Saturday, 2 May 2020

Cookbooks by Yotam Ottolenghi    {Reviewed by STELLA}
I’m the kind of cook who looks in the fridge to see what’s there. What vegetables are lurking in the bins? And then, what can I do with that? Well towards the end of a fortnight’s lock-down shop, the pickings were slim, but two-thirds of an aubergine meant a meal was able to be made. The cupboard announced a deficit of pasta, but plenty of rice. So a pilaf or risotto — reach for the Ottolenghis! Cookbooks are inspiring — sometimes they might just trigger an idea of something to whip up; they are surprising — giving you new and unexpected ways to cook. and food combinations to experiment with; delightful — if they are well written, with great anecdotes and foodie knowledge; and sometimes you just go ahead and follow the recipe. In Plenty, my first Ottolenghi purchase, the recipe for Lemon and Aubergine Risotto fitted the bill for one of our lock-down dinners. Okay, so we didn’t have any lemons, basil, nor the correct rice type or vegetable stock (but that was easily sorted with a quick half-hour boil of vegetable ends (saved) from previously meals, an onion, garlic and fennel (from the garden), but we did have a lime and rice of a kind. The aubergine was well under half of what was required but skipping the topping of fried and diced cubes would be fine (still enough for the body of the risotto) and we did have a  bottle of cheap white wine which needed a purpose. The recipe has a few steps, but you can walk through these in a relaxing and orderly manner — no crazy keeping both hands occupied with several different tasks at once. Ottolenghi’s recipes are like this — pleasure in the cooking. While some are more time-consuming and have a few tricky preparation aspects, most are adaptable and some (especially in his latest book, Simple) are ingredient- and time-minimal. Plenty and Plenty More are wholly vegetarian, while Jerusalem and Nopi (more dining than cooking) and Simple include recipes for all palates. And there is also Sweet! Needless to say, the lime and aubergine risotto was a hit — even with those who prefer pasta to rice.

No comments:

Post a Comment