“Castelluccio lentils with tomatoes and Gorgonzola” from “Plenty”

Anna: This started well… I thought I’d turned on the oven, but I hadn’t.  So those oven-dried tomatoes took a bit longer than 1 1/4 hours.  More like 2 1/2!  But that wasn’t Mr Ottolenghi’s fault.

Kirstin: No, that wasn’t Mr Ottolenghi’s fault, but they look really good.

Anna: Miles thought they looked like bugs.  We used Puy lentils rather than Castelluccio. But he said that we could substitute.

Kirstin: And we didn’t have the right herbs.  You forgot chives, and we didn’t have flat leaf parsley either.  But we had dill.  And with all that red onion you don’t need chives.  It still smells and looks good!

Anna: Peter’s here, so let’s eat.

Peter: Is that a starter?  Do you know what this could do with?  Bacon.  It would taste really nice with bacon.  The saltiness would complement the lentils.

Anna: I got distracted and put 3 times the amount of gorgonzola in it than there should be.  It is a bit cheesy.

Kirstin: I would never have thought to put blue cheese with lentils. But it’s really yummy.  And the tomatoes are great.  Once the oven was on they were very easy.  This is really yummy.  Would you make it again?

Anna: I would make it, with the right amount of cheese,

Peter: some bacon…..

Kirstin: and does anyone know where lego Harry Potter is? (we have spent a large quantity of time this evening looking for said Lego HP who has gone AWOL).

Anna:…. as a starter.  I’m so happy we have finally found a recipe from this book that isn’t a enormous faff!

“Castelluccio lentils with tomatoes and Gorgonzola” from “Plenty”

“Black pepper tofu” from “Plenty”

Anna: I’d noticed this recipe straight away because it had lots of pepper and chillies in it, and the photo in the book looked very yummy.  And because he describes it as ‘quick and easy’ I thought it would be good to do on a weeknight.  I was wrong.  It took me over an hour to make, most of this time used in preparation.  Halving the recipe I still had to peel and slice 6 shallots, 6 garlic cloves, 4 chillies….. then fry up a huge quantity of tofu so it took 3 batches.  And sadly the tofu pieces perhaps predictably turned into sponges of oil.  I used up about half a roll of kitchen towel trying to drain them.  I took the liberty of halving the amount of butter stated to fry up the shallots after seeing all that oil, but it was still 35g.  Ugh.

Peter: I didn’t realise it was 35g of butter! That’s 17.5g each…..

Anna: It should have been 75g!!

Peter: I was looking forward to a Szechuan-like taste, which was present, but it probably didn’t require so much pepper.  With the rice it was quite filling.  Just as well it arrived when it did, I was beginning to black out.

Anna: I stir-fried some spinach too, to give us some veg.  The first few mouthfuls were nice but to be honest, I feel a bit sick now.  Would you like me to make it again?

Peter: I don’t think you’re going to are you?  Maybe something like it.

Anna: No.  I’m not going to make it again.

“Black pepper tofu” from “Plenty”

“Multi-vegetable paella” from “Plenty”

Kirstin: This looked so fantastic in the book, I had to try it. As expected, it was a real faff to make. There were lots of stages and lots of ingredients, including shelling broad beans. It said it served two, but it could have served four.

Tom: Would it have served two as a main course?

Kirstin: No, even then it would have been three. We had it with barbecued meats.

Mark: It was a riot of summer colour, with all the taste of the southern Mediterranean. What was really nice was that it was lighter because it didn’t have seafood. So it was the perfect complement to the meat we were having. Seafood would have made it too rich.

Tom: I’m not sure what the definition of a paella is, but this had that creamy richness that I associate with paella, even though it didn’t have seafood in it. It was a lovely accompaniment to all that meat.

Continue reading ““Multi-vegetable paella” from “Plenty””

“Multi-vegetable paella” from “Plenty”

Cookbook of the month, July 2010: “Plenty” by Yotam Ottolenghi

Anna: It was inevitable that we would do this book, wasn’t it?  Ottolenghi was my occasional decadent lunch when I was working in Knightsbridge. I’d go in for a couple of salads, and leave 12 quid lighter. The hot chocolate is to die for.

Kirstin: You never told me that!

Anna: Do you listen to me?

Kirstin: Of course I do! That’s so jammy.

Anna: Not for the wallet.

Kirstin: I wanted to do this book because I’ve seen him in the Guardian every week, and I saw this book was out, so I wanted to give it a go. AND, look at that name.  Look at it.

Anna: He’s half Turkish, half Italian isn’t he?

Kirstin: He’s not vegetarian, even though the book is vegetarian.  And the book is divided into really interesting chapters.  What the hell is sumac?

Anna: It’s a great ground spice, quite sour, that I bring back from Turkey.  I use it on my spinach, pinenut and feta salad, which is a Moro recipe, I think.  You can get it at the Turkish Food Centre in Lewisham and any other Turkish shop I bet.  Or Middle Eastern variation thereof.

Kirstin: I think you’ll be explaining a lot of ingredients to me in this one…  Just look at the photography!  Instant love. Look at this: globe artichokes with crushed broad beans. Looks beautiful but has to be a nightmare to make. Look, a whole page.

Anna: I think this is going to be my problem too. Everything looks great and exciting at first glance, but try to decide what to actually cook and it gets tricky.

Kirstin: Our challenge is to find some new favourites this month.

Anna: Yep. Veggie recipes that I can feed Peter with so that he doesn’t realise he isn’t eating meat and panic.

Cookbook of the month, July 2010: “Plenty” by Yotam Ottolenghi