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Better Homes cookbook stresses simplicity

Thursday, November 14, 2002

By Nancy Anderson, Post-Gazette Staff Writer

In September, cookbook publishers begin cranking out a steady stream of new books, destined for the December gift-buying season.


Many are sent to newspapers, from sumptuous $50 tomes such as "A Return to Cooking" with recipes for Bacalao and Tropical Root Vegetable Escabeche (20 ingredients) to funky paperbacks such as "Mad at Martha" -- Stewart, that is -- with recipes for Macaroni and Cheese (six ingredients).

The most comprehensive to cross our desk, however, is the 12th Edition of the "Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book."

This staggering compilation of 1,200 recipes -- all tested in the BH&G test kitchen in Des Moines -- is the perfect gift for a bride and groom new to the kitchen or anyone who simply likes to cook.

It has a chapter on Cooking Basics that is informative without ever talking down to the reader, as well as recipes in every category imaginable:

Appetizers, beans and rice, beverages, breads, cakes, candy, canning and freezing, cookies, slow cookers, eggs and cheese, fish and shellfish, grilling, meats, pasta, pies and tarts, poultry, salads, sauces, soups and stews, vegetables and fruits.

Old favorites from former BH&G cookbooks (the first appeared in 1930) are included, along with a generous 900 new recipes, including ethnic dishes, low-fat and under-30-minute entrees, tangy sauces and recipes using the latest herbs and spices.

This cornucopia is found in the familiar BH&G red plaid cover with ring binder that lies flat for easy recipe reading. At $29.95, it's the best bargain on the cookbook shelves.

We found several suitable Countdown to Dinner recipes but decided on Fettuccine with Vegetables and Prosciutto as a one-dish meal that needs only a crusty bread to complete.

It's colorful and pleasing to the eye, simple to make with a lovely blend of flavors.

Fettuccine With Vegetables and Prosciutto

  • 8 ounces fettuccine, broken in half
  • 1 pound asparagus, bias- sliced into 1 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 tablespoon olive or cooking oil
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, chopped
  • 3 ounces prosciutto or cooked ham, cut into thin strips
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese

Put water on to boil and cook fettuccine according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook and stir asparagus in hot oil for 4 minutes or until nearly tender. Add tomatoes and prosciutto; cook about 2 minutes more (for hard winter tomatoes, cook 4 to 5 minutes) or until heated through.

Add asparagus mixture to pasta and stir gently to combine. Season to taste with salt and black pepper. Sprinkle with cheese. Serves 4.

"Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book"

Nancy Anderson can be reached at nanderson@post-gazette.com or 412-263-3549.

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