One Pot Spanish: More Than 80 Easy, Authentic Recipes

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Sellers Publishing

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Spain's history and geography together create one of the world's most varied and rewarding cuisines. Well-known author Penelope Casas, widely considered the foremost American authority on Spanish food, expertly shows why Spanish cooking has always been the perfect fare for the ages: the freshest ingredients prepared simply - a perfect opportunity for one-pot cooking.


Penelope Casas
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One Pot Spanish: More Than 80 Easy, Authentic Recipes
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If you wanted to tour Spain, you couldn't go wrong by enlisting Penelope Casas as a guide. The same goes for learning to cook Spanish foods. Casas is an excellent guide for that as well.

Lucky for us, we don't have to wait for her to visit our kitchens. She has put it all together in a handy guidebook called One Pot Spanish. In it, we get more than eighty recipes. But we also get a tour of the country. We can cook fish in Catalonia, chicken in Aragón, or even rabbit on the Canary Islands?

Simply put, this is a recipe book. There are no big explanations of how to stock a pantry or sections defining terms and telling you what equipment you will need. There is a single-page introduction and each recipe has notes about the origins of the dish, how it is enjoyed and delicious descriptions.

Nor are they chatty recipes. We don't learn how to cook chickpeas and we do not get warnings that sliced garlic in hot oil can burn quickly. We know that. I like that Casas assumes we know what we are doing.

One Pot Spanish is divided into eight logical chapters. Salads, Soups, Meat and Desserts are each given their own section while the others combine Rice and Pasta, Fish and Seafood, Poultry and Game, and Vegetables and Legumes. Most recipes fit nicely onto one page and full-color photos accompany more than half of them.

The recipes are unexpected sometimes, given the title. To me, the term "one pot" conjures up images of casseroles and simple stove top preparations, not Grilled Fish with Anchovy-Caper Sauce or Pork Tenderloin and Tomato Salad. There are plenty of paellas, however, the ultimate one pot Spanish dish.

I prepared eight recipes from this book. All were good but some were so much better than the others. I'm crazy about chickpeas, as are the Spanish, the author writes, so I made the Marinated Chickpeas with Capers and Red Pepper first. The delightful ratio of ingredients allowed the beans to really shine while the unusual garnish of crumbled hard-cooked egg yolk proved perfect. 

We find an egg in the recipe for Castilian Garlic Soup, too. This simple concoction is quite delicious, with a satisfying, rich paprika flavor, tasty nubbins of chewy ham and just a whisper of garlic. One point to note is that the four servings the recipe says it makes would be small. I ate nearly half the soup in one sitting without being gluttonous.

I chose the Chilled Fish Terrine with Capers and Mayonnaise because I'd never made a terrine. I'd also never cooked with cod before, oddly enough, because cod is good! In this application it is poached in a bath of white wine and clam juice with finely chopped onion and carrot plus saffron and herbs. After cooking the fish we are instructed to reserve 3/4 cup of the liquid and discard the rest. I simply couldn't bear to pour this gorgeous stuff down the drain. Instead, I tucked it away in a freezer container for some future use. The terrine came out beautifully. It was especially delicious on toast with lots of mayonnaise and a scattering of capers.

One night I had a little dinner party with dishes only from One Pot Spanish. The appetizer of Moorish-Style Battered Eggplant stole the show. The eggplant batter, lightened with soda water yet somewhat crunchy from minced garlic and crushed coriander, fried up light and airy. Another unusual garnish, this time honey with chopped cilantro and more crushed coriander, and we have another perfect enhancement.

The first attempt at dessert did go awry, twice. The instructions to make the caramelized sugar for Caramel Custard went against everything I was taught about making flan.  Stirring the water and the sugar constantly and then adding more water after it caramelized seemed wrong and, sure enough, it was. I tried it twice, thinking that maybe my little non-stick saucepan was the problem in the first batch but a commercial grade saucepan yielded the same crystallized sugar mass. No worries for dinner, though. The recipe for Catalan Cream had mostly the same ingredients and I proceeded without incident.

Fans of Penelope Casas' previous book Tapas will not be disappointed by One Pot Spanish. She gives us authentic dishes that aren't fussy yet they are full of flavor. I have a feeling this is a book I will reach for time and time again for both easy home-style meals and party fare.

Berenjena Rebozada A La Morisca
(Moorish-Style Battered Eggplant)

Makes 4 servings

For eggplant:
1 11/2-lb/750g eggplant, peeled and thinly sliced crosswise
Kosher or sea salt
1 egg
1/4 cup/50 mL dry white wine
1 cup/250 mL all-purpose flour
1/2 cup/125 mL seltzer (soda) water
1 tbsp/15 mL minced cilantro   
1 1/2 tsp/7 mL crushed coriander seeds
1 clove garlic, minced
Freshly ground pepper
Olive oil for frying

For garnish: 
1 tbsp/15 mL minced cilantro
Crushed coriander seed to taste
2 tbsp/30 mL liquid honey

To prepare the eggplant, arrange the eggplant slices in layers in a colander, salting each layer well. Let stand for 15 minutes, then rinse and drain. Dry well on paper towels.

Whisk together the egg and wine in a medium bowl. Stir in the flour, seltzer water, cilantro, coriander, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste.

Pour the oil into a large skillet to a depth of 1 1/2 inches/3.5 cm (or better still, use a deep-fryer) and heat over high heat until the oil quickly browns a cube of bread. Dip the eggplant slices in the batter and drop a few at a time into the hot oil. (If the batter becomes too thick, thin it with a little water until it's the consistency of a thick pancake batter.) Fry, in batches, until the eggplant slices are cooked and golden, turning once. Drain on paper towels, sprinkle with the cilantro and crushed coriander seed, and drizzle with the honey. Serve at once.

Recipe courtesy "One Pot Spanish," written by Penelope Casas, published by Sellers Publishing, 2009


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