Another week, another book. Today’s weather (at least where I am right now) is an invitation to curl yourself up on a sofa and read. And why not read something “useful” from time to time? So this review unites two of my biggest passions: reading and cooking (or make that three; eating, too). Sitting down, getting lost between pages and recipes and plotting the next dinner… A great way to spend time!
My current favorite cookbook is “Plenty”, by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Subtitled “Vibrant vegetable recipes from London’s Ottolenghi”, some might think it’s not for them as their meals mainly consist of meat, accompanied by meat, maybe with a side of… bacon. 🙂 And I am far from being opposed to being a carnivore. But the omnivore in me is stronger, and so I usually opt for “quality over quantity”. I try to use responsibly raised and fed meat from happy animals. “Responsibly raised” usually goes hand in hand with higher prices, but also better quality and better taste. So less meat equals more space on the plate for exciting side dishes.
And there is “Plenty” of those in this amazing book. It would even allow you to go absolutely mental and make your lunch/dinner/whatevermealyouareplanning entirely vegetarian. Just saying’…
Yotam Ottolenghi (author of various cookbooks) introduces us to a nice fusion of a cuisine with Mediterranean, Arabic, and Jewish influences – and probably many nuances more I totally missed so far.
After a personal introduction, the book gives us 15 chapters, followed by an index mostly organized by ingredients. Not complying to current standards, the chapters don’t take us through the classic version of “appetizers / mains / blablabla”. On the contrary – they directly “teleport” us to the ingredient. You love mushrooms? Open the book on page 49, please. Eggplant addict? Please go directly to page 109. Having a sweet-savory tooth? The chapter on “Fruit with Cheese” awaits you on page 271.
One thing all the recipes have in common – fresh ingredients (good excuse to visit your local Farmers Markt if you have one, or reconnect with that old friend who has these amazing tomatoes growing in his garden), strong (and sometimes surprising) flavors and combinations you don’t want to miss anymore after you tried them out (and which make you wonder why you didn’t think about them earlier).
The recipes are pretty straightforward in my opinion. Some of them of course might ask you for ingredients you don’t really have at hand in the household pantry unless you’re the total cooking nut (and believe me, I am, but it still took some time to find pomegranate molasses…), but chasing them down is also part of the fun. Am I right? Or am I right?
I am still far from having cooked everything from “Plenty” but I know I want to, and I know I will have some day. Maybe I’ll dedicate another blog to that… 🙂 But back to seriousness: What I have prepared so far, for me and the hubby but also for guests, never failed to please the palate and get me a lot of compliments. Try it out, and enjoy!