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Pasta! Pasta! Pasta!

By MaryAnn Miano

Cook books should not only teach new recipes, but they should be fun; fun to look at the illustrations, fun to inspire the cook to try something new, fun in the desire to try colorful, tempting, and tasty dishes to shake up your cooking repertoire.

In Catherine Henning’s cook book collection curated at the Colts Neck Library, you can find the book Pasta! Pasta! Pasta! by Ursel Norman, which is a picture book of deliciousness. This book is a collection of traditional recipes with the flavor and sumptuous delight of Italian cooking. It does a wonderful job of balancing the many regional flavors of Italian cooking, using only traditional ingredients. The author recognizes certain ingredients may not be available to you, and she does compromise by indicating alternatives when they seem necessary.

The author and the illustrator prepared a “look and cook” format for ease of use and understanding, so that, at a glance, the reader can comprehend how a dish is prepared and how it should look when it reaches the dinner table. Its colorful, step-by-step drawings draw you into each recipe.

The recipes vary from the simplest, such as linguine with white clam sauce, to the more elaborate lasagna Bolognese with two sauces. Ingredients such as ripe tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, fresh vegetables, mushrooms, cheese, sausage, and seafood are the substance of great Italian pasta sauces and stuffing. Using different pasta shapes and textures, the book helps you create the perfect meals for family everyday dinners or for festive occasions. The recipes in this book are practical and economical and are impressive, too!

Pasta! Pasta! Pasta! offers a basic guide to some of the dos and don’ts of pasta cooking. Easy-to-follow instructions help you along the way in making pasta from scratch or by using a pasta machine. The very last page lists basic pasta sauces to pour over the pasta shape of your choice. If you are in the mood for a steaming plate of pasta, check out this amazing book.

PENNE ALLA CARBONARA (recipe is based on quantity per person)

1 tablespoon olive oil

3 slices lean bacon (unsmoked) cut into strips

1 egg, beaten

1 heaping teaspoon chopped parsley (optional)

A generous grating of black pepper

3 oz. penne

2 tablespoons grated romano or parmesan cheese

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan and fry the bacon pieces until nicely browned. Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and leave to drain on paper towels.
  2. In a bowl, combine the egg, parsley, and pepper with a wire whisk until thoroughly blended.
  3. Boil the penne in salted water until al dente. Do not drain! With a slotted spoon, remove the pasta from the water. Then drop the steaming hot pasta into the egg mixture. The idea is to keep the pasta so hot that it will set the eggs slightly. Mix well.
  4. Sprinkle on the bacon bits and the romano cheese and toss well.

Recipe from Pasta! Pasta! Pasta!, Page 18-18, By Ursel Normal, Publisher:  William Morrow & Company, 1976.

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