Customer Reviews: Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
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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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on August 2, 2010
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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on February 16, 2009
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.
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on March 26, 2012
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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on January 19, 2014
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.
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on December 5, 2013
While some of the ingredients and recipes are unique and interesting, of the 280 pages in this book 125 are dedicated to baking, pastry & desserts. Which would be fine, except I'm not looking to bake.
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on February 24, 2014
Not nearly as good as their other cookbook "Jerusalem". Also it felt repetitive. They only slightly changed some recipes that are in "Jerusalem".
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on February 11, 2012
Really excellent cookbook, with clear instructions, beautiful photos, and very different food - It's a mediterranean mix of different cultures merged together. The vegetables recipes are excellent - i mention this because i don't usually make a lot of salads and vegetable dishes, but these recipes really make them interesting and delicious. The breads recipes are great too. The focaccia was the best i have ever made.
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on January 2, 2014
I bought Ottolenghi's book "PLENTY" about a year ago and loved it! Once I started cooking with these easily made, fresh veggie, scrumptiously spiced recipes I was hooked! My friends were full every time they came over and my "Mange's" cooking group were VERY impressed. I immediately wanted this cookbook too - but alas I had to wait S I G H. Then along comes YULE!!!! OK Amazon gift list!
Oh what a fun read. The introduction is full of information about the authors and gives the reader a comfortable sense of 'being there'. Hey! you know these guys! C'mon in sit and lets eat! They give 5 pages of descriptions of their favorite spices and ingredients and how/where to find them. Down to earth and clear just what everybody appreciates. No snooty I-can-get-it-and-you-can't-writing.
I began to read the recipes and they were EVERYTHING I expected from Ottolenghi! Tasty, easy to make very rich in description, good instructions. I like the little stories accompanying many recipes. You feel like you're sitting with them at a table in the kitchen. Nice!. I REALLY am going to eat my way through this book.
Having said all those nice things I have a few bones to pick with this cookbook (cuz that's all that will be left after I eat) :
Much as I am truly enjoying the recipes, I am disappointed in the manufacture of the book itself. The "PLENTY" book is made with a thicker and cushioned (Vinyl?) cover, it gives the book an easy grab, can be wiped, and is less likely to suffer from damage. This one has a paper cover (like many books) and underneath there is a thinly coated regular thickness book binding. Gonna get scratched and beat up in no time. My "PLENTY" book is still fine.
As companionable as the language is in the introductory page is its written in in RED INK!! or white on RED paper and very difficult to read. You wonder if your eyes are sore after a few pages - what they hey? BLACK may be boring sweetie but it has worked since Gutenberg. RED?!? I felt like using eye drops....
The book has many beautiful photos, I was hungry every moment during my read and YES! its a good read! But they are not placed well. When you look at a photo you don't always know which recipe you are looking at, sometimes they list them but they are 'artistically placed'. A great many photos are of people and cute kids - skip the kids and show me the food please. I have been forced to write in the page numbers (i.e. photo on page 15 etc.) so I can relate the recipe to the photo. The "PLENTY" book has a photo with almost every recipe so you know what you are looking at and how it is supposed to look at the end - helpful if you are new to this sort of cooking. "I'm sorry dear but I really don't have the time to go to the index when my hands are covered in goo so I can see if this is REALLY what this is supposed to look like."
The recipes are written in metric. Now don't get me wrong - I have a great deal of measuring equipment and can do just fine, BUT if I want to get my Texan sister in law to eat this she's gonna need good ole cups and such. "PLENTY" has been 'translated' into the 'English" system. SO much easier! Now I know I sound spoiled - well hell yeah! "PLENTY" is pretty much what I would like every cookbook to be.
In the final analysis - I'll be just as full, just as happy and just as knowledgeable about this style of cooking with or without the 'proper' book and non-red ink. I'm gonna have a helluva time cooking and eating up a storm with this cookbook and I am VERY glad my sweet hubbie bought it for me. Good eating everyone!
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on December 17, 2009
I learned about this ccokbook from a friend who had lived in London for several years. I was enchanted by the stories of the two owners. And then I started to read the recipes. The ingredients and combination of flavors sounded amazing! So I borrowed the cook book, made fennel gratin, cauliflower fritters with lime yogurt dipping sauce and honey cilantro lamb chops. Every recipe produced delicious food! Needless-to-say I quickly purchased my own copy and look forward to cooking my way through the rest of the book.
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