Cookbooks: Getting Cheesy

Texas cheesemaker Paula Lambert, founder of the

Mozzarella Company

in Dallas, has got a new cookbook out called

Cheese, Glorious Cheese!

(Simon & Schuster, $26.95). A lot of the recipes are really easy, like the "Gouda Bread Pudding" I just made for breakfast. You chop up some bread and toss it with eggs and milk like you were making French toast, then layer the soggy bread cubes with some grated cheese in a buttered oven dish and bake it until it gets a crust on top--awesome with bacon and scrambled eggs.

Here's a recipe for "penne with cherry tomatoes, asparagus, and brie" (slightly shortened for space).

1 pound asparagus, peeled 1 pint grape-size cherry tomatoes Half a cup olive oil 1 tablespoon salt for the pasta water 1 pound dried penne Salt and freshly ground pepper 2 cups (8 ounces) brie chopped into half inch cubes with rind 2 teaspoons fresh thyme or oregano

Heat 4 quarts of water in a pasta pot. Cut the peeled asparagus into one and half inch pieces. Set the tips aside. Cut the grape-size cherry tomatoes in half. Heat a quarter cup of the olive oil in a skillet. Add the asparagus stalk pieces and saute briefly until just cooked but still crisp. Add the tips last and cook quickly. Remove the skillet containing the asparagus from the heat and set it aside. When the water comes to rolling boil, add the penne and the salt and cook according to package directions or to taste.

Set a heat-proof serving bowl in the sink. When the pasta is done, pour the pasta and water through a colander in the sink. Splash some hot water into the pasta serving bowl to warm it up. Shake the colander to drain the pasta well. Dry the serving bowl with a paper towel. Pour the pasta into the warmed serving bowl. Drizzle the remaining olive oil over the pasta, add the asparagus and its oil, the tomatoes and salt and pepper, and mix well. Add the brie and toss to distribute the cheese throughout the pasta. The heat of the pasta will melt the brie. To serve, sprinkle the herbs over the pasta and serve immediately. Serves 8. -- Robb Walsh

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