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Seasonal Spanish Food – Book review

22 January 2010 by

Seasonal Spanish Food
By José Pizarro
Kyle Cathie, £19.99
ISBN 978 1 85626 849 3

Good tapas should always have an earthy element and José Pizarro's new book, Seasonal Spanish Food, has captured that essence completely.

Pizarro is the chef behind the three tapas restaurants of London's leading Spanish food importer, Brindisa, and his book screams rustic, uncomplicated, classic tapas.

Its fabulously uncomplicated pictures, matt presentation - shunning the glossy pages we're so used to with more high-profile cookery books - and Pizarro's personal tips and musings on various subjects, from mushroom hunting to Christmas in Spain, allow the unpretentious warmth of the Mediterranean to leap from its pages.

However, the fact that the forward is by the esteemed Michelin-starred chef Elena Arzak, and both Mark Hix and Angela Hartnett rave about it, gives a hint that this is no bog-standard tapas cookbook.

The recipes are testament to the age-old Spanish mantra of taking good ingredients and letting them shine by not doing too much to them and would make a great start for any chef hoping to turn their hand to this style of cuisine.

Many chefs may not need a recipe for pea soup with Serrano ham, for instance, but for an explanation of how to turn this dish into an authentic Spanish version, this is just the job.

The book is broken down into seasons and then produce, and covers all the classic tapas territory, including three recipes for different types of tortilla, two for bacalao, and several for chorizo, morcilla, liver and croquetas. Desserts include Crema Catalana and caramelised figs, orange salad and apple pie.

While most of the dishes could easily be seen on a tapas menu, there is much more to this book - there's a recipe for classic leg of lamb and other game and poultry dishes that lend themselves to more substantial family or group dining, as well as a handy little directory of key stockists of Spanish food and wine at the back.

Seasonal Spanish Food is not to be missed by anyone planning on introducing a Mediterranean or tapas element to their menu.

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