Pasta: Classic and Contemporary Pasta, Risotto,Crespelle, and Polenta Recipes (at Home with The Cul)

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Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

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The ultimate resource for pasta lovers In this irresistible collection of reliable recipes, you'll find a huge variety of pasta dishes from real born-and-bred Italian chefs. Pasta covers the basics and beyond with master recipes for making your own fresh egg pasta by hand or machine, as well as reliable guidance on getting the most out of store-bought fresh and dried pastas. Throughout the book, stunning full-color photography offers both inspiration and visual guidance. The recipes include innovative pasta dishes for every season and occasion, from light and summery pasta salads to hearty meat sauces, lasagnas, and more. But there's more than just pasta here. The book also includes recipes for crespelle (Italian crepes), risotto, gnocchi, and polenta dishes, offering a wide range of both traditional and contemporary Italian dishes. Features 146 expertly-tested recipes for pasta dishes, from timeless classics to new and modern favorites Illustrated with 100 mouthwatering full-color photographs by acclaimed photographer and food stylist Francesco Tonelli Organized by season, the book includes recipes perfect for any time of year, from fresh Garganelli with Leeks and Morels to celebrate the spring, to rich, hearty winter dishes like Sausage-Filled Ravioli with Brown Butter and Pancetta Jam-packed with inventive, foolproof recipes that celebrate the seasons with authentic Italian flavor, Pasta is a must for home cooks who just can't get enough of this timeless and traditional food.


The Culinary Institute of America
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Pasta: Classic and Contemporary Pasta, Risotto,Crespelle, and Polenta Recipes (at Home with The Cul)
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Pros: large variety of recipes ranging from simple to difficult
Cons: some recipes may need a little tweaking
At first glance 'Pasta' seemed like a sensible decision for a first book review as the recipes would probably be easy to make and enjoyable to eat. I mean, who doesn't love a good bowl of fettuccine bolognese with steaming thick meat sauce? Once I started leafing through the recipes it became quickly apparent that this would be an immensely pleasurable experience, and the road could take me as far as I'd like to travel with ample selections from squid-ink spaghetti {p.16} to potato gnocchi with asparagus, rabbit, and liver {p. 216}, all pasta selections made from scratch.

I had been raised in the Romanian culture where food was the epicenter of all social life, however, as we moved to the United States in my high school years I decided I would be one of those career women who would just eat out a lot and not have to be a 'slave' in the kitchen all day. Then, just after I got married, I caught the cooking "flu" and thankfully was never cured. Fourteen years later, after years of culinary classes and delving in several types of cuisines, I still wouldn't consider myself a professional chef but I do love to cook. I love the unknown, waking up each morning to the amazing and undiscovered adventures of 'what to have for dinner?' And living in a fantastic city like Chicago there's very little left to the spectrum of possibility when it comes to culinary adventures.

In 'Pasta' I found everything adventuresome, daring, but also comfortable and familiar. For my first recipe I chose the Risotto with mussels, saffron, and zucchini blossoms {p. 222}. It seemed to me that the mussels might conflict with the strongly fragrant saffron, but instead the two complemented each other. I tweaked the recipe a bit by cooking the mussels separately in white wine, tarragon, shallots, and garlic, little chicken broth and touch of Dijon mustard. The risotto recipe for some reason doesn't indicate when to add the saffron, so I added it right at the beginning after the onions along with the salt and pepper to flavor the dish. It incorporated very well and the rice soon took on the beautiful golden saffron flavor. The sweet mussels were a welcome addition to the dish. Another reason for serving the mussels on top was that I was able to save some leftover plain risotto for the next day (as I prefer to not have seafood leftovers), which I then grilled on the flattop and served with arugula salad & lemon vinaigrette. Extremely delicious. Of course, the book also recommends using homemade meat broth 'brodo' {p. 251}, but I ended up using chicken broth instead. I use the 'better than bouillon' brand which can be found in most grocery stores, offers reduced sodium options, and is gluten-free.

The book as a whole is versatile and understated. The skilled chefs present a large array of options that range from a simple dish made in less than 30 minutes, to a vast learning experience and opportunity to make everything from scratch. My second recipe from the book was the Lasagna with eggplant, tomato, and mozzarella. An incredible combination of flavors from the tangy sauce to the sweet eggplant, met halfway by the fresh mozzarella and topped with basil. The strength of this dish is its presentation. Each lasagna tower is plated (I placed it on a bed of arugula) and presented as an individual serving. I seldom order lasagna in restaurants because it looks so messy once I start eating. In this dish the lasagna holds its shape well. One personal adjustment from the recipe was meat sauce instead of the plain tomato sauce. I made mine with ground turkey and 96% beef. Also, instead of baking the eggplant slices I grilled them on the flattop, rendering them sweeter in flavor from the grilling process. When I assembled the lasagna towers they started to topple, so I baked and served them with skewers in the middle. Fresh sprigs of basil can be added to the skewer just before serving to add to the presentation and fresh flavor. I recommend the book for the newer cook as well as the seasoned chef. In 'Pasta,' the Culinary Institute of America provides a refreshingly new look at an old comfortable meal. Enjoy.

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