Buon San Valentino!

When we were in Portland over Christmas, the local newspaper ran a story about the “discovery” of a rare Italian cookbook, one that predates Pellegrino Artusi’s famous cookbook, The Art of Eating Well (1881). This book, Il Cuoco Maceratese by Antonio Nebbia, was published in 1809, making it one of the oldest Italian cookbooks we know of. And it’s from Le Marche, too!

The article included a recipe for a sumptuous lasagna, filled with silky béchamel sauce literally ladened with truffles. It’s called “Lasagna Princisgrass” because it was rich enough for a prince. We didn’t have time to make it in Oregon, but Michael thought it would be a fun primo for Valentine’s Day. He didn’t follow the recipe exactly—he added an egg yolk and fontina cheese to the béchamel to make it like a Tyrolian fonduta—and instead of plain pasta, he colored the dough red with organic beet juice! It was an excellent starter to accompany our secondo of lobster tails and Israeli couscous. We finished with a homemade chocolate mousse laced with peperoncino and sea salt.

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