The Xmas fairy (my Mum) granted my wish for the new Ottolenghi cookbook Plenty and I made the first of the dishes that took my fancy this week. Those of you who know this cookbook and the previous one with the eponymous title Ottolenghi will already be familiar with the rich, creative mix of flavours and ingredients that make really surprising dishes full of colour and flavour.
I posted previously here and here on the dishes I’ve tried so far from Ottolenghi – both excellent. This week I started in on Plenty and made Green Couscous for an early evening family picnic in the garden at Carrick Hill – while watching a play. I do love an excuse for a picnic.
The Green Couscous (recipe found on another blog so I don’t have to worry about copyright), which included fried onion and chopped toasted pistachios as well as a fresh herb paste, was quite rich and totally moreish. It was accompanied by marinated roasted chicken wings (thanks Mum) and was followed by a platter of cheeses (including some Roquefort – my 3 year old loves blue cheese), dips olives and fruit. Due to some kind of catering mix up at the place we were also provided with a free bottle of red wine!
I hadn’t been to Carrick Hill since I was a young teenager and the gorgeous gardens reminded me to go again soon. Carrick Hill was the home of a couple from two of the richest and most prominent families in South Australia. The house and grounds are now a museum open to the public. The house is a fascinating look into a bygone era of gracious luxury (including an extensive art collection). In the garden they have a Story Book Trail that you can take yourself (kids optional) through (including a living maze if memory serves me). The gardens are definitely English and are a mix of formal gardens and country park. The garden is surrounded by 20 hectares of natural bushland which is home to remnant indigenous species of flora. There are walking trails through this area – maps available at the museum. Most importantly to round off your visit they have a cafe with morning and afternoon tea available. This last had me planning a Sunday afternoon visit very soon.
The other dish I made this week was the multi vegetable paella. You can get the recipe here. This was also very tasty with a reasonable amount of poke from the cayenne pepper. While I confess to adding prosciutto when frying the onion and would have been happy to find some chicken and the odd prawn tucked in to the rice, it was a surprisingly tasty version of this dish. The result of so many bright veggies was eye-popping colour!
I traded a few of the veggies for others but I think that’s probably fine with this dish. I don’t really like artichokes so I chargrilled some zucchini that I added in chunks instead (I know they are very different but I thought the zucchini would add a similar feeling of substance). I also used about 150g of peas and 50g of soya beans instead of broad beans because that’s what I had in the freezer. The tomatoes I used were so sweet and juicy they were the star of the dish! The recipe says it serves two generously but I would say it serves 3 (or 4 less generously – perhaps with some crusty bread) as we are not small eaters and still had a hearty serve left over.
Both recipes were more work than I thought they were going to be but were worth it for the richer and more complex flavours in the final dishes.