cover image James McNair's Pasta Cookbook

James McNair's Pasta Cookbook

James McNair, Chronicle Books. Chronicle Books, $11.95 (96pp) ISBN 978-0-87701-618-2

McNair ( Cold Pasta ) and food photographer Brabant here join forces once again to produce a book as seductive in its photographs as in its recipes. They treat pasta with heartening practicality. While explicit directions--with helpful step-by-step four-color photography--are included for making fresh pasta in a vast assortment of shapes and flavors, McNair warns that ``unless you practice the art of pasta making frequently enough to master the technique . . . it is probably best to cook dried pasta.'' Recipes feature a number of enticing Asian dishes (Thai fried noodles and Vietnamese spring rolls), as well as European and American classics and originals--pasta primavera, avocado tomato pasta and macaroni with four cheeses. The book's only discernible defect is also its main attraction: the perfection of the food styling may frustrate cooks who attempt (unsuccessfully) to press together tricolored pasta strands or to imprint sage leaves on pasta circles. (Feb.)