Cookbook Review: Catalonia

Located in the northeast of Spain, Catalonia borders Frances’s Pyrenees mountains and has a heritage and scenery like no other. In Catalonia, José Pizarro travels from the impressive Gaudi architecture in buzzy Barcelona, to the Roman and Greek ruins in Girona and secluded beaches in Costa Brava to create some of the best-loved dishes.

Starting in the markets, José revels in the fresh meat, fish and vegetables on offer, with dishes such as the classic Patatas Bravas, a delicious Chicken Stew with Langoustines and a Rabbit Rice, typical of the region. From a quick Wild Mushroom Tortilla to a wintery Slow-cooked Lamb Shoulder with Asparagus and Samphire and the delicate Hazelnut and Plum cakes, José’s interpretation of the Catalan flavours will inspire you to get into the kitchen.

Set to the backdrop of stunning location photography, Catalonia will transport you to this captivating part of the world.

Catalonia: Spanish Recipes from Barcelona and Beyond is available at and

Fried Artichokes with Membrillo Alioli

When I start cooking these, I can’t stop eating them—they are so delicious. This is is a different way to eat artichokes and is great with a cold beer.

Membrillo (quince paste) alioli, or allioli de codony in Catalan, is typical of the region of Pallars and is a good accompaniment to grilled sh and meat, as well as vegetables.


Serves 4

6 baby globe artichokes
sea salt
a squeeze of lemon juice
120 g (4 oz/1 cup) plain (all-purpose) flour
50 g (2 oz/scant 1⁄2 cup) cornflour (cornstarch)
1 teaspoon baking powder
150–200 ml (5–7 oz) sparkling water
olive oil for deep-frying


for the alioli

40 g (11⁄2 oz) membrillo
1 garlic clove
1 free-range egg yolk
2 teaspoons white wine vinegar pinch of sea salt
150 ml (5 oz) olive oil


Clean the artichokes. Slice the stem off a few centimetres before the base and remove and discard a few of the outer leaves. Slice them very finely with a mandoline and put in a bowl of water with a pinch of salt and a squeeze of lemon juice.

To make the alioli, mash the membrillo and garlic together in a pestle and mortar. Add the egg yolk and vinegar and a pinch of salt. Spoon into a bowl and gradually whisk in the olive oil to form a glossy alioli.

Whisk the flours and baking powder with enough of the sparkling water to get a thick but not clumpy batter. Drain the artichokes and pat them dry with kitchen paper.

Heat the oil in a large pan to 180°C (350°F). Dip the artichoke slices in the batter then drop into the oil and fry for a minute or two until golden brown. Drain on kitchen paper and season with sea salt. Serve with the alioli.

Recipe reprinted with permission from Catalonia: Spanish Recipes from Barcelona and Beyond, Hardie Grant Books.

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