My Mum bought me Ottolenghi The Cookbook the year of our first-born’s Christmas.
She then quized me each time she visited after that – what had I cooked from it?
I didn’t want to hurt her feelings, but Nigel Slater’s 30 minute cookbook was more the man of the moment in our kitchen, with our something-month old.
I was intimidated by the Ottolenghi ingredients (hazelnut oil, sumac, za’atar) and the clean glossy photos of London cafe food nestled up to chic ‘together’ Londoners.
Nigel had no pictures to live up to – no perfect people, plates or places.
Once the fog of a first-born new-born lifted I braved and delved, and oh what delight.
I now (fairly) whiz up a chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic. His marinade for the marinated rack of lamb with coriander and honey is goodness gracious sensational – the best a gal could make. Roast pork belly (plus two relishes) but we only make one, is the perfect excuse to make the plum tree feel loved, and is the most memorable pork belly I’ve ever eaten bar my husband’s thrice cooked version. The white chocolate and cranberry biscuits page looks positively caked with evidence of use. Cinnamon and hazelnut meringues (which use muscovado sugar) wow any guest, and make friends with your all gluten-free-ites.
The good news for kiwis is Yotam Ottolenghi’s Mediterranean (one t and two rs) Feast is showing on Choice TV – Freeview 12/Sky 026.
On a Thursday at 8.30pm. you can see Yotam Ottolenghi as he travels the Mediterranean sampling the many food cultures of Morocco, Turkey, Tunisia and Israel. If you’re like us and don’t do telly it’s on YouTube too.
The idea I’d like to leave you with, one ideal as our winter settles in outside, is to throw an Ottolenghi potluck party of the dinner variety.
Go on throw one.
I often find with the traditional kiwi bring a plate (reminding us all of our pioneering ancestors and the way they all mucked in and helped each other) that the meal doesn’t mesh all too well, or there are one too many breads, or that thai green curry neighbouring a feta and olive pasta salad brings on positive disorientation.
Here’s a suggestion, you’ve decided to throw a potluck party of the dinner variety…choose a cook such as Yotam Ottolenghi and ask tes amis to cook something from his works – Plenty, Ottolenghi or Jerusalem.
Here are some pics of our summer feast with Nik and pregnant Sez from Mount Deluxe and Carrie and Rich. We ate mango and soba noodles, roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts and honey, kosheri, pumpkin and seeds. Toffee Brownie was the finish.
I’d love to hear who you’d cook?