Archive for the 'Ottolenghi' Category

Turkey and sweetcorn meatballs with roasted pepper sauce

April 15, 2010

Gastrogeek wrote about these meatballs quite recently, but I think they’re so good they deserve another write-up. It’s a sign of how truly great this cookbook is that in the past week this is the third thing that I’ve made for the second time – I still have many little post-it tags sticking to the pages of things I desperately want to make, but having tasted something as sublime as these meatballs you only want to make them again.

I think almost everyone likes meatballs and I’m no exception. Turkey is a bit unusual, but it makes them amazingly light, almost bouncy. The sweetcorn is lightly pan-fried before it goes in so it tastes more, well, sweetcorn-y, and there’s a gentle hint of cumin for spice. The roasted pepper sauce has a bit of a kick and really goes perfectly – I also cheated this time around and used a jar of roasted red peppers, which was a fine short cut.

Turkey and sweetcorn meatballs with roasted pepper sauce  Serves 4

100g sweetcorn (fresh or frozen)
3 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed (you can use wholemeal, it works fine)
500g minced turkey
1 free-range egg
4  spring onions, finely chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped parsley (I left this out this time as I didn’t have any)
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
sunflower oil  or rapeseed oil for frying

For the roasted pepper sauce:
4 red peppers, or a small jar (200g) ready roasted peppers
1 – 3 tbsp olive oil (depending on whether your peppers need roasting)
1/2 – 1 tsp salt (depending on whether your peppers need roasting)
25g coriander, leaves and stalks
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 chilli, deseeded
2 tbsp sweet chilli sauce
2 tbsp cider vinegar or white wine vinegar

Preheat the oven to 200c. Start by making the sauce: if you’re using raw peppers, you’ll need to quarter and deseed them and roast them in the preheated oven for around 35 minutes with 2 tbsp of the olive oil and 1/2 tsp of the salt. You can peel them when they’ve cooled, but it’s not essential.

Place your peppers in a food processor or blender with 1 tbsp olive oil and 1/2 tsp salt, plus the rest of the sauce ingredients. Blend until smooth, then taste and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

For the meatballs, toss the sweetcorn in a hot pan for a few minutes until the kernels start to brown, then remove from the heat. Soak the bread in a little cold water for a minute, then squeeze well and crumble into a large mixing bowl (I should warn you, this is revolting). Add the rest of the meatball ingredients (except for the oil) and mix well with your hands.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of oil in a large frying pan. You can test the seasoning of the meatballs by frying a small amount of the mixture and tasting it. Shape the mince mixture into golf balls and cook in batches in the hot oil, turning, until golden brown all over, a couple of minutes on each side. Transfer to an oven  tray (or you can just put the frying pan in the oven if it won’t melt) and bake in the 200c oven for 5-10 minutes until cooked through. Serve hot or warm with the pepper sauce.

From Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Ottolenghi’.


Chickpeas and spinach with honeyed sweet potato

April 15, 2010


I imagine if someone ever decided to conduct a scientific study into recipe reading habits, I would make a good subject. I’m sure that there are areas of my brain that light up when I come across certain words. If there was a graph of my brainwaves, there would be peaks whenever I register them, a conditioned response, and the words would most definitely include ‘chickpeas’, ‘honey’ and the combination of ‘sweet’ and ‘potato’. It’s probable that reading three of more of these words in one recipe title sets off some unconscious brain trigger that makes it impossible for me not to make said item.

So, yes, I couldn’t resist this. The first sentence of its introduction in the book is “Don’t be put of by what may seem like a carbohydrate overkill”. As if! I think I may also have a Pavlovian response to excessive carbohydrate, because I ate this with bread.

Chickpeas and spinach with honeyed sweet potato  Serves 2-4

Despite referring to it as a vegetarian main course, the original recipe states that it serves 6-8, which is clearly madness. I’d say it serves two if that’s all there is, or 4 as a side dish.

200g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight and cooked for about 1 hour (or use a standard 400g tin)
2 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp tomato puree
1 x 400g tin chopped tomatoes
1 tsp caster sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground cumin
100g baby spinach leaves (or use 200g frozen leaf spinach, defrosted)
10g coriander leaves, for garnish
salt and pepper

For the sweet potato:
500g sweet potatoes (about 2 medium-large)
700ml water
50g unsalted butter
4 tbsp honey
1/2 tsp salt

For the yoghurt sauce:
100g Greek yoghurt
1 garlic clove, crushed
juice and grated zest of 1 lemon
1-3 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp dried mint

Slice the sweet potatoes into 2.5cm pieces. You can peel them first, but I didn’t bother. Put them in a saucepan with the remaining sweet potato ingredients. Don’t worry if it seems like a lot of butter, as most of it will stay in the water. Bring to the boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 35-40 minutes until the potatoes are tender. Most of the liquid should have been absorbed, though I found I had quite a lot left. You can add some into the tomato sauce if you like.

While the sweet potatoes are simmering, heat the olive oil in a large frying pan and add the onion, cumin seeds and coriander seeds. Fry for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the tomato puree, cook for a minute, stirring, then add the tin of tomatoes, the ground cumin and the sugar. You may want to add half the sugar at first and taste – I think mine was a little too sweet with the full teaspoon. Continue cooking for about 5 minutes over a medium heat and then season to taste.

Stir the spinach and chickpeas (drained and rinsed if you used a tin) into the tomato sauce. Cook for a further 5 minutes and check the seasoning again.

Make the yoghurt sauce by whisking together all of the ingredients and seasoning with salt and pepper. Use as much olive oil as you think it needs – I didn’t go for the full 3 tbsp and I also held back on the lemon a bit.

To serve, spoon the warm chickpeas into a serving dish, arrange the sweet potato slices on top and garnish with the coriander leaves. Spoon the yoghurt sauce on top or serve on the side. You may be able to spot my mistakes from the photo – sweet potato on the bottom and I left my yoghurt in the fridge and completely forgot to serve it at all. Don’t do this.

From Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Ottolenghi’.

Roast chicken and rice salad

April 14, 2010

This is what you make if you’ve managed not to eat all of your saffron and hazelnut roast chicken in one go. It’s far more interesting than the name suggests, although to be fair the original name was ‘roast chicken and three-rice salad’ – only mine only had two kinds of rice, and I thought ‘two-rice salad’ sounded a bit odd. Also, I don’t think the taste would suffer if you were to use just one bog-standard rice, which is helpful if you have leftover cooked rice as well as leftover cooked chicken, in which case this is really quite quick to make. It would make an enviable packed lunch. Not quite enough to make me stop feeling smug about having finished work, though.

Roast chicken and rice salad  Serves 2

I always get annoyed when people write in to the Guardian to complain about how they can’t make any of Yotam Ottolenghi’s New Vegetarian recipes because the ingredients are all obscure. Generally I think that if I can get these things in Oxford, hardly a buzzing modern metropolis, then it shouldn’t be impossible. But in this case I have to admit that I was a bit stumped on shiso leaves, so I used rocket instead.

Leftover roast chicken meat (use whatever you have – I used a breast and a wing)
150g cooked rice (I used brown rice and camargue red rice, or cook about 75g rice from scratch.)
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 onion, thinly sliced
3 spring onions, thinly sliced
1 red chilli, seeded and thinly sliced
large handful of coriander, chopped
small handful of mint, chopped
10 shiso leaves or a couple of handfuls of rocket, roughly chopped
salt and pepper

For the dressing:
2 tbsp lemon juice (about half a lemon)
1 tbsp sesame oil
1 tbsp fish sauce
1 tbsp olive oil

If you need to cook your rice, start by doing that. Wild rice and brown rice can take about 50 minutes to cook and you’ll need to give it time to cool down before making the salad.

Either carve the meat from the chicken or just tear it off into largish pieces. Put it in a bowl big enough to mix the whole salad. Whisk all the dressing ingredients together and pour over the chicken.

Heat the olive oil in a frying pan and fry the onion with a pinch of salt until crisp and golden. Set aside to cool.

Add the rice, fried onion, spring onion, chilli, chopped herbs and rocket to the chicken. Mix well and adjust the seasoning if necessary.

Adapted from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Ottolenghi’.

Almond and orange florentines

April 14, 2010

I’m currently enjoying a week of unemployment as I take a break between leaving work and starting my course. In between running around on minor errands that have suddenly grown in importance now I know I only have a week to do them – must return library books! and go to the post office! and get my hair cut! – I’m occupying myself in the obvious way, that is, cooking elaborate meals and snacks.

I also have a deep-seated fear of waste which means that any extended period away from home is preceded by a desperate attempt to use everything in the fridge. Even though Tom will still be here, and presumably eating, I don’t really trust him not to recklessly forget to use up that half-empty tub of cream cheese and, god forbid, throw it away. I’m going to have to try not to think about it.

I’ve had this recipe bookmarked for a while because there’s something about florentines; they just seem so elegant for a biscuit, and you don’t come across one often so they have an elusive, special occasion quality. When I realised I could also neatly use up the two egg whites left over from macaroon making, it was a sure thing. These aren’t actually a traditional florentine, which usually includes nuts and dried fruit, but a very simple, crisp biscuit showcasing the dainty flavour of the almonds. You can also brush one side with chocolate, which is good too. I like the idea of using them as a sort of ice-cream wafer, but so far haven’t got beyond eating them with an afternoon cup of coffee in my new charity shop teacups.

Almond and orange florentines  Makes 16-20

vegetable oil for brushing
2 free-range egg whites (about 60g)
100g icing sugar
260g flaked almonds
grated zest of 1 orange

Preheat the oven to 150c. Line a baking tray with greaseproof paper and brush with vegetable oil. I bought a silicone baking sheet after Christmas and I can’t recommend it highly enough – no need for oil, and there’s never any stickage. You cut it to fit your trays, and afterwards you wash it and it’s ready to go again. Anyway, I used this for two of my trays but had to use the greaseproof paper on the final tray, and I did find myself peeling tiny bits of paper off those. So I guess I’d say be quite generous with the oil.

Have a bowl of cold water and a fork at hand. Put the egg whites in a large bowl. Sift over the icing sugar and add the flaked almonds and orange zest. Mix gently together. Now, dip your hand in the water and pick up small handfuls of the mix, making little mounds on the baking tray. Dip the fork in the water and flatten each mound into a thin biscuit – they should be about 8cm in diameter but you don’t want too many gaps between the almond flakes. Continue until all the mixture has been used up.

Place the baking tray/s in the oven and bake until the florentines are golden. The recipe says 12 minutes, but mine took closer to 20.

Allow to cool in the trays and then remove and store in an airtight container – be careful, as they’re liable to break. They should keep for 4-5 days.

From Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Ottolenghi’.

Roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts and honey

April 13, 2010


This week’s book is Ottolenghi, amazing book of the amazing deli. The prospect of cooking from the Ottolenghi book all week is an exciting one, or it would be, if I didn’t have something even more exciting on the horizon: on Saturday I set sail on the ferry from Fishguard to the shores of Ireland to take up my place on the Ballymaloe Cookery School’s next 12 week course. Yes, this does mean The Great Cookbook Project is faltering to a halt, or at least a postponement. I may have to change my tagline to ‘the G-O of a cookbook addict’, which sounds a bit pathetic. Anyway, I’m sure the number of people waiting with bated breath for me to reach my Nigel Slater collection is approximately zero, and if all goes well I might actually learn to cook without a recipe.

On Sunday we threw an afternoon tea party as a send-off and I made the Ottolenghi chocolate macaroons. I’m too ashamed to post a picture because they went all bumpy and not nice and smooth like the pictures, even though they were all eaten and some people tried to claim they didn’t even know they weren’t meant to look like that (possibly under the influence of one too many Earl Grey martinis). So, no macaroon recipe, but I do have a very good roast chicken recipe instead. This is so good I’ve made it twice, which is pretty rare for me. The chicken is marinated in ginger, saffron and cinnamon and then part-way through cooking you cover it with a mixture of roasted hazelnuts, honey and rosewater – it sounds as if it might be too sweet, but it’s not: the roasting juices from the chicken mix with the melting honey paste to give it savoury depth. Your kitchen will be filled with the most bewitching smell of chicken and toasting nuts and the delicate scent of roses that you’ll find yourself hovering by the oven until it’s done. It’s that good. There’s a recipe on the opposite page for roast chicken with sumac, za’atar and lemon, which also sounds moan-inducingly good, but I couldn’t bring myself to not eat this delicious honey-nut chicken for a second time.

Roast chicken with saffron, hazelnuts and honey  Serves 4-6

We ate this with a rice pilaf, khobez bread and chargrilled broccoli with chilli and garlic (also from the book, a recipe to convert any broccoli hater). You can ask your butcher to joint the chicken for you, or just hack it ineptly into bits if you’re me. Or you could try making it with bone-in chicken pieces.

1 large organic or free-range chicken (mine was about 2kg), divided into quarters: breast/wing and leg/thigh
2 onions, roughly chopped
4 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
a big pinch of saffron
juice of 1 lemon
4 tbsp cold water
2 tsp coarse sea salt
1 tsp black pepper
100g unskinned hazelnuts (mine were skinned – I could have blanched them, but the skins didn’t bother me)
70g honey
2 tbsp rosewater
2 spring onions, sliced (for garnish)

Find a bowl large enough to fit all the chicken. Mix in the onions, olive oil, ginger, cinnamon, saffron, lemon juice, water, salt and pepper, rubbing it evenly into the chicken with your hands. Leave it to marinate for at least an hour (or overnight in the fridge).

Heat the oven to 190c. Put the hazelnuts in a baking tray and roast them until browned and fragrant (this took about 5 minutes in my oven). Remove and chop roughly.

Tip the chicken and marinade into a large roasting tray, with the chicken skin-side up. Put in the oven for 35 minutes. Meanwhile, mix the chopped hazelnuts with the honey and rosewater until it comes together into a rough paste. Remove the chicken from the oven and spoon over the nut paste, pressing it on to the top of each piece. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes, making sure that the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Garnish the chicken with the chopped spring onions and serve.

From Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s ‘Ottolenghi’.