Cookbook keeps it all in the El Bulli family
Did you ever wonder what staff meals were like at El Bulli, Ferran Adria's late, great monument to experimental cooking? It wasn't all spherical olives and foam, that's for sure. At least, not judging by Adria's newest book, "The Family Meal." It's a big, handsome tome that offers a lot of interesting, if sometimes curious, browsing.
It takes a very different approach than Adria's other books, though it's similarly graphics-intensive. Each recipe has a photo showing the ingredients, then step-by-step instructional photos, and most recipes come with guidelines for scaling them up to serve as many as 75 people.
There are really good-looking recipes for such Spanish fundamentals as romesco sauce and picada (a parsley paste with saffron and hazelnuts), and instructions for preparing sofrito (the fried garlic, onion and tomato mixture that is the basis of so many Spanish dishes) in bulk. And then there are recipes for cheeseburgers (the hamburger is bound with an egg and soaked bread) and teriyaki sauce (made with crushed ginger and lemon grass and seasoned with sugar and honey).
Obviously, some of the dishes are more interesting than others. But if you stick with the kind of food the cooks in the El Bulli kitchen probably know best -– mackerel and potato stew, bread with chocolate and olive oil, beans with clams -– you should do fairly well.
-- Russ Parsons