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For the Kitchen Bookshelf : Cookbooks. Big books, little books, showy cocktail table books . . . all arrive in time for holiday shopping each year. The Times' Food staff took a look at some of this year's offerings, many of which will make excellent gift choices for last-minute shoppers. Here's a rundown on some we found interesting.

December 21, 1986|Barbara Hansen

The Spanish Table by Marimar Torres (Doubleday: $17.95, 337 pp.).

Spain has played a momentous role in California cooking, considering the strong Spanish influence on the cuisines of Mexico and the Philippines, both so prominently represented in this state. Marimar Torres' book takes the reader to the source for a study of contemporary Spanish cooking. Regional dishes, family favorites and restaurant specialties are included in a compilation that goes far beyond gazpacho and paella.

Interesting recipes in the book include cold melon cream soup with mint, from Madrid; veal sweetbreads in a Port sauce, from San Sebastian; duck with figs, from Barcelona, and caramelized walnuts with whipped cream, from the village of Baeza in Andalusia. Andalusia is the source of the current tapas craze, and Torres notes that many of her recipes can be turned into small-scaled dishes for a tapas party.

Valuable parts of this book are the introductory gastronomical analysis of the regions and an appendix listing restaurants from which Torres has drawn recipes. The restaurants are listed by location and accompanied by the recipes they inspired. The result is a handy eating-out guide for those who plan to visit Spain. Torres, who is president of Torres Wines North America, also describes the Spanish wine regions and lists the major producers in each.

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