02 April 2016

Weekend Cooking: The Basque Book by Alexandra Raij, Eder Montero, and Rebecca Marx

Weekend Cooking hosted by www.BethFishReads.comWeekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page.

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Review: The Basque Book by Alex Raij and Rebecca MarxAlexandra Raij had wanted to be a chef all her life, so it seemed natural that after she graduated from culinary school and got her first job, she'd date and then marry a fellow chef. Although Raij's American-born, her parents are from Argentina, and she's always had a strong affinity for her Spanish-inspired roots. Her husband, Eder Montero, is from Basque country, and his native dishes star in their restaurant, which specializes in northern Spanish cuisine.

The subtitle of The Basque Book is "A Love Letter in Recipes from the Kitchen of Txikito." Txikito is the name of Raij and Montero's New York City restaurant, and the book is indeed a love story on a several levels: the love of a couple, of a cuisine, of a region, and of a lifelong passion.

copyright: Alexandra Raij, Eder Montero, and Rebecca MarxOne of the great things about The Basque Book is that Raij and Montero assume (rightly in my case) that their readers know very little about Basque cuisine. I love the sections on sample menus, basic techniques, and foundation recipes. I'm also thankful for the resource sections at the back of the book, which explain ingredients and give recommendations for mail-ordering.

I'm attracted to the clean flavors and simplicity of many of the dishes--spiced lamb meatballs, braised leeks, roasted pork with paprika, crab with peppercorns, eggs and mushrooms--and there are many recipes I have marked to try. I especially like the chapters focusing on appetizers and casual dining. Unfortunately for me, however, the Basque like their fish and shellfish, and I live in a land-locked small town. This means I won't be making squid or mussels or fresh sardines any time soon.

copyright: Alexandra Raij, Eder Montero, and Rebecca MarxMost of the recipes are very accessible for experienced home cooks. The directions are well written, and many are accompanied by gorgeous photographs. For an idea of the kinds of food you'll find in the book, you can click on over to the Txikito website, and check out the menu. Many of the dishes served in the restaurant appear in the cookbook. There is an entire chapter devoted to eggs and another to garden produce, so vegetarians should find a number of Basque dishes to try at home.

The Basque Book is a wonderfully informative and easy-to-follow introduction to the foods of northern Spain. After looking at the photos and skimming the recipes, you'll be dreaming of making reservations at Alexandra Raij and Eder Montero's restaurant next time you're in New York. In the meantime, you can cook up a storm in your own kitchen. Pass the gratin of artichoke hearts (see scan; click to enlarge) and a dry Rioja, and let's get eating . . . Basque-style.

Note on the scans: The recipe and photo are from The Basque Book and are used here in the context of a review. All rights remain with the copyright holders (Alex Raij, Eder Montero, Rebecca Marx, Penny de los Santos, 10-Speed Press).

Published by Ten-Speed Press, April 19, 2016
ISBN-13: 9781607747611
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)


19 comments:

Tina 4/2/16, 7:55 AM  

I don't know anything about Basque cooking either. New cuisines are always a welcome educational pursuits for me. Glad you highlighted this book. Off to my favorite resource for books today, the library, where I will make a request for this book.

jama 4/2/16, 9:21 AM  

Sounds interesting. Would love to learn more about Basque cooking. Will look for this one at the library. :)

Mae Travels 4/2/16, 9:22 AM  

Basque cooking is popular in France (or at least it was when I spent time there). I also recall a very informal Basque restaurant in San Francisco many years ago. I have no idea if Basque restaurants in Paris or SF in the past were any more authentic than one in New York now, but this does sound intriguing. I don't think I have a Basque cookbook.

Best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Debbie 4/2/16, 9:23 AM  

I live in Basque country! Well in Nevada, anyway. We have a huge Basque population/community in our small desert town. One of the restaurants here still is in the original boarding house and they still serve their dinners boarding house style--so you have to share your salad bowl and soup bowl with whomever is at the table with you. It's unique, but maybe not for everyone (to sit with strangers) BUT I do LOVE their food. I'll have to check out this cookbook.

rhapsodyinbooks 4/2/16, 9:41 AM  

When we traveled to the Basque region we were astonished by all the "x"es in words! Not that this has anything to do with Basque cooking....

Jackie Mc Guinness 4/2/16, 10:37 AM  

Some of these recipes sound interesting. The price of seafood here is ridiculous, was at market yesterday and crab legs (LOVE) were $39 a pound.

Mae Travels 4/2/16, 11:00 AM  

Hi Beth,
I've noticed that many reviews cover cookbooks that the bloggers received for free. Your selection today doesn't seem to be in that category, but I have three questions for cookbook reviewers:

1) Does it include enough recipes that are different from the usual ones in a standard cookbook library or a standard online archive like Epicurious? (The answer in the case of your cookbook seems to be yes.)
2) Does it include food history or really interesting memoirs along with the recipes? These could make up for a not-so-good answer to question 1.
3) Is it worth the purchase price, assuming that other readers don't get a free copy as many reviewers did?

I would really like to hear your thoughts and those of other food bloggers on the issue of how to make a cookbook review useful.

best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

Katherine P 4/2/16, 11:20 AM  

I know pretty much nothing about Basque cooking so I'm definitely intrigued by this one! I'm not sure if I'd buy this one because we don't eat much seafood here but I'd definitely like to get it from the library to at least learn more about the cuisine.

Vicki 4/2/16, 11:55 AM  

I don't know anything about Basque cooking. It's funny, but my favorite place to be in the world is at the ocean, but I'm not a seafood lover. I do like shrimp, and fish once in a great while. So I won't be making recipes with squid, mussels, or fresh sardines ever. I did try squid once in a restaurant, just a few bites, and it was ok, but they are too creepy looking for me to touch them. I worked in a Greek restaurant once and never used my bare hands to touch the anchovies. Ewwww.

Claudia 4/2/16, 12:55 PM  

I love reading about and trying new cuisines, and Basque is definitely a new one to me. Will have to look for this book.

Deb in Hawaii 4/2/16, 1:17 PM  

Thanks for your review. I read something about this book the other day and was intrigued as I am reading a foodie cozy mystery series that features some Basque cuisine mentions and it's one that I am not too familiar with. Being a seafood lover I like that there a lot of seafood recipes in it and vegetarian recipes too. Sounds like a wonderful and beautiful book.

Create With Joy 4/2/16, 10:56 PM  

This sounds like a really interesting cookbook Beth - thanks for sharing and hosting!
The Book Nook is now open for the entire month of April - come join us and have an amazing month! :-)

Saroja S 4/3/16, 12:56 AM  

good intro to a recipe ..
will be following your blog..
nice to read

(Diane) bookchickdi 4/3/16, 10:07 AM  

I never been to Txikito, I'm going to have to go there.

rhonda 4/3/16, 10:28 AM  

I really enjoyed this book .The lovely family delicious Basque cooking really wonderful.

Zebacart Book Seller 4/4/16, 8:29 AM  

I enjoyed to your article because I love cooking and eating some new and different taste.
oswaal books

Camilla Mann 4/4/16, 7:26 PM  

We have a great Basque restaurant not too far from us and I'd love to learn more about the foods. Thanks for the recommendation.

Wendy Klik 4/7/16, 1:10 PM  

I am not familiar with Basque cooking at all so this book intrigues me. Thanks for sharing.

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