Thursday, June 19, 2008

Impulse buy: 1080 Recipes

[I first posted a version of this on Bakespace last fall, but I'm transferring it over here.]

I bought a new cookbook back in October (1080 Recipes by Simone Ortega and Inés Ortega). That's the big guy on the left in the photo above. It had just been released in English and I couldn't resist the illustrations and design by Javier Mariscal (it's a stunning Phaidon book). Amazon tells me the Spanish original edition of this book was published over thirty years ago.

I think this book is beautifully designed, and there are many recipes in it I'd like to make, but when I gave it a test run the instructions in the recipes I tried were a little vague. I like to follow explicit instructions the first time I try a new recipe, even if I deviate from them, and that wasn't always possible. Still, I guess it may improve my food prep skills to stretch and intuit the missing steps and specifications.

Here's what I ate:
Recipe 412 (green beans with vinegar and egg yolk sauce) had a mild but pleasant flavor. I wanted the instructions to tell me if the water I covered the beans with was supposed to cook away or if there was still supposed to be a lot left after the 15-20 minutes the beans simmered (for me, there was). I wasn't sure whether I was meant to drain them or add the sauce and make it into a soupy mess.

Recipe 328 (baked eggplants and tomatoes with grated cheese) was delicious, but quite mushy. I assume that the recipe means for me to use small eggplants, since it counts on 1 eggplant per person. 1 large eggplant was more than enough for two of us. I had trouble getting my oil to stay at the necessary heat to fry the eggplant, and then the fried eggplant turned soggy while I was finishing frying it in batches. Since the recipe only specifies to "cook them" I didn't know how well they should be cooked. Perhaps I did it for too long.

Recipe 77 (classic Béchamel sauce) was delicious and worked as written.

Recipe 117 (caramel sauce) did not "[thicken] a little" as I cooked it at the end. Mine only reduced, but stayed perfectly thin and liquid.

Recipe 969/970 (baked apples with cream and caramel) wasn't bad. My apples did not get as tender as I would have liked, but I was unsure whether to add more water to cook longer once the water in the dish had evaporated. I used honeycrisp apples and the flavor was amazing. Also, once they were done baking the cored hole in the middle was filled with liquid, which I had to pour out in order to stuff them with whipped cream. No big deal, but since the recipe didn't mention that would happen I wondered if I'd done something wrong.

I am ever second-guessing myself in the kitchen. But I'm not a bad kid.

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