Who: Tom Riggs, 67, of Clearwater, retired CEO of Directions for Mental Health
What: Tagliatelle With Prosciutto and Peas
About the Recipe: Cooking is "one of the nicest ways to express love," Riggs says. So it's fitting that on his wife's birthday in 2008, he served her his new recipe for tagliatelle — a meal she still remembers as "fabulous." Ever since Riggs began making his own fresh pasta, he'd been looking for a recipe with "a good combination of cream and peas and prosciutto." He found a recipe from Marcella Hazan's Essentials of Classic Italian Cooking and created his own version, adding ingredients like nutmeg to bring out "the nuttiness of parmigiano-reggiano." It's a light dish, he says, filled with flavor.
Tips: Riggs advises against using boxed pasta. Instead, if you don't have time to make it fresh, buy homemade pasta at Mazzaro's. And be sure to use real parmigiano-reggiano. "With generic Parmesan, you don't get that nuttiness, you don't get the complexity, of real parmigiano-reggiano," he explains.
On the side: The pasta would go well with a Caesar salad or a meat course.
Can't cook without: "I'm still in love with our Le Creuset cast iron enamel cookware that we got as a wedding present. I still use the same Le Creuset pots that I used in 1973."
Why do you love cooking? "I think it's pleasing my family," he says. "Having them appreciate something I came up with is heartwarming to me." Riggs has always had a passion for cooking. Both he and his wife come from families who appreciate good food. His wife's grandparents were from Agropoli — an Italian town he remembers for its delicious buffalo mozzarella and view of Mount Vesuvius across the Tyrrhenian Sea. Visiting Agropoli and cooking with his wife's family has increased Riggs' love for Italian food. With Italian cooking, "it's all about the quality of the ingredients," he says.
What's the best meal you've ever eaten? For their honeymoon, Riggs and his wife planned a "trip to Europe around a meal at a restaurant called La Pyramide, in Vienne, France." He can still recall sitting outside under an oak tree, eating a "pear sorbet that tasted more like a pear than a pear does." They devoured course after course, but the simple dishes are the most memorable for him, like a serving of berries and cream. "We ate for about four hours I think," he says, adding, "We actually had a protein hangover the next day. Our joints hurt."
Emily Young, special to the Times
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