“Slow-Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Mint and Cumin” from “Ottolenghi Simple”

The important thing to bear in mind if you want to make this recipe is the word SLOW in the title. The lamb shoulder needs to sit in the marinade overnight and then roast in the oven for 6 1/2 hours before it’s ready to eat. So you need to be very much on top of things to make this, and plan ahead. For that reason, it’s perfect for a Sunday lunch.

I know the picture above doesn’t look that appetizing. I suspect that Ottolenghi had the same problem since there’s no picture of this dish in the cookbook either. But what it lacks in looks, it makes up for in taste. It also made the whole house smell amazing, which made us all hungry.

If you do decide to make this, though, my top tip is to fill the roasting tin with carrots and other vegetables. I filled mine up with the required amount– though I didn’t add celeriac because I forgot to get it– and they ended up completely “carmelised” (Read: Burned) and inedible. So the next time I make it, I’ll add more vegetables and also be more assiduous in basting both the veg and the lamb while it roasts.

Was it easy? It was, actually. The only slight problem I came across is that I didn’t have fenugreek seeds in my spice cabinet, and when I went to source them in the usual spots the only fenugreek I could find was ground. So I subbed that in, but I don’t know if that made a difference. It still was quite delicious.

The cookbook includes a shorthand guide for all the recipes: S for “Short on Time”, I for “10 Ingredients or Less”, M for “Make Ahead”, P for “Pantry” and L for “Lazy” and E for “Easier than you Think.” This one was labelled I-M-L-E, and I would definitely agree with all of those, especially, “Easier than you Think.”

If you’d like to make this yourself, Ottolenghi included the recipe in his 2018 Easter recipe roundup for the Guardian. Click through here to see it.

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“Slow-Cooked Lamb Shoulder with Mint and Cumin” from “Ottolenghi Simple”

“Mustardy Cauliflower Cheese” from “Ottolenghi Simple”

It’s autumn: the days are shorter, the nights are closing in more rapidly, the trees are turning, all of which means it’s time to return to our most favourite food group: CHEESY COMFORT FOOD.

Of course, comfort food comes in all types of guises, and frankly, cheesy comfort food is good all year round. But there’s something about digging into a bowlful of cheese and other delights when the air is chilly that soothes the soul.

Cauliflower cheese, a British delicacy if there ever was one, is definitely one of my comfort foods because it involves two of my favourite ingredients: cauliflower and cheese– just like it says on the tin. I would rename this version Coronation Cauliflower Cheese, because that’s exactly what it tasted like– a coronation chicken sandwich but in cauliflower cheese form. The use of black mustard seeds, green chillies, mustard powder, curry powder and cumin seeds gave it an Indian vibe, and very much in a good way.

My only regret was not doubling the sauce because I used it to swirl my plain-tasting roast chicken into it. Yum. I could have done that all day.

This was a very clever take on cauliflower cheese. Highly recommended.

 

“Mustardy Cauliflower Cheese” from “Ottolenghi Simple”

Cookbook of the month, October 2018: Ottolenghi Simple

Maureen: Ottolenghi Simple? HA. We don’t call him Faff-Olenghi for nothing.

Kirstin: Let’s give it a go. will he actually do simple food?

Maureen: He said in the intro that he LIMITED himself to 10 ingredients. It’s going to be simple. He says so himself!

Kirstin: [SIGH.]

Kirstin: But you really have to read through his recipes because he has an odd way of doing things sometimes.

Maureen: Maybe it really will be simple! Only 10 ingredients!

Kirstin: There’s only one way to find out, Maureen.  Have you accepted my challenge?

Maureen: Yes. We’ll see how simple “Simple” is.

Cookbook of the month, October 2018: Ottolenghi Simple

Our Verdict: Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours

Maureen: I liked this book, almost everything we tried was good, but I feel bad that I didn’t have a chance to try more recipes.

Kirstin: Me too.

Maureen: The thing I liked about this cookbook is there were a lot of good dinners that could be made on a weeknight that were delicious but didn’t require a lot of effort. I can see going back to this book again and again.

Kirstin: She’s like the modern-day equivalent of Nigel Slater.

Maureen: I agree.

Kirstin:  I hate to say this, but I liked her other books more. This one had a lot of fruit with savory dishes, which I don’t like. That’s just me, but that also means there were a lot of recipes that didn’t interest me.

Maureen: I can see what you mean. I think I liked it better than you did, but I still don’t think it’s flawless.

Kirstin: I would like for her to do a fish book. That would be amazing.

Maureen: If she did a fish book, that would make Fish Fridays that much easier. We had lots of good fish out of this book. The salmon, in particular, was great.

Kirstin: I’m looking forward to her next book. She’s always a treat.

Maureen: Nigella said, “This is everything I want from a cookbook,” and I have to agree.

 

Overall Grade (A- F): A (Maureen) B (Kirstin)
Best recipes: (Maureen) Flourless chocolate cake.
Grade for Photography (A-F): B
Any disasters? (Kirstin) Goan fish curry. (Maureen) Orzo with lemon and parsley
Bookshelf or Charity Shop Donation? Bookshelf.
Would you give this to a friend? Yes. It’s got a good variety of recipes and they (mostly) all worked.

Our Verdict: Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours

“Salmon with Tomatoes, Pea and Basil Puree” from “Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours”

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Maureen: FISH FRIDAY!

Andrew (17): This is absolutely delicious.

Nicholas (13): Yum.

Andrew: This is the best fish you’ve made in a long time.

Nicholas: I agree.

Maureen: I’m surprised you like it so much. I agree it’s great, but I don’t think it’s radically different from other fish I’ve done.

Andrew: I don’t know. It’s just really good.

Maureen: Well, one for the books then. We should definitely have this again if you like it so much.

Andrew: Yes. We definitely should.

If you’d like to make this yourself, the recipe can be found on Google Books by clicking through this sentence.

“Salmon with Tomatoes, Pea and Basil Puree” from “Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavours”

“Tim’s Parmesan Chicken” from “Simple”

 

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI can’t adequately express how important chicken parmesan is to this family. It is, far and away, our favourite meal.

Something to celebrate? Let’s have chicken parm. Something to bemoan? Chicken parm. Special visitors? Chicken parm. Friends we haven’t seen in years? Chicken parm. Special requests by houseguest? Chicken parm. General “I can’t think of what to make for dinner”? Chicken parm.

[True Fact: Every time we see our Chicago neighbours who lived across the street from us 18 years ago, they ask me to make chicken parm. It doesn’t matter where we are: London, Chicago, wherever, the request is always the same. And I always make it. Yum.]

So when I saw this recipe, I was very intrigued. Surely it wouldn’t be as beloved as our own chicken parm, but it would be worth trying it out. Also, it’s by a guy called Tim, so it’s BOUND to be good.

Alas, it wasn’t as good as the one I’ve always made, but it still was delicious. I would have been incredibly surprised if it had surpassed our love of our usual version, given that our version is slathered in homemade tomato sauce and mountains of mozzarella cheese.

In this version, you bread the chicken thighs and cover them in parmesan, but then bake– rather than fry and bake– them. Tim (our Tim, not the author of the recipe) liked that the chicken’s crust was drier than it is when I fry and then bake it. The rest of us weren’t as convinced, but we were always going to be tough customers when it came to this recipe.

Would it make this recipe again? Probably not. Would I make chicken parm again? Until the end of days. Obviously.

Like to try Tim’s Chicken Parmesan? Click on this paragraph to find the recipe in the paragraph.

Want to try our most favourite dish ever? Let me know in the comments and I’ll post it here.

“Tim’s Parmesan Chicken” from “Simple”

“Roast Citrus, Ginger and Honey Chicken” from “Simple”

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Tom: This looks totally epic. The sauce is wonderfully dark; it almost looks like a duck sauce!

Kirstin: I know what you mean.

Tom: And the sauce is a little spicy too. What’s in it?

Kirstin: She says to add some hot sauce. So I added some sriracha. Along with the ginger and other goodies.

Tom: It’s brilliant!

Kirstin: It’s almost like a hot sweet and sour, right?

Tom: I think it’s like having Peking duck as chicken.

Ella: I’m glad we’re chicken it out.

Kirstin: GAH!

“Roast Citrus, Ginger and Honey Chicken” from “Simple”