“Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar” from “Jerusalem”

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This looks delicious, right? I could just eat that whole platter of food right now, looking at the picture again. You’ve got the sweetness of the roasted butternut squash and onions, the tahini dressing and then the taste sensation that is za’atar* spices.

*For those of you who don’t know, za’atar is a Middle Eastern blend of spices that includes combination of sesame seeds, sumac, salt, oregano, cumin and dried marjoram. It’s obviously gone mainstream (Thanks Ottolenghi!) because you can find it in the spice rack at Waitrose and other sumpermarkets.

Yum. I loved it.

Unfortunately, my family didn’t agree.

Tim liked it fine but didn’t love it. His conclusion: “It was better than I would have thought.” To be fair, he isn’t a fan of butternut squash. I don’t know why that’s true, but we all have our own special food hang ups*, so I can understand.

*If you’re wondering, my food hangup/thing I won’t eat is beets, Andrew’s (14) is cavolo nero and Nicholas’s (10) is spinach.

Nicholas, who does like butternut squash, just didn’t like the whole combination of flavours. There’s a LOT going on in this dish, which I think was a bit much for his 10-year-old palate. Andrew tried it, but didn’t eat much of it. I blame the massive amount of couscous that he loaded up on his plate but maybe all the flavours were too overwhelming for him.

Would I make it again for my family? Probably not. They don’t appreciate it enough. Would I make again for myself? You bet.

If you would like to make this for yourself– and if you like butternut squash, I recommend that you do– click through this sentence to see the recipe in its original form in the Guardian, before it was published in Jerusalem.

“Roasted Butternut Squash and Red Onion with Tahini and Za’atar” from “Jerusalem”

“Sharwarma Chicken with Warm Chickpea Puree and Sumac Onions” from “A Change of Appetite”

Anna: Well this is a perfect prepare-ahead meal. It was all ready for you boys to cook while I went for my long run this evening.

Peter: We didn’t need to start cooking it until you were back and in the shower to be honest.

Ian: I think you will find the chicken ‘gorgeously singed’ but tender within.

Anna: Indeed. It’s very nice indeed. I have fond memories of sharwarma chicken. It was the only thing I could eat when I had morning sickness during my first pregnancy. I used to get it in a wrap for lunch. A couple of times a week.

Peter: Yes it’s very good. Everything is very colourful on the plate.

Anna: The puree has split a bit though. We probably reheated it a little too vigorously.

Ian: I take responsibility for that.

Anna: I’ll definitely be making this again!

 

 

“Sharwarma Chicken with Warm Chickpea Puree and Sumac Onions” from “A Change of Appetite”

“Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic” (and “Slow roast pork belly) from “Kitchen”

Anna: I forgot to take any pictures of the roast pork belly last night.

Peter: Let me describe it to you.

Anna: Go on then.

Peter: It was porky.  Very well slow-cooked.  Fell apart beautifully.  Dark.  A touch sticky. Good crunchy crackling.

Anna: It was lovely and moist wasn’t it?  I was a bit intrigued by the marinade, having tahini and soy in it and all.  But it worked didn’t it?

Peter: You would never have known there was tahini in it.

Anna: And it was perfect for a dinner party, seeing as it didn’t need touching for 4 hours.  Lovely.  Nigel’s dauphinoise and some green beans complimented it perfectly.

Continue reading ““Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic” (and “Slow roast pork belly) from “Kitchen””

“Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic” (and “Slow roast pork belly) from “Kitchen”

Plenty of Ottolenghi food: a Friday Feast

Anna: We decided that we wanted to do a proper blow-out feast, after the many abortive midweek Ottolenghi meals that we’ve cooked.

Kirstin: We wanted to give it a full crack of the whip!

Anna: Luckily neither of us was working this afternoon, because it was potentially going to be a massive faff.

Tom: But was it?

Anna: If either of us had been doing it on our own, yes. With the two of us it was still a faff.

Zoe: But was it an enjoyable faff?

Kirstin: Yes, we watched wartime documentaries in between, while things were in the oven.

Anna: And we sang along to the Brandenberg double-violin concerto as we peeled five heads of garlic, clove by clove. Between the two of us it took 40 minutes. The two most annoying things were the cloves of garlic and the bloody cardamom pods.

Kirstin: But you have such good wrist action, Anna! (Zoe guffaws)

Anna: How do you know about my wrist action? It’s all those years of violin playing! With the cardamom pods I had to get Kirstin to open the window. Two tablespoons of cardamom pods, and you had to bash them all up, and take all the seeds out of all the pods! It was about 40 pods! It was like, Christ, take me now. I bashed my head with the pestle. Or was it the mortar? Anyway, we cooked the “Watermelon and feta” to start. I’m going to compare it against the Nigella recipe. Her recipe is watermelon, feta and black olive. She has olives, lime juice, mint and flat-leaf parsley, rather than basil. But everything else is the same. So we cooked that, and then “Caramelized Garlic Tart”.

Kirstin: We called it Vampire Pie.

Anna: And then “Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chilli”. Continue reading “Plenty of Ottolenghi food: a Friday Feast”

Plenty of Ottolenghi food: a Friday Feast

A vegetarian feast of four mushes from “Plenty”

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! Continue reading “A vegetarian feast of four mushes from “Plenty””

A vegetarian feast of four mushes from “Plenty”