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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.
One 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.
Most 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
Source: Review (see review policy)
Copyright © cbl for Beth Fish Reads, all rights reserved (see review policy)