Ottolenghi vs Anna Jones

NOPI and A modern way to cook books

I’ve been waiting for both these books for some time.

A modern way to cook by Anna Jones is the follow up to her bestselling book from last year ‘a modern way to eat’. I think I made almost everything from this book during my year eating on vegetarian food and I was amazed at the simplicity of the recipes and the accessibility of all the ingredients.

This new book has a similar vibe to Jamie’s 15 minute meals. Boil a kettle, have some pans on, bish-bash-bosh food in 15-30 minutes (mainly). It’s hardly surprising as she has worked with Jamie on other books and series – focussing on style and behind the scenes things – maybe she’s responsible for the awesome chopping boards he throws the food on!?.

I can’t wait to cook from this book. It’s full of quick and easy recipes for when you just can’t face a couple of hours in the kitchen.

NOPI by Ottolenghi is another matter. This is the first book he’s released where I’ve thought ‘I really must read this recipe carefully before I start’. Most of his other books are throw it together, medium duration dishes, that pack tonnes of flavour and leave you feeling warm inside. This book is more refined. You can tell this by the gold edging on the pages!

This book also sees Ottolenghi cooking with meat and fish (his last books were generally vegetarian). I love this. I love cooking vegetarian – but the odd meat dish here and there is very welcome.!

The recipes in NOPI will take you a while, and in some cases you’ll be prepping them the day before. Especially the desserts.

I can’t wait to cook from these books. And I can’t wait to blog about them!

New Potatoes, Asparagus and Eggs

New Potatoes, Asparagus and Eggs

Every other weekend we don’t really get to eat very well. My daughter comes to stay on Friday thru’ Saturday and then on the Sunday we go to Freya’s parents. Killing two birds with one stone as it were!

My daughter lives a fair old way away and by the time I’ve picked her up and brought her back to the boat it is usually way too late to eat. So we tend to have a big lunch on the Friday and power through to Saturday morning – or we grab something on the way to picking her up.

After spending the day in the British Museum on Saturday and safely dispatching my daughter back to her mother, I got home and threw this together. Very little effort – just time  roasting the vegetables. But it is very tasty.

The plan was for Freya to cook while I took Olivia home but there was a mix up with the boat keys so Freya ended up sat in a pub knitting for two hours while I was gone. On the plus side I now know that the Magpie and Crown has two new Craft Ales on tap – and both were excellent!

This recipe is also from Hugh Fearnley Whittingstall’s River Cottage Light and Easy cookbook. I’d highlighted it as one of the dishes I was going to make when I skimmed the book and it was well worth it. I love asparagus and it goes very well with eggs too.

It’s not much of a recipe more than bake stuff in the oven. You bake the potatoes, then add the asparagus, then right at the end make four wells and crack an egg into each well. Bake until the eggs are done and serve. Very simple indeed.

On Sunday I remade the Shallot and Mushroom risotto and the Brussels Sprouts, Puy Lentils and Walnuts for the six of us. It seemed to go down well although it wasn’t as good as the first time I made it. The only thing I changed was the stock and the quantities – their oven was just more feisty than mine and the onions were overdone in my opinion!

The Modern Vegetarian – Maria Ella


After all the stresses and rushing around of last week I can now get back to doing what I like best – cooking!

Now our boat is moved (which went without a hitch) the pressure has really lifted and rather than eating crazy late every evening I can focus on getting home from work at a reasonable hour and taking my time preparing some really nice food.

My book of choice this week is ‘The Modern Vegetarian’ by Maria Ella.

I’ve cooked from this book before – and was very impressed with the general simplicity of the recipes and the impressive flavours, textures and colourful dishes that I’d selected. Sadly I hadn’t blogged or photographed any of them – but the general opinion was that everything from it was very good. So I’ve decided to cook from the book again.

The recipes I’ve selected are a mixture of those I’ve made before (and loved – especially the beetroot ones) and a few new ones that I’d missed first time round.

This week I plan to make (in no particular order)

  • Carrot pancakes with Houmous and a Feta Salad
  • Smashed Pea, Dill and Feta Crostini
  • Butternut Squash Barley Risotto
  • Spiced Swiss Chard with Butterbeans and Couscous
  • Fresh Borlotti Bean Cassoulet
  • Beetroot Tzatsiki
  • Spiced Caramelised Onion and Beetroot Bulgar Pilau
  • Beetroot Keftedes
  • Greek Beetroot Salad
  • Parmesan Polenta with Poached Eggs and Roasted Feta
  • Puy Lentil and Feta Tabouleh
  • Fennel Salad
  • Braised Broad Beans with Lemon and Dill
  • Rosemary and Butternut Squash Polenta Chips
  • Rosemary Popcorn
  • Dino’s Greek Peas

That quite a lot to make – but all the dishes are quick and easy. The four beetroot dishes are part of a ‘flavours of beetroot meze’ which is really quite special.

As always I’ve steered clear of nearly all the rice and pasta dishes and dishes with lots of cream – just because I want to keep my weight down and because I eat late most nights and don’t want to go to bed on a very full stomach.

This is definitely a book to own if you are vegetarian. You’ll certainly make most of the dishes in this book over time. The photography is really good too.

Honestly Healthy for Life – Healthy Alternatives for Everyday Eating


For my birthday this year Freya bought me this book. Honestly Healthy for Life – by Natasha Corrett and Vicki Edgson. She also got me some enamelware.

This book focuses very much on reducing acid intake – thus pretty much eliminating meat and dairy – and focusing on eating a lot more pulses, grains and vegetables – and in the correct proportions.

There are over 60 pages on dietary facts and how eating certain foods together will help you naturally lose weight, improve digestion and generally be healthier and have more energy and feel less bloated. Sounds good doesn’t it! Especially given I’ve been trying to do that anyway without any advice – cutting out meat and dairy, wheat and carbohydrates wherever I can.

I sat up in bed and worked my way through the book – and soon realised that these ladies use a lot of specialist ingredients you won’t find in any supermarket. When I was younger I remember watching Delia on TV and she’d say – ‘I’m using Mushrooms you can only find at the top of Mount Everest on 1st July – but you can use button mushrooms’ – and thought – yeh you can substitute things but where’s the fun in that – and how will you ever know what the dish was supposed to taste like. Besides it’s my birthday so I resolved to buy all the speciality ingredients – such as:

  • Black Rice Noodles
  • Umeboshi Plum Puree
  • Raw Cacao
  • Spirulina
  • Bee Pollen
  • Kuzu
  • Pumpernickel Bread
  • Chia Seeds
  • Coconut Oil
  • Hemp Seeds
  • Kombu Seedweed

to name but a few!

Recipes we’ve selected for this week include:

  • Chia Seed Porridge and Compote
  • Wild Mushroom Quinoa Risotto
  • Citrus Seaweed Salad
  • Granola Bars
  • Orange and Celeriac Soup
  • Tomato Tart
  • Raw Green Curry
  • Almond Berry Cake
  • Muesli
  • Green Smoothie
  • Quinoa, Lemon, Kale and Sesame Beetroot Salad
  • Puy Lentil, Brown Rice and Sweet Potato Salad

We’ve already made the Puy Lentil, Brown Rice and Sweet Potato Salad – as you may have seen. That was yummy – and I expect everything else will be too!

This is going to be an expensive weeks eating – the week’s shopping on Ocado was over £150 – and I spend another £60 on Amazon for the speciality ingredients!

I was so impressed with the first impressions of this book that I ordered their first book ‘Honestly Healthy – Eat With Your Body and Mind the Alkaline Way’ – shame that – my mother-in-law already had it and I could have pinched hers !

The day turned out to be a nightmare. We lost water to our house – the neighbours had cut through the pipe, and our boat became untied from our mooring on the Thames – when a storm caused the mooring to come apart. Our 20 tonne, 60 foot long, iron dutch barge was at 90 degrees to the Thames – hanging on with the tiniest rope and I had to pull it in – all 20 tonnes of it. It wasn’t pleasant at all. Very very scary – who knows what would have happened if the other rope would have given way.

Anyway – we got away with it – and we live to cook another dish !



Veggiestan – Sally Butcher



This is the first Vegetarian only cookery book I’ve cooked from. I borrowed it from my future mother-in-law quite some time ago and haven’t gotten round to cooking from it.

I like the down to earth writing of the author of this book – it’s a very modern writing style.

In searching for this week’s recipes I only got to page 80 before I’d shortlisted 20 recipes – and then stopped. This book compliments all the Ottolenghi books – and many of the recipes are strikingly similar but with slight twists. The middle eastern style of cooking really suits me. I hope I can go there on a holiday once we’ve sorted our boat out !

I particularly like the ‘suggestions’ of how to modify the dishes and customise them to your own tastes.

Anyway all this week’s recipes are going to come from this book. I’ve plumped for lots of simple to make, smaller dishes as I don’t have a lot of spare time this week. I hope you enjoy them !

This week I’ll be making:

  • Turkish Pizza Bread
  • Spinach Fatayer
  • Afghan Leek Pies
  • Beetroot and Orange Salad
  • Cucumber and Pomegranate Salsa
  • Waldorf Salad
  • Fatoush
  • Herby Omelette Thingies
  • Onion and Herb Salad
  • Fried Eggs With Dates
  • Figs and Halloumi
  • Cheese Baked Egg-Stuffed Tomatoes
  • Tomato, Fennel and Arak Soup

I’ll also make Mung Bean Casserole – but I have to wait for those to arrive from, they take a few days to deliver based on past experience.

Plenty – Yotam Ottolenghi

Plenty - Yotam Ottolenghi

Most people I know swear by Jamie Oliver for their quick easy recipes. I swear by Yotam Ottolenghi.

Why? Well Jamie does do a lot a good food but my personal opinion is you aren’t going to keep your weight down. He makes lots of things with pasta and potatoes – especially in his 30 minute meals book. Also – Jamie cooks mainly with meat. Not exclusively – just mainly.

We are by no means vegetarians – at least we weren’t! Freya (my fiance) probably won’t go back to the dark side. We just decided that the only way to get Freya’s vegetarian mum to eat better was to adorn her with lots of yummy vegetarian things that were easy to make – and hope that it rubbed off.

Plenty – one of the Holy Trinity of Yotam Ottolenghi’s cookbooks – is not exclusively vegetarian. That said – there are enough vegetarian recipes in this book that you won’t have to search for the Sides section and hope you can turn the dish into a main meal.

I’ve made almost every vegetarian recipe in this book and on the whole they are all incredibly easy, tasty and versatile. Only on a few occasions did I have to go to specialist shops for ingredients.

I can’t recommend this book enough. There is a lot of ‘foody talk’ in this book – and I generally don’t read the ‘blah blah blah’ – having been put off by Nigella’s half page introductions to almost every recipe. You will read this though. The man knows his stuff, he’s interesting, relevant, passionate and keeps things simple.