I realize I keep talking about pasta. But it’s because not only do I believe it deserves constant love and praise, but also because I recently went to a dinner completely dedicated to it with things that looked like this:
So how could I not talk about it? Chef Jenn Louis of Portland, Oregon was in Boston promoting her new cookbook Pasta By Hand, which is beautiful and drool inducing. She showcased some of the book’s goodies in a collaborative dinner at Alden & Harlow in Harvard Square with some of Boston’s finest chefs. Swoon.
Each chef took one of the pastas from her book and created a dish around it, and what came out of the kitchen was incredible. Silly delicious. And beautiful to boot.
The pièce de résistance for me was Louis’ own dish. Strozzapretti (a Florentine dumpling whose name Louis explains translates to “priest strangler” – just so you know) are made with seasonal greens and ricotta. Louis served them simply with butter and Parmagiano-Reggiano. I could eat them every day. I may even move to Florence so I can. Or attempt to make the recipe from Louis’ book. Either way.
All of this eye candy is merely to remind us of some really important mantras: everything in moderation, treat yo self, and carbs are lifeblood.
Cookbooks can be fantastic as a decorative element. As you can see.
Admittedly my collection seems somewhat small and sad. But the silver lining is that I use almost all of them. People amass fantastic amounts of these gems but barely use them for anything but their ornamental properties (which obviously I can appreciate).
However you use them, I maintain cookbooks are worth owning, whether for form or function. So many of them are beautiful and a pleasure to read, even if you aren’t cooking directly from the pages. These are the ones that have the most food crusted on to their pages (a testament to their consistent use and freedom from the shelf) in my kitchen:
The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook: Chances are you’ve heard of her, but Deb Perelman is my spirit animal. The woman seems to know exactly what I want to eat and how I want to eat it, then tells me how. Her blog is sensational. Her book is equally amazing. Her stuff is easy but impressive. And she happens to have a really cute child that sneaks into most of her blog posts via adorable snapshots.
How to Boil Water: This how-to book from the Food Network Test Kitchen is actually fantastic. It has recipes mixed in with cooking tips and tricks that are so helpful. Learn how to properly prepare veggies, tell when meat is edible, and the many ways to cook an egg. It is full of guidance that can make life in the kitchen that much easier and enjoyable.
The Essential New York Times Cookbook: Amanda Hesser is another food prodigy who again, I’m sure you know. This book is extensive in a way that borders on intimidating, but I still love it. It likely holds a creative variation on anything you could conceive of making. At the very least it always gives me a desire to cook.