Wednesday, March 11, 2009


I've been collecting cookbooks since the 70's and though I've been disappointed a few times, for the most part, I have had good luck selecting cookbooks that I'll not only enjoy reading again and again, but will actually use. Of course it's easier when you're browsing in a bookstore or have gotten a recommendation from a trusted foodie friend, but if you do your homework, you can even make a good decision when you're ordering online.

One of the considerations is, of course, the cuisine. With apologies to my vegan buddies, you won't find many vegetarian cookbooks in my collection. My old Moosewood volume might be it actually. Also, if there aren't pictures, it isn't sitting on my shelf (okay, I do have Marcella Hazan and Julia Child, but they've earned their places). Size DOES matter, at least where cookbooks are concerned. While I've given up those huge coffee table cookbooks, I want something that I can actually see to read. I'm partial to cookbooks from renowned chefs and restaurants. I like a good table of contents and index. Finally, except in rare cases, I don't want to have to take out a loan to pay for my cookbooks. In fact, I've been doing lots of ordering of used cookbooks on Amazon lately. My latest acquisition, however, was brand-spanking new.

Despite living in the hinterlands--also known as upstate New York--I used to spend 3 out of 4 weekends a month in Manhattan. Not so much anymore. I have eaten at Carmine's, so knew the kind of food they served. Let me begin by saying that the recipes in the cookbook taste even better than the food served in the restaurant. I'm guessing they really taste-tested everything and firmed things up. Having a few of my mother's old recipes, some of them passed down to her from her grandmother, I can tell you that measuring was imprecise, at best in these family recipes. That's what good cooking is all about, individualizing a dish to your own liking. It isn't the easiest way to cook a weeknight meal, though.

I would give Carmine's Family-style Cookbook a big thumbs up. The photography is well done; I enjoyed reading the introduction which described how Carmine's came into being; each chapter is devoted to a course in the meal; and, there's a good index at the end. Recipes give a brief overview of the dish, a straightforward list of ingredients, and concise step-by-step instructions.

My habit is to bookmark dishes that I want to try, but the book had so many post-its marking pages even after my first read that it was difficult to know where to begin. Since I've been on a pasta kick and adore rigatoni, I decided to begin with Country-style Rigatoni. Those of you who've happened upon the Festa Italiana know that Proud Italian Cook ( already featured this dish on her blog.

Larry pronounced this "a signature dish" and I would have to concur. The sauce is rich, just thick enough, and plentiful. The tastes meld beautifully. Don't think that the sausage and prosciutto is"overkill." They work together to raise this simple dish to company status. I know I'll have to rework this recipe further to make it healthier, but for now, it was heaven!!!!

Serves 2 - 4
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tbs coarsely chopped garlic
1/4 cup thinly sliced onions
8 oz fennel sausage, casings removed
8 fresh basil leaves, chopped
2 tbs chopped parsley
1 - 18 oz can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup unsalted butter (I reduced this to 3 tbs and will reduce to 2 in the future)
1 1/4 cups grated cheese (I used Asiago, my fave)
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
3 oz thinly sliced prosciutto (I increased this from the 2 tbs called for)
12 oz dried rigatoni
8 - 10 spears broccoli, cut into 3 inch pieces (I had asparagus, so made do)

In a large saute pan, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat; add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Do not burn!!! Add the onions and cook for 3 minutes.

Add the sausage, basil, and parsley. Break up the sausage using a wooden spoon. Cook the mixture about 3 minutes, until the sausage is browned.
Add the beans, chicken stock, and butter. Raise the heat to high and bring the sauce to a boil. Reduce the heat slightly and simmer briskly for 5-8 minutes, until it starts to thicken. Stir in 1/4 cup of the grated cheese and cook another 3 minutes.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in the prosciutto and another 1/2 cup of the cheese. Let the mixture simmer about 2 minutes, then remove from the heat.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. In the last 5 minutes, add the broccoli.

Drain the pasta and broccoli well. Bring the sauce to a boil; add the pasta and broccoli. Mix well, stirring in another 1/4 cup cheese.

Serve the pasta with the remaining 1/4 cup of cheese passed at the table.

I dare you not to moan with pleasure while you're eating this!!!!!


  1. You had me with rigatoni, but sealed the deal with "moaning with pleasure" while eating. Ayiyi. My glasses just got steamed up reading this.

  2. "Moaning with pleasure!!! You sexy thing you! I will definitely have to try this dish. I'm a pasta lover and maybe eating this dish will make me a better...? You get the idea. Love it. Big hugs to you. :)

  3. Oh, wow -- I saw this recipe on Marie's blog but now I really want to try it after reading what you wrote about it!

    I'll have to look for that cookbook at the library --it sounds like one I'd like too.

  4. This sounds like an outstanding cookbook.

  5. You're getting me hungry all over again Arlene! I have to agree, this is a great recipe. I like your idea of using asparagus too. The sauce is killer isn't it? Thanks for the link!
    xox, Marie

  6. This is definitely a keeper. And I thought I knew every possible pasta-combo recipe. (Actually what I know these days is - I know very little!)

  7. This looks, AMAZING!!! You asked me if I ever got hassled for putting ww points on my site. Never did. There are lots of recipes out there that have points on them, hope they don't mind. I still think people should join and go to meetings. I even link to them.


Thank you for visiting The Food of Love. I know it takes time to make a comment, but please know that they are very much appreciated.