|Chicken, fennel and clementines|
You shouldn't be surprised since he is an internationally-known chef, but I was surprised at how much fun I've had in his cookbooks Plenty and Jerusalem.
Mrs. HowChow bought the books. I actually passed when I saw them at Sweet Elizabeth Jane in Ellicott City. The pictures are too pretty. Ottolenghi is a restaurant chef. I pass on celebrity chefs, and I've been happy in recent years with Mark Bittman and some ethnic cookbooks.
Mrs. HowChow saw the brillance. She wanted the eggplant with pomegranates on the cover of Plenty. She saw lots of vegetables. She saw combinations that sing. As soon as I opened the books, she added a few dozen stickies to show the dishes that she'd like me to make.
Everything that I've made has been spectacular. Everything seems imaginative, but nothing has been difficult. These are terrific books for anyone who wants a healthy mix of vegetables, grains and meat -- but with flavor.
|Barley and pomegranates -- really!|
These recipes are terrific for me because my simple can be bland. I can eat lentils straight from the pot, and Mrs. HowChow has had to point out that they're not inspiring even if they're healthy. Ottolenghi make lentils enticing with some oven-dried tomatoes, that Gorgonzola, and generous dashes of herbs.
That variety runs through the books. Jerusalem does traditional recipes, but Plenty is a riot of modern variety -- eggs baked over arugula and topped with yogurt, barley tossed in a salad with celery and pomegranates. Ottolenghi uses spices and herbs available anywhere, but his dishes taste fresh and exciting -- even when the preparation is as simple as "cook the barley, then mix with a bunch of stuff that you chopped or poured from bottles."
These books are some of the best fun that I have ever had with thyme, dill, parsley and chives. Ottolenghi must live near Lotte or H Mart because he'll suggest three or four different herbs in a recipe. You can't buy $10 in herbs for just a few tablespoons of each. So I have bought them at one of the Asian markets -- and planned for several Ottolenghi recipes so I can use the purchase over an entire week.
Go try these books. Check them out at the Howard County library. Buy them from Amazon from one of the associate links. Just go explore the mix.
Check out all my cookbook reviews. Most are available at the library if you want to check them out. (Update: And check out the Fiercely Fresh post about Jerusalem and a butternut squash recipe.)