Nov 8

A couple weeks ago I received an announcement for the new Silver Spoon Pasta cookbook.  The pitch:

The Silver Spoon, THE SILVER SPOON: PASTA (Phaidon Press; October 12, 2009; $39.95 hardcover) presents a collection of more than 350 authentic and definitive pasta recipes for all fans of this tasty Italian staple. Whereas The Encyclopedia of Pasta is more of an A to Z “history” of pasta, our book shows how to actually prepare the pasta dishes.

I own the original Silver Spoon and it is an amazing reference of Italian recipes.  I was excited to review this book based on my previous experience.

The book is divided into two categories, dry pasta and fresh pasta.  Most of the dry pasta dishes seem to be side dishes more than entrees, which makes sense as pasta is typically one of four courses served in Italy, whereas in the U.S. we tend to order pasta as a main course.

The ingredients in the book were easy to come by.  In the original Silver Spoon cookbook they embraced the notion of waste not want not, and many of the cuts of meat recommended are unavailable or undesirable to the squeamish American palate.  The Silver Spoon Pasta relies on easy to find, commonly appealing ingredients (except for some of the pasta shapes).  The downside is that the recipes became repetitive.

I made two dishes from the book, a angel hair and Gruyere and a baked angel hair pasta mold.  The angel hair and Gruyere turned out very nice and was eaten quickly by my family.  The recipe itself would be no surprise to a frequent cook.  It was written as a vegetarian dish, I added chicken and mushrooms because if I don’t have some meat, I don’t feel like I’ve eaten.  Essentially you made a bechamel sauce and added Gruyere then I topped it with chicken breast sauteed in butter with salt, pepper, roasted garlic and mushrooms.

The second dish intrigued me because I’d never seen it.  It was a baked angel hair pasta mold.

To make it, I prepared a roux and added some cooking water from the angel hair pasta.  After the sauce thickened, I added three egg yolks and folded in the whipped whites of three eggs.  All of this went into a 9 inch round cake pan and I topped it with my red sauce.  As I mentioned before I can’t have a meal without meat, so I also cooked a rib eye for the three of us to share.  I’ll post that marinade recipe soon because it was YUMMY.

The pasta mold received a ho hum review by the family me included.

I also passed the book along to a friend of mine from Sicily.  He liked it and picked several recipes he wants us to prepare together.  He did comment that he wished there were more photos.

Overall I think this is a good cookbook for a beginner.  The techniques are easy for a home cook and there aren’t many requirements for specialized equipment or tools.  While each pasta shape and origin is described, the information is basic. It would have been nice to have included substitutions to in case you can’t find the pasta they suggest as many of the shapes in the book aren’t commonly stocked in American grocery stores.

I saw it this weekend at Costco for about $22 if you are interested.

Here’s the recipe that they included with the pitch:

RIGATONI WITH MEATBALLS Silver Spoon Pasta

RIGATONI WITH MEATBALLS Silver Spoon Pasta

RIGATONI WITH MEATBALLS

Rigatoni con Polpettine

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Cooking time: 1 hour

Serves 4

11 ounces ground meat

1 sprig chopped flat leaf parsley

½ garlic clove, chopped

1 egg, lightly beaten

all-purpose flour, for dusting

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, thinly sliced

1 celery stalk, chopped

1 carrot, chopped

1 sprig chopped small fresh rosemary

1 ¾ cups bottle strained tomatoes

12 ounces rigatoni

1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper

Combine the ground meat, parsley, and garlic in a bowl, then stir in the egg and season with salt and pepper. Shape the mixture into small meatballs, dust with flour, and set aside. Heat the oil in a pan, add the onion, celery, carrot, and rosemary and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Then add the meatballs, and increase the heat to medium. Cook until the meatballs are lightly browned all over, add the bottle strained tomatoes and season with salt. Lower the heat, cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 40 minutes. Cook the rigatoni in a large pan of salted boiling water until al dente, then drain, and tip into the pan with the meatballs. Mix well and heat through for 2 minutes. Transfer to a warm serving dish and sprinkle with the parmesan.

4 Responses to “Cookbook Review: The Silver Spoon Pasta”

  1. Those Ribeyes look beautiful… can’t wait to hear the marinade recipe!

    Cheers!

  2. Oh how I love a good cookbook. Especially an Italian Cookbook! Looks fantastic.

  3. Man, my grandmother was from Sicily and she made the most delicious meatballs I ever tasted, like you had died and gone to meatball heaven. Sadly, she didnt leave a single recipe for me so I’ve been trying to work it out by myself… slowly working my through the meatball recipes here, I still cant figure out what her secret ingredient was though!!!

  4. Dave – It’s so tough trying to recreate what Grandma did! Nobody will every match it, but I love remembering my family through food. My Grandma taught me Chicken and Dumplings. I love them to this day and when I make them it’s like being in her kitchen. Thanks for stopping by!

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