Celebrated Spanish cookbook author Penelope Casas, 70, who grew up in Whitestone, died on Aug. 11 on Long Island from complications of leukemia.
The daughter of Greek immigrants, Casas first learned of Spanish culture while studying ninth-grade Spanish at the Garden School in Jackson Heights. She later studied Spanish literature at Vassar College.
She met her future husband, Luis Casas, as an exchange student while studying in Madrid for a semester. His mother hosted her in the family home.
Casas went on to write seven definitive cookbooks on Spanish cuisine, including “Tapas: The Little Dishes of Spain” and “La Cocina de Mama: The Regional Cooking of Spain.”
The Spanish government awarded her the National Gastronomy Prize in 1983. Her final book, “1,000 Spanish Recipes,” was finished shortly before her death. It will be published next year.
Besides her husband, a urologist who collaborated on many of her books, Casas is survived by her daughter, Elisa, and a granddaughter.