I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti

I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti was the first book I ever read that made me want to scream out loud to the author, in this case, Giulia Melucci. As she cooked dishes like Risotto with intricately layered hearts and Unflavored pancakes for undeserving boyfriends—relationships you knew weren’t going to last—I wanted to yell, “Don’t do it! Move on! Find another guy!” 

But she seems to have come to terms with her choices, as evidenced by her channeling all that relationship angst into this charming book.

As endearing as her stories are of un-lasting love, it’s her recipes that are most appealing. She abhors takeout and fortunately has the talent, taste and wherewithal to whip up a worthy meal in her Brooklyn kitchen. And she has an incredible sense of humor; scattered throughout the book are recipes with hilarious names, including: “No nookie gnocchi ,” “Real estate roast chicken,” “A salad that failed to make a perfect New Year’s Eve,” and “Spaghetti and meatballs for cooking sluts and those who love them.” It’s apparent she’s used food both to woo and to wallow—and we are the lucky recipients of these recipes.

Pear cake for friends with benefits

2 large eggs
½ cup butter, melted and cooled slightly
¼ cup whole milk
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
1 ½ cups self-rising flour
4 bartlett pears, peeled, quartered, cored and cut crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices
confectioners’ sugar

Make the cake
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Butter and flour an 8-inch cake pan. Whisk eggs, melted butter and milk in a large bowl. Whisk in 2/3 cup sugar. Add flour and whisk until batter is smooth. Mix in pears. Transfer batter to pan and sprinkle top with remaining 1 tablespoon sugar. Bake until top is golden and tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Cool in pan, then invert onto a plate and sprinkle confectioners’ sugar on top. This cake is wonderful made with summer peaches, too.

Yield: 8 servings.