First impressions: This is an extremely handsome book. It's hardback, with semi-glossy pages, and it stays open easily on the countertop. There are many, many beautiful photos throughout the book.
Number of recipes: About 15 foundation recipes (which include several kinds of pasta and pasta-shaping instructions, as well as recipes for preserved lemons, limoncello, and goat cheese). Then about 80 more recipes for dishes that use the master recipes in dry pasta, fresh pasta, filled pasto, gnocchi, and grains (rice, polenta, farro). The recipes are named slightly differently from other cookbooks; they are more a list of their major ingredients (i.e. Chestnut risotto, sausage, raisins, brown butter) than a title.
The angle: Ron and Colleen Suhansky both came from strongly Italian families, where they were raised to love good Italian pasta, and to know their way around the kitchen. Ron's job, when he was young, was to throw his grandmother's pasta against the wall to see if it would stick! When the couple got married, they took an extended, idyllic-sounding trip around Italy, working in restaurants. When they returned they opened the Sfoglia restaurant on Nantucket, and eventually another in Manhattan. This book comes from their wealth of experience and love for pasta.
The other stuff: Even thought this book is all about pasta, it also covers gnocchi and farro and risotto, as well as polenta, which we appreciate. These are all our favorite foods, in one place!
Strengths: A comprehensive, inspiring look at pasta, and an accessible way into making it yourself. We love the idea of giving this book to a friend who loves pasta, and letting them go wild. It doesn't distract with other dishes; it's just about the pasta, gnocchi, and farro.
Recommended? Yes, if you love pasta, or if you have a pasta-lover in your life like we do.
• Buy the book: Pasta Sfoglia by Ron and Colleen Suhansky, $19.77 (Amazon)
More Books for Gift-Giving
• Early Stocking Stuffer: Cookie Craft Christmas
More 2009 Book Reviews
• The New Portuguese Table by David Leite
• Asian Dumplings by Andrea Nguyen
• Clean Food by Terry Walters
• On Food & Cooking by Harold McGee
• Secrets from My Tuscan Kitchen by Judy Witts Francini
• The Perfect Fruit by Chip Brantley
• Heard it Through the Grapevine by Matt Skinner
• Big Food by Elissa Altman
• Edible Schoolyard by Alice Waters
• The River Cottage Meat Book by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
• Milk by Anne Mendelson
• The New Steak by Cree LeFavour
• A Homemade Life by Molly Wizenberg
• Fresh Food From Small Places by R. J. Ruppenthal
• Eat Feed Autumn Winter by Anne Bramley
• Heirloom Beans by Steve Sando of Rancho Gordo