LA COCINA DE MAM: The Great Home Cooking of Spain

Penelope Casas, Author . Broadway $29.95 (308p) ISBN 978-0-7679-1222-8

Though the plethora of tapas bars opening in cities around the country may be a step in the right direction toward popularizing Spanish cooking, it would be a grave injustice to deny Spain its culinary breadth beyond those tasty little dishes would be a grave injustice. And while paella may be the sole Spanish comfort food most Americans can name, this may soon change thanks to Casas, who leads gastronomic tours of Spain and contributes to Gourmet and other publications, leading the way with books like this. She sheds light on a country that, culinarily speaking, has taken a backseat to France and Italy, and shares recipes for creating such previously unfamiliar Spanish specialties as Octopus with Paprika in Simmered Onions, and Batter-Fried Eggplant with Honey, Mint and Sesame Seeds. Divided into nine personally narrated chapters (plus a product source guide and introductions on regional Spanish wines, cooking methods and staples), this book will satiate those who've been searching for a savant's handbook to the Spanish kitchen. Salads and sides abound, and Casas balances the remaining menu with varied meat, grain and fish recipes, many garlic-laden and tinged with red wine. Beware, though: many recipes, though drop-dead delicious, call for ample prep time (a few take two days to prepare) and plentiful patience. The end result, however, will help cooks create a worthwhile, more profound bond with both New and Old World Spanish cuisine. Color, b&w photos. (On sale Apr. 5)

Reviewed on: 12/06/2004
Release date: 02/01/2005
Genre: Nonfiction
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