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"The stage is set for a new era of simple pleasure . . . The philosophy of serving food that is not industrialized is a joy to behold . . . [There is] beauty in the composition of salads and other dishes, integrity in the baking, seduction in the desserts, and the white noise of serene, convivial surroundings." Evening Standard
"Gorgeous, healthy recipes . . . a wonderful book." Sunday Times
"Ottolenghi is one of those places that has creatively redefined what we expect of eating out." Good Food Guide 2006
"They have a perfectly judged sense of what people actually feel like eating." Financial Times
"Britain's most eagerly awaited cookbook." Guardian
My admiration for this author/chef knows no limits. Really. I've been cooking out of Ottolenghi's "Plenty" cookbook for the past year or so at least twice a week and it's changed the family's eating habits and appreciation of good taste astronomically. So when this newly published cookbook (from the restaurant menu) was published in the U.S., I was interested. At the same time, I wondered how the newbie could improve and/or expand on the author's two previous (and terrific) books. I shouldn't have been the least bit skeptical. "Ottolenghi" is even better than its predecessors and chock-a-block full of great new food.
I come to this opinion from the perspective of someone who cooks almost exclusively vegetarian dishes. "Ottolenghi" is about two-thirds non-meat in content. Lots of terrific new vegetable entrees and sides, with the usual emphasis on freshness, herbs, nuts and Middle East/Mediterranean spices. What's really new in the author's approach in this cookbook is a generous section on desserts (most of them adaptations of classics) and many recipes for sauces that can be used with a lot of different entrees or as dips, spreads, etc.
I'm just getting started in using this new book--and in fact started with dessert! How does chocolate chestnut bar sound? A kind of exotic brownie, but richer and creamier than the traditional approach. Killer taste. The same chapter includes a fine recipe for a more traditional brownie, but clearly better, judging from the ingredients.
I'm a total fan of this guy and his books and have been giving them as gifts for the past year. I even gave one to a Moroccan friend who is a wonderful cook, but who became an instant admirer and regular user of Ottolengthi's "Plenty". So get the new one or at least one of the earlier books--it/they will change your life.
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I have so many cookbooks some might see it as ridiculous I buy yet another...but this one is really quite special. This book is very inspiring. Nice pictures, they really bring the dishes to life. However, it's the inventive, thoughtful combination of ingredients that just blow me away. Seriously, I just look at the picture of the green bean and pea dish and 20 other variations pop in my head. I am not a recipe follower too often, mostly I just read and then start chopping whatever is in the kitchen. I heartily recommend it even though I have barely read through 15 pages. The authors are VERY specific in their cooking directions in a really good way. They also like their veggies a bit on the crunchy side for our family's taste, but that is simple to change. I wish it was in paperback so it was easier to read in bed.
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I am a fan of Ottolenghi recipes. I follow their Guardian column 'The New Vegetarian'. I find their recipes fresh, modern, bright and fun. So far I have tried couple of eggplant recipes, pistachio cookies and baked okra. All came out great. Their recipes in Guardian-online are fun as well. Having said that, I wish they had serving suggestions in this book for recipes. It would also help to have some sample menus, specially for someone new to Mediterranean cooking. I live in US and as such the book is cumbersome to use because of metric system used throughout. I don't mind that much, but it would have been nice to include a conversion table somewhere. Hopefully, there will be a US edition soon, but I could not wait for it to come out. The book is beautifully laid out and the pictures are very tempting. Overall, I like the book a lot.
A long-time follower of his column in the Guardian, I am a huge fan of Ottolenghi's cooking, recipes and approach. Fresh ingredients, lusty flavors, colors and tastes that pop... every mouthful is like a sped-up trip around the Mediterranean. I ordered this cookbook from the UK when it first came out as I couldn't wait for a US version. I can figure out the conversion with some good kitchen gadgets, but I'd love to see a version that includes both US + UK measurements in the future. This has been my go-to cookbook for quite some time now and I have tested only about 25% of the recipes, as they all seem to be winners so I tend to go back to the same (delicious) ones over and over. (My faves: Harissa-marinated chicken w/grapefruit salad (unbelievably good!), chilled red pepper soup, seared duck breasts w/ blood orange sauce.) However, this weekend I finally tried a new recipe (mushroom/celery/wheat salad) and, once again, was thrilled with the results.
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I know Ottolenghi is the superstar right now, & this may be sacrilegious, but I found this book was way high on fluff and way short on substance- and recipes. The cover is even padded like a pillow. I'm not saying it's not a beautiful book, but double page spreads of someone's back w/ a cute braid, & lots & LOTS of artfully out-of-focus shots, also full page, of his restaurant don't a cookbook make. In fact, I think I found the whole thing so egotistical that it just plain annoyed me. Perhaps that's my problem with it. It's lovely to look at and hold and all that, so maybe it just wasn't the right book for me. I am an experienced cook, certainly not a slave to following recipes, but wanted to learn more about Middle Eastern based cooking, and less about his restaurant. The difficulty of finding some of these ingredients, even in a notably "foodie" city, is kind of silly, too. Is it because I'm in the states & he's in Europe? perhaps.
I have found Claudia Roden's New Book of Middle Eastern Food to be much better to work with- not as artistic, few pictures, but it has loads of recipes. Recipes? Oh, yes, those things.
As I said, it's pretty, but maybe just wasn't a fit for me. I have so many cookbooks, this didn't earn a permanent home on my shelves; I donated it to the thrift shop where I volunteer.