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On Top of Spaghetti: Macaroni, Linguine, Penne, and Pasta of Every Kind
In On Top of Spaghetti, Johanne Killeen and George Germon, owners of the legendary restaurant Al Forno in Providence, R.I., and authors of Cucina Simpatica, offer up 100 new recipes for everyone's favorite tried–and–true dish –– pasta.
Pasta is the culinary equivalent of the little black dress. It's simple and elegant, you can dress it up or down, and it never goes out of style. In On Top of Spaghetti, Johanne Killeen and George Germon present a collection of 100 pasta recipes, including new and old favorites such as Pasta Shells with Spicy Sausage Red Sauce, Fusilli with Roasted Red Pepper Pesto, and Spaghetti with Tomatoes, Cinnamon, and Mint. In Cucina Simpatica, Johanne and George introduced Americans to grilled pizza. With On Top of Spaghetti they will reintroduce home cooks to the joys of pasta. Classic recipes are elevated to new heights, and innovative new dishes are sure to be returned to again and again.
||William Morrow Cookbooks|
||October 24, 2006|
|Average Customer Rating:
|| based on 28 reviews|
Average Customer Review:
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93 of 98 found the following review helpful:
Excellent 'single subject' cookbook. Buy it.Jan 23, 2007
By B. Marold
"Bruce W. Marold"
`On Top of Spaghetti...' by Providence, Rhode Island chef/restaurateurs, JoHanne Killeen and George Germon is a delightfully dedicated pasta cookbook by two dedicated pasta lovers. As the subtitle indicates, this is really about `...Macaroni, Linguine, Penne, and Pasta of Every Kind', although the long thin varieties of dried pasta, spaghetti, linguini, spaghettini, and similar shapes seem to get the most attention.
The most delightful thing about this book for me is the fact that every recipe is an Italian style pasta recipe, and yet there is no space taken up by the classics which appear in every other book on Italian cooking, such as spaghetti carbonara, pasta puttanesca, Bolognese sauce, and fettuccine Alfredo. Virtually all recipes are both original to the authors, but based on classic Italian models. That means, of course that while spaghetti carbonara and pasta puttanesca aren't here, there are pasta recipes with raw egg or olives and anchovies as ingredients.
There is a sense in which the book can be seen as an exploration of all the different ways in which a few classic Italian ingredients can be combined into a pasta sauce. The emphasis in this book is on the simpler combinations. One of the more attractive features of the book is identifying fifteen (15) recipes as `Midnight Spaghetti' where the time required to make the sauce is no more than the time, usually 7 to 12 minutes, to cook the pasta.
I was just a bit put off by the glib title, as it smacked of the kind of gimmicky books usually done as tie-ins to Italian-American `family dramas' like `The Sopranos' or `The Godfather'. When I realized the book was written by the owners of Al Forno, I gave it some serious thought, as this is one of the very few restaurants outside of New York, San Francisco, New Orleans, Chicago, and Los Angles which has a national reputation, and it isn't even a pizza parlor, for which Providence, RI is justly famous.
The book begins with a `Pasta Pantry' which is a fairly ordinary recitation of classic Italian ingredients with two very surprising additions. These are recipes for making fresh ricotta and ricotta infornata (baked ricotta) at home. I was impressed when I saw Tyler Florence make mozzarella in a home kitchen. Ricotta impresses me even more, and knowing how to do these is not trivial, as both types of cheese really must be used when they are very fresh.
In the pantry section and in various recipes, the authors even have interesting things about that most common of ingredients, the tomato. I recently learned that the fried green tomatoes recipe was developed to use the end of the season fruit which will never turn red on its own, due to the diminishing sunlight. I now discover that the Italians were there first, with their own battery of recipes for green tomatoes. Killeen and Germon provide us with three green tomato recipes. I'm humbled by the fact that I'm noticing this for the first time, when the prominent writer on Italian cooking, Faith Willinger, also has recipes for green tomatoes in her `Red, White, and Greens' book.
In every regard, the book is true to everything I ever read or heard about cooking pasta from certifiable Italian cooking authorities, including the stricture that you don't drop the pasta into the boiling water until everyone is seated at the table.
Once we get past the introductory chapters, there are nine chapters of recipes, six using dried pasta, two using fresh pasta, and a chapter on how to make fresh pasta. These chapters are:
Pasta with Vegetables, Legumes, and Herbs
Pasta with Tomato Sauces
Pasta with Seafood
Pasta with Poultry, Meat, and Rabbit
Pasta with Egg and Cheese
The first chapter is by far the longest, and is mostly involved with mixing and matching the same small set of ingredients.
One of my more interesting discoveries was the several recipes which combine pasta with potatoes. I can hear the screeches from the low-carb congregation now! But, apparently, this is a common Italian combination. `The Silver Spoon' has at least two pasta and potato recipes, and that doesn't include potato gnocchi. Speaking of gnocchi, it's interesting that there are no gnocchi recipes in this book, reinforcing the notion that it is primarily about dried pasta.
While a modern cookbook collector already has ample pasta recipes from Italian sauces such as Lydia Bastianich and Marcella Hazan and non-Italian sources such as Jamie Oliver and Rose Gray and Ruth Rodgers from London's River Café, this relatively inexpensive book is a great find if you really like pasta and like to find as many different ways to make it as the day is long.
All the recipes are expertly written, with few details left to one's experience. On more difficult recipes such as the recipe for fresh pasta, the authors are candid about the fact that you may simply not get it right the first time. Some things simply need to be practiced. The only nit I would pick is that other books, such as those from Marcella Hazan, may be a bit more detailed on fresh pasta making technique. But even if you never make your own fresh pasta, this book is a superb single subject cookbook.
73 of 78 found the following review helpful:
AN ENORMOUSLY SATISFYING COOKBOOKNov 09, 2006
By Gail Cooke
Prime pasta. Perfect pasta - that's the only kind served by the authors in their Providence restaurant, Al Forno. Billy Joel claims their pizza is the best in the world. While I wouldn't argue with him, for me the easy to follow recipes offered in this imaginative, enormously satisfying cookbook are among the best to be found.
The author's love and enthusiasm for the type of food they prepare is obvious on every page as they experiment, create, and enjoy. Explaining that work nights end late for them, they add that they're hungry so together they prepare what they call "midnight spaghetti." It's really a fun-loving competition between the two of them with simple rules: "Prepare a delicious sauce in the time it takes for a pot of water to boil and the pasta to cook."
Among the dishes favored for these nocturnal feasts are Spaghetti with Fresh Spinach and Gorgonzola, Pantry Spaghetti, Vintner's Spaghetti, Pappardelle with Olives, Thyme, and Lemon. Recipes for these and other mouth-watering pasta dishes, whether appetizers or main courses, are found in this temptingly illustrated book.
Of enormous help are the hints offered by this couple who have cooked tens of thousands of pounds of pasta at their restaurant. For instance, a good rule of thumb is four ounces of pasta per person as a main meal and half of that for a starter. Plus, a list of must-haves for your pasta pantry is indispensable, and saves hasty runs to the super market.
Couldn't possibly choose a favorite from the many recipes offered but high on my list is Jo's Fast "Cheater's" Lasagne. Granted, I'm biased as pasta has always been a favorite dish, and I tend to heartily agree with the authors' admonition: "Don't trust people who don't like pasta."
Highly recommended - enjoy!
- Gail Cooke
23 of 23 found the following review helpful:
Thorough!Jan 19, 2007
By Douglas Figueredo
Great tips, a ton of recipes. I doubt I'll go through all of them, but I wish I would. They look delicious and relatively easy to do. There's a glossary that spells out what the ingredients are and why they're good for what and how to buy them. The tone of the book is as if the authors are your good friends who are REALLY into this cuisine and want you to learn how to cook it (and love it, too).
19 of 19 found the following review helpful:
Great CookbookJun 13, 2007
In spite of what I consider to be an unfortunate name, this is truly a great cookbook. The recipes are simple and fast, yet sophisticated and delicious. Nearly every recipe appeals to me as something I would want to make and eat. I have made four of the recipes and loved each one: penne with easy norma (eggplant cooked until nearly melted), spaghetti with fresh spinach and gorgonzola, orichiette with chickpeas, and linguine with bitter greens and pancetta. So far my favorite has been the linguine with bitter greens and pancetta. From my name you must know that I have an over-abundance of cookbooks but if I had to choose 10 to keep this would be one. Why do I say the title is unfortunate? Because when I think of a sauce "on top of" spaghetti I think of the tendency in this country to load a bunch of sauce of top of spaghetti. However in the cookbook, the authors take the Italian approach of incorporating the sauce into the pasta and if some of the recipes are not truly Italian they are all in the spirit of true Italian pasta. Each of the recipes I have tried so far reminded me of pasta I have eaten and loved in Italy. Oh and one more thing - the authors use fats judiciously so that while the recipes are delicious you will find that you will not be consuming an entire days calories in one serving of pasta.
8 of 8 found the following review helpful:
Better cookingSep 14, 2007
By david diberio
I saw the authers Johanne Killeen and George Germon on the Food network Emeril Lagasse live show. They made some dishes it looked so good I order the book. I had a question and wrote the author they quickly returned with the answer. I have made several of their recipes and they came out GREAT. Everyone enjoyed it. I highly recommed this book.
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