The Spanish home cooking of José Pizarro
If you are looking to delve into the world of Spanish cuisine, this appetizing proposal by restaurateur José Pizarro is an excellent option. Packed with traditional recipes ranging from tortillas to Iberian pork, Spanish home cooking is the result of decades of authentic home cooking. In the few weeks that I have had the cookbook, I have spent most of it imagining all the Spanish fiestas now at my fingertips.
When it came time to taste, I decided to go for lentils with potatoes and chorizo (after all, it wouldn’t be a Spanish cookbook if chorizo didn’t feature one or two). Now, I’ll be honest: I didn’t expect to be surprised by a dish that looks like potato stew, but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The mixture of vegetables fried in chorizo oil, slow-cooked meat in broth with bay leaves made for an incredibly tasty dish. The only complaint I have is that I didn’t do enough. Lunch the next day was also divine.
The cookbook is divided into four sections: vegetables, seafood, meats, and sweets, so there is something here for everyone. My only criticisms are: the book would have benefited from having a section on traditional Spanish ingredients handy, and most of the dishes err on the tricky side, ingredient-wise. Some simpler recipes that can be prepared quickly and Spanish cuisine it would be perfect
Lentils with chorizo and potatoes
2 tablespoons olive oil
250g (9oz) chorizo, sliced
1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 small carrot, chopped
10½ oz (300 g) large floury potatoes, quartered or coarsely chopped
1-2 fresh bay leaves
9 oz (250 g) puy lentils, rinsed
1 L (34 fl oz/4 cups) fresh chicken broth
5 oz (150 g) blood sausage, chopped
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crispy bread, to serve
Heat the olive oil in a deep saucepan (Dutch oven) over medium heat. Add the chorizo slices and cook until golden brown on both sides. Once cooked, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and reserve on a plate, leaving the reddish oil in the pan.
Add the onion to the skillet and cook for 5 minutes until slightly softened, then add the garlic and cook for another minute or two. Add the carrot, potatoes, and bay leaves to the skillet and cook for a couple more minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the lentils, followed by the broth. Season well and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the lentils have softened but still have some flavor. The mixture should still be quite thick; if it’s too dry, add another splash of broth. Return the chorizo to the skillet, along with the blood sausage, and cook, uncovered, for 5 to 7 minutes. Serve in hot bowls with crusty bread.
Morgan McGlynn’s Modern Cheese Board
I love cheese. Crumbly feta, creamy Saint Agur blue, nutty Manchego: anything cheese-related, I’m in. So you can imagine how delighted I was to meet Morgan McGlynn’s cheese expert. The modern cheese board.
As the name suggests, it contains every style of cheese board you can imagine. Do you want something for your summer solstice party? Done. Something full of French delicacies? Done. Smorgasbord? Rainbow color charts? Beyond assembling delicious masterpieces, there is also a wealth of cheese-related lore. From the science of flavor pairings to how to cut each type of cheese, you’ll come away that much wiser.
I chose the “cozy night” cheese board, which paired a number of cheeses, including gouda, brie, and gruyere, with plenty of fresh fruit. Although I couldn’t get sweet gorgonzola, the other cheeses were delicious and went together so well. Accompanied by some rosemary cookies… incredible.
I actually got Covid while writing this article, so sitting on my couch with a cheese board for one really helped when I was feeling sorry for myself. All recipes come with pairings and suggestions and if you don’t like a cheese, there are always plenty of other options to substitute it. So if you’re looking to make all of your fromage fantasies come true, look no further than The modern cheese board.
Cozy night at cheese board
It serves: two
100 g (3½ oz) fresh Chèvre log
7 ounces (200 g) Gouda
200 g (7 oz) Gruyère
150 g (5½ oz) Gorgonzola Dolce
7 ounces (200 g) Brie
1 red apple
3½ oz (100 g) red grapes
1¾oz (50g) strawberries
1¾ oz (50 g) shelled pistachios
1¾ oz (50 g) blueberries 1¾ oz (50 g) store-bought red pepper chutney
bread and cookies:
A handful of light water crackers
2 sprigs of thyme
Cut a few slices of goat cheese, cut the Gouda into long, pointed triangles, the Gruyère into sticks and the Gorgonzola into cubes. Keep the Brie whole.
Cut the apple into thin slices and cut the grapes and strawberries in half.
To assemble: Starting from the top left, place the cheeses on the board in the following order, Gouda, Brie, Gorgonzola, Gruyère, and goat cheese. Be sure to leave a space between each cheese. The Gouda and Brie triangles should point toward the center.
Next, fill in the spaces between the cheeses. Place the thyme sprigs between the Gouda and Brie and then sprinkle the pistachios in the space between the Brie and Gorgonzola. Stack the strawberries in the space between the Gorgonzola and Gruyère and place the apple on the bottom of the board between the goat cheese and Gruyère. Place the grape halves between the goat cheese and Gouda. Sprinkle the blueberries in the empty spaces on the bottom half of the board.
Place the red pepper chutney in a small pan and serve next to the board with the crackers. Decorate with the thyme.
Green Kitchen: Fast + Slow by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl
As a result of his Green Kitchen Stories blog, Green Kitchen: Fast + Slow is a great book if you are looking to introduce more vegetarian dishes into your life. As the name suggests, the recipes are a mix of quick meals you can have on the table in minutes and slower ones when you’re looking for something a little more show-worthy.
No two recipes are the same – you can make Chocolate Buttermilk Granola Waffles one day and Butternut Squash, Caramelized Onions and Kale Quiche the next. The breakfast section (only one of six) immediately grabbed me with the harissa fried eggs on toast. This wonderfully spicy dish does what it says on the tin: just seven minutes (yes, I timed it) and I had a full meal on the plate. And what a great meal it was: spicy and earthy from the harissa paste and turmeric; Icelandic yoghurt fresh and nice with egg yolk.
Just a little advice from your humble reviewer: don’t eat this dish without a knife and fork, otherwise it will stain your fingers a nice shade of fluorescent yellow. If you’re like me, you really need to commit to eating more veggies in your life – this cookbook has done the impossible, and I was actually thrilled to make the carrots and broccoli.
Baked harissa eggs on toast
It serves: two
2 slices of bread (we like a good rye sourdough, but you do)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
½ teaspoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons harissa (preferably pink harissa)
2 large free-range eggs
4 tablespoons Greek yogurt
Pinch of salt
A handful of dill, the leaves collected and chopped
variations: You can also serve it in a bowl over yogurt and vegetables if you don’t like bread, as a variation of Turkish eggs.
No harissa? You can replace it with another chili sauce, such as sambal oelek, gochujang, or sriracha.
Toast the bread in a toaster.
Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet (sauté pan) over medium-high heat. Add the spices and harissa and stir with a spatula, or tilt the pan a bit to get everything combined. Crack the eggs into the pan and fry for a few minutes until the whites have firmed up with golden edges and the eggs are cooked to your liking.
Spread the yogurt over the toasted bread slices, then top each with an egg, along with any remaining harissa oil. Sprinkle with salt and a good pinch of dill and serve.