Thursday, February 13, 2014

Chef Ottolenghi's Turkey-Zucchini Patties with Sour Cream-Sumac Sauce

While I have an extensive cookbook collection that requires weeding in the range of 30-50 cookbooks every few years, I rarely use these cookbooks for cooking.  I read them, inspired by great food writing and infused with new knowledge of different flavor combinations and cooking techniques.

There are three exceptions to my not-cooking-from-the cookbook rule: the Barcelona Cookbook by my friend Andy Pforzheimer, David Chang's Momofuku, and now Jerusalem by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

Jerusalem is an exceptional cookbook, a book that comes around only once in a blue moon. It manages to capture with much love and respect the melange of cultures, religions, and food that characterize a city mostly seen through the lens of conflict. I couldn't help but cook from this cookbook to experience for myself this vibrant, colorful world through Ottolenghi's eyes.

Today's adventure was turkey-zucchini patties seasoned with cumin, cilantro, and mint. The shredded zucchini adds moisture and makes the patties juicy and tender.  I particularly enjoyed the sour cream and sumac sauce, lemony and fresh.  I don't use sumac all that much in my cooking, but I believe it will play a bigger role in my kitchen from now on.

For the recipe, click here.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Ottolenghi's Lamb Kofte with Tahini Sauce and Pine Nuts

I'm not that familiar with Middle Eastern food, other than going to Layla's Falafel, a local eatery where I live.  I've been bowled over with Chef Ottolenghi's cookbook, Jerusalem, however, so I want to learn to make this delicious and fresh food at home.  I went and bought preserved lemons, sumac, and Greek yogurt, to add to the za'atar, tahini and dried chickpeas I already had in my kitchen.

I am ready.

Today I made Ottolenghi's basic hummus and his lamb kofte, which is flavored with warm spices like allspice, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  We ate the kofte wrapped in a warm pita slathered with tahini sauce, diced cucumber and tomatoes, and sprinkled pine nuts. My family declared it delicious.

For the recipe, click here.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ottolenghi's Green Pancakes

I am currently obsessed with Chef Yotam Ottolenghi.  For Christmas, my sister-in-law gave me Thomas Keller's French Laundry Cookbook.  Since I had it already, I returned it and decided to get Ottolenghi's first cookbook, Ottolenghi. I was hooked.  I immediately ordered his other two cookbooks, Plenty and Jerusalem, and that was it.  I was gone -- hook, line and sinker.

What gets me about Ottolenghi's cooking is that he makes vegetarian food fun.  I've always been one of those hard-core carnivores, even though I wished I could make it through Meatless Mondays.  I've always been a bit prejudiced about vegetarian food, thinking it carb-, dairy-, and cheese-filled fare. I'd rather have bacon.

Ottolenghi's vegetarian recipes captivated me with their vibrant and flavorful personality.  The veggies are the stars instead of carbs or cheese with veggies as an afterthought. They are not goopy. 

These green pancakes are a great example of Ottolenghi's genius.  Light and filled with scallions and spinach, Ottolenghi accents these with a lime butter.  I opted for a squeeze of lime juice, and they were scrumptious.

Definitely worth a try.

Click here for the recipe.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

Spelt Crackers

For many of us, January equals weight loss, or an at least an attempt to shed the excesses of the holidays or the past year.  I am no different.  Inevitably I am on some "new" diet to detox myself of sugar, gluten, corn, soy, alcohol, caffeine ... should I go on?

The fun part of going on these different diets, with different rules and eating regimes, is that I learn about foods that I would have never eaten otherwise.  Enter spelt.  Since I am prohibited from eating refined carbs on this 28-day challenge, I searched out different flours.  It turns out there are many.  Almond, coconut, flaxseed, arrowroot, quinoa, and spelt flour to name a few.

I attempted to make spelt spaetzle.  Not good.  Since spelt flour doesn't have much gluten, the spaetzle were flabby and without toothiness.  So I started thinking about foods that don't need much structure or lift.  Crackers seemed perfect.

And they were.  Light, thin, crunchy, and easy to make, spelt crackers are a delicious and much more economical alternative to Wheat Thins or other crackers.  You can top them with anything you like, including salts and different seeds.


Saturday, January 4, 2014

Ottolenghi's Crushed Lentils with Tahini and Cumin

When I was a kid, we used to say, "I love it so much, I would marry it!"

I would marry these lentils for sure.

David Levowitz, whom I follow on Facebook and Twitter, posted the link to Yotam Ottolenghi's lentil recipes in the Guardian.  I had just received Ottolenghi's eponymous cookbook for Christmas, so I clicked on David's link and fell in love.

I went straight to the kitchen and whipped this up in minutes.  One taste? Divine.

We wolfed it up with Mary's Gone Crackers and Stacy's Pita Chips.  It's very filling and can be eaten as a meal or as a side dish.

Try it today!

Ottolenghi's Crushed puy lentils with tahini and cumin

This sustaining meal-on-a-plate is a little bit like hummus, though much easier and quicker to prepare. With warm flatbread, I could eat this every day. Serves two as a main, or four as a starter.
200g puy lentils 
30g unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil, plus extra to finish
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed 
1 tsp ground cumin
3 medium tomatoes, skinned and cut into 1cm dice
25g coriander leaves, chopped
4 tbsp tahini paste
2 tbsp lemon juice
Salt and black pepper 
½ small red onion, peeled and sliced very thin
2 hard-boiled eggs, quartered
Bring a medium pan of water to a boil. Add the lentils and cook for 15-20 minutes, until completely cooked, drain and set aside.
Put the butter and oil in a large sauté pan and place on a medium-high heat. Once the butter melts, add the garlic and cumin, and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes, 20g of coriander and the cooked lentils. Cook, stirring, for a couple of minutes, then add the tahini, lemon juice, 70ml of water, a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Turn down the heat to medium and cook gently, stirring, for a few minutes more, until hot and thickened. Roughly mash the lentils with a potato masher, so that some are broken up and you get a thick, porridge consistency.
Spread out the lentils on a flat platter, run a fork through to make a wavy pattern on top, and scatter on the sliced onion, the remaining coriander and a final drizzle of olive oil. Serve warm with the hard-boiled eggs alongside.