Friday, 14 August 2009
Eating from Ottolenghi - The Cookbook.
A few months back, fellow blogger Gourmet Chick heaped much praise on the Ottolenghi cookbook, going so far as to make the claim it was the best recipe book she'd bought all year. To my shame, I'd never heard of Ottolenghi and never visited any of the four London Ottolenghi Deli/Restaurants. But, based on this recommendation, I bought the book, and what an excellent decision that was. Thanks Gourmet Chick!
A little bit of information about the author, London based Yotam Ottolenghi working in partnership with fellow Chef Sami Tamimi creates food inspired by their native West and East Jerusalem upbringings, but with wide ranging influences from Persian to Californian....to sum it all up in a nutshell it's Middle Eastern with a contemporary twist.
Last week, as it's (allegedly) Summer, and remembering that the book was stuffed with unusual salad type recipes, I got the book off the shelf for another look. Found a likely looking recipe, cooked it - fantastic stuff, gaining an almost unprecedented 9/10 from the Girlfriend on the patented scoring chart. Heartened by this success, later in the week, I cooked something else - also fantastic, also scoring 9/10 from the GF. Now in an almost frenzied, ecstatic, state of delirium at this unheard of success I cooked something else.....the crowd fell silent in expectation.....it was good...the crowd erupted, 9/10 - this is incredible! much back slapping and cheesy grins all round.
That's right - three winners in a row. Believe me, with the GF's discerning tastes, I'd have better odds of winning the lottery.
So, what did I cook to produce all this glory?
First up, we have 'Fennel and Feta with Pomegranate Seeds and Sumac'.
This is basically a salad of very thinly sliced Fennel, mixed with olive oil, sumac, lemon juice, tarragon and parsley layered with Feta Cheese and sprinkled with Pomegranate seeds. Amazing stuff. The Fennel, Lemon Juice and Sumac are obviously sour, the Feta Salty, the Pomegranate seeds cut through it all with a sweetness...very sophisticated indeed. Loved it - and it looks amazing if I do say so myself.
Next we have 'Puy Lentils with Sour Cherries, Bacon and Gorgonzola'.
This dish contains another elegant pairing of unusual flavours and taste combinations, consisting of earthy Puy Lentils, sweet fried shallots, Sour Cherries, Salty crumbled Bacon, Creamy Gorgonzola cheese and the freshness of Baby Spinach. Unbelievably good.
Finally we have 'Turkey and Sweetcorn Meatballs with Roasted Pepper Sauce'.
This was very easy to make, and once again tasted incredible...the roasted pepper sauce was smoky and piquant being spiked with both Chilli and Sweet Chilli sauce, a perfect partner for the meatballs consisting of Turkey Mince, Sweetcorn and Spring onions. The other plus about this dish was - it's cheap! Turkey mince is incredibly inexpensive - I added some rice as well to bulk it out a bit and to mop up the sauce, and we ate this for two nights. Bargain.
As I mentioned earlier, the flavour combinations are intelligent, subtle and unusual. After trying the food you honestly come away with the firm impression that Ottolenghi is a genius. Three 9/10 scores in a row from the GF prove it!
In summary - if you don't already own the Ottolenghi recipe book, beg steal or borrow it!