Italian Cooking 300: Authentic Italian Recipes for the Confident Cook

Luigi Diotaiuti shares some of the greatest hits from his restaurant, Al Tiramisu, in his new cookbook.

After 18 years as the chef and owner of Dupont Circle’s Al Tiramisu Restaurant, Luigi Diotaiuti has released The Al Tiramisu Restaurant Cookbook, (Luigi Diotaiuti, $45) based upon his restaurant’s most popular dishes. Diotaiuti describes his cookbook as a “culinary memoir” and “travelogue,” which begins with his childhood on his family’s farm in Basilicata, Italy, and moves through descriptions of his work in kitchens throughout Italy as well as Paris, France; Plymouth, England; and Washington, DC, until finishing with his experiences as chef and restaurateur in the nation’s capitol.

The recipes included in The Al Tiramisu Restaurant Cookbook reflect the restaurant's commitment to “authentic” Italian cuisine, and are fabulous dishes for an advanced cook. Some of the ingredients in Diotaiuti’s recipes, such as duck breast or truffles, can be pricey, but the quality of his dishes makes them perfect for a special occasion. Recipes such as Home Cured Duck Prosciutto with Apples and Marmalade or Salt Cod Mousse with Broccoli Coulis call for much advanced planning and well-practiced plating techniques, but this should be an adventure for an experienced home cook.

That being said, Diotaituti closes his book with a useful chapter on Italian “Basic Recipes” such as, Basic Polenta, Béchamel Sauce, and Basic Pasta. Recipes throughout the cookbook also include an “Italian Cooking Primer,” which offers suggestions for substitutions, explanations for ingredients, and details on cooking techniques. Wine lovers will also love the “Sommelier’s Pick,” which follows every recipe.

“I believe that, despite ever-shifting culinary trends, it is fresh, simple, well-prepared food that people always return to,” Diotaituti writes in the introduction. Sharing the secrets behind his most popular recipes, Diotaituti helps make rustic Italian cuisine accessible to more than just his customers.

 

TUSCAN TOMATO SOUP

 

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided

5 garlic cloves, minced

2 cups tomatoes, peeled and chopped or pureed

10 basil leaves, shredded

1 cup good quality Italian bread (at least 2 days old), cut into 1-inch pieces

3 ounces rind from a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano or Pecorino Romano cheese Salt

4 cups vegetable stock

 

1. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Add garlic. When it is golden, add the tomatoes and cook for 4 minutes, allowing the flavors to blend.

2. Add basil, bread, cheese rind, and a pinch of salt. Stir well. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer.

3. Stir every 10 minutes, adding 1 cup of stock at a time. Be sure to stir firmly from the bottom to prevent sticking. Cook until soup is thick and has a uniform consistency, about 40 minutes.

4. Before serving, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a small saucepan over low heat.

5. When soup is ready, remove the cheese rind, stir, and drizzle hot olive oil over the top. Serve warm or cold.

 

Serves 4