Archive | March, 2015

El gran adiós: José Pizzaro’s final meal

13 Mar

I’d go home, to the house I grew up in. It’s in Talaván, a small village in the Extremadura region of Spain – the house my mother still lives in. That’s where we always have our family gatherings and celebrations.

It’s a very typical Spanish house, overlooking the main square. Every morning, you can watch all the ladies going to buy bread. My parents have never lived anywhere else, and my dream is to build my own home there too, with a big cellar and a vegetable garden nearby, just like my father.

I’d want to bring together everyone who has ever been important to me. I have a lot of friends … There’d be a thousand people! It would be a way of saying thank you.

We’d start with plenty of seafood and Iberico ham, with a nice glass of Tio Pepe. Sherry and ham is such a perfect marriage of flavours.

The smell of my mother’s baby goat stew would fill the house. It would have been cooking slowly all morning, and we would enjoy it with red wine and vegetables from my father’s garden. It was always such a highlight, going down to pick his tomatoes during the summer, or his oranges in the winter.

There’d be cake, and my mother’s creme caramel. And leche frita – fried custard – with a glass of my favourite Pedro Ximenez from Fernando de Castilla. It’s a really sweet wine, thick with raisins, like Christmas pudding in a glass. After that I’d have a glass of cava, and a big gin and tonic!

If it were the season though, I’d be just as happy with a plate of oranges, dressed with olive oil. We love really simple things. My father would often just have a bunch of mint in a vase near the table, a bowl of quince and some orange blossom, filling the house with beautiful aromas.
Leche frita

While the name translates as “fried milk”, it’s actually a kind of sweet custard fritter, a nibble to eat at the end of a meal or with tea or coffee. It is a dish that is very close to my heart, as my mum makes it whenever there is something to celebrate or friends have dropped in for a visit.

Serves 4 to 6
For the custard
1 litre whole milk
Peel of ½ orange
Peel of ½ lemon
1 cinnamon stick
60g plain flour
80g cornflour
140g caster sugar
4 large egg yolks

To coat and fry
100g plain flour
2 eggs, beaten
150ml extra virgin olive oil

To serve
100g caster sugar
1 tsp ground cinnamon, or to taste

1 Put the milk, both peels and the cinnamon into a non-stick pan and heat until very hot, but not boiling. Cook for about 30 minutes. Turn off the heat and remove the cinnamon and citrus peels.

2 Beat the flours, sugar and egg yolks together in a bowl. Gradually add the hot milk, beating continuously. Once you have a thick sauce, scrape this back into the saucepan and place it over a medium heat to cook for 10 minutes. Stir regularly. You will end up with a very thick custard. Use a spatula to smooth the custard on to a baking tray to a thickness of 2cm. Leave to cool in the fridge.

3 Put the flour and eggs into separate bowls. Cut the custard into 3cm squares and roll each cube in the flour, dusting off the excess, and then dunk it in the egg. Heat enough oil in a heavy frying pan to submerge the custard cubes. Once the oil starts to shimmer, cook the squares for 1 minute until pale gold, in batches, and drain on kitchen paper. Mix the sugar and cinnamon together and dust them thoroughly.