Brussel Sprouts and Tofu

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I sometimes wonder about my choices. Freekeh (high in fibre), Garlic soup and now Brussels Sprouts! I guess I’m not doing myself any favours!

That said – Freya thinks this is the best thing I’ve made from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty.

I couldn’t decide whether to use the pan picture or the bowl picture – so here’s the other one

Brussel Sprouts with Tofu

Tofu is a tricky ingredient. Whenever you see a tofu recipe you really should consider leaving it in the marinade you make for 24 hours. Leaving it for 30 minutes while you do the rest of the preparation for a dish just isn’t long enough for the tofu to take on the marinade’s flavours. Tofu is ingredibly bland if you don’t do something to it, so that’s my recommendation.

The marinade for this tofu was sweet chilli sauce, soy, sesame oil, maple syrup and rice vinegar. Leaving the tofu for a while really made a difference.

Apart from the tofu preparation this is a very easy recipe; just pan fry some brussels, spring onions and red chilli, add shitake mushrooms and right at the end, carefully char the tofu and add to the brussels.

You dress the dish with coriander and sesame seeds.

This is so tasty. And because you only pan fry the brussels for maybe a minute or two on a high heat, they stay very crunchy but look lovely and glossy – coated in the oil. There was a time when brussels were for Christmas and nothing else. Now they are good any time of the year – and in a recipe like this they are perfect.

I think you could probably substitute brussels for kale as long as you cooked it the same. Something I might try later in the week!

There was plenty of this for us to take for lunch the next day – but we got greedy. So we ate it all and ended up having to go out for lunch the next day. Very confusing for the people at work that just expect to see exciting food each day!

Definitely a keeper this one – just remember to marinade the tofu for longer than it says!

Barley and Pomegranate Salad

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This incredibly simple salad is lovely. Yotam Ottolenghi makes amazing salads – this is another one from Plenty.

Simply prepare some pearl barley (boil it until it is tender and has a little bite to it) and then drain and cool under the tap. When it is done throw in some pomegranate seeds, diced celery, coriander, dill and a dressing. Couldn’t be easier than that. If you buy untrimmed celery, keep the celery tops (the leaves) and add them at the end too.

You could probably make this in less than 30 minutes.

I knocked this up in next to no time and it really tastes so fresh, crunchy and filling.  I only made this to keep us going while I made something else – but turns out I needn’t have bothered. I was surprised at how full I was after only one bowl. Plenty of leftovers meant we had it for lunch at work the next day too.

As a child I thought pearl barley was something cheap you used to pad out a stew. How things have changed. It crops up in many of Ottolenghi’s dishes – and other Middle Eastern themed cookbooks.

It’s another great substitute for rice (much like freekeh) and has five times as much protein.

I usually have all the ingredients for this knocking about – so I’ll be sure to make this again

 

 

Freekeh Pilaf – and the meaning of a Dutch Oven

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I shortlisted this recipe as I finally found a Freekeh supplier. I think I had watched Yotam Ottolenghi on TV during the Jerusalem series – can’t be sure – and finally found it on souschef.co.uk. I’ve been meaning to make something with it ever since.

Freekeh is made from green wheat that goes through a roasting process in its production. It’s used a lot in Middle Eastern cooking. Freekeh has four times as much fibre as most other grains – which might explain something that happened the day after ! I put it down to the garlic soup – but now ‘my dear Watson – I deduce that it was the Freekeh’.

Changing the subject slightly (well not at all slightly), while we were working on the boat last weekend there was a repeat broadcast of the Radio 4 show ‘The Unbelievable Truth’. During the episode one of the contestants burst into laughter when Miles Jupp mentioned that the Dutch Oven is the State Cooking pot in Utah.

We both looked at each other and wondered why this was funny. Turns out ‘A Dutch Oven’ is urban slang for ‘breaking wind and then holding your spouse’s head under a duvet for her enjoyment’. After the Freekeh it was tempting!

When I read through the recipe I thought this would be a #FAIL. It is very basic. Caramelise some onions, add the freekeh, add stock and serve.  Sounds dull, but the addition of lots of herbs (mint and coriander) at the end, and the use of a very good stock made this an incredibly tasty meal. It’s got a very earth, molasses’y flavour.

The pine nuts on top, and a dollop of Greek yoghurt also complimented the dish.

You should really give Freekeh a try – if you can find it!

 

 

 

Green Pancakes and the East End Gangster Cookery Show

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There’s a woman from the US who has a cookery show. We think she’s a fake – acting as an Italian gangster’s wife and she cooks everything in character. Her name is Nadia G. and her show is called Bitchin’ Kitchen. Hopefully it’s all tongue in cheek – I’ve never really watched it – but it got Freya to thinking; maybe I should record some YouTube videos and cook in the style of Bob Hoskins or another East End Gangster. She’s often mocking my accent – being born in Ilford there’s still a bit of Cock-er-knee in there sometimes!

You could imagine it couldn’t you – ‘ere we ave some nice apples and pears with a raspberry veloute – blindin’.

She seems quite keen for me to do it. Not sure I could keep a straight face! We shall see.

Anyway – this recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi.

I like making this kind of pancake – and Ottolenghi has many variations on a style. I’ve made them with Sweet Potato and I think also with sweetcorn – and these with Spinach are equally nice.

The pancakes are quite small – and you can make lots of them – so you have enough to eat for now and snacks or seconds for later.

Essentially its just a pancake batter with spices – and then some cooked, squeezed and shredded spinach is added before frying them in olive oil. You’re supposed to use self raising flour but I didn’t have any – so I added 2 tablespoons of baking powder. You also fold in a ‘beaten to soft peaks egg white’ which made the pancakes quite fluffy.

I made the mistake of buying Natoora Spinach from Ocado. I usually just buy the baby spinach from Ocado, but Natoora do some amazing pomegranates, lemons and tomatoes – so I thought I’d give their spinach a go. Unfortunately, from a 400g bag of their spinach I only ended up with 200g after removing all the stalks. It was very stalky indeed !

I fried these two at a time in an omelette pan and ended up with 12 pancakes – perfect to stack in a pile of three – it doesn’t look like there is much spinach in them – but there is and you can certainly taste it.

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That said – when I make them again I’ll probably add even more spinach to them.

You eat these with a chilli and lime butter – which you make by creaming some butter, adding lime, coriander and chilli and then resetting it in the fridge in a sausage of cling film.

These are really nice. We had three each before going out to the Goth Club ‘Electrowerx’ in London to listen to Ivardensphere. And another three each when we got home at 1 in the morning. Yummy!

 

Plenty – Yotam Ottolenghi

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When I first conceived of the idea of stripping, despining, scanning and tossing all my cookery books, the first book I stripped was this one. It just happened to be on the top of a pile of books that didn’t quite find their way onto the bookshelf due to lack of space.

Heartbreaking as it is to cut up books with a craft knife (and a little dangerous I might add) there really isn’t an optimum way of laying out a book and photographing the pages. You’ll always get shadows, and then of course you’ve got to OCR the pages to recognise the words. It’s a pain.

When I scan the pages into my Mac, I use ReadIris Pro to recognise the pages and format them to PDF. They are then searchable, making it easy to find recipes based on ingredients. Genius or what !

Anyway back to the book.

I couldn’t have chosen a better book to start with. I don’t think there are many recipes in this book that you’d leave out. First time round (before Christmas) I made maybe 15 recipes from this book. I just wasn’t blogging then. This time round I have chosen 10+ dishes that are different from last time. Hopefully I have photographs from the lap of the book; if I do I’ll share them with you.

For those of you that have not heard of Yotam Ottolenghi, he is the master of all things Middle Eastern. He has has a couple of TV series and has featured on Australian Masterchef, The Taste, and often writes in the Guardian. He’s not a vegetarian but his recipes clearly reflect his preferences towards eating less meat and more vegetables and pulses.

He uses lots of traditional Middle Eastern ingredients like dried limes, freekeh, sumac, za’atar, moghrabieh and pomegranate molasses. The ingredients aren’t always readily available from supermarkets but I didn’t have to look too hard to find most of them online. I was also lucky enough to get an Ottolenghi cook box for Christmas from Freya’s mum with lots of ingredients in it. Which kind of made it easier.

Nothing in this book takes long to make, and he always precedes each recipe with a tiny tidbit about how the recipe came into his hands and why he likes it. It’s a very special book – it was a shame to cut it up.

This week – I’ll try and make:

  • Dates and Turkish Ewes Cheese
  • Figs with Basil, Goats Curd and Pomegranate Vinaigrette
  • Freekeh Pilaf
  • Barley and Pomegranate Salad
  • Avocado, Quinoa and Broad Bean Salad
  • Asparagus, Fennel and Beetroot with Verjus
  • Green Pancakes with Lime Butter
  • Garlic Soup with Harissa
  • Black Pepper Tofu
  • Sweet Potato Wedges with Lemongrass Creme Fraiche
  • Spicy Moroccan Salad
  • Sweet Potato Cakes
  • Brocollini and Sweet Sesame Salad
  • Brussel Sprouts and Tofu

I hope they are as good as they look!

Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes with a Caper Vinagrette

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We were in a rush to cook something quickly before going Rock’n’Roll dancing and I realised when we got home that I was pretty much one ingredient short on almost all the recipes I wanted to make.

Fortunately I had all the ingredients for this – Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes.

Unfortunately I didn’t have enough time to make it – so I had a choice – go dancing and not eat – or eat and not go dancing. Dancing won the day ! And it’s good we went everything seemed to fall into place and we started getting the moves right. Superwoman’s, flat hand pushes, and ‘the ladies rest’ all seemed to come together beautifully. Happy days. Now we have three moves – the sky’s the limit!

We got home around 11pm and I resumed the cooking – and finished it this morning – so we’re having it for lunch today.

Essentially you roast some parsnips, red onions and sweet potatoes in garlic, rosemary and thyme and towards the end throw in some cherry tomatoes. After a 90 minutes roast (from start to finish) you dress the roasted vegetables in lemon juice, olive oil and capers. It’s very easy – just takes time in the oven. Even the prep is easy as you don’t even need to peel the vegetables!

If you were a roast dinners kind of person this would be a very nice twist on some otherwise plainly roasted vegetables. I think it is a great dish in its own right – the lemon juice and capers really brings a whole new flavour to the vegetables.

You really can’t go wrong with Ottolenghi.

Couscous and Moghrabieh with Oven Dried Tomatoes

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Moghrabieh is big couscous. I got some in my Ottolenghi food box for Christmas this year – and this is the first time I’ve used it. I have some dried limes too – I just haven’t found a recipe that uses them yet!

You can find this recipe in Yotam Ottolenghi’s – The Cookbook, BTW – the book is full of awesome recipes which I will hopefully come back to sometime soon.

I wasn’t intending on making this yesterday – but it was one of very few things where I knew I had all the ingredients. Both of us were off work with ‘the flu’ and spent most of the day sniffing and coughing and feeling sorry for ourselves. By 4pm we realised we really should eat something but the cupboards and fridge were somewhat bare. We’d made a mistake in not doing our shortlisted order with Ocado on the Sunday and were paying the price today. We’d have to wait until tomorrow for a grocery delivery. Modern day shopping really does make you lazy! We have a reasonable excuse. Our nearest grocery store is 12 miles away in Henley and you just can’t beat the quality of the groceries that Ocado delivers.

This is quite easy to make – but will take two hours to be ready (minimum). Even longer if you make the Labneh that is recommended as an addition. Labneh takes a day to make at least – I cheated and used some feta. Feta is a handy swap for some cheeses as it means you can reduced the amount of salt you put in food. And I always have feta.

You have to slow roast a lot of tomatoes in a balsamic glaze and wait for them to ‘dehydrate’ – I left them on the lowest setting of my oven.

While you wait for the tomatoes, caramelise some onions. Then prepare the Moghrabieh until it is al dente. Drain and leave to cool. Then prepare the couscous in some vegetable stock. You have a lot of time to do this. Those tomatoes take a long long time! We even went for a nap.

Once the tomatoes are ready, mix the couscous, moghrabieh, onions and tomatoes in a serving dish – including all the tomato juice and some Nigella seeds and mix a little. Add some Nigella seeds and more Olive oil as a topping and you are done. Dress with cheese if you want !

This makes a lot of food. So either reduced your quantities, invite your friends round – or be prepared to eat it for a few days!

I swapped couscous with bulgar wheat – because I forgot to check I had all the ingredients. I don’t think it makes any difference – they are quite substitutable apart from the preparation time.

This is one of those recipes that you should be able to make any time of year as there are no seasonal ingredients to worry about. It’s also great because you will always have leftovers for work the next day! Just make sure you get really tasty tomatoes!

In hindsight I should prepared more tomatoes. They are the centre of the dish and I don’t think I had enough of them in relation to the grain. Other than that this dish is spot on.

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.

Fried Leeks

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This seemed good until I read the recipe a bit closer and I was dubious that it would work.

After boiling some leeks until they are soft and patting them dry, you dip them in egg and breadcrumbs and fry.

You also make a pickled red pepper topping – and a yoghurt, sour cream sauce. You then plate the fried leeks with some sauce and peppers – and a few chopped spring onions.

Unfortunately leeks aren’t good carriers of egg – and in the end the breadcrumbs and eggs just ended up being separate entities in the pan.

It still tasted good – very good in fact – it just didn’t look great. I don’t think I’d make them again just because I like my food to look good.

I still haven’t made an Ottolenghi dish I haven’t enjoyed – I just didn’t like the presentation of this one – but that’s probably just my fault.

Sweet Potato Fritters

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I love sweet potatoes. They are colourful, sweet, and have nowhere near as much starch as a regular potato.

This Ottolenghi dish is quite different in preparation to the leek fritters I made the other day – even if they do look the same.

I roasted my sweet potatoes until they were soft (I find you get a more intense flavour). I think the book suggests you boil or steam them.

Once you’ve drained and let the potatoes cool down you add a spice/chilli mix and mash to a quite thick puree.

You then fry them in 5cm wide x 1cm thick patties (mine are always larger) until they really brown – almost to the point where they look burned (like a good bubble and squeak).

You serve them with a yogurt dip (like most of the street type food in the Plenty book).

These are awesome – you really should make these. If they were just for me I’d add more chilli.