Dates and Turkish Ewe’s Cheese

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After three days of eating bread and cheese (our go to lazy eating solution when we are at the boat) we got back to work and made this for lunch.

Another Yotam Ottolenghi recipe from the book Plenty. This very simple salad is both very quick to make and incredibly tasty. I think it looks pretty awesome too.

I can’t imagine many people will find Ewe’s Mozzarella in their local supermarket. Ottolenghi himself goes to a cheese specialist not far from his restaurant in London. I used a good quality Buffalo Mozzarella as I didn’t have the time.

Ottolenghi does this a lot. A green thing, a nut thing, a fruit thing and a cheese thing – with a dressing. And I have to say it seems to work everytime (except with Verjus !).

This one is rocket, mozzarella, almonds and Medjool dates. The dressing is olive oil and pomegranate molasses. There’s some basil and dill in there too.

I love this – very fresh – very summery – looks beautiful – and got me back in the mood for cooking again.

Lovely.

Quinoa Salad with dried Iranian lime

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I shouldn’t have made this. I made a mistake and picked the wrong recipe out of Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi.

I did however have all the ingredients so it doesn’t matter – and I’m glad I did.

You wouldn’t think of having, rice, rice and quinoa would you – but that’s what this recipe is – Wild Rice – I used the giant variety that Ocado sell, brown basmati and the red Quinoa. The recipe calls for mixed basmati and wild rice (which you can apparently buy ready mixed) but I’ve never seen it so I mixed it up myself.

I think this is probably my favourite so far from Plenty. I really love Quinoa and I love roasted Sweet Potatoes. I’ve made a couple of recipes like this one – adding Wild Rice really adds an extra texture.

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As you can see – much clearer in the panview – there are spring onions, goats cheese and lots of herbs in the recipe too. You can’t see the Iranian lime. Here’s why!

Iranian limes come dried and are rock hard – not ‘I’ve left a lime in the fridge’ rock hard – but ‘nutmeg’ rock hard. It is suggested you mill them in something like a nutmeg mill. I seemed to get away with using one of those fancy microplanes – it took me quite a long time to get two tablespoons worth – and my hands ached afterwards – but I got there in the end.

Iranian limes smell amazing – like limes obviously – but so intense. And it adds an incredible sharpness to the dish. If you are making a stew you can just make holes in the whole lime and add it in – and it will infuse – but I haven’t tried that yet.

I’ve never seen these in a shop – and according to the recipe you can buy it in powder form – but it is not as intense a flavour. Mine came as part of my Ottolenghi gift box that Freya’s mum bought me for Christmas – finally got to use them !

I like this kind of dish. You make a tray full of the stuff – you can double it up if you want – or pick at it while you work your way through ‘The Killing Season 2’ like we were.

Absolutely lovely – I’m glad I accidentally made it.

 

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!

 

 

 

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!

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.