Jeff Koehler does justice to another regionally complex country in SPAIN: Recipes and Traditions From the Verdant Hills of the Basque Country to the Coastal Waters of Andalucia (Chronicle Books, $40). The author, a food writer who has lived in Spain for many years, focuses on roots cooking, the simple, flavorful dishes that warm Spanish hearts.
Koehler is an expert guide, providing highly informative headnotes to each recipe, often explaining regional variations in the same recipe and suggesting some clever tips. In his recipe for clams with oloroso sherry, for example, he suggests substituting dry white wine with a little brandy if sherry isn’t at hand. These pages abound in seductively rustic dishes like pork baked in a salt crust and served with fruit compote, chestnut purée or a blue cheese sauce.