The Spanish Home Kitchen by Jose Pizarro
If you’re looking to delve into the world of Spanish cuisine, then this appetising offering from restaurateur José Pizarro is an excellent choice. Filled with traditional recipes that cover everything from tortillas to Iberico pork, The Spanish Home Kitchen is a result of decades of authentic home cooking. In the few weeks I’ve had the cookbook, I’ve spent most of it imagining all the Spanish feasts now at my fingertips.
When it came to testing, I decided to go for lentils with potatoes and chorizo (it wouldn’t be a Spanish cookbook if chorizo didn’t make an appearance or two, after all). Now, I’ll be honest: I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by a dish that looks like a potato stew but I couldn’t have been more wrong. The mix of vegetables fried in chorizo oil, meat in stock simmered with bay leaves made one unbelievably tasty dish. The only gripe I have is that I didn’t make enough. Lunch the next day was also divine.
The cookbook is split into four sections – vegetables, seafood, meat and sweet – so there is something here to suit every taste. My only critiques are: the book would have benefitted from a section about traditional Spanish ingredients to have on hand, and most of the dishes err on the complicated side, ingredients-wise. A few simpler recipes that can be bashed out quickly and The Spanish Kitchen would be perfecta.
Lentils with chorizo and potatoes
2 tbsp olive oil
250g (9oz) chorizo, sliced
1 onion, finely sliced
2 garlic cloves, finely sliced
1 small carrot, chopped
300g (10½oz) large floury potatoes, quartered or cut into large chunks
1-2 fresh bay leaves
250g (9oz) puy lentils, rinsed
1L (34fl oz/4 cups) fresh chicken stock
150g (5oz) morcilla, chopped
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
Crusty bread, to serve
Heat the olive oil in a deep casserole dish (Dutch oven) over a medium heat. Add the chorizo slices and cook until golden on both sides. Once cooked, remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set aside on a plate, leaving the reddish oil in the pan.
Add the onion to the pan and cook for 5 minutes until slightly softened, then add the garlic and cook for a further minute or two. Add the carrot, potatoes and bay leaves to the pan and cook for another couple of minutes, stirring occasionally.
Add the lentils, followed by the stock. Season well and bring to the boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook, covered, for 30 minutes, or until the lentils have softened but still have some bite. The mixture should still be quite soupy; if it is a little too dry, add another splash of stock. Return the chorizo to the pan, along with the morcilla, and cook, uncovered, for 5–7 minutes. Serve in warmed bowls with crusty bread.
The Modern Cheeseboard by Morgan McGlynn
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 come across fromage expert Morgan McGlynn’s The Modern Cheeseboard.
As the name suggests, it contains every style of cheeseboard you can imagine. Want something for your summer solstice party? Done. Something full of French delicacies? Done. Smorgasbord? Boards the colour of the rainbow? Beyond assembling delicious masterpieces, there’s also a wealth of cheese-related knowledge. From the science of flavour pairings to how to cut every type of cheese, you’ll come away a whole lot wiser.
I went for the “cosy night in” cheeseboard, which paired a number of cheeses including gouda, brie and gruyere with loads of fresh fruit. Although I couldn’t get my hands on gorgonzola dulce, the other cheeses were delicious and went really well together. Paired with some rosemary crackers… amazing.
I actually caught Covid while writing this article, so sitting in my armchair with a cheeseboard for one really helped me when I was feeling sorry for myself. All the recipes come with pairings and suggestions and if a cheese doesn’t take your fancy there’s always a wealth of other options to substitute it with. So, if you’re looking to make all your fromage fantasies come true, look no further than The Modern Cheeseboard.
Cosy night in cheeseboard
100g (3½oz) fresh Chèvre log
200g (7oz) Gouda
200g (7oz) Gruyère
150g (5½oz) Gorgonzola Dolce
200g (7oz) Brie
1 red apple
100g (3½oz) red grapes
50g (1¾oz) strawberries
50g (1¾oz) shelled pistachios
50g (1¾oz) blueberries 50g (1¾oz) shop-bought red (bell) pepper chutney
Bread and crackers:
Handful of light water biscuits
2 thyme sprigs
Cut a few slices of the goat’s cheese log, cut the Gouda into long, pointed triangles, the Gruyère into batons and the Gorgonzola into cubes. Keep the Brie whole.
Cut the apple into thin slices and halve the grapes and strawberries.
To assemble: starting from the top left, place the cheeses on the board in the following order, Gouda, Brie, Gorgonzola, Gruyère and goat’s cheese. Be sure to leave a gap between each cheese. The triangles of Gouda and Brie should point towards the centre.
Next, fill the gaps between the cheeses. Place the sprigs of thyme between the Gouda and Brie then scatter the pistachios in the gap between the Brie and Gorgonzola. Pile the strawberries in the space between the Gorgonzola and Gruyère and lay the apple at the bottom of the board between the goat’s cheese and Gruyère. Place the grape halves between the goat’s 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 ramekin and serve alongside the board with thewater biscuits. Garnish with the thyme.
Green Kitchen: Quick + Slow by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl
A result of their Green Kitchen Stories blog, Green Kitchen: Quick + Slow is a great book if you’re looking to introduce more vegetarian dishes into your life. As the name suggests, the recipes are a mixture of quick meals you can have on the table in minutes and slower ones when you something a bit more show-worthy.
No two recipes are the same – you could make chocolate waffles with granola butter one day and pumpkin, caramelised onions and kale quiche the next. The section on breakfast (just one of six) reeled me in immediately with the harissa fried eggs on toast. This wonderfully spicy dish does what it says on the tin – a mere seven minutes (yes, I timed it) and I had an entire meal plated up. And what a great meal it was – spicy and earthy from the harissa paste and turmeric; fresh from the Icelandic yoghurt and nice and yolky from the eggs.
Just a little tip from your humble reviewer – do no eat this dish without a knife and fork otherwise you will dye your fingers a nice shade of fluorescent yellow. If you’re anything like me, you have to really commit to getting more veggies in your life – this cookbook has done the impossible and actually made me excited to whip out the carrots and broccoli.
Baked harissa eggs on toast
2 slices of bread (we like a good rye sourdough, but you do you)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground turmeric
½ tsp ground cumin
2 tsp harissa (preferably rose harissa)
2 large free-range eggs
4 tbsp Greek yoghurt
Pinch of salt
Handful of dill, leaves picked and chopped
Variations: You can also serve this in a bowl over yoghurt and greens if you don’t like bread – like a variation on Turkish eggs.
No harissa? You can replace it with another chilli sauce, like sambal oelek, gochujang or sriracha.
Toast the bread in a toaster.
Meanwhile, heat the oil in a frying pan (skillet) over a medium-high heat. Add the spices and harissa and stir with a spatula, or tilt the pan slightly so that everything combines. Crack your eggs into the pan and fry for a few minutes until the whites have set with golden edges and the eggs are cooked to your liking.
Spread the yoghurt over the slices of toast, then top each one with an egg, along with any leftover harissa oil. Sprinkle with salt and a good pinch of dill and serve.