Bechamel and Prawn Stuffed Mussels
Is it any surprise that my most favourite presents to give (and receive) during Christmas are cookbooks? I consider myself a pretty good judge cookbook character. For example, my brother who is a bachelor loves the four ingredients or less series and his idea of cooking is to buy a chicken, buy a packet of spices and chuck everything in the oven. For one of my sisters, I am always on the look out for cookbooks that have recipes that can be completed in thirty minutes or less. She is so keen on saving time (in fairness to her, she does have a four month old baby), that we call her “Miss Shortcut”.
My Mom is getting a book I bought a few weeks back, Miguel Maestre’s first cookbook, Miguel’s Tapas.
Born in Murcia Spain, Miguel has worked in many celebrated restaurants including Bather’s Pavillion and Bilson’s in Sydney and even Ferran Adria’s El Bulli in Roses, Spain. He has also been on a number of TV shows including the popular Boy’s Weekend. Today Miguel owns two restaurants in Sydney, El Toro Loco and Argyle Bazar.
The cookbook is divided into seven sections based on the times of day the tapas are meant to be eaten. Breakfast, morning tea, lunch, dessert, afternoon tea, dinner, and evening snacks. Hmmm… the Spanish seem to love their tapas anytime of the day! There is also a section at the very end covering basics and sauces which includes among other things, a variety of stocks, flavoured oils and vinaigrettes.
Miguel has managed to strike a balance between the classic tapas such as the tortilla (potato omelette), paella and churros (his chocolate sauce is made with condensed milk!) and some tapas he gives a contemporary twist. For instance, Wild Rice Popcorn and a Deconstructed Spanish Omelette inspired by his time at El Bulli.
I’ll be honest, the reason I’m giving my Mom this book isn’t so much that I want her to enjoy it (well, that’s part of it), but mainly because I want her to cook many of the dishes from it while she’s here for a visit. Top of the list would be the Flamenca Eggs, Manchego Bread Rolls (inspired by the very popular Brazilian cheese bread), Salted Cod Croquettes, and Wagyu and Chorizo Meat Pie. For dessert, I’m thinking she could make Bombe Alaska Fruit Skewers, Santiago’s Tart and Bread and Butter Pudding…
Like his TV shows, Miguel has a light hearted approach to cooking tapas. As he shares his recipes, he also shares stories behind the recipes, in particular about his childhood growing up with a large family from where he got his love for cooking from.
So yes, this book’s going to my Mom for Christmas… unless of course… I decide to keep the book for myself…
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