After a lifetime of living and eating in Rome, Elizabeth Minchilli is an expert on the city’s cuisine. While she’s proud to share everything she knows about Rome, she now wants to show her devoted readers that the rest of Italy is a culinary treasure trove just waiting to be explored.
Rao’s is the legendary, tiny corner restaurant in East Harlem where it’s impossible to book a table: each of the red-checked, cloth-covered four-, six-, and two-tops is reserved for a titan of New York industry, a celebrity, or a major politician. Permanently. Now Frank Pellegrino, the third generation of his family to operate the impossible-to-get-into Rao’s restaurant in East Harlem and founder of Rao’s food products line, goes deep into the history of his family, the restaurant, and America’s love affair with Southern Italian cooking to create Rao’s Classics cookbook.
It never occurred to me that I could make pasta the old-fashioned way—by hand. I mean, who does that? I always thought that task was relegated to old-world Nonna’s. And let’s be honest, Italian cooking is intimidating. For me, it’s fraught with peril. My fear of bungling a centuries-old cuisine is very real.
Along comes Pasta by Hand: A collection of Italy’s regional and hand shaped pasta. The fact that no special equipment or ingredients are needed to form pasta shapes chips away at my list of excuses. The book contains more than 65 recipes for homemade pasta dough and easy instructions on how to shape it into small orbs, cups, twists, shells, noodles, and dumplings.
Ms. Louis has spent what seems like infinite hours of research and travel schooling herself on the humble dumpling, or what Italians call gnocchi. The book begins with a section on ‘The Basics.’ Exactly what I need. The pages outline the specific ingredients, tools, and techniques that will help craft dumplings, as well as a list of 12 tips for making great gnocchi. For example, ‘Tip #4’ instructs us to pay special attention to the mixing and cooking directions for each recipe. The mixing method for each dumpling dough will be different, to achieve the correct texture. Not all dumplings are meant to be tender and light.