The Catalan Kitchen
Smith Street Books
RRP $ 55
The Catalan Kitchen is a celebration of one hundred authentic and traditional dishes from Spain’s culinary heart.
The Catalonia region is situated on the west coast of the Mediterranean and blessed with one of the richest food cultures in Europe. Although Catalonia is still geographically and politically connected to Spain, Catalans consider themselves independent with their own language, history, culture, and cuisine. Its food is considered unique in Spain, and it is home to one of the highest concentrations of Michelin-starred restaurants in the world.
Catalan cuisine does not centre around tapas, and although pintxos do feature heavily, they are not the mainstay of the region and most dishes are larger, stand-alone meals. Dishes are heavily influenced by pork and fresh seafood, with a focus on fresh, seasonal produce that varies from recipes as simple as crushed tomatoes smeared on bread to hearty, slow cooked stews. Famous dishes include calcots–large salad onions cooked on a coal barbecue and then dipped into nutty and addictive Romesco sauce, a unique paella made without saffron and the addition of vermicelli noodles, myriad types of Catalan sausage served with white beans, sauces such as aioli and picada, and multiple pastries and desserts including crème Catalan (a version of crème brulee). Beautifully packaged with stunning location and food photography, The Catalan Kitchen is the ultimate cookbook for lovers of Spanish and Mediterranean food.
I live in the Margaret River region, an area that is often described as having a Mediterranean climate and perhaps this is why when I open a cook book that focusses on fresh, local ingredients from a Mediterranean region – such as Catalonia, I embrace the recipes and the ingredients; this book is no exception. Amongst the pages I find recipes for Quince paste with Manchego cheese (both the cheese and a home made paste are a favourite of mine), Pan Fried Goats Cheese Salad (this makes fabulous shared lunch or a spectacular entrée for a gathering if you are seeking to impress), Rabbit in Chocolate (perfect for Easter in our household), Ratatouille, Sautéed Chickpeas and Silver Beet (we have plenty of silver beet growing in our garden at the moment and we are always looking to find ways to incorporate it in our meals, fresh is best), there is a recipe for serving wild olives – we have 5 olive trees that supply us with glorious fruit each year, the recipe (p.25) for serving wild olives is flavoursome and simple, the trick is warming the ingredients so the flavours infuse (now that is something I would not have thought of). And that is just a start…
The Catalan Kitchen is a great resource for your home kitchen library.