If you were to visit Spain and come back enamored with the food, Simone and Inés Ortega's 1080 Recipes would be a great gift to buy yourself. You have to be committed though, and have at least three inches of bookshelf space to spare and be able to lift five pounds.
Originally published in 1972, it's considered the Spanish Joy of Cooking, a bible of sorts covering all the classics from curing olives, preparing fresh snails, frying an omelet and baking a flan. How does one get to 1080 recipes though, supposedly inspired by one country? Lots of variation. Like Woodcock? There's a whole section for you. How about Veal Stew? You have four choices. Turnips? Have them glazed in a lamb stew, cooked gratin style, in cider with béchamel sauce and egg yolks, or with carrots.
It's a hunk of a book. With almost 1000 pages of recipes and illustrations, it's sheer girth is intimidating, however open it up and you might not be so scared. The recipes are, for the most part, quite simple and the ingredients are almost all very easy to find. Having written a cookbook myself, with only 82 recipes, there is a part of me in awe of this book simply for its grand size.
The photos are rather oddly interspersed in the book, printed on smaller paper than the rest of the book. Clearly, Phaidon, the publisher, was trying to keep their costs down. What they splurged on for their previous book, The Silver Spoon, they skimped on for 1080. However, inexpensive printing doesn't necessarily mean bad recipes, and if Spanish food is your calling, then this is a wonderful book to add to your collection. It won't matter that the photos are stuffed in like magazine subscription cards (at least they don't fall out) when your fingers are olive-stained and your kitchen is filled with the savory scents of Spain.
This week we're giving away a copy of 1080 Recipes. Hurry, your entry must be received by 8:59pm PT/11:59 EST Thursday, December 13.