Sunday, February 21, 2010

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
Yotam Ottolenghi

Ebury Press NZ$79.99

Ottolenghi is rated one of the most iconic and dynamic restaurants in the UK. Its unique blend of exquisite, fresh food, presented in a cutting-edge, elegant environment, has redefined people's dining expectations. Now for the first time, Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi have published their superb sweet and savoury recipes, 140 of them.

Yotam and Sami's inventive yet simple dishes are inspired by their respective childhoods in West and East Jerusalem but rest on numerous other culinary traditions, ranging from North Africa to Lebanon, Italy and California. The 140 original recipes cover everything from accomplished meat and fish main courses, through to many healthy and quick salads and suppers, plus Ottolenghi's famous and delectable cakes and breads.

Ottolenghi: The Cookbook captures the zeitgeist for honest, healthy, bold cooking presented with flair, style and substance. This painstakingly designed book, lavishly photographed book is most impressive and it seems destined to become a cookery classic.
It is also a joy to read and having done that I have selected two recipes which the publishers have kindly given pernmission to me to post on the blog. The first I haven't made yet but as soon as the fig season is underway, in 2-3 weeks perhaps, and Jack gives me some figs from his wonderful tree I intend to do so while the second recipe I made last night and presented as a starter. It was a great success.Everybody loved it.

Figs with young pecorino and honey

This is a recipe that is not worth making without the perfect components.
Use black or green figs, or a mixture, just as long as they are ripe, sweet
and heavy. Remember, figs are very illusive. Somehow, the better they
look, the more tasteless they are. So see if you can sneak a taste before
you buy.
The cheese we use is Pecorino Caciotta Etrusca Fresca, from Patricia
Michelson of La Fromagerie. It is subtle and delicate but still has an
unmistakable ‘sheepy’ flavour. Its soft texture complements that of the
figs. A good cured ham will also work here, either instead of the cheese
or in addition to it.

serves 4 as a starter
2 tbsp good-quality honey
3 tbsp olive oil
600g ripe green or black figs
300g young pecorino or
a similar cheese
80g rocket, preferably wild
10g basil leaves
coarse sea salt and black pepper

1 Whisk together the honey and olive oil and season with salt and
pepper to taste. Cut the figs into quarters. Use your hands to tear
the cheese into large chunks.
2 Arrange the rocket, basil, figs and pecorino in layers on individual
serving plates or a large platter. Drizzle over the honey dressing
as you go along, and finish with some freshly ground black pepper.

Marinated romano peppers with buffalo mozzarella

Romano (or romero) peppers are vibrant red and have an appealing long, pointy shape. To maintain their shape and visual impact, we roast them briefly and don’t peel them. This means you get a bit of skin and seeds on the plate. If you mind this, roast the peppers for another 10 minutes, place in a sealed container to cool down, and then peel and remove the seeds. The peppers will disintegrate slightly.
It is vital that you use good-quality buffalo mozzarella for this recipe.
Ordinary mozzarella will just get lost with all the intense flavours.
Instead of mozzarella you could use feta or small pieces of broken
Parmesan. The peppers can be marinated well ahead of time and
assembled just before serving.

serves 6 as a starter
6 romano peppers
120ml olive oil
2. tbsp finely chopped coriander
2. tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf
parsley, plus extra to garnish
1 garlic clove, crushed
3 tbsp cider vinegar
100g rocket
200g buffalo mozzarella
coarse sea salt and black pepper

1 Preheat the oven to 200°C/Gas Mark 6. Spread the peppers out on
a roasting tray, drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle
with salt and pepper. Mix well and roast for 12–15 minutes, until the
peppers become tender and their skin begins to colour.
2 Meanwhile, mix together the coriander, parsley, garlic, vinegar and
80ml of the olive oil. Season liberally and taste to make sure the
flavours are robust. Put the warm peppers in a bowl, pour the
marinade over them, then cover and leave at room temperature for
at least 2 hours.
3 To serve, lay out the peppers and rocket on a serving plate and spoon
the marinade over them. Break the mozzarella into large chunks with
your hands and dot it over the peppers. Drizzle with the remaining
oil and garnish with parsley.

This is a stunning, superdeluxe book that will be equally at home on the coffee table and the kitchen shelf.

Pic left - Ottolenghi fruit tartlets. Yum.

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