“Oven Chips with Oregano and Feta” from “Ottolenghi Simple”

This is absolute genius. As a lover and aficionado of cheese fries in any form, I’m flummoxed as to why it never occurred to me to have feta cheese fries. I’m here to tell you they are delicious, incredible, and yes, simple.

But “simple” is a relative term. Would you define simple as cutting potatoes to form your own chips? If you answered no, then this wouldn’t be simple for you. But given that I’d done exactly this task once before and had a good handle on how to do it efficiently, it was not hard at all for me, but I could see how others would think it wasn’t worth the hassle.

However, the payoff for going to the trouble of cutting your own chips was huge. They were fresh and, in a weird way, light. I say weird because you toss them twice in different oil, first sunflower and then olive oil with garlic, but because they were fresh potatoes they weren’t as claggy as frozen chips usually are.

Undoubtedly the  pièce de résistance was the addition of the feta cheese. Yum. Will we be having this again? What do you think?

Kudos, Ottolenghi, kudos.

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“Oven Chips with Oregano and Feta” from “Ottolenghi Simple”

“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.

“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

“Root Vegetable Pies” from “Plenty More”

IMG_6508Beautiful pie, right? I like to think so. It tastes even better than it looks.

The problem is I can’t look at this picture without thinking about the THREE HOURS, that’s right THREE HOURS [and yes, I am shouting] that it took to make them from start to finish.

In those three hours, I could have made six 30 minute meals from Jamie. I kid. Anyone who’s read this blog knows that we completed none of the 30 minute meals in 30 minutes, let alone cleaned up from them, so that’s an exaggeration. But still. Three hours is a long time to prepare one dish. I’ve done a three-course meal for eight people in less time than that.

I’m not sure what my problem was, or if that’s just how long it takes to make a decent pie. It’s a good thing I had set aside some time to make them, though as it was we didn’t sit down for dinner until 8 p.m.

I started at 5 p.m. to make the pastry, which was easy enough as you do it in the food processor. To be fair, I did get a call that took 15 minutes at 5.45 p.m. while I was chopping up the vegetables, so that set me back a bit. But it takes time to peel and chop (in uniform sizes no less) all of these root vegetables. It also took time to roll out and then cut the pie pastry (not to mention finding a pot top that was 14 cm in diameter, and another that was 8 cm in diameter.)

Don’t get me wrong. The pies were delicious. Good meals take time, attention and love. It’s just the next time I hope it’s quicker.

Believe it or not, and frankly I think this is a miracle, Ottolenghi made these very pies in an 8 minute segment on This Morning on ITV. He says it’s perfect for “Monday night cooking,” which I would agree, provided you have three hours to do it. To be fair, he had all the chopping and making done ahead of time. Television magic and all that. But he’s still incredibly charming, so you should watch for that.  You can either watch the clip, or read the recipe, which is also provided on the website. Click through to see it.

 

“Root Vegetable Pies” from “Plenty More”

“Baked Orzo with Mozzarella and Oregano” from “Plenty More”

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We are big fans of orzo. We are big fans of pasta bake. I figured putting them together would mean I’d have an automatic hit on my hands. Unfortunately, it didn’t really work out that way.

To be fair, the family was divided: the adults liked it, the boys were ambivalent about it.

While it wasn’t at all like the baked ziti we love– there wasn’t enough tomato sauce– I still thought the unusual addition of aubergine, carrots and celery made it interesting.

The boys on the other hand, we’re willing to give it the benefit of the doubt. The verdict from both of them was “Meh.”

Would I make it again? Unlikely, given the mixed reception.

If you would like to make this yourself, click through this link to find the recipe in The Guardian, where it originally appeared.

 

“Baked Orzo with Mozzarella and Oregano” from “Plenty More”

“Mixed Vegetables and Yoghurt with Green Chilli Oil” from “Plenty More”

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This is a delightful dish.

Is it a bit of a faff? Of course it is. Consider the source. But is it worth the effort? Absolutely.

To be fair, it is not the healthiest of dishes, with all the deep frying of the vegetables, which were aubergines, courgettes and red peppers. But perhaps this is why it was so delicious. Deep frying makes EVERYTHING better. Even Mars bars (especially when buried under a mountain of ice cream. But I digress.)

The minty yogurt and chilli and herb oil over the top elevated it to a new level of deliciousness.

Just writing about this again is making my mouth water. When I discovered at the end of the meal there was tiny bit left over, I can’t tell you how happy I was thinking about what my lunch the next day was going to be.

Yum. Highly recommended.

If you would like to make this yourself, and I strongly recommend that you do, find the recipe in The Guardian by clicking through this link.

“Mixed Vegetables and Yoghurt with Green Chilli Oil” from “Plenty More”