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!

Carrot and Mung Bean Salad

Carrot, Feta and Mung Bean Salad

 

Another dish from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More, I made this last night after we’d already had our evening snack of halloumi wraps.

We eat out at lunchtime way too often for my liking and every time it costs us over £10. It soon adds up – and it eats into the day. It’s rare that we can go out for lunch in less than an hour. Worse than that we never eat healthily at lunchtime. Fast-ish food is never that going to be healthy in Hatfield.

I knocked this up pretty quickly (maybe 35 minutes) whilst watching the new David Attenborough series ‘Life Story’. You have to see it – it’s shot in 4K – gorgeous photography!

Anyway, this recipe is quite easy – finding dried mung beans is the hardest bit. I found mine in a turkish supermarket. I’ve since been assured that many indian shops stock them.

Cook some mung beans in water until they are done but still have some bite. While they are simmering away, cook some carrot batons in very little water with a little sugar and salt.

When both the mung beans and the carrots are nearly done, fry some fennel seeds, caraway seeds and cumin seeds in a little olive oil until they pop.

Drain the mung beans, add the popped seeds and toss together with some garlic, white wine vinegar and chilli flakes. Let is cool down.

Finally, add the carrots, chopped coriander, lemon zest and diced feta and gently toss together with a little more olive oil.

This really is a tasty dish and one I will be making often. It’s very filling, has many textures and is very colourful. Leaving it overnight to allow the garlic and vinegar to soak into the beans makes all the difference.

Ottolenghi strike again. I’m really looking forward to making ‘Red Onions with Walnut Salsa’ on Thursday when I cook again.

Tuesday’s is now ‘Free Sausage and Mash’ with a pint night in the ‘Horse and Groom’ in Old Hatfield. You really can’t turn that down ! We had it last week and the sausages were excellent – coming a close second to the amazing gravy that covered them !

Sort of Waldorf Salad

Sort of Waldorf SaladNeither of us really fancied dinner this evening; both having eaten out for lunch at work – but we always need lunch! So I knocked this up for tomorrow’s lunch.

A traditional waldorf has apples, celery and walnuts dressed in mayonnaise on a bed of lettuce.

This recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More swaps walnuts for hazelnuts and there is the addition of red cabbage, red onion and sour cherries (I used barberries which are pretty similar).

This is pretty easy – and pretty quick – I think it took a little more than 30 minutes – but only because you have to toast the hazelnuts gently for around that long alone.

Mind you while they are toasting you can easily do the rest.

Finely slice red cabbage, red onion, apples (granny smiths), celery and toss together with some dill and sour cream.

Then make some mayonnaise. I did mine in my new Nutribullet blender (this little beast will blitz anything to a perfect puree). The mayonnaise is made with a shallot, dijon mustard, cider vinegar and a mix of sunflower and rapeseed oil. And it was amazing. I don’t think I’ll ever buy mayonnaise again.

Mix the mayonnaise with the salad, scatter with your roughly chopped toasted hazelnuts and you’re done.

I think this salad is amazing and might be nice with something on the side – or even in a wrap with some Halloumi. I do love my salads though and I could eat tonnes of it on its own.

Brussel’s Sprout Risotto

Brussels Sprout Risotto

I’ve made this twice now. And I know I will just keep making it. It’s quick, easy, tasty and I always have the ingredients to hand. On top of that it makes lots so there are always leftovers for work the next day!

Tell someone you are making Brussels Sprout Risotto and they are sure to turn their nose up at you. Freya’s brother did. I could see his mind whirring at how he needed an excuse to leave so he could pop into McDonalds and get some real food! But trust me this is worth it.

The Brussels that Ottolenghi has in the pictures in Plenty More look stunning. Straight off the stalks with lots of purples and dark green colours running through them. I had to settle for the boring light green pretrimmed variety from the supermarket. I’ll try and hunt down the colourful ones nearer Christmas; I think the dish will look super special with more vibrant colours.

You make the risotto by frying some onions in butter and oil and then adding lemon, garlic and thyme. While that is caramelising, shred your Brussel Sprouts.

I must admit I made it wrong this time. You’re supposed to shred about half the sprouts and quarter the other half but I wasn’t paying too much attention and added all the sprouts and the rice to the onions at this stage.

The idea is you pan fry the quartered Brussel Sprouts in hot oil until they are golden and crispy and add them as a topping at the end. I’ll try and remember this for next time!

You now make the risotto as you would any other risotto; add wine and let it absorb and then gradually add stock while stirring often. When the stock is all used up the rice should be cooked but still have some bite.

Right at the end add Parmesan, Dolcelatte, tarragon and some grated lemon zest. if you followed the recipe properly, add the pan fried Brussels on top and serve.

It’s just as good with all the Brussels incorporated it just doesn’t look as striking – and it removed a crunchy texture that could have made the dish even more special.

This risotto is so creamy and is really tasty – especially with the additional lemon zest that I added.

There was so much of this left over that we had it for lunch the next day. I don’t think we were especially popular in the office later that day. Two Brussel’s Sprout meals in a row!

Globe Artichoke and Mozzarella with Candied Lemon

Globe Artichoke and Mozzarella with Candied Lemon

 

The UK weather has been so mild of late that is seems almost normal to put together a cold salad for dinner on 27th October 2014!  I was expecting to come home to a cold damp boat every evening and be heating the boat to keep warm but it just hasn’t been necessary.

After spending an eternity in the IKEA returns department and then another eternity spending the store credit we got home quite late and were both feeling pretty hungry. Fortunately this dish can easily be put together in less than 30 minutes.

After bashing together an immediate snack of toasted pumpkin seeds with tamari, I set to work making this awesome salad.

The salad is courtesy of Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. It does require really fresh ingredients though or it will just disappoint you.

Last week we bought some Dill and Mint from our local Morrisons and it was tasteless, chewy and limp and really let down all the dishes I made. Contrast to yesterday when I asked for mint from our local greengrocer and he went out the back and got me the freshest, most aromatic mint I’ve had for ages. It really is worth shopping around for your herbs!

Anyway – there are two ways of making this dish; the hard way or the easy way. The hard way relies on you being the master of artichoke preparation and having lots of time on your hands. The easy way uses them from a jar or frozen. We don’t have a freezer on the boat so I plumped for jars.

The only cooking involved here is candying some lemons. I really recommend you do this rather than copping out and just adding lemon rind, as the sauce and the sweetness from the lemons really sets this salad apart from the rest.

To candy lemons, remove the rind, cut into 1mm batons and cook down in lemon juice and caster sugar until the liquid reduces to about a third. Remove the lemon batons and allow to cool down. Keep the sauce for the dressing of the salad.

All that’s left is to cut some little gem lettuces, tear in some mint, parsley and basil and top with your quartered artichokes and torn mozzarella.

To serve, dress with some olive oil, your candied lemon and lemon syrup and some black pepper.

This salad is so fresh and tangy. The lemon hit might seem too much to start with but I found it really lifted the salad. The mozzarella, artichokes and lemon went really well together and it really was a meal in itself. Albeit a late one!

Fortunately for us we had loads left over so we have a very nice lunch to look forward to today!

Rice Salad with Nuts and Sour Cherries

Rice Salad with Nuts and Sour Cherries

Wow I haven’t updated this blog for months. Shame on me! But I have been busy honest!

Freya and I got married, and joined a Gym, and started a film club, and basically upped our social life by a factor of a billion.

I just haven’t been cooking properly – at all. Until today!

I resolved on Sunday that we can’t keep eating out, and just eating halloumi wraps every time we come home from the Gym and trawled through my new favourite book – Plenty More by Yotam Ottolenghi.

I shortlisted 12 dishes, ordered all the ingredients from Ocado and threw this together in about 40 minutes.

It’s pretty straightforward, cook some rice, then drain it and let it cool down. While it’s cooling, cooks some pine nuts and almonds in a little oil until they start to brown and let those cool down. Also cook some quinoa and let that cool down. While that’s cooling, fry some onions until they are part crisp and part soft.

Once your onions are done, toss all the above in a big bowl (very big bowl – this made loads) add the onions, sour cherries, rocket, parsley, basil and tarragon, garlic and lemon juice and toss the lot together with some added lemon zest and olive oil.

As you can tell this is a cold-ish salad. It’s best to leave this for a while as you want the lemon juice, garlic and the herbs to work their magic and for the flavours to penetrate into the rice.

I absolutely loved this. It’s the first proper meal I’ve made for a month I think! And there’s loads left for lunch tomorrow!

Shakshuka

Image

Some dishes taste better than they look. This is one of them I think.

This dish is a typical Middle Eastern breakfast dish – but yet again because we were late back from the boat – 10:30pm this time – I ended up throwing this together in about 25 minutes.

It rained all day on Sunday so we decided to take a trip to IKEA to pick up two small sofas to go in the wheelhouse of our boat. Sadly – we did the bad thing which was changing our minds on what we wanted – picked something a little bit bigger and found it didn’t fit ! It was a real shame as it meant we just lost a tonne of time driving all the way back to IKEA to return the oversized items and then had to queue for a refund and buy what we had originally planned to buy. By the time we’d done these two trips (from Maidenhead to Wembley) and assembled, dismantled, reboxed, returned, then assembled the smaller sofas it was very late indeed.

We were happy with what we should have bought in the first place though so it really doesn’t matter. Just lost lots of time!

Anyway, this dish is basically poached eggs in a tomato and red pepper sauce. Very simple and very tasty.

After dicing a couple of red peppers and chopping a good half kilo of ripe tomatoes, you fry them off with some Harissa (again!) garlic, cumin and tomato puree until you get a nice thick sauce.

At this stage you make some wells in your sauce and crack eggs into them – then cook until they are done. While they are cooking you wiggle the whites into the sauce a bit – and that’s it!

You serve this dish with Labneh or a thick yoghurt. I used creme fraiche – given I hadn’t made any Labneh (it does take at least a day to make it) and wanted to keep our yoghurt for something else.

Basic, fast, and very tasty. A definite dish to have in the bag when you have no time on your hands.

We definitely have to get out of the habit of eating so late. It’s not good for us! But better than eating nothing and going to bed on a rumbly tumbly.