Rustica: A Return to Spanish Home Cooking
Frank Camorra and Richard Cornish
Chronicle Books (2011)
Reviewed by Irene Watson for Reader Views (10/11)
Oh my goodness, this is a beautiful book! The cover, the layout, the photographs and the presentation lends itself to be a book that sits on the island or counter as part of kitchen staging. When I noticed all that before I even started perusing the recipes, I expected the recipes to be top-notch and I sure wasn’t disappointed.
For a review we are asked to test three recipes. The first one I tested was “Truita Amb Suc” (Spinach and White Bean Tortilla in Sauce). The recipe calls for dried cannellini beans to be cooked from scratch. I took the easy route and used canned cannellini beans. The saffron sauce calls for 2 garlic cloves which I thought might be too much but it wasn’t. The tortilla is made from 10 eggs, olive oil, salt and a bunch of spinach leaves. After placing this into a frying pan and slowly cooking it is then placed into a cazuela (shallow baking dish) and the saffron sauce was poured over and cooked for about 2 to 3 minutes. After letting it stand for 20 minutes the end result looked exactly like the one in the picture. And, on top of that, it was delicious! The recipe indicates it’s for 6 servings but if you are serving this as a main dish I would say it’s only for four with no leftovers.
The second recipe I tested was “Ensalada de Huevas” (summer salad with poached fish roe.) First of all, if you are planning to make this dish you need to be sure you have all the ingredients. Fish roe isn’t sold in every supermarket but can be special ordered or purchased at fish markets or Whole Foods Market. The end result was very good. The roe is rich yet the combination of tomatoes and bell pepper lightened the salad. We ate the salad immediately after it was made but liked it even more the second day after all the ingredients had a chance to marry. I suggest making it in the morning and serving for dinner.
The third recipe I tested was “Gazta Tara” (cheesecake.) I was intrigued the recipe called for goat’s curd and wondered if the cheese would be any different from others. The end result was very rich and flavorful. The recipe called for 2-1/4 tablespoons of brandy and the zest of 2 lemons. And, I loved the top! After baking for 30 minutes you take the cheesecake out and sprinkle it with 2 tablespoons of confectioners’ sugar and return it to the oven. After 10 more minutes of baking, the top is browned and looks like the top of a flan. I really liked that touch. I will certainly make this recipe again.
There are so many more recipes I’m going to make because “Rustica” is loaded with simple, yet elegant traditional Spanish cuisine. Although some recipes call for ingredients that are normally not found in an American kitchen pantry, I believe they are easy to obtain. This book would make a very special gift to a cook that has everything.