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 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 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!



Helen said...

I love this book so much. You have to try the burnt aubergine dip with pomegranate molasses - it is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Good heavens man, those salads look divine. Your GF clearly has a discerning palate!

Graphic Foodie said...

Well that's sold it to me! Yum.

Boo said...

Looks delicious Dan, have you been to Ottolenghi? I love it there too, I struggle to choose what to have because it all looks so good. The displays are beautiful. Must get the book and try some of these out for myself

Anonymous said...

These look wonderful I'm going to gave to try some of them out instead of leaving the book gathering dust on the shelf!

Claire said...

I discovered the book in my local library the other week. I have yet to make any thing from it though. The baking section alone makes me want to go out and purchase the book! The photos are fantastic and the recipes sound delicious. Your salads look and sound great.

Dan said...

Helen - Thanks for the heads up, I'll be cooking that this week. Bought the ingredients today.

Rejina - hahaha yeah, sometimes she has.

Fran- You've got to get this book if you don't have it.

Boo - You know, Ive never been to Ottolenghi - most are out of the areas I frequent in London - apart from Upper Street that is. I'll have to visit sometime.

Linda - I did exactly the same, only recently that Ive started cooking from it even though I bought it quite a while back.

Claire, Thanks - it's a really good book, be interested to know how you get on with the baking section.

neil said...

Please stop suggesting more cookbooks I should be buying. I've bought 4 already this week and my cupboard is beginning to feel the strain.

Plus it's bad for my reputation.


The Ample Cook said...

They all sound and look utterly delicious Dan. I'd really like to visit the restaurant and I am definitely going to order the book!

Dan said...

Neil - hahaha - 4 cookbooks this week? but isn't your blog 'the war on cookbooks?' - what did you buy btw?

Jan - thanks!

Gourmet Chick said...

Dan - So glad that you love the Ottolenghi book as much as I do - what a responsibility of a recommendation. But I should tell you that I have followed one of your recommendations as well - I have managed to get a copy of the new Eagle cookbook which I know is one of your favourites so I will be testing that out as well!

Browners said...

We're now Ottolenghi addicts. Have you tried the scorched broccoli yet? We've tried not to cook it, but it always keeps making an appearance - it's that good!

Dan said...

Gourmet Chick - thanks again for the recommendation. Excellent! As for the Eagle recipe book - I hope you like it, I've cooked from it a lot (as you know) and found it to be truly excellent - let me know how you find it.

Browners - Haven't tried scorched Broccoli.....I havent even noticed it in the book, but based on that comment I'm going to have to find it and try it!

Food Urchin said...

I STILL haven't got this book, wtf am I doing?
Everyone's raving about it and payday is just around the corner.

All looks pretty delicious Dan

Dan said...

Dan - agreed - WTF are you doing?!! buy it you fool!!!

Thanks for the food compliment dude.