Anna: Tonight I was having my Ogilvy ladees round for dinner, and what a happy coincidence that we’re doing the Ottolenghi book this month as Tiff and Kate D are veggie!
Kate W: I’m not.
Anna: No, but you’ll have to pretend you are for tonight. There are only enough sausages for Peter. Anyway, choosing a menu was actually quite hard once I got down to it, but I settled on “Hummus with ful” (or ‘you crazy fool’ as it became known over the evening) and “Sweetcorn polenta”. I chose the hummus for two reasons: because it would be nice to eat slowly while drinking and chatting, and because I’d been introduced to ful in the last year by a work colleague and I loved it. Plus, Tiff has lived in the Middle East so I figured she could give an honest opinion.
Tiff: I will.
Anna: The polenta was a bit of a random choice. Not something I would ever go for in a million years, but in for a penny as they say. It wasn’t until I started cooking that I realised that this was going to be a meal of four mushes. Four slightly different coloured mushes.
Kate D: We’re in the mood for mush!
Anna: The first hurdle was finding dried broad beans for the Crazy Fool. Kate D came to the rescue.
Kate D: The story behind the broad beans… I went out for some fajitas in Highbury, as you do, and I walked past my local friendly Turkish shop. And I remembered that you couldn’t get any dried broad beans and you were going to have to go out of your way, so I went in and bought them for you. They were posted courtesy of Ogilvy franking!
Anna: I wish I had a nice Turkish shop to hand, it would make my life a lot easier at the moment. The recipe says it’s for six, but I have an EU hummus mountain in my fridge. You are all going to be taking some home. It was time-consuming to prepare because of the soaking and the boiling and the whizzing. I’m not sure it’s nice enough to make me want to go through all that again. Tiff, does it taste authentic?
Tiff: I’d say no. In the nicest possible way, whilst it is very tasty it wasn’t strong enough in flavour. It didn’t have the tang you get with real Middle Eastern hummus and ful.
Kate W: I think I’m conditioned to the shop bought ones, but it was still really nice.
Kate D: I liked it. It did taste different from supermarket hummus, but it was like the ones you buy from the friendly Turkish shop – it’s smoother, has more tahini… and I was a big fan of the olive oil and paprika on top.
Tiff: Vic should try it. He’s the hummus king.
Anna: Next up is the Sweetcorn polenta. I had a bit of frustration making this. The recipe called for 6 corn cobs, but advised that you need 550g of kernels. Which was 4 cobs. So I cooked them, whizzed them, washed the pan up, thought I was finally done with all my cooking and then looked at the quantity and just knew there wouldn’t be enough. So I started again with 2 more cobs. Grr. I’m a bit worried it’s too wet.
Kate W: I love it. It’s tasty, a great consistency… not too mushy at all.
Anna: The aubergine sauce that goes on top was very easy, but I cooked 2 aubergines rather than the 1 stated as again I knew there wouldn’t be enough. Are the aubergines too slimy?
Ogilvy ladees: No!
Tiff: I have a problem with aubergines. Being veggie I get them all the time and they tend to be cooked badly. But these were just right. And I don’t normally like polenta because it gets solid. But this was lovely and soft.
Kate D: The salt of the feta and the sweetness of the sweetcorn went perfectly, if anything it could have done with more feta. Polenta is normally bland, but this was a nice way to eat it. Lovely and sweet. And it looked beautiful. Really vibrant colours. Really Mediterranean.
Anna: Hurrah, I’m glad that was a success. But I’m a bit tired of Mr Ottolenghi’s book right now, all that faffing. I think I need a break for a few days!
Kate W: More meat next time please.