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Jan 18, 2008 08:00 AM

Recommendation for Spanish Cookbook

I want to buy a Spanish Cookbook--I don't have any. I like The New Spanish Table by Anya von Bremzen, but in the dessert section there's not one recipe for flan. I'm not sure I trust a Spanish cookbook that doesn't include a recipe for what I thought was a traditional Spanish dessert. If you could have just one Spanish cookbook, which would it be?

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  1. 'The New Spanish Table' is 'new' - that is, it focuses on new and innovative dishes, not the traditionals. It does have a flan - but that is a savory one. The sweet one that you have in mind is a fairly common custard, except it has the caramelized sugar base. It is easy to find recipes for that, both in general purpose cookbooks and on the web.

    Check used book stores; I've seen new hard bound copies of the NST for as low as $12. I've also seen some glossy European publications at prices less than $10.

    Overall I like the NST. While not traditional, it gives a lot of good background information. I reference it often, but rarely follow a recipe in detail.

    P Casas is a well known author of Spanish cookbooks in English, starting with a Tapas books a number of years ago.

    A very recent publication is 1080 Recipes, an English translation of a classic general purpose Spanish cookbook. It is sure to have a flan recipe, maybe several, aimed at the 'typical' Spanish housewife. It is probably the most comprehensive book of traditional Spanish cooking (including everyday, generic European cooking), but lacks background information. But if you want a large number of recipes that you can follow exactly, it may be the best choice.


    1. Spanish cookbooks have been one of my latest culinary obsessions so I am glad you asked!

      As mentioned, Penelope Casas is the proverbial Diana Kennedy of her Domain; La cocina espanola. And I think you should stick with her.

      I have three reccomendations:

      #1 "Delicioso: The Regional cooking of Spain" This is my favorite cookbook at the moment -- I bought it for 15 dollars at a store in Santa Rosa. If you are interested in traditional cooking; this is the one & there is one recipe for flan among numerous other desserts. The flan recipe is called "Quesillo" and is a recipe from the Canary Islands - Tenerife to be exact. The Canaries were the last experience of civilization for columbus and his crew before sailing west to the unknown (and perhaps also the home of a clandestine girlfriend of the Genoese sailor)! I am a huge history and geography buff so I am quite enamored by the regional grouping of chapters in the book "From the Central Plains (region of the roasts), from Andalucia (Region of fried foods and gazpachos), from the Canaries (Region of the mojos)."

      To give you an idea of the beautiful, sexy recipes inside - I'll tell you one: a beef and melon (yes, melon) stew,

      #2 La Cocina de Mama
      Also by casas - not as in depth as the previous but a wonderful book to start with. I culled one of my favorite recipes in the world from this book, Pollo al dia Anterior "Yesterdays chicken" a stunning basque escabeche recipe.

      #3 Cesar, recipes from a tapas Bar
      From this book I have my Paella recipe; Maggie Pond teaches you some great techniques - such as the production of a sofrito base, rice frying, spice blends, etc. I am biased because I had the opportunity to meet this wonderful women at an event in the Northbay where she cooked us the most outstanding Paella I have ever consumed. easily one of my favorite things I have ever tasted.

      Buena Suerte! (Good Luck)

      1. The wonderful Jose Andres just put out his first cookbook, Tapas. It's excellent, with a good mix of old and new - and he even has his mother's flan recipe.

        1. Thanks for the recommendations. My library system has all the recommended books, so I've reserved them and will choose one to buy after I have a look. In appreciation, here are links to two successful Spanish recipes I made last weekend:

          1 Reply
          1. re: JanRan

            Regarding that last recipe - in the Mexican aisle you can find 'fideos' that work very well in a 'dry soup' (to use a Mexican term) like this. They are already in the short length suitable for toasting. Longer lengths on angelhair have a tendency to jump out of the pot when you sautee them.


          2. 1080 Recipes by Simone and Ines Ortega is fantastic. This is the most comprehensive Spanish cookbook I've ever seen. It's been the bible of traditional Spanish cooking for about 30 years and the first English language edition is now available. Plus it's a joy to look at since the illustrations were done by Javier Mariscal.

            Phaidon publishes it.


            1 Reply
            1. re: Shane Greenwood

              Oh, those illustrations are really wonderful!