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ITALIAN GUSTO: BUONISSIMO! FAMILY-FRIENDLY RECIPES OFFER A SIMPLY DELICIOUS TASTE OF ITALY.

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Most everyone who cooks is on a continuous subconscious prowl for that "special recipe" in order to come up with a winner of a dinner.

And if you're like most, a new cookbook often holds the answer.A Utah transplant, now a local culinary artist/cooking teacher/ mother of three young girls, has recently added her own offerings of signature family secrets to the cookbook shelves in Utah stores.

One look through "Buonissimo!" will uncover a charming collection of ethnic edibles that will surely bring fulfillment to your recipe forays.

Combining the warm memories of her childhood in Palermo, Italy, and the now-popular Mediterranean style of cooking, Sandy resident Emilia Costa Jackson has authored "Buonissimo!" - a basil-and-garlic-tinged bouquet of recipes that is one of the finest family-friendly Italian cookbooks we've seen.

The cookbook was a natural for Jackson, who came to the states as a college student. Eventually graduating from BYU, she met her husband, Walt, while they were both teaching Italian at the Missionary Training Center in Provo. Walt had served a mission to Italy for the LDS Church.

Needless to say, things Italian were in integral part of the Jackson family.

The idea of producing a cookbook was hatched from the Italian cooking courses that Emilia teaches for the Jordon School District Community Education program. What started out as Italian language classes simmered into Italian cooking classes, where she teaches a dual repertoire - one in English, one in Italian.

After testing and tasting and collecting recipes, Emilia wanted to include her impressions and observations of things Italian, along with the cooking instructions.

She penned her Palermo memories in her native language; Walt translated her words into English. Her poignant emotional remembrances of a loving, nourishing family are shared in passages on each page.

The recipes featured throughout are family fare. Basic. Down-to-earth comfort food.

As the author's husband and "Buonissimo!" illustrator Walt Jackson describes it, "the recipes become even more delicious because they're simple."

Designed with the home cook in mind, the spiral-bound cookbook is printed on quality paper (tomato sauce spatters slide right off!). The stiff cover enables the book to stand up for following recipes while cooking.

If you're looking for a basic primer in pasta, polenta, pesto and pizza, this cookbook is a find. It's simplicity is deceiving.

Take the hearty and heavenly Pasta con Aglio e Olio (garlic and oil pasta) featured on today's cover. It's a quick olive oil and garlic saute with parsley, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, butter and Romano tossed with vermicelli. It's absolutely wonderful.

That's the secret of good Italian cooking. The simplicity. The blended flavors in the sauce.

And for those of us who are about as ethnic as a piece of lint, an Italian cookbook that spells it out easily, without a zillion truffle-like ingredients is a gem.

Mama mia! - you'll like this cookbook.

It's, . . . well . . . "Buonissimo!"

*****

Recipes

PASTA CON AGLIO E OLIO

8 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced

4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 cup chopped parsley

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/4 teaspoon salt

1 pinch crushed, red pepper (or to taste)

2 tablespoons butter

1 pound pasta (vermicelli, or thin spaghetti)

1/3 cup grated Romano cheese

Saute garlic over medium heat in olive oil until it is barely golden. Stir in parsley, pepper, salt and red pepper. Remove from heat. Cook pasta al dente (firm to the bite). Set aside 11/2 cups of the boiling water from the pasta. Drain the rest completely. Return the pasta to a medium-high heat. Pour in the saved water. Add butter and stir until the butter melts. Mix in the sauteed garlic and oil. Remove the pasta from the stove, and serve it hot, topped with cheese. Serves 4 to 6.

- Each serving contains 342 calories, 17g fat, 38g carb, 295mg sodium, 7mg cholesterol.

- From "Buonissimo!" By Emilia Costa Jackson

PRINCESS PASTA

2 tablespoons butter

1 tablespoon minced onion

4 ounces mushrooms, washed, dried and sliced

1/8 teaspoon salt

4 ounces ham, cut in thin strips

1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced

1 pound short pasta (penne or mostaccioli)

1/2 pint whipping cream

1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Parsley

Melt the butter in a skillet on medium heat. Add onion and saute it until soft and white. Add mushrooms and salt. When mushrooms are done, stir in the ham and parsley. Remove the skillet from the stove. Cook the pasta and drain completely. Return the pasta to its pot on medium-high heat. Pour in the cream. Stir the pasta until the cream begins to bubble. Add 3/4 cup of the cheese, blend well and remove the pot from the heat. Stir in the ham mixture, holding some back for topping. Put the pasta in a serving dish, scraping cream from the sides of the pan (you won't want to lose any.) Sprinkle the pasta with remaining cheese and arrange the ham topping in the center. Garnish the pasta with parsley. Serves 4 to 6.

- Each serving contains 565 calories, 37g fat, 37g carb, 986mg sodium, 120mg cholesterol.

- From "Buonissimo!" by Emilia Costa Jackson

- NOTE: Another way to serve this is simply with the cream and cheese, omitting the other ingredients. The result is even better than "Pasta Alfredo."

CUTLETS ALLA MILANESE

For Cutlets:

1 pound, 1/4-inch thick beef cutlets

1/2 cup flour

1 egg

1 tablespoon water

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 cup vegetable oil

For Bread Crumb Mixture:

1 cup bread crumbs

1/3 cup grated Romano cheese

2 tablespoons fresh parsley, minced

1 tablespoon onion, minced

2 pinches pepper

1 pinch salt

Ask your butcher for 1/4-inch slices of top round beef. Set the flour in one dish. Beat eggs, water and salt together in another. Blend the bread crumb mixture in a third. Flour, dip in egg mixture, and press the cutlets into bread crumbs one slice at a time. Shake off excess breading. Heat a skillet on a medium-high burner. Add oil and begin frying. Adjust the heat as you go to avoid scorching. Fry both sides of each cutlet until golden brown. Drain and press out excess oil with paper towels. Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 942 calories, 69g fat, 36g carb, 699mg sodium, 107mg cholesterol.

- From "Buonissimo!" by Emilia Costa Jackson

EGGPLANT PARMESAN

1 large eggplant (1 pound)

3/4 teaspoon salt

Vegetable oil

2 cups thickened tomato sauce

4 ounces mozzarella cheese, sliced thin

1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated

4 fresh basil leaves

Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Slice the eggplant into eight 1/2-inch slices. Place in a colander in the sink. Salt and toss them. Place something heavy on top. (I use a teapot full of water.) Let the moisture press out of them for 20 minutes, then dry the slices with a paper towel. Brush the eggplant slices with oil. Bake them on a cookie sheet on the oven's lowest rack for 10 minutes each side. Pair off the slices according to size. Pour 1 cup of tomato sauce in the bottom of a 7 X 11 X 2-inch casserole dish. Place the bottom piece from each pair of eggplant in the pan. Layer mozzarella slices on top. Sprinkle with half of the grated cheese. Put 1 basil leaf on each stack. Place the matching tops on the appropriate stacks. Pour on the rest of the tomato sauce. Sprinkle with the remaining Parmesan cheese. Pepper the eggplant to taste. Set the pan to bake on a middle rack for 30 minutes. Serves 4.

- Each serving contains 228 calories, 12g fat, 18g carb, 1508mg sodium, 26mg cholesterol.

- From "Buonissimo!" by Emilia Costa Jackson

- NOTE: In Italy we fry the eggplant, but I have invented this baking method to reduce fat and save time.

ALMOND BISCOTTI

1/3 cup butter

2/3 cup sugar

3 large eggs

1 tablespoon almond extract

3 teaspoons baking powder

1 pinch of salt

2 cups flour

3/4 cup slivered almonds

3 teaspoons sugar

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Cream the butter and 2/3 cup sugar. Separate the white from 1 egg. Set it aside. Add the yolk and other eggs to the creamed sugar and beat until fluffy. Keep sides scraped. Add almond extract, baking powder and salt. Mix in 1 cup of flour. Integrate it well. Use a wooden spoon to stir in almonds, and then the remaining cup of flour, a portion at a time. The dough will feel sticky. Lightly flour a counter. Gently knead the dough a couple of times to finish the mixing. Flour the counter again, divide the dough in half and roll it into 2 12-inch logs.

Place the logs 2 inches apart on a large, greased and floured cookie sheet (air-bake work best.) Flatten each log, so they are 2 inches wide. Beat the saved egg white and brush it over the logs to glaze them. Lightly sprinkle the tops with the last portion of sugar. Take care not to spill it on the cookie sheet or the sugar will burn. Bake 20 to 25 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean. Let logs cool on a rack. Then cut them on an angle into 3/4-inch wide slices. A serrated or electric knife will keep slices from breaking. Turn the oven down to 325 degrees F. Bake the slices 8 minutes on each side. Remove from oven and let cool. Makes 28 slices.

- Each serving contains 99 calories, 4g fat, 13g carb, 201mg sodium, 28mg cholesterol.

- From "Buonissimo!" from Emilia Costa Jackson

- NOTE: These cookies will keep well for days in an air-tight container.