Thursday, January 26, 2012

I <3 Ottolenghi

It’s rare that a cookbook captures my attention like this one does. In fact, I stalked it for quite a while before committing to allowing another cookbook into the house. But ohhh… what a book.image I’m talking about Plenty, a vegetarian cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi.  I’d hoped to add some new vegetarian dishes to our repertoire and have been delighted with our success so far. The photos in the book are so luscious, I really want to make everything. Well, everything that doesn’t feature eggs. And most everything we’ve made has lived up to our (very very high) expectations.
We’ve made four dishes so far:

Quinoa pilaf with Persian Lime

This pilaf is a mix of quinoa, brown rice (our sub for the white rice in the recipe), wild rice, feta and yams. I feared that it would be a serious hassle to put together, but it wasn’t. Most importantly, it was phenomenal. We both went back for seconds. Unbelievably good.

Chard cakes with Sorrel Sauce Lemon and Yogurt


Our second foray into the book was to make chard cakes, as the Swiss chard at the market is irresistible this time of year. The recipe includes a sorrel sauce, but we couldn’t find that so substituted lemon and yogurt. And we subbed pepitas (pumpkin seeds) for the pine nuts. Again, fantastic! Sadly, there were no leftovers. This was good enough for company. But we won’t wait for company to make this again either.

Yogurt Flatbreads with Mushrooms and Barley

This again was delicious, though I would tweak it a bit next time. The flatbreads are not yeasted, so I was concerned that they’d be pretty doughy. The recipe indicated that you should roll out the flatbreads to 1” thick. I knew that couldn’t be right, but did not know how think they should be. I guessed at 1/4” thick. They puffed up a startling amount during cooking, and I wish I’d rolled to 1/8” thick. But it was still quite good. The picture showed less barley than what we had when making it. Not a complaint, just an observation. We haven’t had barley in who knows how long, so it was great to get reacquainted with an old friend.
Our fourth attempt was honestly a bit ‘meh’ for me. Saffron fettucine with spiced butter. Nothing wrong with it, but I am not a huge fan of saffron anyhow and the spiced butter had the cinnamony-moroccany thing going which is also not a fave. I love moroccan food but not when the sweet spices get invited to the party. I am sure it is me, not the recipe. No pics because we don’t celebrate what we don’t love.
On the stove now is a ribollita from the book and planned into next week’s menu is the broccoli and gorgonzola pie.
So, yes, I <3 <3 <3 this book. It’s making me eat better food from a health perspective (loads of whole grains and vegetables) and from a taste perspective. I really like his approach to cooking and his sense of playfulness with the food. If I never made any other recipes than the ones above, I’d feel I got my money’s worth from it. Instead, I just can’t wait for the next taste – in fact the monkey is now insisting that we have one or two meat dishes on the menu each week, where it used to be the other way around. How cool is that?

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