Sunday, May 29, 2022

Cooking. . .Ottolenghli style

Back cover of "SIMPLE"
During my London stay, one of the activities my daughter had scheduled with some friends was an Ottolenghi day. These friends make a recipe or more from an Ottolenghi cookbook and then gather together to enjoy the dishes.

During the pandemic, my daughter purchased a Master cooking class that featured Yotan Ottolenghi. In the series, Ottolenghi cooks a variety of dishes. There was a 56 page pdf file of recipes that accompanied the class. 

My daughter has five of his six cookbooks. On the back of his "SIMPLE" cookbook is what each of the letters in Simple represent. I was impressed with this cookbook because the recipes contain ten or less ingredients. I also liked that the recipes are easy. 

Hummus with Confit Garlic and Tahini
Easy means the techniques are not difficult. Items need to marinate or roast or cool or be peeled. Sometimes, you need to make a condiment. Again, the process isn't hard; but planning is important! I marked several pages in that book for consideration. 

Meanwhile, we watched the segments and she suggested that we make a few recipes from the pdf file as a test. We did. The recipes we made for the dinner came from the pdf file.

Watching Ottolenghi create his dishes was fun. He provides background about the dishes and describes what is happening during the cooking process. I found the segments helpful. I also found that while a dish might appear in another cookbook, the recipe was a bit different. These slight differences made sense to me because as a chef, he is tweaking recipes as well as using what is available "in the moment."

We had to postpone the get together because one participant tested positive for COVID. We rescheduled and someone else had a conflict. We rescheduled a third time. We giggled that the third time was the charm. 

Pea Spread with Smoky Feta
Unfortunately, the night before we were scheduled to meet, one person came down with a nasty cold. Because we all had made our preparations, we decided to meet. We didn't get to taste what the person who couldn't attend made; but, we shared photos.

Every one of our test recipes is one I would make again and in most cases we already have made the recipe again! The dinner was amazing! Good friends and good food is the best combination! 

Roasted Eggplant Salad with Pickled Chilies
For the dinner, I made hummus. It contains a tahini dressing and garlic confit oil in addition to the hummus. I love how smooth it is. I appreciated Ottolenghi's tips for plating the dish.

I also made Muhummara which contains roasted garlic, red peppers, onions and tomatoes. There are roasted walnuts, pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses and garlic confit oil. It is beautiful as well as delicious! I had my doubts in reading this recipe; but I'm glad I tried it. We've made it a couple of times. Peeling the skin off of the peppers is challenging.

My daughter made Pea Spread with Smoky Feta. She used a bag of peas from the freezer along with fresh mint, dill, confit garlic oil and smoked feta confit. It is a beautiful dish. We've remade the recipe at least three times.
Smashed Cucumber Salad

These three dishes made the perfect mezza. Mezza is a Middle Eastern term for finger foods eaten communaly. Mezza could also mean appetizers.  
She made an eggplant salad. In London, eggplants are called aubergines. She roasted the eggplant. Once it was cool she added the garlic dressing and pickled hot peppers. Again the dish contained fresh herbs and a quick lemon paste. We've made this dish twice as well. The pickled peppers sure add interest both in color and in the taste to the salad.

She prepared a smashed cucumber salad. This recipe contained lemon juice and parsley oil dressing with toasted caraway seeds. The red onions are pickled with sumac. It is simple and quick to make. It would be delicious eaten on a hot summer day. My daughter liked the simplicity of this dish so much that she has made it about four times!

For the most part, we made this dishes the day before and assembled the dishes before dinner. I liked that it was possible for the dishes to sit for a few hours as it made the day of preparation such less chaotic! I loved the tips Ottolenghi gave about plating the dishes. I believe we did well! 

Roasted Salmon

We invited another couple for dinner so my daughter also roasted a pieced of salmon. She is masterful at cooking salmon. She uses a seasoning from the States. This is not an Ottolenghi dish

Summer Courgettes with Tomatoes
and Ricotta
Her friend made a ricotta and zucchini salad. She stir fried the zucchini and added tomato sals. It was a colorful dish. This recipe as well as the recipe for the second dish she brought came from the "Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Shelf Love" cookbook. 

Rice Koofteh in Spiced Tomato Sauce
Her friend also made Rice Koofteh. These were rice balls stuffed with minced beef that were on a bed of sauted tomatoes, onions, garlic and apricots! The apricots were an unexpected surprise!
The table just before we began sampling the dishes

We had plenty of delicious food. It was a special time to spend together.

We've made other recipes which I will save for another post.  Gertie, my inner squirrel, had planned to pen this post; but, she found another activity to be of greater interest to her. Today, that activity is playing with my two and a half month old granddaughter. 

This is goal number six on my May list.


Diane-crewe said...

OH MY GOODNESS ... my mouth is watering xx

Anonymous said...

It’s been a tasty and fresh way to spend our time together. Unexpected flavours and surprisingly easy dishes! More Otto to come.

Preeti said...

There is so much drool on my stopped being funny after muhammara :-D I love middle eastern/Lebanese cuisine. I make a couple of things but this is too tempting a spread.