Meet Katie Button, whose book makes Spanish cuisine accessible to home cooks

Chef Katie Button. / Photo credit: Evan Sung

Chef Katie Button. / Photo credit: Evan Sung

There was a time when authentic Spanish cuisine was only to be had in the Iberian peninsula. That’s no longer the case. Most recently, a new cookbook from Asheville, N.C., chef Katie Button looks to make Spanish cooking even more accessible to home cooks in the U.S.

“Cúrate: Authentic Spanish Food From an American Kitchen” (Flatiron Books, $35), is a compendium of Spanish favorites like tortilla Española, paella, gazpacho and empanadas. The 125 recipes in the cookbook are similar to those served at Button’s tapas restaurant, Cúrate, but geared for home kitchen preparation.

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Button visits Atlanta this week for events that include a book signing and launch party at Cover Books Oct. 26 and a cooking class at Sur La Table Oct. 29. (A multi-course dinner at Cooks & Soldiers Oct. 27 is sold out.)

The hardcover, full-color book is separated into nine chapters, with dishes that range from starters, soups and salads to seafood, meat and poultry, plus starchy noodles, beans and rice. Attention also is paid to drinks — with a primer on the king of Spanish cocktails: the gin and tonic.

curate-final-coverThe cookbook follows the same philosophy that Button adheres to at Cúrate: weaving local and regional ingredients into Spanish recipes and techniques. For example, to prepare Andalusian-style fried eggplant, she relies on local honey instead of the more traditional cane syrup. To make a cured fish dish, she reaches for local trout instead of cod.

“In the restaurant, we’ve got dishes like esqueixada, a dish from Catalonia based on a dish of shredded salt cod with fresh tomato. It’s a cold fish salad. We started thinking, we’re here in Asheville. Salt cod isn’t really the fish of our region. Is there something else we can do to make this feel a little closer to home?”

Recipes in the cookbook also are geared toward the home kitchen, rather than a restaurant manner of preparation and single plating. These include whole animal dishes such as rabbit and other one-pot dishes that can be served family-style.

Button noted that recipes in the cookbook also bear the influence of her husband, who hails from Rosas, Spain, and his family. “A lot of the recipes, you’ll see his mother mentioned,” Button said. “They are dishes she taught me how to make or I have done them with her.”

Button has received such accolades as Food & Wine magazine’s best new chef award in 2015, and she was named a finalist for a James Beard Foundation rising star chef award in 2014. Besides running Cúrate, she operates Nightbell, an Asheville restaurant that serves new American small plates and craft cocktails. She counts among her mentors such names as celebrity Spanish chefs José Andres and Ferran Adriá.

But her culinary journey began long before she stepped into storied kitchens like Adriá’s now defunct El Bulli restaurant, tucked away in the remote village of Rosas in the Catalonia region of Spain.

“I come from a long line of fantastic women cooks,” Button said. “My great grandmother — I heard all about her family dinners. She used to make multi-course meals. She loved to cook and cooked every day. My grandmother learned a lot of cooking from her. My mother had a catering business. She did it out of our home and I grew up watching her cook.”

Meet Katie Button

6-8 p.m. Oct. 26: “Cúrate” book signing and launch party with food provided by Miller Union. Free. Cover Books, 1031 Marietta St., Atlanta. 470-225-7733, cover-books.com. Register at eventbrite.com/e/cookbook-launch-with-katie-button-of-ashevilles-curate-tickets-28561804125.

1-3 p.m. Oct. 29: Cooking class with Katie Button featuring recipes from “Cúrate.” $59. Sur La Table, 3500 Peachtree Road, Atlanta. 404-973-3375, surlatable.com. Purchase tickets at surlatable.com/sku/3076882/Authentic+Spanish+Food+from+an+American+Kitchen+with+Katie+Button.

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