Spain: Recipes and Traditions from the Verdant Hills of the Basque Country to the Coastal Waters of Andalucía, written by Jeff Koehler, features the incredible regional cuisine of Spain with 200 recipes and beautiful stories. A few highlights include Calamares Fritos (Deep-Fried Squid), Ajo Blanco con Uvas (White Gazpacho with Grapes), Tortilla de Patatas y Cebolla (Potato and Onion Egg Tortilla), Crema de Membrillo (Creamy Quince Paste), and Albóndigas con Sepia (Stewed Meatballs with Cuttlefish. I will also be featuring his recipe for Pan con Chocolate (Toasted Bread with Chocolate) following the review.
Disclosure: I received a copy of Spain from Chronicle Books in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links. If you purchase something through the link, I may receive a small commission at no extra charge to you.
Jeff Koehler is an American who met his Catalan wife while in graduate school in London and followed her to Spain over fifteen years ago. He now resides in Barcelona with her and their two daughters.
Jeff is also the author of Morocco: A Culinary Journey with Recipes from the Spice-Scented Markets of Marrakech to the Date-Filled Oasis of Zagora and La Paella: Deliciously Authentic Rice Dishes from Spain’s Mediterranean Coast.
Spain is packed with 200 recipes divided into the following chapters: Soups, Broths, Stews, Creams, and Pulses; Salads, Cold Soups, and Gazpachos; Tapas and Appetizers; Vegetables; Eggs; Rice, Pasta, and Migas; Fish; Shellfish; Poultry and Rabbit; Game and Snails; Meats; Innards and Extremities; Desserts, Sweets, and Fruits; Drinks; and Sweet and Savory Homemade Conserves.
In addition to the recipes, Jeff also offers an introduction to the regions of Spain and the variations of cooking in each one based on the landscape. I particularly enjoyed the cultural tidbits sprinkled throughout the chapters on various topics such as the paella pan, Spanish ingredients, and Lenten traditions.
The gorgeous photography by Jeff Koehler and Kevin J. Miyazaki made me want to make everything (warning- don’t look through while you are hungry). Many dishes are accompanied by a full page photo of the finished dish. Titles are written in English and Spanish. Each recipe has a headnote with personal stories, background information, serving size, and helpful tips. Measurements are listed in US Customary and Metric.
Pan con Chocolate (Toasted Bread with Chocolate)
I was immediately drawn to the Pan con Chocolate, Aceite de Oliva Virgen Extra y Escamas de Sal Marina (Spanish Toasted Bread with Chocolate, Extra-Virgin Olive Oil, and Sea Salt Flakes) for a quick and easy snack.
It is particularly popular as an afternoon treat for children and comes together in less than 10 minutes. This is my new go-to way to use up any leftover baguette slices and chocolate.
The Pan con Chocolate only has 4 ingredients, so quality really matters. Use flaky sea salt if it is available, along with the best quality chocolate and olive oil you can find. I would love to try this with Spanish chocolate.
I also made Filloas de Leche con Nata Montada y Miel (Galician Crepes with Fresh Whipped Cream and Honey), Arroz de Montaña (Mountain Style Rice with Chicken and Fresh Sausage), Macarrones Gratinados (Penne Pasta with Tomatoes and Fresh Sausage Au Gratin), and Papas Aliñás (Cádiz Style Potatoes in Vinaigrette).
The Filloas de Leche con Nata Montada y Miel (Galician Crepes with Fresh Whipped Cream and Honey) are a sweet variation of crepes from Galicia. Crepes lightly flavored with brandy are served with a dusting of powdered sugar, whipped cream, and a drizzle of honey.
Arroz de Montaña (Mountain Style Rice with Chicken and Fresh Sausage) comes from the mountainous parts of Spain and is sometimes known as Arroz a la Cazuela. Since I didn’t have a cazuela (round terra-cotta casserole), I used a large cast iron pan to prepare this rustic rice dish packed with chicken, garlic, pork, nuts, tomatoes, and paprika.
This Macarrones Gratinados (Penne Pasta with Tomatoes and Fresh Sausage Au Gratin) variation from the eastern part of the Pyrenees mountain range is an easy, but flavorful pasta dish. Cooked penne is coated in a tomato sauce with onion, ground beef, smooth pâté, and freshly grated mild cheese.
Papas Aliñás (Cádiz Style Potatoes in Vinaigrette) is another simple dish with minimal prep. Tender potatoes are tossed with shallots, parsley, and a light coating of olive oil and sherry vinegar.
Looking for more Spanish recipes?
- Macarrones con Chorizo (Spanish Pasta with Chorizo)
- Magdalenas (Spanish Muffins)
- Patatas a la Riojana (Potatoes Rioja-Style with Chorizo)
Spain is a great pick for those interested in the regional cooking of Spain. There is a good balance to the recipes. Some take as little as 10 minutes, while others are a bit more labor intensive.
Most of the ingredients can be found in the average American grocery store. A few items that may require further searching include Spanish Jamón, Pimentón Dulce/Picante, saffron, chorizo, quince, Romesco peppers, Piquillo peppers, and fresh seafood.
Pan con Chocolate (Spanish Chocolate with Bread) Recipe
Excerpt from Spain
Pan con Chocolate (Spanish Toasted Bread with Chocolate)
- 12 slices baguette
- 12 thin pieces high-quality chocolate 1/2 to 1 inch (1.25 to 2.5 cm) square
- Extra-virgin olive oil
- Flaky sea salt
- Preheat the broiler.
- Place the baguette slices on a baking sheet and slide them under the broiler. Toast slightly, turning as needed, until the edges are fringed golden. Remove from the oven. Turn off the broiler, but close the door to keep the oven warm.
- Lay a piece of chocolate atop each slice of bread and slide back into the warm oven. Leave in the heat only long enough to just soften the chocolate; do not let it completely melt. Once the edges begin to droop- but the chocolate still has a "bite" to it- remove from the oven.
- Transfer the bread to a serving platter. Liberally drizzle each with olive oil and generously scatter salt flakes over the top. Serve immediately.