Time Out reviews the best new Spanish recipe books to bring sunshine to your suppers
Seasonal Spanish Food
José Pizarro with Vicky Bennison, Kyle Cathie, £19.99
Even Hispanophile Londoners may not recognise the name José Pizarro, but anyone who's eaten at Tapas Brindisa in Borough Market (which was shortlisted for Best Spanish Restaurant in the Time Out Eating & Drinking Awards 2009) will be familiar with his cooking.
Pizarro's food is characterised by continually changing yet consistently well-executed dishes based on high-quality ingredients – easy to achieve in his tapas bar, as the Brindisa parent company is also one of the UK's leading importers of Spanish fine foods.
In this book, Pizarro approaches Spanish cuisine from the perspective of the land and its seasonal produce; the focus is on the traditional, regional cooking of Spain, not on restaurant-style Spanish dishes – currently very fashionable – that require a PhD in organic chemistry and a warehouse full of gadgets to put together. There's not a foam in sight – in fact, the recipes are well within the grasp of most keen London cooks.
Pizarro is from the Extremadura region of south-west Spain, but has worked in Madrid and has a keen appreciation of Catalan cooking, judging by the appearance of recipes for Catalan classics such as coca (Catalan-style pizza), escalivada (grilled mixed vegetable salad) and salvitxada, the sauce served with outsized Catalan spring onions called calçots, in season in spring.
We found the simplicity of Pizarro's family dishes, such as kid stew with smoked paprika and marinated peppers, quite enticing, and were very taken with dishes such as fritters made with tiny shrimp and red mullet with sliced potatoes and black olives, both from the area around Cádiz on Spain's southern coast in Andalucia, where Pizarro holidayed.
There are recipes from Tapas Brindisa too, such as deep-fried ham croquetas and foie gras with braised lentils, though this is not a book of Tapas Brindisa recipes, or a plug for Brindisa products.
There are short chapters, too, on Spanish produce, from the plain (pulses and rice) to the sublime (Spanish ham and saffron). If you haven't tried cooking Spanish food, we wager this one will have you testing your tapas mettle in the kitchen before mañana is out.
Susan Low, Time Out London Issue 2054 December 31-January 6 2010