifreddo of Peaches and Mascarpone and Hazelnut Meringata with Chocolate and Espresso Sauce, round out a collection that’s destined to become required reading for any food lover.
Rich with the remarkable food memories that inspire him, from the taste of ripe Santa Rosa plums and the aroma of dried porcini mushrooms in his mother’s ragu to eating grilled bistecca alla Fiorentina on a foggy late autumn day in Chianti, Cooking by Hand will ignite a passion within you to become more creatively involved in the food you cook.
BAKED PEARS WITH RICOTTA, WALNUTS, AND OLD BALSAMICO
To buy condiment-grade balsamico and aceto balsamico tradizionale, see Sources and Resources, page 260.4 very ripe Bosc or Winter Nellis pears
1/2 cup very fresh ricotta (preferably sheep's milk)
1/4 cup toasted walnuts, chopped
Balsamico extra vecchio, for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Peel and core the pears and arrange them cored side up in a buttered baking dish. Bake the pears for 15 to 20 minutes, or until tender to the tip of a sharp knife.
Serve the pears while still blood warm with a dollop of fresh ricotta and a scattering of walnuts. Spoon any juices remaining in the baking dish over and around the pears. Drizzle balsamico extra vecchio over each portion at the table.
Excerpted from Cooking by Hand by Paul Bertolli, chef of Oliveto Restaurant. Copyright © 2003 by Paul Bertolli, chef of Oliveto Restaurant. Excerpted by permission of Clarkson Potter, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
About Paul Bertolli
PAUL BERTOLLI is executive chef and co-owner of Oliveto restaurant in Oakland, California. He has received numerous accolades, most recently the award for “Best Chef: California” from the James Beard Foundation in 2001. He is also known for his tenure as chef of Chez Panisse restaurant, where for ten years he guided the restaurant’s cooking toward Italian sensibilities. Active as a chef, writer, and artisan food producer, Bertolli tends to his garden, bread oven, salumi cellar, vinegar loft, pickle vats, distillations, wine, and other mysterious fermentations from his home base in North Berkeley, California.