Best European Cookbooks

We’ve already handed out awards for French and Italian books. This month, we recognize five winning books from the rest of Europe.

Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition
Photo: Randy Mayor

Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition

Pintxos: Small Plates in the Basque Tradition  By Gerald Hirigoyen, Ten Speed Press, 2009. Hardcover. $25; 202 pages

Pronounced PEEN-chos, pintxos is the Basque word for tapas, celebrated here in luscious photography and delicious recipes. You’ll no doubt dog-ear or flag at least 10 pages when you browse the book—or more, as I did. The Basque region, from which Hirigoyen hails, spans France and Spain on the Atlantic coast. This food-of-the-place is happy food for entertaining. It’s easy, Hirigoyen says: “You need only to buy some good charcuterie and cheese, open a can or jar, and make one or two braised or grilled dishes and a salad and you will have a no-fuss, fast-to-assemble dinner for four, six, eight, or more.” Everyone gets to sample lots of different foods.

The recipes do not disappoint. Even something as simple as Griddled Ham and Cheese Bocadillos—basically a grilled-cheese sandwich made with a few exquisite ingredients—will knock your socks off. A bit more involved but certainly not complicated, Clams with Spicy Smoked Tomatoes rewards the effort of smoking the tomatoes by imbuing the whole dish with wonderful depth and lick-your-bowl deliciousness. There are also light and fresh salads, meat and seafood braises, skewers, and soups to round out your party. Be sure to pay attention to the wine suggestions for the recipes, as the experience is not complete without well-matched sippers.

GIVE THIS TO: An avid entertainer looking to step up her repertoire. —Tiffany Vickers Davis

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