Anyone who cooks or eats pasta needs this book. The straightforward recipes are easy enough for the inexperienced, but even professional chefs will grasp the elegance of their simplicity.
Cooking pasta the Italian way means:
- Keep your eye on the pot, not the clock.
- Respect tradition, but don t be a slave to it.
- Choose a compatible pasta shape for your sauce or soup, but remember they aren t matched by computer. (And that angel hair goes with broth, not sauce.)
- Use the best ingredients you can find and you can find plenty on the Internet.
- Resist the urge to embellish, add, or substitute. But minor variations usually enhance a dish.
- How much salt? Don t ask, taste
Serving and eating pasta the Italian way means:
- Use a spoon for soup, not for twirling spaghetti.
- Learn to twirl; never cut.
- Never add too much cheese, and often add none at all.
- Toss the cheese and pasta before adding the sauce.
- Warm the dishes.Serve pasta alone. The salad comes after.
- To be perfectly proper, use a plate, not a bowl.
The authors are reluctant to compromise because they know how good well-made pasta can be. But they keep their sense of humor and are sympathetic to all well-intentioned readers."
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2013-06-17
- Reviewer: Staff
Picking up where the Encyclopedia of Pasta (2009) left off, this manifesto on Italian noodles is meant to provide recipes for home cooks preparing dishes in modern kitchens. While the previous work focused on cataloguing and describing Italian pasta, this book is meant to help those out outside of Italy cook like Italians. With sections on every step of making pasta dishes—e.g., the types of wheat employed, the various forms and how to create them, how to cook the noodles properly, when and how to add sauce, which ingredients to have in the pantry, and which equipment is necessary to get the best results—every aspect of making one of the world’s favorite comfort foods is covered. Of course, no noodle would be complete without the right condimento (anything that goes on a noodle), and this cookbook covers those in great detail as well. From “last-minute sauces,” made primarily with ingredients one has lying around, to fresh vegetable, herb, and mushroom sauces, selected based on which ingredients are in season; fish and seafood sauces; and meat sauces, you can go months without ever repeating a dish. The book also contains helpful hints, like which sauces taste better when prepared a day before serving and which wines pair well with each dish. (Oct.)
A venerable vegetarian
Mollie Katzen is not only the High Priestess of plant-based cuisine, she’s also an early pioneer, proud proponent, practitioner and author of a dozen cookbooks that provide appealing alternatives to traditional meat and potatoes, including her trailblazing, mind-changing Moosewood Cookbook (1977). Her latest, The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation, is a latter-day Moosewood, livelier and lighter, sharper and spicier, showcasing her expanded repertoire and simplified approach. In addition to the usual course categories, there’s a brilliant array of “burgers,” like crunchy Mushroom-Barley-Cashew Burgers, and savory “cozy mashes”—think beets, celery root, peas and more—that can stand alone or ornament other creations. Try custardy Mushroom Popover Pie for a weekday dinner, or Curried Cauliflower Stew with crisp Onion Pakoras for a party. Every recipe is introduced with Mollie’s infectious enthusiasm and followed by “Optional Enhancements” that offer intriguing improv options.
PASTA—THE REAL DEAL
There’s never been a shortage of cookbooks claiming to unlock the secrets of real Italian cooking. Most don’t, and anyone who’s savored a plate of pasta in Italy knows that what we make here, in restaurants and at home, just doesn’t taste as good. With the publication of Sauces & Shapes: Pasta the Italian Way that sad state of affairs has been remedied. Oretta Zanini De Vita, a renowned Italian food historian and pasta authority, and Maureen B. Fant, an American who’s lived and cooked in Rome for more than 30 years, have teamed up to give us 150 recipes written by and for Italians but adapted for American expectations (more measurements, more detailed instructions). There’s a glorious selection of sauces and soups with suggestions for the pasta shapes—some familiar, some not—that go best with them, recipes for making pasta from scratch and, most importantly, advice on approaching pasta as Italians approach this most-loved food that is “synonymous with family, hearth and home.”
TOP PICK IN COOKBOOKS
Ottolenghi: The Cookbook is gorgeous, fabulous and filled with recipes that will make even the most jaded cook jump for culinary joy. Acclaimed London restaurateurs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem won this year’s coveted IACP award for Cookbook of the Year, causing an outbreak of “Jerusalem fever”—people compulsively, and happily, cooking dish after dish and throwing lots of Jerusalem dinners. So I predict that Ottolenghi —actually their first book, never before published in the U.S.—will stir up another rapturous feeding frenzy. Ottolenghi and Tamimi’s unique realm of flavor is sunny, colorful, zesty and bold, appreciably Middle Eastern, with Mediterranean and Californian influences and universal appeal. They keep prep unfussy and simple. They want you to have fun with their food and, most of all, they want you to say “wow!” And it’s hard not to when you taste something as simple and exciting as Grilled Broccoli with Chile and Garlic, as satisfying as Beef and Lamb Meatballs Baked in Tahini, as heady as Harissa-Marinated Chicken with Red Grapefruit Salad, as decadently rich as Khalid’s Chocolate and Chestnut Bars. “Wow!” is the best description of the whole book.