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Espana: Exploring the Flavors of Spain: Exploring the Flavors of Spain

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  • Posted April 26, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Stunning Images, Tantalizing Recipes and Pithy Writing

    At times a cookbook is more than just a cookbook. It might be inspiring, enlightening, or a special kind of coffee table book. On a rare occasion an individual book draws qualities from a variety of genres. “Espana: Exploring the Flavors of Spain” blends each aspect into a satisfying presentation. I’ve owned more than 400 cookbooks in the past—today I’m looking for real cooking value when it comes to shelf space. Two bibliophiles occupy our home, so competition for library space is fierce on all levels.

    My opinion changed after forcing myself to select some recipes and start cooking. This started with the fact that when I propped the substantial collection on my recipe stand it stood easily. I didn’t need any clips, weights or other jerry-rigged shenanigans to keep it open. The stand and protective Plexiglas cover sufficed.

    Working in the kitchen also opened my eyes to beauty of the recipes. Many of them require a brief ingredient list. You do some hunting to find the specific cheeses or for some good saffron to get the best results. The techniques called for most home cooks can handle.

    The results are tasty, impressive, clean, and unexpected. The marinated Manchego stuns in simplicity. You can easily have a cheese course with one lovely dish. The tasters all agreed: it’s exactly the kind of recipe that melts my heart and charms my intellect. We also loved a number of salad. A variety of salads also pleased on varied levels.

    The star of the tested recipes however, came from the “Huh, never thought of those flavors together” category. “Baked Spinach with Goat Cheese and Raisin Compota” completely fills these needs. Reading the recipe hit that unexpected combination button. The list of ingredients seemed to be one of those that could be great, below average, or just silly.

    In the case of this recipe, a three-on-base home run flew into the stands. I made my version all in one stone-ware dish. Besides not having that many small terra cotta dishes, with a line-up of 10 dishes for a testing lunch, I opted to save space and time. The first reaction of all the testers.

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