New year, new start. For many, this is what the start of any new year symbolises; a time to detox, to nurture your soul with food that warms, nourishes & forgives. This year I want to do things differently. In short, I wanted to:
- eat less meat (and not miss it)
- explore non-dairy alternatives for milk
- continue to avoid processed food wherever possible
For me, there’s one chef & one cuisine that continues to inspire me to look at humble vegetables in a new light as well as keep my tastebuds happy with rich spice & real flavour: Yotam Ottolenghi & his focus on Middle Eastern cuisine.
I like to think I experiment in the kitchen. I don’t really meal-plan & most of my meals are made up on the spot. In fact, I generally only measure things to share the recipe in a more meaningful form, which is probably why I’m not great at baking. I bought Plenty (& Plenty More, see a later post!) with the aim of eating better – to be able to celebrate carrots, couscous & celeriac without feeling like I was missing the meat from the meal. I also didn’t want to go all ‘chickpea’ on people, if you know what I mean. The thing about this book is it’s wonderfully simple & accessible, a place to find polenta nestled next to pizza, tofu next to tomatoes & endless plates of savoury foods that include peaches, pears or dates that provid incredible depth.
I suppose I’m saying that, despite not actually being a vegetarian, using this book for a few days made me realise meat isn’t as important. I didn’t forget about it, I just wasn’t bothered about having it.
I can also see a broader pattern in his cooking too with some soba noodle & tempura dishes creeping in to the repertoire, which keeps things interesting.
There’s so many stand-out meals I’ve tried & so many still to try. So far, Celeriac with Lentils, Hazelnut & Mint, the Smoky Frittata and the Fried Butterbeans with Feta, Sorrel & Sumac were absolute winners. If you want to kickstart your cooking, you wouldn’t find a much easier way than with this book. The good news is that you can pick this book up for around £14 or so on Amazon as it’s not his newest, but the recipes will still be relevant. Try it.
Note for these book reviews:
Like many others, our shelves are groaning under the weight of cookbooks, some celebrity, some less well known. Of course, we have plenty of the Jamie, Heston and Hugh FW collections, but there’s also quite a few gems that have a lower profile, most undeservedly so. So we thought we’d share some of our favourites with you in the hope you’ll do the same and we’ll all be a little richer because of it. These are books chosen from our own collection, many which we’ve had for years, and only mentioned here because we love them! In case it helps, we’ve added a link to Amazon.co.uk so you can read other reviews and maybe see what offers they have on any that might take your fancy.