Spain: The Cookbook, written by Simone and Inés Ortega, features a massive collection of over a thousand recipes. Simone first wrote 1080 Recetas de Cocina over thirty years ago and it was published by her husband. Her daughter, Inés Ortega, updated and modernized the recipes to create this edition in English (it was first published in 2007 as 1080 Recipes). There is an incredible range of dishes from Canapés de Atún (Tuna Canapés) and Empanada Gallega (Galician Pie) to Macarrones con Mejillones al Curry (Macaroni with Curried Mussels), Chuletas de Cerdo con Cebollas en Salsa, Rosquillas Alargadas de Almendras (Almond Doughnuts), and Melocotones Cocidos con Sabayon (Peaches cooked with Zabaglione).
Simone Ortega wrote about food for more than fifty years. She was born in Barcelona and learned how to cook by watching her mother in the kitchen. In addition to being a bestselling author, she has won multiple awards, had a regular column in ¡Hola!, and has been featured in various publications and on the radio. Her daughter, Inés Ortega, is also a food writer and has written many cookbooks including Quick and Easy Spanish Recipes, The Book of Tapas, and La Cocina de Inés Ortega.
Disclaimer: I received this book from Phaidon in exchange for my honest review. All comments and opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links.
Chapters are divided based on course: Appetizers; Cold Plate Suggestions; Fried Dishes, Savory Tartlets, Little Turnovers, and Mousses; Sauces; Stews and Soups; Rice, Legumes, Potatoes, and Pasta; Vegetables and Mushrooms; Eggs, Flans, and Soufflés; Fish and Shellfish; Meat; Poultry; Game; Variety Meats; Desserts; and Menus from Celebrated Spanish Chefs.
Each chapter begins with background information, health stats, and tips and tricks for working with the ingredients. The book finishes with cooking information, tips, and a glossary. In-between, the focus is solely on the over 1000 recipes featuring a variety of ingredients. There aren’t any headnotes, historical information, or personal stories.
Scattered across the pages are hundreds of colorful illustrations provided by Javier Marshal. There are also over 100 full-page photographs by Jason Lowe. They are generally of the finished dish and are grouped together in various sections of the book. The name of each recipe is listed in English and Spanish. Measurements are provided in US Customary.
This book is a great pick for those looking for a collection of everyday Spanish recipes. Many of the dishes are delicious, yet simple and are made with the home cook in mind. Each recipe is numbered for easy reference. The chapters are also grouped in a way that is perfect for searching for recipes featuring an item you may have on hand such as a specific type of vegetable, fish, or meat. Most of the ingredients are available in the average American grocery store, but a few may require access to a market featuring Spanish ingredients. A reputable seafood market will also be helpful. Some of the more difficult to locate items include saffron, rabbit and other game/variety meats, currants, foie gras paté, chorizo, salt cod, blood sausage, smoked paprika, paella rice, ñora (dried red bell pepper), and pickled green guindilla pepper.
Arroz con Acelgas is a simple rice dish with bacon and Swiss chard. It comes together quickly and easily for a delicious light meal. The bacon and Swiss chard are sautéed in olive oil, then rice and beef stock are added. The mixture simmers for about 20 minutes, until the rice is tender and the stock is absorbed. It is served hot with some freshly grated Parmesan cheese on the side.
This dish was a particular favorite with the whole family. I will probably double the recipe next time since there wasn’t a grain of rice leftover in the pot.
I also made Tarta de Puerros con Arroz (Leek Tart with Rice), Salmon con Vinagreta de Naranja (Salmon with Orange Vinaigrette), Albóndigas (Meatballs), and Pestiños (Honey Coated Pastries).
The Leek Tart with Rice was perfect for a light brunch or lunch. Leeks and onions are sautéed, then baked in an egg and cheese mixture until set. I loved that the tart was paired with a red bell pepper cream sauce.
The Salmon with Orange Vinaigrette is another dish that comes together easily for a weeknight meal. The salmon fillets are marinated briefly in olive oil, then broiled until flaky and served with an orange balsamic vinaigrette.
The Albóndigas (Meatballs) were extremely tender and flavorful. Ground beef is mixed with parsley, bread crumbs, white wine, and egg before forming into balls. They are browned in a skillet and simmered in a tomato saffron sauce. I served the Albóndigas and sauce with rice. The kids also enjoyed this one.
The Pestiños are little fried pastries coated in honey. I have seen recipes in the past that fry the dough in olive oil, but this particular recipe uses sunflower oil. The dough is flavored with white wine and rolled into a thin sheet. The sheet is cut into rectangles and two corners are folded towards the center to achieve the desired shape. After frying until golden, the Pestiños are covered in runny honey that gives them their sweetness since no sugar is added to the dough. These pastries are particularly popular during the Easter season.
Arroz con Acelgas (Spanish Rice with Swiss Chard)
Adapted from Spain: The Cookbook
1/4 cup olive oil
1 pound 10 ounces Swiss chard, thick stems discarded and leaves chopped
3 1/2 ounces bacon, cut into strips
1 cup round-grain rice
2 cups beef stock
Grated Parmesan cheese for serving
In a large pan, drizzle oil over medium-low heat. Add the swiss chard and bacon. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the bacon is cooked and Swiss chard wilted, about 5 minutes.
Stir in the rice and add the stock. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook until the rice is tender and stock absorbed, about 20 minutes.
Serve immediately with Parmesan cheese.