This week we have our first foray into both "chick lit" and nonfiction in the form of I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti by Guilia Melucci. This book is in a format I really like - a dating memoir with recipes. Another great book in this genre is Amanda Hesser's Cooking For Mr. Latte. I chose to do a post on Melucci's book because her stories and recipes are less perfect, more messy, which I identify with both in my cooking life and my real life... EnjoyGuilia Melucci's I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti is a breezy, charming memoir of a single woman's romantic escapades in New York. Each chapter includes recipes for dishes that Melucci made for her paramour of the moment, that they made for her, or that illustrate Melucci's state of mind with regard to a relationship. It is an easy to read and witty account of Melucci's difficultly finding the right man (and the book does not include a "Mr. Right" which is refreshingly real.) Melucci is a likable narrator who seems to have a knack for picking obnoxious or emotionally unavailable men. Her descriptions of these guys are honest and hilarious. Although Melucci throughout the book always picks the wrong guy, the reader nevertheless roots for her because she is so generous with her affection (and food) and so anxious to fall in love. Melucci grew up in an Italian-American family in Brooklyn and clearly loves food and cooking. Most of the recipes in the book are for pasta of some sort or another. The recipes all seem imminently doable, but because of that many of these struck me as kind of boring. In the end, I much preferred the funny dating stories to the everyday recipes (but the Spaghetti and Meatballs below was delish).
Spaghetti and Meatballs
Adapted from I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti By Giulia Melucci
Melucci's recipe and directions except that instead of 1 clove of garlic for the meatballs I increased it to 3. In addition, the recipe calls for Italian parsley, which I did not have. I used arugula instead, which I did have in the house. I thought both of these changes worked great and gave a lot of flavor to the meatballs.
Approximately 1 lb ground beef
3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs
3 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 cup chopped parsley or arugula.
2 tablespoons olive oil plus 2 more tablespoons for browning.
2 tablespoons olive oil
Pinch red pepper flakes
1 28 ounce can chopped or whole tomatoes.
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1/4 cup red wine
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup packed basil leaves
however much spaghetti you want to eat!
Put all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and blend well with your hands.
Shape into meatballs (I did about an inch). In a large skillet, heat two tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Saute meatballs until they are browned on all sides (but not cooked through). Remove to a plate lined with paper towels.
For the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large saute pan (I used a dutch oven), then add the pepper flakes, tomatoes and juices (break up if using whole tomatoes) and tomato paste. Add wine, sugar, salt, and meatballs. Bring to a simmer, then lower heat to medium low; cook, stirring every 10 minutes or so, for 40 minutes.