Rieux

"Plenty: Vibrant Recipes From London's Ottolenghi" by Yotam Ottolenghi

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Is anyone else working their way through the wonderful cookbook "Plenty" by Yoatam Ottolenghi? I bought it after visiting a couple of his restaurants during a trip to London some time back. Basically, it is a compendium of all the great vegetarian recipes he has published in the Guardian over the years. The measures, etc. are in U.K. measurements, but I make easy work of them with my OXO kitchen scale. Also, some of the ingredients are called by their British names, but that is something you get used to quickly -- i.e. capsicum = peppers, aubergine = eggplant, rocket = arugula, courgette = zucchini.

Each chapter is divied up by type of veggie, and the photos are amazing. I am not a vegetarian, but these recipes have made me eat meat much, much less meat because they are so satisfying.

So far we have made:
Quiona salad with favas, radishes - WONDERFUL!
Stuffed onions - onions simmered in broth, separated into "petals" and stuffed with breadcrumbs and feta (among other things) -- interesting, good, but not great.
Vegetable Paella - OK, I lived in Spain and love a good paella. The idea of a vegetable only paella was somewhat horrifying to me. But, man, it was GOOD! Perhaps one of the best things I have eaten in the last 6 months.
Castelluccio lentils with oven dried tomatoes and gorgonzola -- Also amazing, nice summer main course, hearty but not greasy.
Soba noodles with eggplant and mango -- One of the most refreshing things I have ever eaten.

I can't wait to keep cooking 2-3 dishes from this book each week.

Which leads to this post -- anyone else have this book and cooking from it? Suggestions on what I should make next (everything in the books looks great, so it's hard to choose!) Anyone want to trade cooking experiences from "Plenty" on this topic??

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lperry - not to feed the addiction, but I love using it during farmer's market season. If I find the one main ingredient at the market I love coming home and flipping through the book to decide what I want to make!

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lperry - not to feed the addiction, but I love using it during farmer's market season. If I find the one main ingredient at the market I love coming home and flipping through the book to decide what I want to make!

An update: I've gone back and made the lentils with Gorganzola and the paella several more times. Yum. I also tried out a new recipe for roasted eggplant with buttermilk sauce and pomegranate seeds (which apparently is on the cover of the US version -- I have the UK version). It was easy, and, again, great. Eggplant roasted with olive oil and thyme, covered with a buttermilk/greek yoghurt sauce, sprinkled with pomegranate.

Reminded me of great eggplant I had at some ottoman restaurants in Istabul. Definitely a keeper...

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Is anyone else working their way through the wonderful cookbook "Plenty" by Yoatam Ottolenghi?

I just got it - thanks for your recommendation! It sure looks like a wonderful book. The only thing I've cooked so far is the stuffed tomatoes, which were very good.

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Planning on making the cherry-tomato & mostly potato tart w aged goat cheese and lemon thyme (instead of oregano) in next couple of days. Probably the soba noodle salad w eggplant and mango, or maybe the cover-photo dish without buttermilk since I picked up pomegranate seeds and my shellac-coated organic mango remains hard as a rock.

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Planning on making the cherry-tomato & mostly potato tart w aged goat cheese and lemon thyme (instead of oregano) in next couple of days. Probably the soba noodle salad w eggplant and mango, or maybe the cover-photo dish without buttermilk since I picked up pomegranate seeds and my shellac-coated organic mango remains hard as a rock.

Where did you find the pomegranate seeds?

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Trader Joe's.

I got mine pre-washed and separated in the prepared fruit section of the P st Whole Foods -- near where the over-priced cut up pineapple and carrots are.

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Trader Joe's.

I got mine pre-washed and separated in the prepared fruit section of the P st Whole Foods -- near where the over-priced cut up pineapple and carrots are.

Have to return mine from TJ (pre-washed, etc.) since they're already moldy w sell-by date of Sept. 12. At WFM in Silver Spring just a few days ago, I saw small, whole pomegranates from California for around $3 each.

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Well, I made the Surprise Tatin for a late lunch/early dinner, plated on a dressed bed of red-leaf lettuce and thin cucumber moons.

The idea that we eat w our eyes was clearly the reason I selected the recipe. Results were as pretty as or prettier than the photo (you'll find one in the link and an impressive number in a Google Image search) since I included potatoes that were pink all the way through and slow-roasted Sungold tomatoes. I can also see the moment of inspiration:

"Fancy a tarte tatin with 'pommes de terre' instead of 'pommes'--lovely, what, for tea?"

Nonetheless, despite the aged goat cheese and lots of lemon thyme (vs. oregano), 'twas a bit flat. The caramel's a fun touch w all the other caramelization, so rather than a custard in the spirit of a Spanish tortilla, a parsley sauce might brighten the dish up, though I can't see making it again except as part of a buffet spread, maybe, when there's protein to go with. Toast w scrambled eggs and hash browns, yes, but pastry w potatoes is just an interesting concept.

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Rieux, thank you so much for recommending Plenty. I've really enjoyed using it so far.

What have you made besides the stuffed tomatoes?

**********

CJS: Thanks for the rec. That's one of the few "alternative protein" dishes in a cookbook that I like because it's written by an omnivore.

******************

ETA: See Dinner thread re ratatouille and lima bean recipes, both great.

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Just got this book, inspired by the discussion here. Looks great. One immediate question, for anyone who's done the black pepper tofu: Surely "11 tbsp butter" is a typo and should be "1," right?, in a Chinese-ish tofu recipe to serve 4? I know I should trust my instincts, but then again maybe 11 tablespoons of butter plus hot pepper would be a revelation for me ...

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Just got this book, inspired by the discussion here. Looks great. One immediate question, for anyone who's done the black pepper tofu: Surely "11 tbsp butter" is a typo and should be "1," right?, in a Chinese-ish tofu recipe to serve 4? I know I should trust my instincts, but then again maybe 11 tablespoons of butter plus hot pepper would be a revelation for me ...

Yep, it actually is 11. Maybe not something to eat every night, but the unlikely combination of butter and soy sauce really is a revelation. I believe I only used about a stick, though, which seemed to be enough.

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What have you made besides the stuffed tomatoes?

jeez, I must be getting senile. The farro, red bell pepper, and feta salad the other night.

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I made the "Sweet Corn Polenta" (which is made from fresh corn, not from meal) with its eggplant sauce, and the Saffron Cauliflower. Both were very good, as modified a bit. (Make fun of me if you will, but I didn't feel like using $$$ of saffron for a simple Sunday supper, even if it was in the name of the dish, so I didn't. I know it would have made the dish a little yellower and a little better.)

My qualm with the book so far - see my earlier question about the tofu dish, and my experience last night cooking the polenta/eggplant sauce - is that a good many of these recipes rely on large quantities of fat, for a particular sort of "goodness." (I realize that's very common among restaurant chefs.) My objection isn't moral or health-based, but just a personal preference about how things taste and feel to me (and to most of my family/guests). In most cases, I think, it will be possible just to use less fat and come out with something more to my taste.

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^Doesn't bother me so much since it seems pretty simple to modify recipes that require too much [mostly dairy] fat. For example, that fresh corn polenta doesn't need all the feta. While tempted to make it, too, I'd add just a little grated Parmesan and maybe an inch of the chevre I've got in the freezer. Same with the cup of neutral oil required for frying the eggplant in the soba noodle salad. I just reduced it, though I fried the eggplant as instructed instead of my usual preference for baking slices.

Mostly impressed w recipes since the intersection of Middle Eastern and European cultures that informs the book means there's plenty of novelty. My only gripe thus far is blandness or rather, a very light hand in use of flavors that aren't inherent to the vegetables and/or principal ingredients. For example, the eggplant cubes tossed w soba noodles are simply fried in a neutral oil. An entire eggplant prepared like this for half a recipe (two generous portions for lunch) isn't all that exciting. The dressing requires only half a hot red chile pepper--or a quarter for half the recipe. A crushed clove of garlic won't impart much flavor seeping in 1/2 cup of cooling vinegar and even when it's minced instead and added to the pan while finishing the eggplant... For this particular dish, I recommend plum vs. rice vinegar and bolder flavors allowed to soak into the eggplant while it's still hot.

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^Doesn't bother me so much since it seems pretty simple to modify recipes that require too much [mostly dairy] fat. For example, that fresh corn polenta doesn't need all the feta. While tempted to make it, too, I'd add just a little grated Parmesan and maybe an inch of the chevre I've got in the freezer. Same with the cup of neutral oil required for frying the eggplant in the soba noodle salad. I just reduced it, though I fried the eggplant as instructed instead of my usual preference for baking slices.

Mostly impressed w recipes since the intersection of Middle Eastern and European cultures that informs the book means there's plenty of novelty. My only gripe thus far is blandness or rather, a very light hand in use of flavors that aren't inherent to the vegetables and/or principal ingredients. For example, the eggplant cubes tossed w soba noodles are simply fried in a neutral oil. An entire eggplant prepared like this for half a recipe (two generous portions for lunch) isn't all that exciting. The dressing requires only half a hot red chile pepper--or a quarter for half the recipe. A crushed clove of garlic won't impart much flavor seeping in 1/2 cup of cooling vinegar and even when it's minced instead and added to the pan while finishing the eggplant... For this particular dish, I recommend plum vs. rice vinegar and bolder flavors allowed to soak into the eggplant while it's still hot.

Anna, I made that eggplant/soba dish too, and I made similar additions. I used rice vinegar mixed with a little apple cider vinegar, and shot the eggplant with a few dribs of thai chili oil. It made a difference in the flavor level.

Sadly, I have been traveling a lot lately and have not had time to cook, but I am looking forward to some fall recipes on my return!

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Last night I made the Ratattouille. It took me longer than I thought it would, but that was my fault -- I should have added the time it takes to cut all those veggies to the cooking time in my head.

I skipped the zuchinni because I forgot to buy it. Still, this was really lovely -- deep in flavor, hearty, healthy, and soul-satisfying for fall. The addition of the butternut squash to the traditional ratattouille adds a nice nutty flavor. This was an easy (once the veggies were cut) meal, and one I would make again.

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The mushroom ragout with duck eggs was nice but nothing special (and nothing I couldn't have come up with on my own), but then I made the two potato vindaloo. The directions for cooking the potatoes seemed a bit wacky (20 minutes for waxy potatoes, then add sweet potatoes and cook another 40 minutes), so I just went with instinct and they turned out fine. The dish had a nice deep spicy flavor, but seemed to be lacking something, so I put in a good couple squeezes of lemon juice, then after plating a drizzle of yogurt and some toasted slivered almonds, too, just because. This is a dish I'll make again.

Next on the list is the broccoli and tofu. Anyone know what "sweet chili sauce" would be?

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It seems I can't quite follow a recipe in Plenty without tweaking it. I made the spicy Moroccan carrot salad recently, but roasted the carrots and incorporated them into some cooked farro with lots of lemon and parsley for a light one-dish meal. They were great. I'm still really enjoying this book.

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The smoky frittata with cauliflower is also very good - though again (see above) I like it better with less fat than the recipe calls for.

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