Caramelized hazelnuts for my "Sweet Winter Slaw"
This past weekend, we held our 3rd potluck for our book club. This time we selected the cookbook – Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes From London’s Ottolenghi by Yotam Ottolenghi.
Quinoa salad with lime prepared by Angela
I received a copy of this cookbook for my birthday last year and it has easily become one of my go-to cookbooks. I’ve made a number of dishes out of it and when company is coming it is the first cookbook I pull off my shelves to plan with. The quality the recipes produce are consistently delicious and pretty.
The day of the potluck all the dishes were amazing. While there were minor complaints about the clarity of the cookbook there were no disasters and very few people needed to adjust their recipes. My friend Sarah who hosted, set up her dining room so it was like a big buffet table and her home was a welcoming place to share a meal. The group not only talked about food, but also about family, travel, and summer plans. We also discussed the new gourmet doughnut shop, Suzy Q, that just opened in Hintonburg. The feeling of community is one of the great things about being together and sharing a meal like this.
How did the cookbook fare in our conversation? Overall, everyone seemed to like this cookbook. Some people even mentioned buying a copy if they didn’t already have one. Below I break down some of my likes and dislikes:
Stuffed peppers prepared by Anna (from Ottolenghi's recipes on the Guardian's website)
What I liked about this cookbook:
- Great flavour combinations – if I was cooking for someone who was not a vegetarian I could use pretty much any recipe in this cookbook to impress them. Also, as someone who has been cooking vegetarian for many years I’ve seen a lot of standard flavour combinations: white beans and kale, mozzarella and tomato, etc). Ottolenghi adds something strange to these standard flavours and the recipes end up working in his favour.
- Home-cooked versions of the recipes actually look like the photos in the cookbook!
- The recipes are organized by vegetable which is really handy if you do your shopping at a farmers market and pick up random beautiful vegetables intending to improve with them!
Roasted cauliflower gigli with pine nuts and currants prepared by Katrina
What I disliked:
- This cookbook is written for someone who really knows their way around a kitchen. While the instructions are well written they could be a little more detailed. A novice cook might become overwhelmed or worse yet start a kitchen fire with Ottolenghi’s instructions on how to caramelize. Ottolenghi admits in one of his headnotes that he forgot an important step in one of his recipes that appeared in the Guardian. He forgot to write that you need to stab an eggplant with a fork before roasting it to let the steam out. He received many complaints from people who had eggplants explode in their oven! That being said, with the recipes I’ve made so far out of the cookbook I’ve been okay.
- My friend, Angela said this cookbook should be called “Plenty of Time” because the recipes take a long time to prepare. Also, the recipes do not include an estimated time to prepare which is pretty standard in a lot of cookbooks now. It’s true without a sous-chef the recipes will take some time to prepare but it just means I wouldn’t use this cookbook for a weeknight.
- Many of the recipes will not make a whole meal and there are not a lot of menu suggestions. So, you need plan your menu wisely.
Highly recommended to buy!
Surprise tatin prepared by Cara
Title: Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes From London’s Ottolenghi
Authors: Yotam Ottolenghi
Publisher: Chronicle Books; Reprint edition (Mar 9 2011)
Posted in Cookbook review | Tagged Cookbook book club |
This past weekend some of my friends from undergrad made the trek from Guelph and Toronto to visit us here in Ottawa. When friends come to visit I love showing off our best local venues for food and drink. This time we had amazing meals at both Chez Lucien and The Manx. We picked up some seasonal beers from Beau’s to enjoy and luckily for us on Friday night Chez Lucien had Kichesippi’s 1855 on tap.
1855 is easily one of my favourite local beers. I usually don’t drink dark beer but the 1855 is more amber than dark and I find it very easy to drink and refreshing. It pairs well with most foods because the taste is not overly complex and the after-taste is slightly bitter but pleasant. I paired my pint with the vegetarian chilli and some sweet music from the jukebox. A great meal, a nice beer and some good conversation with friends was the perfect way to spend the early evening waiting out the snow-storm.
Originally, when my friends first booked their trip to Ottawa we had planned to spend one day skating on the canal. Since the weather didn’t work out in our favour we needed something to do on Saturday. Friday we had spent some time at the National Gallery and we wanted to do something else inside that was not a museum. As we were planning all the possibilities I happened on the Kichesippi website. Kichesippi offers tours on Saturdays – and as an added bonus for someone who does not have a car – it is within walking/busing distance from the Wellington West area!
Our tour guide was awesome – she was super friendly and answered all my random questions about mashing, fermentation, and carbonating beer.
Cooler where they store the delicious kegs of beer
Beer is constantly brewing here – it only takes 15 days to condition/age a batch of the Natural Blonde but the demand for this brew is growing all the time. This micro-brewery will need to get some bigger digs soon enough!
Where they add the yeast and age/condition the beer
It was really nice to hear what a strong emphasis Kichesippi places on connecting with the local community. Local farmers feed the leftover grains to cows, local musicians cook with it, and they always seem to be available at fun music events here in the City.
One exciting thing we learned during the tour is that Kichesippi will be selling their Natural blonde pale ale in 6 packs at local LCBOs (see details here)!
(Also as a side note if you have a chance go see the clock piece at the national Gallery – it is mesmerizing!)
Posted in Ottawa | 1 Comment »
Last weekend I went to a small and intimate cookie exchange hosted by my friend and fellow blogger Cara of the Polka Dot Apron. For my contribution I made: Snowball cookies and Vegan chocolate covered cookie dough. I liked both but not as much as the other cookies at the exchange. While the snowball cookies were tasty I think they would have benefited from some coconut added to the mix. And, the chocolate covered cookie dough was overly rich for my taste. But that being said, I think I will make them again – maybe with peanut butter cookie dough next time. As a side note, these recipes called for coconut oil. I saw some at Herb and Spice the week before but refused to pay the price they were charging. When I settled on making these cookies I changed my mind and decided to suck it up. But when I returned to Herb and Spice they were sold out! Luckily for me, the Natural Food Pantry in Westboro had some. Even more lucky for me it was on sale! Long story short: if you are looking for coconut oil, the natural food pantry is the place to go.
Posted in Links, Ottawa |
Photo by Isox4 on flickr
It seems like everyone in my office is sick this week. While many of my co-workers seem to be suffering from flu-like symptoms I have a nasty cold. I hate being sick. Yes, it gives me an opportunity to re-watch Veronica Mars and sleep an extraordinary amount, but it also comes with a constant dripping nose, aches, and tiredness that are not pleasant. So, when I am sick I make this juice, which has become my go-to natural remedy that I pair with lots of dark leafy greens. I love this recipe because it makes me feel better every time but I have to warn you that it is not a recipe that you make friends with – it contains one clove of raw pressed garlic. For some reason, Mike is never sick when I am sick and he groans whenever I make this juice. I guess when your nose is not plugged up the smell of raw garlic is pretty strong.
This recipe is adapted from Rebar’s liver quiver juice recipe. And as a super plus, it is easy to make when you have no energy.
- 1 grapefruit
- 1 lemon
- 1-3 oranges (or orange juice) *to taste
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 pinch cayenne pepper
Juice the grapefruit, lemon and oranges. Strain out the pulp (or leave it in) and combine the juices in a glass. Crush one clove of garlic in a garlic press and then combine with the juice. Add a pinch of cayenne pepper.
It is best to drink this fast in big gulps then get back to the couch. That first season of Veronica Mars is not going to re-watch itself.
Posted in Recipe, Vegan | Tagged Garlic, Grapefruits, Lemons, Oranges | 1 Comment »
Today I’m going to bake this delicious looking Peanut butter banana bread from Joy the baker.
Then I am going to make one of my favourite soups with a twist – Green soup with ginger! This is a recipe from Love Soup. A go-to cookbook in January especially after the week we have experienced here in Ottawa. Today, it is -10 and it feels warm! Anna Thomas explains her process for making the soup here.
Also, if you are looking for something to do tomorrow night this looks interesting. The Ottawa Public Library (Main branch) is hosting the authors of All the Dirt: Reflections on Organic Farming. They are talking about the book and their experiences farming organically in BC. Check out their company website and if you have time check them out at OPL.
Posted in Ottawa |