I love the sub-title for The Basque Book, by Alexandra Raij with Eder Montero. It says, “a love letter in recipes from the kitchen of Txikito.” It’s a bit poetic, yes? I guess it fits my mood these days. That and some part of me wanted to expand my culinary horizons.
Do I need another cookbook? No, but we’ve had this discussion before. I had the chance to pick up The Basque Book or The Wurst of Lucky Peach. I waffled between the two books for a few days before settling for the former. Eventually, I decided to pick the one that felt more out of my comfort zone.
Luckily, I’m pretty happy with this book. The pictures are has romantic as the sub-title. It’s also definitely filled with recipes that are generally unfamiliar to me. Unfamiliar doesn’t have to mean complex though. All the recipes have a very un-intimidating ingredient list. That doesn’t mean that I have easy access to all the ingredients but means that the ingredients list isn’t an entire page long.
And for the things that I don’t have easy access to, the book provides a DIY recipe most of the time. The recipe for quick salt-cured cod is a perfect example of this. A couple of the recipes were a surprise, because they were not Spanish styled at all: Chinatown-style periwinkles, and tempura-fried soft-shell crabs. (Granted, the crab recipe requires making escabeche first, which is a technique for flavoring and preserving seafood/meat by poaching it in a vinaigrette.)
But there are recipes that are on the to-do list. For me, the lentils with chorizo stew recipe has massive appeal. I don’t have any cured chorizo in my house right now, but I do have cured loukaniko that I’ve been desperately thinking of ways to use. So, a version of the lentil stew is likely happening this weekend. And if it doesn’t disappoint, I’ll try my best to post it.
The book is split up into sections by main ingredient/type of dish. They are: basic recipes, tapas/bar type food, vegetables, egg, seafood, soups/stews, Basque recipes for gatherings*, sweets, and then drinks.
* = I am having trouble summarizing the Txokos, Asadores, Sagardotegis, and Ferias chapter. It doesn’t help that it’s a relatively small chapter.
But I’m glad I made a leap of faith on this cookbook. There’s a good handful of recipes that I think I want to try. It also makes a lovely coffee table book if you prefer your cookbooks to be visually stunning.
(If it matters to you, I ended up checking out The Wurst of Lucky Peach from the library. Half of the book is more like a reference book, so there weren’t nearly as many recipes as I had hoped. So, I think I chose wisely. There’s nothing wrong with the new Lucky Peach book. It just didn’t appeal to me, personally.)
Disclaimer – I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review. I’m not getting paid for this post.