Monday, 2 September 2013

Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty

We were killing some time while waiting for a concert to start during the Festival Oude Muziek in Utrecht, the Netherlands. What better to do than browsing in an old fashioned bookstore.
It turned out the store has a great collection of cookbooks and I could not resist buying a copy of the Dutch translation of Yotam Ottolenghi's vegetable cookbook Plenty.
My rationale, as if I needed one, being that we have two children who are vegetarians combined with my interest in Middle Eastern cuisine.

Yotam Ottolenghi is an Israeli-born cookery writer and chef-patron. Born in Jerusalem in 1968, son of an Italian-born professor of chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem – and a German-born high-school principal. He grew up in Jerusalem and studied at Tel Aviv University before completing a master’s degree in comparative literature. In 1997 he moved to the UK to train at Le Cordon Bleu cookery school in London for six months, where he has lived ever since.
Nopi is his restaurant

Besides Plenty, he wrote two other books, these together with Sami Tamimi: Jerusalem and The Cookbook, his first.

I tried the Shakshuka recipe from Plenty and adapted it a bit to my taste and experience.

Shakshuka is a North African dish, ideal for a weekend brunch. 
There are several variations on shakshuka. David Lebovitz wrote a great piece about this dish in his blog, well worth reading.

The essence of the dish is that you make a  tomato-onion-bell pepper sauce spiced up with saffron, cumin, smoked paprika, thyme and cayenne. The consistency should be that of a thick pasta sauce. You put this sauce in small shallow pans, one for each person or in a large pan for a more family style experience, make two indentations in the sauce per person and break two eggs in there.
Cover the pan(s) and cook the sauce with eggs on a low heat until the eggs are cooked but not fully set.
Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with fresh crusty bread.

Absolutely to die for on a lazy Sunday.

To watch Yotam prepare Shakshuka himself, click on this link



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