Cooking the books: We try three recipes from the latest cookbooks

The Spanish Home Kitchen by Jose Pizarro

If you’re looking to delve into the world of traditional Spanish cuisine, this book is an excellent choice

(Hardie Grant)

If you’re looking to delve into the world of Spanish cuisine, then this appetising offering from restaurateur Jose 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 perfect.

Lentils with chorizo ​​and potatoes

‘I wasn’t expecting to be wowed by a dish that looks like a potato stew but I couldn’t have been more wrong’

(Hardie Grant/Olivia Campbell)

Ingredients:

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) baby 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

Method:

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, the reddish oil in leaving 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

If you love cheese as much as Olivia Campbell does, you’ll love this book

(White Lion Publishing)

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 color of the rainbow? Beyond assembling delicious masterpieces, there’s also a wealth of cheese-related knowledge. From the science of flavor 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.

Cozy night in cheeseboard

The mix of cheeses and accompaniements work well together on this board

(White Lion Publishing/Olivia Campbell)

Serve: 2

Ingredients:

Cheese:

100g (3½oz) fresh Chèvre log

200g (7oz) Gouda

200g (7oz) Gruyère

150g (5½oz) Gorgonzola Dolce

200g (7oz) Brie

Accompaniments:

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

Garnish:

2 thyme sprigs

Method:

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 the water biscuits. Garnish with the thyme.

Green Kitchen: Quick + Slow by David Frenkiel and Luise Vindahl

This is a great book if you’re looking to introduce more vegetarian dishes into your life

(Hardie Grant)

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) reled 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

This wonderfully spicy dish does what it says on the tin – and all in seven minutes

(Hardie Grant/Olivia Campbell)

Serve: 2

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.

Method:

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.

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