Following cookbooks exploring Basque and Catalonian cuisine, Spanish restaurateur José Pizarro’s latest tome takes a look at Andalusia and the culinary traditions around Spain’s southern coast – Granada, Aracena, Málaga.
Pizarro’s London restaurants (José tapas bar, Pizarro restaurant in Bermondsey and José Pizarro Broadgate) and the Swan Inn in Esher, Surrey, have been widely lauded for flying the flag of Spanish cuisine in the UK, so I knew I was in trustworthy hands.
Having spent a week in Seville, Córdoba and Cádiz last year, I was excited to both reminisce and delve deeper – and I was not disappointed.
The cuisine draws from the region’s Moorish and Roman heritage, using the fresh produce from its rugged coastline to its vertiginous mountain ranges and acorn-filled woodlands.
Andalusia is separated simply into meat, fish, vegetables and desserts and is full of stews, grilled fish and salads, and has tips and tricks that will be of use even to experienced chefs – using sherry instead of red wine in meat stews is just one Spanish secret Pizarro imparts.
Andalusia’s Arabic influence is most prominent in its spiced desserts, to which Pizarro pays tribute with recipes including baklava-esque honeyed pastries with baked figs and sherry, and crisp olive oil biscuits.
As well as his own twist on traditional Andalusian dishes, many of the recipes are credited to the cafés and local individuals Pizarro came across on his travels, such as a pionono, inspired by the sweet pastries created by Ceferino Isla at his café Pastelería Casa Isla in Santa Fé. Pizarro’s recipe features the addition of elderflower, which grows along the region’s Darro river. Even simple sweets, such as gañotes and roscos de huevo, which are sold by nuns to generate income to support their convents, are included.
The result is a cheerful tour through the cooking of this particular Spanish region that makes me want to sit out on a sunny balcony with a marmalade soufflé pudding – made using Pizarro’s Seville orange marmalade with a dash of Pedro Ximénez, of course.
Andalusia: Recipes from Seville and beyond, by José Pizarro (Hardie Grant Publishing, £26)