Cookbook Challenge: “Tapas: A Taste of Spain in America” Part 2
My second choice for a recipe from this tapas cookbook was the Chicken and Mushroom Paella (or paella de pollo y setas). I love saffron so much that I purposely picked a second recipe which called for it, but that’s not terribly hard to do with Spanish cooking. Some changes I made to the recipe were to swap out Arborio rice for brown Basmati rice, (my preference) and to use Portuguese sausage instead of Spanish-cured ham. The Spanish ham would have been hard to find and probably super expensive, so I did what anyone else in Hawaii would do. Instead of only two chicken legs, I added four and did not cut them up, I left them whole. I had some green olives left over from another recipe, so I threw them in too. Other than that, the ingredient list was pretty doable and the instructions were easy to follow. This was a hearty enough meal for four people and was also served with a salad. I am likely to make this type of dish again and would definitely add the olives and Portuguese sausage again too. This recipe is very similar to a jambalaya, pilaf or risotto dish.
*As far as the cookbook goes:
This book is a journey through Spain. There is nothing watered-down or subtle about it. It gets bonus points for authenticity and for the engaging photos that artfully grace every page. Each recipe features a box at the bottom of the page called ‘Jose’s Tips’, and I recommend reading them before preparing the dish. Jose’s Tips are muy bueno and may save you a trip to an expensive gourmet grocery store or hours of extra work. The negative parts about the book are few, but this is probably the type of cookbook that most people buy after dining at a great tapas restaurant. That being said, it would be painstaking and labor-intensive to try to recreate a tapas-style meal for friends or family, even with this excellent book. I have tried to do that before, and it ends up being a very salty, olive-y experience that leaves some people still hungry. You would have to make 6-8 different tapas to recreate a tapas restaurant experience and it’s hard to figure out what everyone likes. I prefer to leave it to the experts- I’ll sip my red wine and chat with friends while letting someone else do all of the work.
If you feel like tapas should be on your menu or you just want to try something that makes you feel like a bullfighter, check out the book on Amazon.