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My Kitchen in Spain:
Spanish food is, sadly, often overlooked by cooks who find themselves more immediately drawn to Italian and French cuisine. With any luck, Janet Mendel's My Kitchen in Spain will reverse the trend. A collection of 225 authentic regional Spanish recipes, the book offers a wide range of classic dishes with origins ranging from seaside villages to metropolitan tapas bars. Andalusia-based Mendel bills herself a "food foreign correspondent" and does in fact bring a keen reportorial eye, as well as a cook's discrimination, to the task of translating Spanish food for her readers. Savory recipes for the likes of Chicken in Almond Sauce, Moorish Lamb Stew with Prunes, and Orange-Glazed Pork Tenderloins reveal her ability to provide authoritative yet approachable versions of delicious regional fare.
Following a scene-setting discussion of life in her "home" village, Mendel proceeds to tapas, including wine-bar staples like Fried Stuffed Mussels, Sizzling Shrimp with Garlic, and Crispy Potatoes with Hot Sauce. A standout chapter on gazpacho and other soups introduces White Gazpacho with Grapes and a hot winter gazpacho flavored with bitter orange--dishes that reveal the flexible character of this largely unexplored dish. Paella, a much bastardized dish, receives its due with authentic versions, including one made with pasta in place of the usual rice; and seafood, including Spain's much-beloved salt cod, is treated enticingly in dishes like Mackerel in Oregano Marinade and Sea Bass with Saffron Sauce. Country breads and sweets, including convent specialties like the meringues called Nun's Sighs, are also present. With informative sidebars, cooking tips, and evocative notes, My Kitchen in Spain is the place to begin a true Spanish culinary conquest. --Arthur Boehm [via]