loving cousin rosa

cousin rosa’s pasta with ricotta

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.

To pick up your own copy of My Cousin Rosa – follow the link below.
My Cousin Rosa

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.

our cousin rosa’s pasta with ricotta
serves 5

Adapted from Rosa Mitchell’s inspirational book, My Cousin Rosa.

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.

Pick up a copy of my new cookbook ‘and the love is free’ by clicking HERE.

The perfect gift for beginner cooks looking to master the basics.
A lovely way to celebrate the mums who bring so much joy to our lives.

available exclusively through stonesoup

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  • I’ve often put a little ricotta in my tomato sauce for pasta but never just ricotta alone. I will have to try it. And, just because I can’t leave well enough alone, I might just throw in some greens sauted in garlic and oil!

  • Lovely Jules! and is that a red cabbage salad lurking in the background?

    I have to say, I’m with Ruth and some garlic, at least would have to go in too… anyway, another stone soup recommended cook book to check out :)

  • A pasta recipe that simple but with looks that gorgeous must really be good. Thank you Jules, and thank you Cousin Rosa. :)

  • hey zoe
    you’re on the money – it’s a red cabbage version of my shaved cabbage salad with parmesan there’s a link to the original recipe above if you’re interested.
    I can see why you’re thinking garlic but really it doesn’t need it.

    pleasure trisha happy to share the cousin rosa love

  • I too love this book so much i blogged about it. However i had a problem making the ricotta cheese. I am wondering if the temperatures are printed incorrectly as no matter how hard i tried i couldn’t heat the milk to 200 C without it boiling over at the 100C point. Despite this problem the book is a well loved purchase. I love how the book oozes Italian culture and family heritage integrated throughout the recipes.
    For Australian ppl if you spend over $50 on an order at http://www.fishpond.com.au your order is postage free. I am not affiliated in any way; just a very happy customer. They disptach each book as it is available rather than waiting to fill your entire order before dispatching.

  • I know its late in the day – (errr June 09 and its now Jan 2010) this post inpired me to buy the book and thanks to a voucher for Xmas I have finally ordered this book. Can’t wait to see what you are all raving about.

  • I just made this with the bacon & peas….. Oh my goodness. I think I’ve died & gone to heaven. Simply amazing. Husband approved as well. :) Thanks!!!

  • Hello, sorry to admit I do not know what ricotta is (living in provincial Russia does not enhance one’s culinaty choices. What’s ricotta please? is it a sort of cheese? thank you so much for your attention. My best. Irina. Togliatti, Russia.

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