Cookbook road test: Andalusia: recipes from Seville and beyond
José Pizarro is one of London’s most influential chefs, enthusiastically waving the flag for proper Spanish cooking.
José, who has three restaurants in the capital and a new pub restaurant in Claygate, Surrey, was born and raised in Extremadura in central Spain. That remains his heartland, but childhood travels in Andalusia ignited an early fascination for this southernmost region of the country, which he explores with gusto in his latest book…
How good are the recipes?
A food culture as rich as Andalusia’s, with its Moorish history and quality ingredients (it’s home to sherry and pata negra ham, to name just two), is sure to delight the adventurous cook. Ingredients lists entice with the likes of citrus, persimmons, raisins, nuts, figs, spices, olive oil – and sherry and ham, of course.
First up, I chose to cook roast chicken with orange, cumin and apricot rice.
The chicken got extra oomph from a garlic and anchovy paste smeared under the skin, and a healthy dose of smoked paprika. The flavours worked a treat and the finished dish served six generously – although the rice ended up a tad stodgy.
Being a sucker for a good tortilla, my next choice had to be José’s asparagus version.
He specifies using an 18cm pan, 4 eggs, 250g asparagus and an onion, and cooking the tortilla in 150ml olive oil. Now, I like olive oil as much as the next person, but these amounts just didn’t work. Even after changing to a slightly larger (20cm) pan to accommodate the ingredients, I felt I had to abandon the recipe at the point it said to “Cover the pan with a flat lid or board and turn the tortilla carefully onto it” – 150ml hot oil and all. Instead, I transferred the tortilla to a larger pan and finished the cooking in that. Fortunately, it did taste great.
Do the pictures draw you in?
Beautiful recipe shots and location photography by Emma Lee show off Andalusia in all its glory and draw the reader into the kitchen.
Who’s the book suitable for?
Anyone ready to fill their kitchens with the seductive flavours and aromas of southern Spain. I’d have liked to read more about the region’s history, ingredients and people – perhaps about how and where sherry is made and why it’s so brilliant to cook with; or more about the Franciscan sisters of the convent in Ronda (and their traditional recipes), who are so beautifully photographed. All brilliant food stories to tell…
Andalusia: recipes from Seville and beyond by José Pizarro (Hardie Grant £26)