José Pizarro’s Cookbook: 3 Spanish Home Kitchen Recipes

FFor me, it’s the best sandwich in the world, and – best advice – it’s the most incredible food against hangovers,” says José Pizarro. “People seem surprised to learn that some of the best and freshest seafood in Spain can be found in Madrid.”

The chef worked in the Spanish capital in his early twenties. “I had an amazing time exploring the nightlife and partying and then finding places to eat something afterwards – it was the best way to experience some amazing street food.

It was the El Mercado de San Miguel where he discovered the best calamares bocadillo. This recipe is an ode to it.

Fried calamari sandwich

Total time: 25 minutes

Serves: 2

Ingredients(For 2 people, takes 25 minutes)

For the aioli:

1 free-range egg yolk

1 clove garlic, finely crushed

Grated zest of 1 lemon, plus juice to taste

1 teaspoon white wine vinegar or apple cider vinegar

Pinch of sea salt

150ml olive oil

For the calamari:

1L vegetable oil or light olive oil, for frying

120g plain flour

1 teaspoon Chilli de la Vera

500 g small squid, cleaned, tentacles removed and the body cut into rings

1 crispy baguette, cut into 4 pieces and each cut in half

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. Start by making the aioli. In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolk, garlic, lemon zest and vinegar. Season with a good pinch of fleur de sel. Slowly drizzle with olive oil, whisking constantly, until a thick, succulent aioli forms. Add lemon juice to taste and set aside.

2. To prepare the calamari, pour the oil into a large saucepan (you want it half full). Heat to 190°C, or until a cube of bread browns in 20 seconds. While the oil is heating, combine the flour and chili in a large bowl and season with plenty of sea salt and freshly ground black pepper. Add the calamari and stir until well coated in the seasoned flour.

3. Working in batches, fry the calamari for about three minutes or until golden brown and crispy, then remove from the oil and allow to drain on a plate lined with paper towel. Sprinkle with salt as soon as you remove it from the oil, then continue with the next batch. Lightly toast the baguette slices, then assemble the sandwiches by spreading the aioli over four of the slices, then adding the fried calamari. Garnish each of the remaining baguette slices and enjoy.

Gazpacho with cherries

Many people are surprised to learn that gazpacho can be made with such a variety of things.

(Emma Lee/PA)

“Many customers and friends are surprised when they learn that gazpacho can be made with such a variety of things,” says Pizarro – meaning it’s not just classic tomatoes.

Gazpacho is basically a cold soup that can be smooth or textured, thin or thick. “Here I do it with cherries because I grew up with some of the best cherries in the world. This is a remarkably high quality product from Jerte, just north of my hometown in Spain.

Total time: 20 minutes plus 2 hours of marinade

Ingredients:

For the gazpacho:

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 slice of stale white sourdough

2 garlic cloves, sliced

1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped

500 g very ripe red cherries, pitted

½ cucumber, peeled and diced

300ml tomato juice

2 tablespoons sherry vinegar

4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, plus 2 tablespoons for emulsifying

For the toppings:

2 tablespoons of olive oil,

1 thick slice of stale white sourdough, cut into small cubes

1 sprig of thyme, leaves picked

½ small red onion, very finely chopped

50 g crumbled goat cheese

¼ cucumber, peeled and finely diced

A handful of fresh basil leaves

Extra virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Method:

1. For the soup, heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium-high heat and brown the bread on both sides until golden brown.

2. Put the fried bread in a bowl with the rest of the gazpacho ingredients (except for the two tablespoons of oil) and leave to rest for a few hours.

3. For the filling, heat a little oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the bread cubes and thyme and sauté until you have golden croutons. Drain on a paper towel-lined plate and season.

4. Blend the soup very well with a hand blender, then pass it through a coarse sieve into a jug. Whisk the two tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil. Pour into four bowls and top with all the toppings and a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil.

Point: You can roast the peppers if you want the soup to have a milder flavor.

Moorish meatballs with spinach, pine nuts and spiced saffron yoghurt

Meatballs are Pizarro’s favorite thing to cook

(Emma Lee/PA)

“Meatballs are one of my favorite things to cook. It’s a great way to play around with different flavors,” says Pizarro.

“This recipe is very quick and really different from any meatball dish I’ve made before. It’s perfect for a mid-week dinner or tapas night.

Total time: 45 minutes

Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 banana shallot, finely chopped

300g ground beef

300g minced pork

2 large garlic cloves, grated

1 teaspoon hot smoked La Vera pepper

1 teaspoon mild and smoked La Vera pepper

1 teaspoon ground cumin a handful of chopped cilantro, plus extra to garnish

30g toasted pine nuts

250g baby spinach

30g raisins

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper

Crusty bread, for serving

For the yogurt:

300g Greek yogurt

1 clove garlic, grated

1 tablespoon finely chopped mint leaves

A pinch of saffron threads soaked in 1 teaspoon of boiling water

1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil

Method:

1. Preheat the oven to 180C/160C fan/350F/gas 4. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a small skillet (frying pan) over low heat and gently sauté the shallot for 10 minutes until soft. she be tender. Set aside and let cool.

2. In a large bowl, combine the two types of mince, along with the garlic, cooled shallot, spices and chopped cilantro. Season well and shape into 16 walnut-sized balls.

3. Heat the remaining oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Add the meatballs and fry until golden, then transfer to the oven for five minutes to finish cooking. Remove to a warm plate and cover loosely with foil.

4. Meanwhile, prepare the spiced saffron yogurt. In a bowl, mix the yogurt, garlic and mint and season well, then add the saffron and its soaking water.

5. Place the frying pan you used for the meatballs over high heat and add the spinach and raisins, along with a little water. Mix and let the spinach melt and mix with the cooking juices of the meatballs. Add the pine nuts, then return the meatballs and any remaining juices to the pan and mix everything together.

6. Divide the yogurt among four plates and top with the meatballs and spinach. Serve with crusty bread.

‘The Spanish Home Kitchen: Simple, Seasonal Recipes And Memories From My Home’ by José Pizarro (published by Hardie Grant, £27; photography by Emma Lee), available now.

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