TAPAS is a cookbook that was originally self-published by Liam Tomlin and available only at his restaurants. The second edition published by Penguin Random House, means that Tapas is now available to everyone.
Dublin born Chef and owner of Chefs Warehouse and Canteen in Cape Town, Liam Tomlin wanted to create a cookbook that was reflective of the way he likes to cook and eat. Foods with lots of different tastes, textures and cooking styles. He focuses on techniques and extracting as much flavour as possible to create tasty and well-balanced dishes.
TAPAS is a hefty cookbook filled with 243 pages of recipes, photography and an index of culinary terms (an addition I love). It’s a visual feast to flip through. Much of the plating is reminiscent of fine dining with its delicate portions and artistic placement, and the recipes are not your average home cookery.
There’s a mix between easy and complicated recipes. Those that have few ingredients and others with long lists and multiple steps. I’d suggest you read each recipe twice and make a timeline so you don’t arrive an hour before dinner wanting to make a recipe that involves a day long process (something that happened to me with his beef broth).
Most recipes are savoury and feature a meat or sea food component, but there are a handful of dessert and vegetable-based dishes. There’s a mix between ingredients you’ll be familiar with (chicken, beef, fish and veggies) and those you may have never cooked or eaten (octopus and frog legs anyone?). Despite the fact that about half the recipes include ingredients I don’t eat and thus won’t make, TAPAS has become a favourite of mine and I look forward to each new recipe I make from it.
His flavour combinations are unreal – the dipping sauce from the Gyozas are worth getting the book for! He’s made me want to make dishes from ingredients I usually leave for broth, namely chicken wings. His two chicken wing recipes I’ve bookmarked to make. Tapas has taught me new ways to cook and different ways to bring more flavour into even the simplest of dishes. The recipes in Tapas are not recipes you can google, they are recipes for dishes you’d get at a really good restaurant; and with his cookbook you’re able to (at risk of sounding like a MasterChef judge) make restaurant quality dishes at home.
The recipe I chose to share is his recipe for mushroom risotto. I’ve made risotto only handful of times, each time with a new recipe and haven’t yet found the perfect version. When I saw his, a recipe that uses a fresh broth and no less than 3 types of mushrooms, I had to give it a go. The only changes I made were using some fresh homemade vegetable broth instead of mushroom broth or chicken broth; and adding less butter to finish, as I was happy with the taste and texture. The result was a deliciously buttery risotto with an umami mushroom flavour.
Tapas was given to us by Penguin Random House and is available here. Penguin Random House nor the author approved or reviewed this piece prior to publication. Opinions are our own. The recipe is reprinted with permission, images are our own.
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Zissy is the co-founder of Nutreats. She likes to make things, do things and wear things.