664 of 683 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars St Otto of Lenghi , we love you.
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...
Published on 5 May 2008 by victoria sponge
46 of 56 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A bit underwhelming
I got this cookbook based on recommendations of friends, and the reviews here. I love cooking, and I really enjoy cooking challenging recipes with complex flavours. Looking through the book the recipes looked great, but for each of them that I have made I've found them a bit disappointing really and could be improved by a few creative alterations to the recipe. The...
Published on 4 Jan 2011 by redclock
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664 of 683 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars St Otto of Lenghi , we love you.,
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!
138 of 147 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best cookery book for 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.
137 of 146 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If you only buy one cookbook this year....,
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!
46 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars By The Gods - The Humble Cauliflower Transformed,
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.
18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars genuinely excellent recipes,
This is a superb book. The recipes are innovative, carefully thought out, nutritious and delicious. The majority of the ingredients are readily available, and the recipes are mostly simple and straightforward to follow.
Additionally, the book is beautifully produced, and good value for money. Even if you already cook a lot of mediterranean food, this is still well worth buying, as the authors come up with combinations of ingredients that you'd never think of yourself. Highly recommended.
33 of 37 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely the best,
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.
82 of 93 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best cookery books in years,
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!
57 of 65 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars My cookbook of the year,
Flavour, flavour, flavour those are the three words I'd use to describe the food produced by Ottolenghi and Tamimi in their two London establishments, and they certainly deliver that in this book which contains much of the food they routinely serve. The recipes, are so clear and well-written that it is easy to replicate the amazing tastes that are their hall-mark. I've only had the book for ten days but have already made four of the dishes, every one a winner. I have also had to fight off my daughter who thought she might take the book away to Cambridge with her - buy your own copy say I!
47 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Imaginative and Divine,
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.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Ottolenghi's cookbook,
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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Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Sami Tamimi