The Cooking Chronicles: Italian Comforts

I really enjoy browsing for cookbooks at the library – how else would you be able to test run recipes before deciding whether or not it belongs in your permanent collection? Currently on trial: Mario Batali’s Molto Italiano, which won a James Beard Award for “Best International Cookbook” in 2006.

I’ve only made two recipes from the book so far, but it’s a nice volume to flip through – lots of photos, and most of the recipes are preceded by an anecdote, something that does help make it more personal and fun to read.

Roman Egg Drop Soup

Feeling snowed in on one of the weekends, Mario Batali’s Roman egg drop soup seemed like the perfect dish to make. Simple and fast, it was so good I had it for lunch and dinner that night. This in spite of the fact that I used boxed stock, and substituted all purpose for semolina flour.

It’s so easy to pull together – a cup of cold broth, eggs, flour, parmesan and nutmeg is whisked into boiling stock – nothing to it. It was silky smooth, rich without being heavy, and made our condo smell like mom’s kitchen on a sick day.

Roman Egg Drop Soup

Roman egg drop soup

I will be making this again – I’m craving it now, just writing about it.

Baked Pasta with Ricotta and Ham

Mack didn’t enjoy the soup as much as I did, but he did like the baked pasta with ricotta and ham more than me. I was calling it “Italian mac and cheese”, but it’s really more like a macaroni pie – pasta and Italian cooked ham layered with ricotta, provolone and tomato sauce.

It wasn’t difficult – most of the recipe time is passive, allowing the sauce to reduce down (it did taste fantastic) – but somehow, even with all of the cheese and ham, the dish didn’t meet my expectations. There wasn’t quite enough sauce for my liking, and in the end, I kept thinking – with similar ingredients, I could have made Giada’s stuffed shells with arrabbiata sauce instead.

Baked Pasta with Ricotta and Ham

Baked pasta with ricotta and ham

I bookmarked a few more recipes to try – hopefully I get to them before the book’s due date!

2 thoughts on “The Cooking Chronicles: Italian Comforts

  1. It has never occurred to me, much to my incredible shame, to use the library as a resource for cookbooks. Living a block away from the downtown facility only makes it that much worse.

    I’ll definitely have to take a look at what is available, because I’m clearly woefully out of date as to what the library actually contains.

  2. Angel – I didn’t start “touring” the library for cookbooks until recently either – so no shame! The magazines are another good section to check out too, if you have time.

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