Holiday Cookbook Roundup
1080 Recipesby Simone and Inés Ortega
Phaidon, 960 pp., $39.95.
Nearly every kitchen in Spain has a dog-eared copy of the original version of this book, 1080 Recetas de Cocina, written by mother-daughter team Simone and Inés Ortega. It is the Joy of Cooking of Spain and the go-to reference for many home cooks for more than 30 years. Phaidon Press has introduced an English-language version, updated for the American kitchen by the Ortegas. It contains 1,080 recipes in every category imaginable, with 100 photographs and 200 vibrant illustrations by famed Barcelona graphic designer Javier Mariscal, all in a sturdy binding topping out at 5 pounds.
Don't expect explanatory headnotes with the recipes; this is a book of simple-to-prepare dishes aimed squarely at the home cook with little time. It is as far from the auteur, modernista molecular cuisine of Adrià, Arzak, and Berasategui as possible, but it does contain a bonus section of 30 modern dishes from celebrated Spanish chefs. What you get is a broad overview of basic traditional Spanish cooking, clearly written in paragraph form, with zero fluff. Food fetishists will not be impressed.
The dishes cover an exhaustive compilation of Spanish cuisine, from finger foods and tapas all the way to desserts and everything in between. It is not without its foibles: The recipe format makes it hard to keep your place; the timing is slightly off on some recipes, perhaps a tad too heavy on cream and béchamel. Still, if you have an interest in Spanish cuisine, this is a great basic text for your collection.