Nino Pernetti's Caffe Abbracci Cookbook

Nino Pernetti graciously sent me a copy of his then just-published cookbook after I'd done a short interview with him about it for Short Order  in 2008. The subtitle, His Life Story and Travels around the World, pretty much describes the narrative, in which Nino's co-authors Ferdie Pacheco and Luisita Sevilla Pacheco provoke Mr. Pernetti's memories of growing up in Venice, Italy; hotel school training at the Gardone Riviera; and trips to locales such as Kabul, Caracas, Singapore, Istanbul, Seoul, and Kuala Lumpur. The history of how Caffe Abbracci came to be (21 years ago), and stories of the dashing Nino hobnobbing with celebrities also fill many of the 267 pages. Yet fans of the Coral Gables institution  may find themselves focused on the 110 recipes that have made Abbracci so popular: Appetizers, soups, salads, sauces, pasta, risotto, poultry, fish and seafood, meat, side dishes, and desserts -- all of the Northern Italian favorites from soup to nuts, except without the nuts.

The narrative is helped along by old b&w photographs of Pernetti's past; the recipe section includes a section of colored photos, the reproduction shown here doing the original photography no favors. Keep going for a nifty recipe for oven-roasted tomatoes -- which are sort of like sun-dried, except you don't have to leave them sitting outdoors for days.

Oven-roasted tomatoes

My note: You can store these in olive oil and whatever else you might wish to add (basil, garlic, etc.).

12 plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise and seeded

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

8 large garlic cloves, minced

2 tablespoons minced fresh thyme

1 tablespoon dried oregano

Salt and pepper

Preheat the oven to 250F.

Toss the tomato halves with the olive oil, garlic, thyme, and oregano

and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Arrange the tomatoes, cut

side down, on a rack set on a rimmed baking sheet and roast for 2 1/2

hours. Remove the tomatoes from the oven and peel, discarding the

skins. Return the tomatoes to the oven and roast until they are dry but

still pliable, about 1 1/2 hours. Cool to room temperature. Serves 6.

Nino Pernetti's Caffe Abbracci Cookbook
Published by University Press Of Florida. Retail price: $40. Cover photo by Derek Cole.

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