Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Review of Rick Stein's SPAIN and some Manchego Cheese Buñelos


We've been watching Rick Stein's Spain programme for a few weeks now, and after spending hours drooling over the chorizo, seafood and (be still my beating heart) the deep fried custard wedges, I decided to buy the book.


The book is a great accompaniment to the series, and of course contains all the dishes you will see on the show and loads more - there are 140 recipes here. I love how the dishes are categorised into regions, so you get a real sense of where the food comes from and there are also little stories about the origins of the meals. As you would expect from Rick Stein, there are a lot of seafood recipes here, but I think that's more an indication of the amount of seafood eaten by the Spanish as opposed to us Brits. There's loads for meat lovers too - roasted goat, lamb, hams and rabbit for example.

The photography in the book is evocative, brightly-coloured and atmospheric, but I noticed that many recipes are accompanied by a photograph of one of the main ingredients instead of a photo of the finished dish. In a way, it's quite exciting to cook something and be surprised by what it looks like at the end, but for beginners in the kitchen or those without a great knowledge of Spanish food I can see that this could be annoying, or put people off.  For example the recipe for cheese fritters (buñelos) comes next to a photo of a hunk of manchego cheese - beautiful as it is, if I didn't know what a buñelo looked like, I'd probably be a bit less enthusiastic about about trying the recipe. We're seduced by food through our eyes as much as our stomachs so don't flick past the recipes with no picture - you'll be pleased with the results at the end!

In saying that, each recipe is very clearly written with straightforward instructions, and you won't need to get too much in the way of new ingredients as long as you have some basics (olive oil, red wine vinegar, chorizo) in your stash. The things you will need to stock up on - sherry vinegar, pimentón, saffron - are all easily bought from larger supermarkets and they're not too expensive.

The buñelo mixture before adding the parsley and cheese
I made the buñelos on page 82 of the book, because I remember a Columbian friend making them for me a couple of years ago and I was immediately hooked. Little puffy, air-filled fritters made with butter, water, flour, eggs and manchego cheese. You add pimentón, salt, black pepper and parsley to season. They were easy to make, delicious and apparently are eaten in the Basque region as tapas.

Since I bought the book, I haven't really put it down. It's not that I've tried just the recipes here, reading them and experimenting with new flavours has given me the inspiration to create a Spanish twist to our other favourite recipes too. If you've been enjoying Rick Stein's programme, you'll love this book. We even had chorizo and fried eggs for breakfast the other morning - it was lush - the rich, oily yolk dribbling onto the fat discs of fiery, red chorizo. 

Are you watching the show? Do you have any favourite dishes you've seen so far? Maybe you've read the book? Let me know what you think.


The finished buñelos - crisp, fluffy and with a smoky taste from the pimentón.


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