“Za’atar & Goats’ Cheese Puffs” from “Sirocco”


This is an absolutely genius recipe. It’s the perfect thing to make for when you’re having people around. It couldn’t be easier, it looks impressive and it is delicious.

I made this when we had some neighbours around for a summer night in the garden. All you need to do is unroll a puff-pastry sheet, brush it with olive oil, sprinkle za’atar over it, and then break up the goats’ cheese and sprinkle that on the top. Roll up the puff pastry sheet, and then cut it into rounds. Bake it in an oven at 220C for 15 minutes. You won’t be able to resist eating these immediately. We couldn’t, anyway.

This one was absolutely a winner. I’ve made them since, and we all love them. This definitely was a huge success.


“Za’atar & Goats’ Cheese Puffs” from “Sirocco”

“Citrus and Za’atar Chicken” from “Sirocco”


Kirstin: I knew I wanted to make this recipe as soon I opened the book.

Tom: Why’s that then?

Kirstin: I’ve never made anything with za’atar before, even though I have the spice in my cupboard. So I’ve been curious about it for a while.

Tom: And what do you think of this recipe?

Kirstin: I love the flavourings. But the chicken is a little dry.

Tom: I love the little accompaniments you’ve made here too which make it less dry. So what are in these bowls?

Kirstin: One has harissa in it. The other is greek yoghurt with some minced garlic and salt. They do work well with it, don’t they?

Tom: I love harissa.

Kirstin: Ha! I know you too well.

“Citrus and Za’atar Chicken” from “Sirocco”

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


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”

“Za’atar Chicken with Fattoush” from “Forever Summer”

Anna: More chicken tonight, but without the French accent as I’m back in London.  Instead we’re working a Middle Eastern vibe.  Za’atar is a mixture of dried thyme, sumac and sesame seeds.  It looks a bit like the stuff you might sweep up from your garden patio but tastes very nice.  It gives a real fragrant earthiness.  It’s pretty hard to get hold of — I found this jar in a mad food collective in Elephant and Castle that Katrin took me to.  What did you think of the za’atar?

Peter: It tasted very Middle Eastern. 

Anna: Why?

Peter: Because of the sesame seeds.  And with the salad it reminded me a bit of the Zuni salad.  Chicken, bread and salad.  Though obviously not Californian.  The whole thing was really summery.  It would probably work stuffed in a pita bread.

Anna: But it’s got pita bread in it.

Peter: Yes, but if it didn’t you could turn it into a Middle Eastern snack-on-the-fly.

Anna: The best thing about this recipe is that it’s easy.  In fact, everything so far in this book has been easy, or maybe I’m still comparing to Faff-Olenghi.  Hurrah for Nigella!  Another success.  Avec le poulet.

“Za’atar Chicken with Fattoush” from “Forever Summer”