Friday, November 23, 2007

1080 Recipes

As I very much enjoy Spanish food, I was definitely interested when I heard that this cookbook was finally being translated into English. I ordered a copy and received it recently. So did it meet my expectations?

1080 Recipes ($39.95) edited by Simone Ortega and Ines Ortega (and illustrated by Javier Mariscal) is published by Phaidon Press, Inc. 1080 Recipes is a new hardcover cookbook with 976 pages. It is certainly a thick book and has three bookmark ribbons attached to it.

Simone Ortega has been writing about food for over fifty years. 1080 Recipes was first published in Spain over thirty years ago. It is like a Spanish version of The Joy of Cooking, a seminal work in Spanish cooking. Ines is Simone's daughter and is also a food writer. This edition is the first English language version and has been modified slightly to provide some better explanation of special ingredients and cooking techniques.

The cookbook is broken down into fifteen chapters including Appetizers; Cold Plate Suggestions; Fried Dishes, Savory Tartlets, Little Turnovers and Mousses; Sauces; Stews and Soups; Rice, Pulses, Potatoes and Pasta; Vegetables and Mushrooms; Eggs, Flans and Souffles; Fish and Shellfish; Meat; Poultry; Game; Variety Meats; Desserts; and Menus from Celebrated Spanish Chefs. It contains over 1080 recipes. These recipes range from easy to difficult complexity though many of the recipes are relatively easy to prepare. Some of the ingredients may be difficult to find though the cookbook does provide a Directory page listing places to find the less common ingredients.

Scattered through the cookbook are short sections describing various ingredients and how to prepare them. This includes such items as olive, snails, octopus, legumes, potatoes, asparagus, eggs and much more. This is a nice little addition to the cookbook. Not all of the recipes are specific Spanish foods. Some are just general food recipes, such as hamburgers, minestrone soup, American macaroni and more.

A few of the recipes are rather simplistic and it is very strange to see them in a cookbook. For example, Recipe #3, Muffins with Chopped Ham, basically just states to cut a muffin into thirds, spread butter on the muffin and then top with chopped ham. As another example, Recipe #335, Watercress Salad, is just to toss some watercress with a vinaigrette.

But there are plenty of interesting recipes as well such as Croquettes, Garlic Soup with Eggs, Paella, Potatoes with Chorizo, Patatas Bravas, Duck & Foie Gras Ravioli, Salt Cod Fritters, Coconut Cakes, and Apple Fritters. Some of the recipes use less usual fish and meat, such as Eels, Pomfret, Hake, Ostrich, Hare, and Partridge. Some also use animal parts which are used less in the U.S., including kidneys, brains, tongue, heart, feet, and trotters. For example, there are six recipes for brains including frittered brains, brains with black butter, and broiled brains with tomato sauce.

The basic cookbook has 1080 recipes but there is an extra chapter, Menus from Celebrated Spanish Chefs. This chapter collects contributions from ten different chefs, in Spain and elsewhere. There are over 25 additional recipes, though a fair share of these are of more difficult complexity.

There are numerous illustrations throughout the book, though they are rather simple pictures. But there are also some colorful photographs of specific recipes.

I am somewhat conflicted about this cookbook. There are some very interesting recipes, especially the more Spanish dishes. But there are also a fair share of recipes that many people would probably never make. I would suggest that anyone interested in this cookbook might want to take a look at it before buying it to make sure it is what you seek.

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