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332
4.7 out of 5 stars
Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
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690 of 709 people found the following review helpful
on 5 May 2008
Moro, Jamie, Diana (Henry) ... I've bought all those books this year, excitedly scanning through them and bookmarking the pages of lots of yummy looking recipes to try. But how many have I actually got round to trying? Probably one or two recipes per book. They inspire, excite and suggest other ideas, but as for slavishly following the recipe, nah - you can kind of work it out for yourself.

But St Otto is different - every meal we've eaten this week has been a revealing and faithful recreation of his great works on the streets of London. Admittedly I was already a convert. Ever since his huge, puffy piles of meringues beckoned me into the tiny Notting Hill shop about 4 years ago, I have been hooked. St Otto takes simple, everyday ingredients you use all the time at home - broccoli, chilli, garlic and olive oil, for example - and somehow transforms them into something magical that tastes so much more than everyday. You come out of their shops thinking 'How did they do that? How did they make that aubergine taste so smoky? Why don't my mushrooms taste like that when I fry them in olive oil? Why is their lemon and pistachio cake so squidgy?

Well, the cookbook generously reveals all. Garlic and lemon are likely to be involved (they start by saying that if you don't like lemon or garlic, you should skip to the end) - but there are no weird secrets underpinning the Ottolenghi magic. No intricate labours of love. This is easy to prepare food that is perfect for relaxed meals with big groups of friends.

They just have an extraordinary understanding of which flavours and ingredients work well together and how to combine them in just the right amounts (usually more generous than you are used to) to create something that piques your interest as well as your tastebuds. You can spot that they lived an interesting life as journalists and philosophers before following their love of food, as the book is a joy to read, with a style that is as warm and relaxed as the food itself. These are people you want to come and sit down at the table and share the food with you.

If you like modern, light and singingly fresh food that draws on the best of the Middle Eastern side of the Mediterranean, this is the book for you. If you think you already know how to knock up easy meals like roast turkey breast, couscous salad and french beans with hazelnuts without needing to invest in a cookery book, thank you very much, then it's even more imperative that you buy this book as it will lift both your everyday meals or cooking for friends to new heights. As for me, I'm off to check the price of Kenwood Chefs so I can recreate the joy of their meringues or brioche in my own home too. Praise be!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 11 May 2013
There are some great positive reviews of this book that are detailed and informative. I bought this book at least a year ago without reviewing it. Having tried several recipes, I've come back to review it briefly. I enjoy cooking but consider a meal incomplete without meat or dish as the principal flavour. Wanting to broaden my repertoire and provide some really alternative options for preparing vegetables (particularly those I don't usually include in my typical grocery list) I turned to this book. I go to it every time I want to add something interesting for my guests or when I'm producing something for a pot luck party. What this book compels you to do is combine flavours you wouldn't think to put together. The best thing about this book for me is that the ingredients are generally available from the big four supermarkets. An occasional trip to a speciality store is sometimes called for, but I don't begrudge going out of my way for the result.

I always thought I hated beetroot, but stunning images of roast red and golden beetroot salad changed my mind. This salad is sweet and refreshing. I love beetroot!
Who knew I liked Jerusalem artichoke until I bought it having seen a simple soup recipe for this. Figs with pecorino and honey is sublime. I've never ventured towards a fig in my life, until I picked up this book.

The fact is that the recipes are generally simple, no great culinary skill is required ,just the best (preferably seasonal) ingredients and perhaps some beautiful crockery for displaying your creations. Most of the recipes are carefully detailed in 6 steps or less. Where there is photography as you would expect, the dishes look amazing. What's great is that you have some shots of dishes as they are displayed in their London restaurant, stacked beautifully on large, brightly coloured platters irresistibly salivating the palette. If you can recreate this for your guest you won't go wrong. The best discovery is that I really like foods I've never liked the look of and changed my view that meat is the carrier for lifting bland vegetables.

Since buying this book, there have been two further publications by Ottenlenghi and an interesting tv series. I intend to work my way through the recipes here (meat and fish included in this cookbook) then treat myself to further delights in due course.
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152 of 161 people found the following review helpful
on 26 February 2009
As an avid buyer of cookery books, most of them are read without any food being cooked as a result, I want to recommend this book to anyone who wants to actually cook dishes.
The authors describe the recipes as inventive yet simple and that is exactly the case. Their dishes taste great, look appealing and with lowish effort from the cook. The instructions are absolutely clear and hints for ways of serving are given.
I am vegetarian and found loads of recipes I have and will try.
A great present for any cook, but read it yourself before you give it away.
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146 of 156 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon 18 July 2008
buy this one! I have to admit, I don't live in London so I had no idea that Ottolenghi was even a shop - I thought it was a restaurant :-) I bought it purely on the strength of the other reviews.

It wasn't a bad decision! The book is visually stunning, with enough recipes to keep you going all year - I am always envious of people who can take something completely mundane (like broccoli) and turn it into a showstopper just by adding some garlic and chilli. Genius.

If you like cooking with ingredients such as bulghur wheat, sultanas, pomegranate, this is probably the book for you. But is also full of recipes for cakes, muffins and meringues. Buy, cook and enjoy!
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50 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on 4 September 2008
as i write this i have a freshly cooked bowl of the cauliflower and cumin fritters (to be found on page 50) gently steaming at my side. i can tell you it is delightful.
when i saw this recipe i knew i wanted to try it. so looking in the depleted fridge i came across most of the ingredients and set to. i had no fresh parsley so used dried and no shallots so used a small cooking onion. the results were sublime and can't wait to try it with the proper ingredients.
and the rest of the book? well that will be tomorrows handy work. thankyou ottolenghi for returning my enthusiasm for cooking back to me. a cherished book already.
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34 of 38 people found the following review helpful
on 26 July 2008
Great recipes that work! not only excellent bed-time reading but a full on working cook book that no kitchen should be without.Clear, exciting recipes, great flavour combinations, easy to read and the photography is simply fantastic. Buy for your family and friends, they will love you forever.
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83 of 94 people found the following review helpful
on 19 May 2008
I'm a big fan of Ottolenghi, having eaten there a few times. I was really looking forward to this book and it didn't disappoint. There's a fresh take on everything and even though some recipes (french beans, mangetout in a hazelnut and orange dressing) are little more than assembly jobs, they're great for inspirations. I love the layout, the recipes, everything. Buy it!
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49 of 56 people found the following review helpful
I purchased Ottolenghi on the recommendation of Nigel Slater, who I consider a practical chef that has taught me a great deal about simplicity on food through his books. At a first glance it would be very easy to dismiss this book as one for the pro's and those who really want to impress at dinner parties, and in truth it is, but if you look a little deeper there are many simple practical recipes that will become part of your standard fayre.

The recipes for savoury dishes are inspired and I have already started experimenting with Tahini following on from the ideas in this book.

The vegetable dishes are good enough that even a confirmed omnivore such as myself does not miss meat when cooking them. They are also the perfect match for the meat and fish dishes detailed. It goes without saying that some of the salad recipes will not scale down well for single cooks (unless you have a grocer that can provide about 15g of each ingredient), but the other areas of the book more than make up for it and this is unlikely to be an issue for most people.

The section on baking and patisserie (chapter 3) is my personal favourite with a wide selection of breads, biscuits, tarts and cakes that put most other volumes to shame. Everything I have tried in this section has worked perfectly; I'm using a budget oven in a normal kitchen and easily managing to bake breads and cakes which far surpass any available locally. I would happily have paid the money for this section alone so everything else in the book is a bonus.

As an aside anyone disappointed with the desserts in the Nigel Slater books (they are nice but I struggle to consider fruit with different sauces a real dessert) should definitely consider this volume as an accompaniment.

The book is however not perfect.

The lost star was not however for the quality of the recipes but issues with the layout, occasional spelling errors and using a phrase to the effect of "Available in most supermarkets". The latter being the greater crime to me though perhaps forgiveable given they are based in Notting Hill... anyhow here are the 4 main offenders:

Endive - A form of Chicory, though normal chicory does seem to work well in the recipe

Labneh - A cheese made with Greek yogurt, takes about 3 days to do it at home.

Mograbiah - This ingredient does not currently have an entry on Wikipedia (16-05-09), and is not available at Tescos, Waitrose, Asda or Morrisons... and only precooked as part of a meal in Sainsbury's. Apparently it is a form of round couscous but I have been unable to find it anywhere in Reading (even the few specialist shops we have here).

Fregola - Semolina Dough rolled into little balls 2-3mm and toasted in an oven (good luck finding it for sale).

I think you will definitely need to find a specialist to get most of these items, though Mograbiah is apparently about to become a celebrity ingredient so it may appear in the supermarkets soon.

The layout of the book will not be to everyone's taste, those with red spectrum visual issues will have difficulties with the opening chapters of the book while those with dyslexia may struggle with lack of spacing between recipe instructions. It would also have been nice if the descriptions of specialist ingredients at the start of the book were in alphabetical order for easy reference later.

Verdict: 4.45 Stars - Buy it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 11 September 2009
I was introduced to this cookbook by a friend who brought a cake she baked from his book to my house. I'm not a cake/desert person but this cake was enought to convert me. it was the apple and olive cake, covered in a maple icing. i can honestly say it's the best cake I have ever eaten - moist, tasty and light. Having looked through the book that my friend showed me later i was struck by how many recipes i thought I could use - not something that happens often with cookery books. if you like eastern food and want something with a bit of a western twist, recipes that are unusual but not fiddly or time consuming then this is the book for you.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 4 February 2009
At great recipe book if you are hoping to make restaurant quality delicious food at home with interesting but quite easy to source ingredients. Especially good for impressive healthy salads, and vegetarian food that is a bit special. For an occasion choose several dishes (as they do the wonderful Ottolenghi restaurant) but for normal meals just one or two with your normal favorite dishes. If you like the Tessa Kiros cook books (Falling Cloudberries is our favorite if you haven't come across her yet), and Moro books this is a must. The beautiful photography and design is a bonus, and makes the book a great gift. Highly recommended!
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