It’s been ages since I wrote about my cookbook fetish and even longer since I updated my books-for-a-cook inspiration page. I know I’ve been a bit slack in that department. But that doesn’t mean my love of cookbooks has waned in recent times. The truth is it has gone from strength to strength.
One of the things that has definitely deepened my appreciation of books in general and recipe books in particular has been going through the process of writing and designing a book myself. I’ve been on a seriously steep learning curve but is has been quite a journey. A journey that is beginning to take me further out of my depth now that I’m entering the sales and marketing phase. But I’ve also discovered a perk to this gig. Now when I buy cookbooks, it’s all in the name of ‘research’ – a legitimate business expense to help me get to know the competition and all that.
There is one ‘competitor’ in particular that I’d dearly love to get to know better. If the truth be told, I even kinda wish we were related – cousins or something. Her name is Rosa Mitchell. Sicilian born and raised in Melbourne where she is the cooking force behind Journal Canteen, one of the best cafes in the city.
I had heard of Rosa some time ago but it wasn’t until last month that I was fortunate enough to lunch at Journal. And what a fine lunch it was. Simple and fresh and tasty and all round a lovely experience. It almost made me consider moving South.
Instead I decided to take the less life changing option of buying the book. It’s fair to say that My Cousin Rosa has been the most impressive cookbook to enter my collection since I discovered the Moro series.
There’s something about Rosa that I just love. Her Italian approach to food for one. The simplicity of it. The authenticity. The yum factor. The history and stories that are an integral part of the experience. But there’s more to her book than winning reipes and nostalgic design. Reading My Cousin Rosa gives you a glimpse of the life of an amazing lady and cook and really makes you wish you had a cousin like that.
So until I can find a way to infiltrate the Mitchell family and get myself invited to dinner, I’m planning on cooking my way through Rosa’s book. There’s cauliflower salad, lentil & pasta soup, diving looking meatballs in tomato sauce, marinated zucchini, a classic ragu which combines lamb shanks, pork hock and osso buco not to mention a chocolate and hazelnut tart.
Even Glen is loving Rosa and is insisting that she’s ‘our’ cousin. Tonight as I write, he’s making her soup of pasta and peas. If the smells coming out of the kitchen are any indication, I’m thinking Cousin Rosa may well be reappearing in the pages of stonesoup in the not to distant future.
In the mean time I highly recommend you try her pasta with ricotta. This has to be one of the simplest recipes of all time and as Rosa says – why would you bother with takeaway when all you have to do is boil some pasta and stir through some ricotta. I can’t belive I didn’t think of this myself and am ever so grateful to Rosa for opening my eyes.
Note. If you’d like to serve your pasta with a shaved red cabbage and parmesan salad like I did in the picture below – and I really recommend you do – just substitute in red cabbage in the salad recipe HERE.
Rosa has this down as serving 4 people but ‘d prefer to divide it between 5 – or at least leave some leftovers for lunch. I think my lack of Italian pasta-eating genes is showing.
If you’re in the mood to experiment Rosa recommends trying it with pesto and parmesan or diced ripe tomatoes and basil, or with bacon peas and parmesan. But she’s right that the ricotta alone is mighty fine. I’ve also experimented with flaked good quality tuna in oil and a squeeze of lemon.
500g short pasta
275g – 300g (10oz) whole milk ricotta
2 sprigs parsley, leaves picked & chopped
freshly grated parmesan cheese, to serve
Bring a large saucepan of salted water to the boil and cook pasta according to the packet directions. Mash ricotta with a fork. When the pasta is done reserve a cup full of cooking water. Drain pasta and return to the saucepan. Stir through ricotta and parsley. If it looks too dry stir through some of the cooking water until it looks good. Season and serve hot with cheese on the side.
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