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The Basque Book: A Love Letter in Recipes from the Kitchen of Txikito
     

The Basque Book: A Love Letter in Recipes from the Kitchen of Txikito

4.0 1
by Alexandra Raij
 

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Whether it’s a perfectly ripe summer tomato served with just a few slivers of onion and a drizzle of olive oil, salt cod slowly poached in oil and topped with an emulsion of its own juices, or a handful of braised leeks scattered with chopped egg, Basque cooking is about celebrating humble ingredients by cooking them to exquisite perfection.

Chefs Alexandra

Overview

Whether it’s a perfectly ripe summer tomato served with just a few slivers of onion and a drizzle of olive oil, salt cod slowly poached in oil and topped with an emulsion of its own juices, or a handful of braised leeks scattered with chopped egg, Basque cooking is about celebrating humble ingredients by cooking them to exquisite perfection.

Chefs Alexandra Raij and Eder Montero are masters of this art form, and their New York City restaurant Txikito is renowned for its revelatory preparations of simple ingredients. In this much-anticipated and deeply personal debut, Raij and Montero share more than one hundred recipes from Txikito—all inspired  by the home cooking traditions of the Basque Country—that will change the way you cook.

Dishes like Salt Cod in Pil Pil sauce have fewer than five ingredients yet will astonish you with their deeply layered textures and elegant flavors. By following Raij’s careful but encouraging instructions, you can even master Squid in Its Own Ink—a rite of passage for Basque home cooks, and another dish that will amaze you with its richness and complexity.

The Basque Book
is a love letter: to the Basque Country, which inspired these recipes and continues to inspire top culinary minds from around the world; to ingredients high and low; and to the craft of cooking well. Read this book, make Basque food, learn to respect ingredients—and, quite simply, you will become a better cook.

- Food & Wine Magazine, Editor’s picks for Best of 2016

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 03/07/2016
This stellar collection offers 116 original, fresh recipes that without exception stimulate the taste buds and inspire cooks to rush into the kitchen. , Raij and Montero, the chefs and owners of N.Y.C. restaurant Txikito, pay homage to the simplicity and deep flavors of Basque cooking. From basics such as brining, oil, mayo, and a wealth of stocks to pintxos, eggs, and stews, the chefs entice with each and every dish. Marinated mushrooms with vermouth and garlic, cold-poached shrimp with white asparagus, and open-faced fried quail egg and chorizo sandwiches demonstrate the variety and vibrancy of the offerings. A chapter on the bounty of kitchen gardens features mushroom confit, leeks poached in their own juices with chopped egg, and roasted red peppers with oil-cured anchovies, each dish distinctly flavorful and exceptional. Even a simple frisée salad is elevated with the additional of golden garlic and parsley. Eggs are cooked in every way imaginable and showcased in Spanish tortillas, with blood sausage in omelets, and deviled with tuna and foie gras. Campfire trout, butterflied and baked with jamón ibérico and garlic, is simply wondrous, as is the paprika-marinated pork loin roast. Sweets and beverages round out this superb cookbook, an outstanding introduction to traditional Basque cuisine. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
"Dining at Alex Rajj and Eder Montero’s Txikito is like reading a love poem to the Basque Country, and their cookbook reflects that seamlessly."
—VICE Munchies Staff 

"The Basque Book: A Love Letter in Recipes from the Kitchen of Txikito is a gorgeous deep dive into the cooking of this very special region [... ] The book is jam-packed with lovely family stories, rich descriptions of the dishes—some familiar and some that will be very new to you—and excellent tips about what to look for when selecting ingredients, no matter how simple or complex a recipe may be."
—Tina Ujlaki, Food & Wine Magazine

"This stellar collection offers 116 original, fresh recipes that without exception stimulate the taste buds and inspire cooks to rush into the kitchen. [...] Campfire trout, butterflied and baked with jamón ibérico and garlic, is simply wondrous, as is the paprika-marinated pork loin roast. Sweets and beverages round out this superb cookbook, an outstanding introduction to traditional Basque cuisine."
Publishers Weekly starred review

"The recipes from this stunner come from a trio of New York City restaurants—Txikito, La Vara and El Quinto Pino—but reading it feels more like taking a trip to the Spanish countryside. As much a travelogue as it is a primer, it’s a perfect introduction to one of the world’s most ancient and interesting culinary traditions."
PureWow

"Packed with basics (e.g., poached eggs, mayonnaise, fish stock), pinxtos (small plates), seafood dishes, and more, the book will tempt seasoned cooks and armchair travelers. Part cookbook, part travelog, this richly descriptive title is a pleasure to read and recalls evocative, landscape photography-rich works."
Library Journal

“Chef Alex Raij is magnificent, and her restaurants are among my favorites in New York. Now, with The Basque Book, she’s written an essential cookbook.”
 —Anthony Bourdain

“Alex and Eder are doing beautiful things with humble ingredients. They’re cooking the food you really care about—and they’re doing it well.”
—David Chang, chef/founder of Momofuku

"Of course, the title is all it takes to seduce me—but so does this very handsome book. The only thing more difficult to translate than the Basque language is Basque cooking, and with The Basque Book, you will be able to eat it like a Basque. What could be better than that?"
—Mark Kurlansky, author of The Basque History of the World and Salt: A World History  

"Alex Raij and Eder Montero have created an ode to Basque cooking that's as intimate and approachable as their own kitchen. It's just as delicious, too—each recipe rich not only in flavor, but also in feeling."  
 —Dan Barber, chef at Blue Hill and author of The Third Plate  

"The soul of a country is reflected in many of its most quotidian aspects, including its cooking. And Alex Raij and Eder Montero know this well—as well as they know how to cook. That's why this book is much more than a brilliant recipe collection filled with good ideas, techniques, or surprising flavors from two of the most successful Basque and New York chefs. It is a journey through the customs, landscapes, and history that have shaped one of the oldest and most enigmatic cultures of Europe, that of the Basque people."
  —Andoni Luis Aduriz, chef and author of Mugaritz

"It is a relief for a cookbook reviewer to find a cookbook written by chefs who successfully translated professional recipes into home kitchens. Alexandra Raij and Eder Montero did an admirable job in The Basque Book providing a large collection of excellent Basque recipes."
  —San Francisco Book Review

Library Journal
06/15/2016
Raij and Eder Montero are the chefs and owners of New York restaurants El Quito Pino, La Vara, and Txikito. Writing with James Beard award-winning author Rebecca Flint Marx, they've produced a handsome cookbook that invites readers to cook their way leisurely through 114 Basque recipes, including piquillo peppers stuffed with cod, paprika-marinated pork loin roast, and walnut semifreddo with salted chocolate sauce. Packed with basics (e.g., poached eggs, mayonnaise, fish stock), pinxtos (small plates), seafood dishes, and more, the book will tempt seasoned cooks and armchair travelers. VERDICT Part cookbook, part travelog, this richly descriptive title is a pleasure to read and recalls evocative, landscape photography-rich works such as Giorgio Locatelli's Made in Sicily.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781607747611
Publisher:
Potter/TenSpeed/Harmony
Publication date:
04/19/2016
Pages:
304
Sales rank:
154,030
Product dimensions:
7.60(w) x 9.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt

contents

Introduction 1 
About the Book 11 

Basque Basics: fundamental techniques and ingredients 15
Txikiteo: the art of pintxos 41
Huerta: the basque kitchen garden 77
Huevos: eggs all ways 111
Buscando Bakalao: finding cod 135 
Putxero, Sopa, and Potaje: soups and stews for all seasons 183
Txokos, Asadores, Sagardotegis, and Ferias: gathering the basque way 213
Goxua: sweets 231 
Bebidas: beverages 263

Ingredients 276 
Sources 287 
Acknowledgments 288 

introduction

If, when I was a child, someone had told me, “One day, you’re going to open a small Basque restaurant,” I wouldn’t have been too surprised. In fact, I would have probably shrugged my shoulders and said, “Yes, of course I am.” 

For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to open a restaurant. I grew up in Minnesota, but my parents emigrated from Argentina just before I was born, and my sisters and I were raised around a table with lively Spanish conversation and with food that was strange by midwestern standards (at the time, we may have been the only Argentine Jews in Minneapolis). Growing up, my favorite pastimes were playing restaurant, dreaming about food, and reading cookbooks, so opening a restaurant someday would not have seemed impossible. 

As fate would have it, I grew up and opened a small restaurant in one of the biggest cities in the world. But the part that would have surprised me as a child—and, in a way, still surprises me today—is that my restaurant, Txikito, is Basque. I can imagine my ten-year-old self scratching her head and asking, “What does Basque mean?” I’ve been running Txikito since 2007, and I still don’t have a definitive response to that question. But it’s one that I strive to answer, for myself and for the people we feed, every day. 

Cooking is a perfect vocation for people who like to find and make connections. To me, food is a way to tell a story, and even though I don’t want to tell the same stories over and over again, I do want a common thread to connect the stories that I do tell. My husband, Eder, who is also my co-chef at Txikito, puts it a little differently: he says I’d open a new restaurant every week if I could. So it’s not surprising that he is both frustrated by and supportive of this story, which is the story of how I met Basque food and found a home in a cuisine that has held my attention in ways that no other can. 

Part of what made both Basque food and Eder, who is Basque, so attractive is that Basque cooking meant that I could return to living my life in Spanish. My affinity goes deeper than that, however: I love all of the cuisines of Spain, but Basque food has a very specific mystique. It doesn’t hide behind strong Mediterranean flavors. Instead, it celebrates single ingredients and tastes and constantly reminds the cook that “simple” doesn’t necessarily mean “easy.” Basque food makes you a better cook. It teaches you to respect ingredients, embracing and amplifying their natural flavors. I’d argue that many professional cooks would get better if they practiced Basque cooking, as it forces you to unlearn bad habits and pay attention to details. The Basque cook responds to la materia prima, or main ingredients, a tiny bit differently each time. Intuitively understanding how to make these minor adjustments is a sign of the cook’s experience and skill. 

Mussels with white beans 
mejillones y pochas en salsa verde 
serves 4 

This light stew of white beans and bouchot mussels is a Txikito signature. When I first encountered pochas, a creamy white bean typical of Navarra, I envisioned a salad or a blond stew. It turns out they are often served smothered with quail in a rich dark sauce. I think the lightness of this preparation is more respectful of the bean and reflects the general approach to cooking at the restaurant. Here, the beans take the place of the potatoes commonly found in dishes made with salsa verde, which, along with salsa pil pil, salsa tinta, and salsa bizkaína, is one of the most important sauces of Basque cuisine. When making the sauce, be sure to cook off the alcohol before adding the beans, or the dish will be too acidic. This warm stew can be enjoyed all year long. 

2 pounds large bouchot mussels 
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for finishing 
3 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 
2 flat-leaf parsley sprigs, left whole, plus . bunch, chopped, for finishing 
1/4 cup dry white wine 
1/4 cup manzanilla sherry 
3 cups cooked white beans, preferably pochas or other heirloom thin-skinned, white- or green-fleshed shelling beans, drained 
Kosher salt 
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (optional) 
Extra-virgin olive oil, for finishing 

Cook the mussels as directed on page 161, reserving the mussel meats and 1 cup of the mussel stock. If using chilled reserved mussels, bring them to room temperature while preparing the beans. 

In a heavy saucepan, heat the oil over medium-low heat. Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for no more than 1 minute, until just opaque. Add the parsley sprigs and cook until they wilt, then add the white wine and sherry and simmer for about 1 minute to cook off the alcohol. Add the beans and the 1 cup mussel stock and cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until warmed through. 

Remove from the heat, remove and discard the parsley sprigs, fold in the mussels and almost of all of the chopped parsley, and then warm through gently over medium-low heat to avoid overcooking the mussels. Taste. Stir in salt and lemon juice if needed. Top with a little more chopped parsley and a thread of olive oil. Serve in warm bowls.

Meet the Author

ALEXANDRA RAIJ and EDER MONTERO are the New York City–based chefs and owners of El Quinto Pino, La Vara, and Txikito, which was named one of the best new restaurants in the United States by Travel & Leisure. Raij was voted Eater New York’s 2012 Chef of the Year and has appeared on Iron Chef America, Food Curated, Foodography, and No Reservations

REBECCA FLINT MARX is a James Beard and  IACP award–winning writer, and a senior editor at San Francisco magazine.

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The Basque Book: A Love Letter in Recipes from the Kitchen of Txikito 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
SandrasBookNook More than 1 year ago
I have heard of the Basque region, but knew very little about their cuisine until I got this book. It's a fascinating read, and delicious to eat from! There is a wide range of recipes here, from the simple but sublime, to the more complicated and delectable. Summer Tomatoes with Sweet Onion is a great example of the simple, yet sublime. Perfect, vine-ripened tomatoes paired with sweet onion and not much else is just summer dancing on your palate. Classic Spanish Tortilla is a slightly more complicated with multiple flip and turns (which sounds easier than it is!), yet worth the effort. Lentils with Chorizo is just a match made in heaven, and don't even get me started on the desserts! Let's face it. Most of us will never get the opportunity to explore this amazing region in person, but you can get a little taste of it in your own home with this delightful book. I received a copy of this book from the Blogging for Books program for my honest opinion. All thoughts and opinions are my own.