Devastated by the demise of "Gourmet" magazine (my source of gastronomical inspiration), I've been trying to find solace in cookbooks, new and old. The release of Phaidon's Silver Spoon Pasta could not have come at a better time. Looking at the spare, elegant layout and plentiful pictures, I felt that old kitchen fever that "Gourmet" always gave me. But even "Gourmet" never inspired me to make my own pasta. From scratch. Without a machine, the way I picture old Italian ladies doing it. It takes some muscle, but Silver Spoon Pasta, with its no-nonsense, plain and simple directions, made me believe I could do it.
And... I could. Within the course of a weekend, I made the maltagliati with bell peppers, the orecchiette with oven-roasted tomatoes, and the spaghetti with olives and lemon. Maybe I'm on a carbohydrate high, but I'm a big fan of this cookbook. It is somehow both minimalistic and sensuous, with color photos of the pasta dishes on almost every other page. Many of the recipes call for less than 10 ingredients, and the simplicity and specificity of the ingredients and methods is a beautiful thing. Every recipe I've tried has been delicious.
The book is organized in two sections, dried pasta (both long and short) and fresh pasta (cut and filled). Each section is then organized by pasta type, with an overview and recipes appropriate for that type of pasta. There are classics, like Spaghetti Carbonara, as well as less common dishes: fettuccine with orange blossom, mezze maniche with creamy garbanzo bean sauce, pumpkin lasagna. Never heard of them, but I am now committed to making them, as soon as possible.