Celebrity Chef Scott Conant's New Cookbook Highlights a Lifetime of Incredible Recipes

15October 2021

“People always ask me what I cook at home,” says Scott Conant, the James Beard Award-winning chef
best known for his appearances on Food Network shows like Chopped and Best Baker in America. “Well, this is it.”

He’s referring to his recently released cookbook,

Peace, Love, & Pasta: Simple and Elegant Recipes from a Chef’s Home Kitchen. The book, Conant’s fourth, is a change of pace for the chef, who’s nationally renowned for plating progressive Italian fare. It reflects recent developments in his own life.

“I have two young daughters, I’m married, and this is the food I cook for my family,” he says.

Home these days is Scottsdale. Conant moved to the Valley a few years ago after working as a chef in New York City for nearly 30 years. He currently owns and operates two restaurants in the Valley: Mora Italian, a modern osteria on North Seventh Street, and the Americano Restaurant in Scottsdale. Peace, Love, and Pasta features recipes from Conant’s three-plus decades in the kitchen, including favorites from his childhood, his first job, and his many well-known restaurants over the years in places like New York City, Miami, and Phoenix.
“I’ve done a lot of things, I’ve been a lot of places,” says Conant. “I’m fortunate that I have 35 years of really fun, good cooking experience. And I wanted to showcase what I’ve done with that experience. It started with some of the nostalgic dishes from my childhood, and I mention a lot of the people that I’ve grown up with, or that were instrumental in my childhood.”

Some of the earlier recipes Conant incorporated into the 240-page cookbook include his mother’s tomato sauce that she would cook every Sunday during his childhood, and enormous, stuffed lobsters that were on special every weekend at his first job at the Sea Loft in Waterbury, Connecticut.

“I’ve tweaked some of the dishes and changed a little bit, but the spirit is there – it’s still the same,” he says.
Conant says a few recipes, like his much-requested pasta pomodoro, were easy picks for the cookbook. Some he was adamant about. “The polenta with stewed mushrooms — that’s important for me to have in there also.” (According to his book, the creamy polenta dish is what Conant calls “the dish that got me married.”)

A priority was to showcase recipes created with readily available ingredients. “Anything you can’t get in the store, you can find online,” Conant says. “That’s how I shopped for it during the pandemic.”

He continues: “There are simple recipes in there, like salad and chicken fingers, and chicken cutlets – things like that. Simple and elegant. Simple doesn’t mean there’s not effort involved. Simplicity is clean flavors for me.”

click to enlarge JACOB TYLER DUNN

Jacob Tyler Dunn

Larger format dishes include his Roasted Pork Shoulder inspired by pernil, a flavorful Puerto Rican roasted pork dish, that Conant has “Italianized” for his cookbook. He also says it was important to include a few more sophisticated recipes for special occasions that people should have in their cooking arsenal.

Conant sees Peace, Love, & Pasta as an inherent evolution from his first three recipe books. He says he didn’t fully grasp the difference between home cooking and restaurant cooking when he wrote those first books.

“I didn’t really cook at home at the time,” he says, “because I was always working. When I had my children, you know, life changes.”

Peace, Love, & Pasta includes many dishes he enjoys cooking with his two young daughters, Karya and Ayla. The “Food for the Whole Family” section of the cookbook includes recipes for Karya’s Ricotta Raviolini with Melted Baby Tomato Sauce and Ayla’s Truffle Tajarin. And in keeping with the family vibe of the cookbook, Conant included a chapter on Turkish home cooking.

“My wife is Turkish,” he says. “We have a home in Bodrum. I’ve spent a tremendous amount of time there since we started dating. A lot of the things in the book are things we cooked together, or things that I’ve eaten that her mom or her aunts have cooked.”

Borek, a Turkish filled pastry that has a flaky dough, was the first thing his future wife cooked for him. He was instantly hooked. “It’s Turkish breakfast,” Conant says. “If you’ve ever sat down and had Turkish breakfast, it is really something special.”

Peace, Love, & Pasta has two recipes for the dish: beef borek and eggplant borek. He also includes instructions on how to make one of his daughters’ favorites, sigara borek — small, bite-sized treats made of yufka dough filled with feta and pan-fried. (Sigara means “cigarette” in Turkish.)

“They are deliciously addictive,” says the cookbook. “Karya will eat these by the truckload.”

Other favorites include an array of Turkish breads like gozleme and lahmacun, a scrambled eggs and vegetables dish called menemen, and manti (pronounced “manta”), a Turkish ravioli that resembles small dumplings.

“Over the past few years, I’ve spent a lot of time with my mother and my aunts, picking their brains about the food they grew up with, and bringing the dishes and flavors of my childhood back into my cooking,” Conant says in the coda of the book.

“It’s not just nostalgia — it’s a full-circle return to an appreciation of all that cooking and eating symbolized in my childhood and a desire to recreate that now with my own family. If there’s one thing that I’ve learned, it’s that food will always be more to me than something to eat. I hope that in sharing these recipes with you, I’ve helped you create special moments to share with your own family, too.”

This post was originally published on this site

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