Thursday, December 25, 2014


As much as I love any cookbook or dish or dessert from Ottolenghi, their recipes drive me crazy.  They have so many simultaneous steps, parallel steps, steps in tandem, and steps that completely take you off track.

Having said that, the end result makes you forget all the hassle and the food is breathtakingly delicious.

I prepared 3 dishes last week:
- Baby spinach and date salad
- Roasted chicken with sumac
- Stuffed aubergines with lamb and pine nuts

The recipes for baby spinach and date salad and stuffed aubergines with lamb and pine nuts was from this cookbook:

The chicken with sumac recipe is from this book:

I will go over the salad recipe first because I improvised it slightly.  And for fear of a ridiculously long post, I will just link you to the second 2 recipes (at the end of this post).

First the salad, I slightly modified the original recipe, here are my tips:
1 1/2 tbsp white wine vinegar
1 small red onion, thinly sliced 
10 dates, quartered lengthways
25g unsalted butter
2 tbsp olive oil
2 small pitas, about 100g, roughly torn into 4cm pieces
75g whole unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
2 tsp sumac
1/2 tsp chilli flakes
1 packet baby spinach leaves, washed
2 tbsp lemon juice

Instructions are as follows:
1. Use a mandolin to slice onions thinly.  I LOVE the mandolin.
This is a mandolin (I got mine from Manazil, brand: Oxo)
This is how it slices onions - thin, even and pretty
2. Put the vinegar, onion and dates in a small bowl. Add a pinch of salt and mix well.
3. Leave to marinate for 20 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, heat butter and oil
5. Toast the bread and almonds until brown.  This is a lengthy process so be patient.  You don't want to fire up the heat so that it doesn't heat up and burn quickly, and at the same time, don't keep it too low or it will literally take forever.  I did it over a medium heat and it took around 15 minutes.  Again, it's  process so brace yourself.

6. Remove off heat and immediately mix in sumac, chill and salt mix.  Set aside until completely cool.
7. In your serving bowl, put a package of washed and dried baby spinach leaves and set aside until serving.
8. Right before serving, mix in the bread mixture and onion/date marinade into the bowl of spinach and drizzle in some olive oil, 2 tablespoons of lemon juice and a pinch of salt.
How colourful is this salad?
Source: online
9. Serve and eat immediately.

The stuffed aubergines with lamb and pine nuts were simply-put, amazing.  The recipe is here.
Notes on this recipe: I found it needed slightly more salt.  However, I suggest you salt as per the instructions but taste the cooked lamb before stuffing and add more as you see fit.

As for the chicken with sumac, it didn't come out as I imagined it but it was still delicious and the kids loved it.  Find the recipe here.
My observations: for starters, I forgot to add the pine nuts on tops and it was too watery.  I would definitely use less water so I can make sure it gets really crunchy and roasted dry rather than wet.  It also needed a bit more salt.

So here you go, some great recipes, perfect for this chilly weather. Bon appetite!

Special thanks to M&F for buying me these books and introducing me to the world of Ottolenghi.

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