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Any recommendations of books that people have actually cooked from versus gaped over (like el Bulli?). In particular, have you used Hirigoyen's Basque Kitchen Cookbook or have others to recommend? Dinner party in several weeks and we promised to bring back some ideas of our recent Donostia area experiences, including the Arzak poached egg flower that I fell in love with!

If this post is in the wrong place, please let me know where it belongs. I did a search and could not find any helpful thread. Just figured that with the lively Help in Donostia thread and Brown, vserna, Bux and others interest in this region, it would be a good place to post. Thanks in advance

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I bought the Barrenechea instead of the Hirigoyen because an amazon reviewer, I think, who claimed to be Basque complained about the latter's authenticity. I particular, I think he calls for butter in bacalao pil-pil, which is obviously not authentic. The Barrenechea looked good, but I have not cooked from it (it was a gift).

El Bulli is of course not basque.

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The Basque Kitchen by Gerald Hirigoyen is very authentic, but is written for the American market. A number of his recipes also reflect the French side of the Pyrenees, including the use of Espelette pepper, which is generally not available in the United States. You might also want to check out “Chorizos in An Iron Skillet” which is a collection of traditional Basque recipes and cooking tips from Mary Ancho Davis.

Both books should be available through Amazon.com and are available on-line at The Spanish Table. http://thespanishtable.hypermart.net/

Edit: link not working properly. Fixed.

Edited by Bux (log)
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I own the Barrenechea cookbook. I have made several of the recipes and have eaten at Marichu a few times. It is definitely homestyle, comfort food type eating, not the cutting edge stuff, but I like it a lot. Marichu is definitely one of the undiscovered gems in NY.

Edited by mikeycook (log)

"If the divine creator has taken pains to give us delicious and exquisite things to eat, the least we can do is prepare them well and serve them with ceremony."

~ Fernand Point

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The Basque Kitchen by Gerald Hirigoyen is very authentic

No one thinks so in the Basque Country. There's hardly anything Basque in it, save for a little piment d'Espelette. It's a thinly disguised version of classic French cuisine. I think that, a) Hirigoyen left France for the US many years ago and is not very familiar with what's happened (culinarily speaking) in the Basque Country, on either side of the border, in recent years; b) he never was very familiar, to begin with, with Spanish Basque cooking, which is distinctly different and forms the basis for 95% of what's going on in Basque kitchens today.

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Thanks for the comments and suggestions. vserna, any recommendation beyond the critique of the Hirigoyen book? I did get a copy of his book from the library -- an often overlooked source for cookbooks, I went to four bookstores that did not carry either cookbook, decided to take a look in the library and there was the Hirigoyen -- the Barrenechea was MIA -- he has the recipes for several dishes that we enjoyed at Piperade, including the Serrano ham and cheese terrine and hake sebastian. I agree, other dishes were underwhelming and not particularly unique.

As to the poached egg flower at Arzak, it is on the menu as Flor huevo y tartufo, and it is simplicity itself . . a perfectly poached egg (Cabrales posted elsewhere that is it is cooked in some sort of plastic sac?), drizzled with truffle oil, some cubes of fois gras on the plate and some simple bitter greens is all that I recall. Certainly not something for which one needs a cookbook, or in particular a Basque cookbook, but something we thought was fabulous.

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The reason I asked you about the poached egg is I think I have the recipe for its preparation...that is for the egg. I learned the technique from a Basque chef who had interned in San Sebastian. I use the technique in my latest book with artichokes.

Anyway, here is the technique as he taught it to me. The recipe I hope it helps in getting :Place a sheet of plastic wrap in a cup, break in an egg, add a

pinch of salt and a drop of olive oil. carefully enclose the white around yolk without

breaking the egg yolk and tie with clip or plastic tie. there should be no air. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Poach all the eggs in simmering water for 7 or 8 minutes depending

on their size. Remove packages to icy water to cool down quickly. You reheat the egg in the package for a few seconds in simmering water. Unwrap and place in your flower.

BTW:there is a version of this dish called flor de patata asada con trufa rellena in Celebrar el milenio con Arzak & Adria.

The sauce in the book is made with port wine and truffles, scallions, meat stock and butter.

“C’est dans les vieux pots, qu’on fait la bonne soupe!”, or ‘it is in old pots that good soup is made’.

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I just returned from San Sebastian last night (to NYC) and brought a copy of the 2003 Pil-Pil Prizes. I don't know anything about the distributor's ability to ship to the US, but an email for the house (Editorial Zendrera Zariquiey) is given as editorialzendrera@writeme.com.

This is the eighth annual edition of the book, titled "La Creatividad en la Cocina Vasca" in the Castillano version I bought, and is, in my opinion, as flawless as the earlier editions. The small-ish but heavy book has a nice glossy picture of nearly all the award-winning plates, and includes a detailed, scaled recipe for four plates based on direct interviews with chef. It doesn't include your egg/flower plate, but it does have recipes for dishes won by Arzak, Akelarre, Berastegui, Mugaritz, Zuberoa, and lots of others. If you can get it, you will be happy paying $100 but I think mine was 30 Euros. Best of luck with your dinner party, AmyH! If you have a specific dish from a place that might be in the book (and can read Spanish) I'm happy to scan/email.

As for Hirigoyen and his book, I would suggest he and his wife did a fine American translation of the foods and styles of preparation he clearly remembers well. He is from a town only a few miles from where my grandmother grew up, and the recipes give me a taste that is very nice if localized to California markets, and definitely reminds me of how we ate growing up in the tiny Basque area of San Francisco (now Chinatown). Of course, I didn't grow up in the pays basque, so I only know how my family translated their experiences, and it feels like Hirigoyen made good on his promise in the introduction to do the same. There are plenty of French Basque things in there, and yes it seems they're often bent by his years cooking in Paris, so they won't fully match your San Sebastian experience. But nowhere does he hold the book out to be representative of modern Spanish Basque cooking; in fact, I think he thanks J.M. Arzak and says he considers him the godfather of Basque cuisine. The earlier comment that 95% of Basque kitchens today are based on Spanish Basque cooking is wonderful and amusing, but I think it's either missing an adjective or a few thousand years' history.

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The earlier comment that 95% of Basque kitchens today are based on Spanish Basque cooking is wonderful and amusing, but I think it's either missing an adjective or a few thousand years' history.

I was referring to Basque restaurants, not homes, of course. With the sad decline of the French Basque scene (the greatest French Basque cook, Pierre Laporte, is now dead; Christian Parra of L'Auberge de la Galupe has sold his place and is semi-retired; Firmin Arrambide's Les Pyrénées has been unable to hang on to its second Michelin star...), it's not fanciful to say that everything of import in Euskal Herria now (and for a number of years already) comes from south of the muga (border) between France and Spain. Andoni Luis Aduriz, Elena Arzak, Isaac Salaberria or even Victor Arguinzoniz (the first high-tech, high-innovation master of that old Basque standby, the wood-fired grill) are much more important today, as culinary creators and trend-setters, than anyone working in the Pyrénées-Atlantiques. And that's a verifiable fact. I don't see what an adjective or even "a few thousand years' history" (???) would change in that fact.

Edited by vserna (log)

Victor de la Serna

elmundovino

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Another good book recently edited is "25 años de la nueva cocina vasca" by Mikel Corcuera. Sorry but it's only available in spanish.

This book tell the history of basque cookenery and restaurants by their chefs. Its plently of photos, information and recipes of every chef, from the olders: arzak, subijana,.. the boom chefs: berasategui,... till now chefs.

It's highly recomended. It cost in Spain 39 euros. Here's a link for reference: http://www.expocenter.com/cgi-bin/w3-msql/...l?ID=3025&MAT=5

vserna, saludos.

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  • 4 weeks later...

Pepe-

Thank you very much. The version served at the restaurant the day I was there had a stipre of pimenton along side a stripe of a melon infusion. I am thankful for this recipe as I am going to attempt it this weekend for guests.

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The reason I asked you about the poached egg is I think I have the recipe for its preparation...that is for the egg. I learned the technique from a Basque chef who had interned in San Sebastian. I use the technique in my latest book with artichokes.

Anyway, here is the technique as he taught it to me. The recipe I hope it helps in getting :Place a sheet of plastic wrap in a cup, break in an egg, add a

pinch of salt and a drop of olive oil. carefully enclose the white around yolk without

breaking the egg yolk and tie with clip or plastic tie. there should be no air. Repeat with the remaining eggs. Poach all the eggs in simmering water for 7 or 8 minutes depending

on their size. Remove packages to icy water to cool down quickly. You reheat the egg in the package for a few seconds in simmering water. Unwrap and place in your flower.

BTW:there is a version of this dish called flor de patata asada con trufa rellena in Celebrar el milenio con Arzak & Adria.

The sauce in the book is made with port wine and truffles, scallions, meat stock and butter.

First of all thank you.

You have made this post into my personal food find of the year award. If you could please name your cookbook, so that I may quickly be able to secure it.

The last poached egg recipe that was and still is my star, is as follows:

Poach eggs as normal with one exception, al dente

let eggs sit in poaching liquid overnite in refrigerator.

Next morning, (after consuming a good amount of Romanian Vodka from the nite before),

coat poached eggs with panko bread crumbs,

quickly fry, just to brown the exterior, keeping the interior gooey.

Serve with toasted english muffins and chirozo.

Thanks again

woodburner

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Follow Up-

For anyone interested, here is what we cooked and learned:

Thanks to Pepe, we made the Arzak poached egg flower straight from the website recipe.

I was skeptical as to why one would go through the bother of plastic wrap poached agg versus using a traditional egg poacher but came out of the process a convert. The technique is simple. By lightly greasing the plastic wrap with olive oil, the egg does does not slide away, or I should say, it does not slide away too quickly. There is enough time to add salt/pepper/truffle oil and wrap up the plastic without the egg sliding off the counter! Each egg is placed in boiling water for 4 1/2 minutes and voila, a perfectly poached "flower" - our guests loved the chorizo/date stripe and the accompanying sausage/breadcrumb stripe as well as the spoonful of truffle to be sprinkled over the egg.

Bayonne Ham and Sheep's Milk Cheese Terrine from Hiragoyen's book. Directions were easy to follow, accurate and helped us re-create a dish that I have now eaten three times at Piperade and enjoyed immensely.

Fois Gras with Manzaras from the Berranchea cookbook. Just not that exciting and I found her times to be way off on both cooking/carmelizing apples and searing the foie gras. If I had followed the full time in her book for the foie there would have been nothing left of it. Overall, in reviewing her book, I could not find all that much that I wanted to cook.

Scallops with artichoke bottoms and gratin of piquillo peppers, white bean puree from the Hiragoyen cookbook. Again, Gerard did not dissapoint. Directions were spot on. Ordered the piquillo peppers and pimenton from La Tienda and received rave reviews from the guests on the intense smoky flavors in the dish combined with the puree of white beans. Both these recipes are sure to be repeats at our house.

Just wanted to report in. Editor, if this post does not actually belong "here" please feel free to move it!

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A number of his recipes also reflect the French side of the Pyrenees, including the use of Espelette pepper, which is generally not available in the United States.

By the way, pimentón espelette (from basque country) is availabe in the US from the Spanish Table, Williams-Sonoma, and probably Tienda. There is also a woman in Napa who grows them, and sells them whole at the SF farmers market.

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