Great recipes for encouraging home cooks to be creative and experiment
Yotam Ottolenghi is an Israeli-born award-winning chef and author with this book being the first in a series to be based around his test kitchen. Co-author Noor Murad, who hails from Bahrain, heads up the test kitchen with six other multi-talented and multi-cultural contributors. The authors’ backgrounds and current food trends have both contributed to an emphasis on Middle Eastern dishes and ingredients.
Long COVID-19 lockdowns in the UK resulted in people becoming more interested in cooking at home and using what is on hand to avoid having to go out shopping. The premise behind the book is to show home cooks how they can prepare a flavourful mid-week dinner with ingredients from the pantry or the freezer, along with some veggies and/or meat. The test kitchen created recipes where substitutions are encouraged, along the lines of a “this for that” ethos. As the book states on page 9, “… in this new world, the need to improvise, to roll with the punches, is more crucial than ever before.”
The book has a stiff cover and lovely glossy paper, which I hope will wipe clean. Unusually, it begins with a fold out index of ingredients so if you happen to have some chicken in the freezer, or chickpeas in the pantry, you will find four and seven recipes, respectively, for these items. Each chapter explores new ways to use familiar ingredients and encourages readers to experiment with what they have at home—beginning with things one might find at the back of a pantry shelf, then what vegetables to stock up on, and using your freezer to your advantage.
ONE-PAN CRISPY SPAGHETTI AND CHICKEN (PAGE 122)
The only change I made was less garlic. The recipe is clearly set out on the left hand page with two photographs showing the finished dish and the pasta being added to the pan on the right. It’s a terrific one-pan dish, cooked in the oven after browning the chicken thighs and onions. This method of cooking the spaghetti results in two textures for the pasta, crisp at the margins and al dente in the centre, which is a great contrast. However, the finishing touch of a grilled parmesan, breadcrumb and herb topping left the dish very dry. Next time I would either add more water for the pasta or cut down on the breadcrumbs to preserve more liquid.
5-A-DAY TOAD IN THE HOLE (PAGE 106)
This was a brave choice for me as, I am ashamed to say as a Yorkshire woman, I have yet to get a Yorkshire pudding to rise. This recipe calls for the five servings of vegetables we are all supposed to eat each day roasted in oil, tomato paste, maple syrup and herbs. Like all the recipes, home cooks are encouraged to use what they have and substitute other veggies. I did not make the mushroom gravy from the recipe as our family prefers onion gravy. I followed the batter recipe to the letter and left the baking tin in the oven long enough for the oil to be smoking hot before adding the batter and the vegetables. Although the pudding did not rise as well as my Mom’s always did, it was undoubtedly the best toad in the hole I have ever made. I have since cooked it with chicken and spinach sausages alongside the vegetables and it was just as tasty.
Reviewed by Jan Kershaw
This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.
Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Released: September 2021