After having read about, and drooled over, recipes from the Ottolenghi cookbooks on various of my favourite blogs I finally ordered a copy of their first book from The Book Depository and it arrived last week. This is the first recipe I have made from the book and it was utterly delicious.
Apparently Ottolenghi is an ‘ iconic’ restaurant in England. The authors believe in ‘unfussiness and simplicity in food preparation’ and ‘don’t interfere with the food too much’. They ‘love real food unadulterated and unadorned’. The photos in the book show a stylish cafe with massive plates piled high of mouthwatering looking, rustic salads and big thick slices of roasted meats along side huge savoury muffins and crusty breads. The baking section in the book is significant and reflects the importance and popularity of their bakery. Very colourful and really, really tempting.
What I already love about this book:
1. The fabulous array of really interesting and tasty vegetable dishes that use creative and often surprising combinations of ingredients (great sounding meat dishes too).
2. The explanatory way the recipes are written – very friendly writing style with no hint of being patronising but at the same time you’re not left wondering over the little details.
3. They season their food really well – no measly pinches of salt or ‘optional’ seasoning!
I had to borrow my friend’s oven to roast the capsicum for the sauce (my oven, which I had expected to return to the kitchen after renovating, has had to go as it won’t fit in the new cupboard space!) but it was actually a much easier way to cook them than grilling – they cooked more evenly and the skins were easier to peel because of this.
I had fresh corn cobs in the fridge so I used one for this recipe but you can use frozen too. Tossing the corn in a hot dry pan to blacken slightly gave them a lovely toasty flavour that also brought out their sweetness.
The meatball mixture is quite wet so I put the balls in the fridge to firm up a bit before frying. Because of the no oven situation I didn’t finish mine off in the oven as suggested but rather made them smaller (ping pong rather than golf ball sized) and cooked them for a bit longer in the pan.
I accompanied the meatballs with a ‘spring cous cous’ from the latest (Oct/Nov) Donna Hay magazine which provided both a vegetable and starch side-dish in one. It was the perfect choice even if I do say so myself. This dish was supposed to be baked in paper but was quite easily adapted to prepare without an oven – I’ve written my version below.
This was a highly flavoursome meal - rich, deep flavours in the sauce; light , tasty meatballs and a lovely herby, zesty side dish. It was a hit all round.
I’ll be exploring this book with gusto over the next few months and I’ve already put the new Ottolenghi book Plenty (exclusively vegetable recipes I believe) on my Xmas wish list!
Turkey and sweetcorn meatballs with roasted pepper sauce
(adapted slightly from Ottolenghi, The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi)
Serves four hungry people (or 5 polite people)
100g sweetcorn kernels (fresh or frozen)
3 slices of stale white bread, crusts removed
600g turkey mince
1 free range egg
4 spring onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup finely chopped parsley
2 1/2 tsp ground cumin
1 1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1 garlic clove, crushed
vegetable oil for frying
Roasted pepper sauce
4 red capsicums (or peppers)
3 Tbl olive oil
1 tsp salt
25g coriander, stalks and leaves
1 garlic clove, peeled
1 small mild chilli, deseeded
2 Tbl sweet chilli sauce
2 Tbl cider or white wine vinegar
Preheat oven to 200C. Quarter, deseed and cut off the white parts of the capsicums, place in a roasting tray lined with baking paper and toss with 2 tablespoon of olive oil and 1/2 teaspoon of salt. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes or until soft. Transfer to a bowl, cover with cling film. When they are cool enough to handle you can peel them although it isn’t essential for this sauce. Place them in a food processor with any roasting juices and the rest of the sauce ingredients. Process until smooth, then taste and adjust the salt if necessary. Set aside.
For the meatballs, place a heavy, non-stick frying pan over high heat and throw in the corn kernels. Toss them in the hot pan for 2-3 minutes until lightly blackened. Remove and leave to cool.
Soak the bread in cold water for a minute, then squeeze well and crumble into a large bowl. Add the rest of the ingredients, except the oil, and mix well with your hands.
Test the seasoning of the meatball mixture by frying a teaspoon of the mixture to taste it. Adjust seasoning if desired.
With wet hands, shape the mince mixture into balls, about the size of pin pong balls (makes about 25). Place in fridge for 30 minutes to firm up.
Pour a 5mm depth of oil into your heavy frying pan and allow to heat up well. Fry balls in two batches (or more depending on the size of the pan – don’t crowd) until they are golden brown and cooked through. Test for doneness by breaking one open.
Serve hot or warm with the pepper sauce drizzled over and the spring cous cous on the side. Leave the sauce in a jug on the table for people to help themselves.
NB we had a fair bit of sauce left over which I think would be nice on grilled fish or other grilled meat or as a pasta sauce.
Spring cous cous with broad beans, peas and mint
(adapted from Oct/Nov 2010 Donna Hay Magazine)
1 cup (200g) of cous cous
zest of 1 lemon
1/2 tsp salt
freshly ground black pepper
1 cup (120g) frozen peas
1 1/2 cups (225g) broad beans (fresh or frozen) weighed in their skins then peeled.
1/2 cup mint leaves, chopped
1/2 cup flat parsley leaves, chopped
Place cous cous in a 4 cup capacity heat proof bowl and add lemon zest, butter in little chunks, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Cook broad beans and peas in boiling water for 2-3 minutes then drain, reserving 1 cup of the cooking water. Pour the reserved cooking water over the cous cous, cover with cling film then set aside for 5 minutes.
Remove the cling film , fluff the cous cous and fork in the melted butter. Add the beans, peas and herbs and toss. Serve.