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Ottolenghi SIMPLE Hardcover – January 1, 2018
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- ISBN-10 : 9781785031168
- ISBN-13 : 978-1785031168
- Dimensions : 8.03 x 1.18 x 10.91 inches
- Publisher : Ebury Press (January 1, 2018)
- Item Weight : 3.04 pounds
- Language: : English
- ASIN : 1785031163
Best Sellers Rank:
#111,402 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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UPDATE December 2018: Check the equivalents/conversions as you study ingredient lists. Some conversions are incorrect in this first edition. If you are an experienced cook or baker, I believe that you will catch these mistakes--and I am not going to change my 5-star rating. But, be careful! And a plea to the publishers: Please edit this product page --in a prominent way--when the corrections have been made, so that people feel at ease with buying this book. It would be a shame for this book to fall short--just because conversions are screwed up!
What is this book about? And how do these "simple" methods work? The “modus operandi”, or MO, goes somewhat like this: And it’s SIMPLE: (Please stay with me, as I work the way through these letters. The next paragraph gets to be long-ish.) Because these concepts drive the book, if you don’t care for or believe in these six methods, then maybe you won’t appreciate this cook book. On the other hand, if you currently think that you don't need to learn these S-I-M-P-L-E MOs, then maybe you are the perfect "target" for this book! Can I convince you to buy this book? These S-I-M-P-L-E cooking principles are important to accept, to grasp, and to own.
If you are a somewhat experienced home cook with the ability to manipulate recipes, you’ve probably already tinkered with some from Ottolenghi’s previous publications and made them your own. So, you have already practiced SIMPLE and you beat Ottolenghi to the punch in a way, creating your own SIMPLE recipes, using the following techniques: Maybe you created a riff that does not take too long, (S = short on time). And you streamlined some ingredient lists, (I = ten ingredients or less). And I bet you’ve broken apart some recipe steps, so that you could do some in advance, (M = make ahead). For sure, if you’ve cooked from Ottolenghi’s recipes before, you’ve built up your pantry to come up with a quick (pantry-led) dish when you don’t have extra time to shop, (P = pantry). And you have developed some steps to keep your hands and mind free to do other things, such as slow cooking, marinating ahead, building an entire meal in one pot or one sheet pan, ( L = lazy cooking). And last but not least, you know those techniques and recipes that you’ve mastered—and therefore embraced as being E = easy: Where you say to yourself, “Oh, I can do that, no problem!” Well, in this book Ottolenghi encourages us to try some recipes that might seem intimidating in some way, but, as he puts it, “are easier than you think.”
Where some cookbooks falsely claim to be “easy”, or “week night” cooking, most of the recipes in this book actually are. Just get thoughtful about the concepts and just don’t balk! Grasp these concepts or methods and fine tune your planning skills. You will be a better--and more creative--cook for it.
On to contents: Veggies are overwhelmingly in the forefront—in their own chapters, Raw Veg and Cooked Veg—but also throughout all the other chapters. (Except the Dessert chapter, which is, of course, led by fruit.) I remember writing in my review of one of his other books, and it continues to be a fair warning for this one: If you do not have opportunities to find fresh herbs, you cannot substitute dry herbs and get proper results. I didn’t really check to see if I could say that every recipe uses fresh herbs, but I believe it is safe to say that most recipes require fresh herbs. Once one buys an Ottolenghi cook book, if you have a yard, you will be incorporating herb plants into your flower beds…..
And you will need to buy quality spices, too, if you want these recipes to excite and astound you. There is a huge difference between the taste of grocery store shelf and bulk bin spices and what you get from an experienced spice merchant. The quality of the spices you use can make or break these recipes. Do an internet search of spice houses to find one that appeals to you. For an example, take in the scent and taste of cumin from an established and experienced spice merchant and compare it with what you last bought at the grocery store. You will be amazed at the difference.
The veggie dishes are fabulous! The day this book arrived in the mail, I was able to whip together a handful of veggie dishes—just with what I already had on my shelves and in the frig. See? SIMPLE. A tomato and cucumber raita uses a green chile paste with preserved lemon. Another tomato/bread salad mixes in anchovies and capers. I had just bought three bags of Moon Drop grapes. They are a long cylinder shape and so sweet. And I had all the ingredients for a marinade for the grapes that were then skewered and grilled. I had ingredients at hand for a green onion and herb salad, with cukes, bell pepper, mint, and cilantro. And also, all I needed to make Roast Cabbage with Tarragon and Pecorino, Mustardy Cauliflower Cheese, Carrot Salad with Yogurt and Cinnamon, Sweet Potato Mash with Lime Salsa (of basil, cilantro, garlic). There was so much I could have made—right then, with what I already had—that it was kind of overwhelming. And it was a powerful feeling--and when I realized that, it surprised me! We finally decided on Rice Noodle Salad with Cucumber and Poppy Seeds, (with onion, ginger, apple, chiles, mint and tarragon.)
There are beautiful potato recipes: Oven Fries with Oregano and Feta, Shallow-Fried Potatoes with Rosemary and Sumac, Sweet Potato Fries with smoked paprika, cayenne, garlic and sumac. And, so happy to see, lots of zucchini dishes! And, of course, eggplant—lots of eggplant recipes. (I'm in mid-Texas, and I'm glad my eggplant plants are still producing.) And some of these eggplant recipes I easily adapted to use my air fryer to roast the eggplant.
There is an entire chapter for fish and seafood, and there’s plenty of lamb recipes along with some beef and pork recipes in the Meat chapter.
Of course, like his other books, and like all Ten Speed Press books, the page layout is “easy on the eyes” and your eyes can easily find and keep your place. Ingredient lists are accurate and show both Imperial and Metric measurements. Instructions are easy to understand and do not leave you guessing.
Last night we made a small version of Chicken with Miso, Ginger and Lime. (It calls for 8 leg/thigh bone-in, skin-on cuts, and I cut it down to three thighs. It calls for mirin, maple syrup, soy sauce, cilantro and onions. And we put it with sticky rice. Doesn't that sound good?
What will probably turn out to be a favorite is the Cornbread with Cheddar, Feta and Jalapeno, (and corn, cumin, cayenne, brown sugar, instant polenta, sour cream, scallions, cilantro). Does that not make your mouth water? I substituted some Navajo Aztec blue cornmeal for the instant polenta, because I'd never seen instant polenta in any of my grocery stores.That recipe is in the Brunch chapter. And a picture of it is in the "Look Inside" feature on page 18.
While you are waiting for this cookbook to arrive, make sure you have these items in your kitchen, in addition to your usual pantry staples and fresh vegetables: Yogurt, sumac, Za’atar, Urfa chile flakes, Rose harissa, tahini, preserved lemons, pomegranate molasses, and cardamom. And think seriously about barberries and black garlic. Have some or all of these on hand, and you can hit the ground running the day the book arrives.
I’ve seen some other early reviews that mention poor book binding. I’m having no issues with that.
I am really happy to have this book. I already love it, and I find it easy to embrace the concepts in it—and I can elaborate on them. I’ve got the experience to be able to say that a LOT of these recipes will be “keepers”.
I eagerly awaited this book and pre-ordered it months ago. Considering I did not receive a pre-release of this book I can’t compete with previous reviewers who did receive a free copy.However, I will humbly list the ones I have tested so far, with photos and comments, and will update as I cook through the book.
I am planning on cooking a recipe or two a day from this book, so I will update this review regularly, so please check back here for updates and new photos of dishes I have made, if you find this review helpful.
I have all of Ottolenghis previous books and cook from them extensively. I have a huge recipe book library (It’s starting to look a bit crazy, so I have them all in the spare room to avoid raised eyebrows, lol)
I can honestly say that my Ottolenghi books are the books I use the most consistently out of all of my recipe books. I LOVE vegetable focused dishes, and I rely heavily on Ottolenghis books for inspiration as I find 99.9% of his recipes to be keepers.
I prefer for my main dishes to have large quantities of vegetables and legumes (organic wherever possible) and a small amount of meat and fish, we eat red meat rarely. Since we switched to this way of eating about 5 years ago I have dropped 20lbs, and my 60+ yr old husband dropped 45lbs and we are now both in the low-middle healthy range for our heights and we both feel much healthier and have more energy.
I would like to provide a bit of background into what this change in the way we eat has done for myself and my husband, for those who are considering making similar changes to their diet and who may find this helpful (for those of you who already cook this way and I know that will be many of you, you may wish to skip the next paragraph)
Whenever I put on weight I start to get blood sugar and digestion issues. So eating a vegetable forward diet has been a win-win for me. At my heaviest I was considered in the pre-diabetic range for my blood sugar. Now my blood sugar is normal again, which is no mean feat for someone on the other side of middle age with two diabetic parents. I don’t get the blood sugar swings I used to get with afternoon tiredness, shakiness, cold sweats the whole 9 yards. Its all gone away. We both eat as much as we want, and have three good meals a day with a cocktail or glass of wine or a beer (or two) whenever we want. We eat dessert occasionally and I eat chocolate far more than occasionally and in short we do not restrict ourselves in any way apart from the fact that we rarely buy takeout (like once every 3 months at most) We go out to eat about once a month and we don’t eat pre-prepared food. There is pretty much nothing we won’t eat, and we do not diet! BUT, three quarters of our plate at breakfast, lunch and dinner is filled with vegetables. Most often with a combination of the types of vegetable dishes that are to be found in the Ottolenghi books. If there is no grain ie. bulgar wheat or rice, sometimes I will add a good organic rustic bread, often with some olive oil. With that, we have a small amount of meat or fish (my husband more than I) For breakfast I often have an egg, some wholewheat toast and a heap of seared tomatoes, spinach, mushrooms. Or avocado toast also with tomatoes, quick pickled onions, lemon, parsley, whatever I have on hand. This type of diet has meant that we don’t even really have to think about our weight anymore. If we get a bit slack for a bit and go out a few more times than usual, any extra weight drops off once we resume our usual eating patterns. It has been such a freedom not to have to think about it anymore and it isnt a chore with delicious vegetable dishes like this book contains!
Out of all of the recipe books in my collection, I credit Ottolenghi’s books first and foremost for providing the best range of produce-forward, great tasting dishes that don’t skimp on flavor but are, just as importantly beautiful! Virtually every Ottolenghi dish is a dish that I can plate up and have looking gorgeous. As we eat with our eyes before we taste, the bright vibrant colors and careful attention to texture means that all of the dishes that I make are Instagram worthy even if it is just for my husband and I.
FINALLY the Simple book release day has arrived!! Yes, I have been awaiting it with that much anticipation!
I have cooked the following recipes (will add to this list as I work through this book)
Iranian Herb Fritters
Chickpeas and Swiss Chard with Yoghurt,
Bridget Jones Pan-Fried Salmon with Pine-Nut Salsa
Roasted Celeriac with Coriander.
TESTED AND PHOTOGRAPHED (in order)
1. Chickpeas with Swiss Chard with Yoghurt recipe
This is a very slight variation from the recipe Chickpea Sauté with Greek Yoghurt from the previous book, Plenty 2011. I was a bit surprised by that, but upon closer examination it became clearer. The only ingredient differences is that the Plenty version included garlic and mint and this new version has cumin and onion instead. The Plenty version called for blanching the chard first, then searing the carrots in the pan before adding the chard and the other ingredients. The Simple version called for roasting the carrots separately in the oven and then adding them to the pan with the other ingredients including the chard. Much easier than blanching draining, squeezing and chopping chard! I certainly concur with roasting the carrots first which were sweeter and much more evenly caramelized with the oven roasting than would have been achievable in the pan. I will apply these new Simple cooking instructions to the Plenty recipe as I am now interested to try the mint and garlic version of this dish. The end result I considered a great lunch. Worth making a pot of it early in the week for lunches (maybe double the recipe if you want a weeks worth of lunches for one person) as the quantities given would only do me for 3 lunches (but along with a piece of fruit this would be an excellent midday meal)
2. Bridget Jones Pan-Fried Salmon with Pine-Nut Salsa (two photos, because that Salsa is so pretty!)
Cute name, and even cuter back story! I pin boned the salmon as instructed. My husband is a total wimp when it comes to fish with any bones, so he was grateful for this and salmon is easy to de-bone (simply run your finger along the fillet till you feel a bone, push up from underneath the fillet in line with that first bone and they will all pop up and are easy to spot and pull out with a pair of flat nosed tweezers) The colors in the salsa with the green olives, capers, celery, pine nuts, currants, and parsley for this recipe are absolutely gorgeous! So pretty I photographed it separately! The flavors are quite strong in the salsa but complemented each other perfectly, and although at first I worried that we might have way too much salsa and it would overwhelm the salmon completely, we both found that a few bits of salsa with each bite of fish worked perfectly and although we have a tiny bit of salsa left I am planning on using it cold on the weekend to scatter on my smoked salmon and whipped cream cheese bagels as we usually use lemon and capers. My mouth is already watering just thinking about that! The salmon cooking instructions were perfect. My husband prefers his salmon cooked more than I do, so I cooked his for the full about of time mentioned (2-4 mins) and he said it was just right. I cut back on that by 1 minute for myself and may cut back by 2 mins next time for total perfection.
3. Iranian Herb Fritters (two photos sauce and fritters)
I LOVE that Ottolenghi calls these fritters “a bit of a fridge raid) as I often have herbs left over and hate throwing away herbs but some (Im looking at you, Dill!) just don’t keep for long. In addition I have a tiny herb garden which seems to produce a huge amount of basil, oregano, mint and marjoram and not much else, so am thinking that with some purchased parsley I could spin these herbs out into a whole meal with some eggs! But for starters I made the recipe with the same herbs that the recipe calls for. Dill, Basil and Coriander. These fritters also have currants and walnuts. I was unsure of this combo to be honest, but the currents were so great that next time I might add some extras. Once I tested them I did find myself reaching for a squeeze of lemon which brightened them up somewhat, but not wanting to soften the fritter by dousing it with too much lemon, in the last batch of fritters I added some lemon zest and greatly preferred those. So for those who like me, love lemon on, well everything, you might want to try adding the zest of a whole lemon into the mixture.
The tahini sauce was wonderful. As recommended, I made a triple batch – trusting that it was as good and versatile as promised. It was. A triple batch made 1.5 pints, although we ate half of it with a single batch of fritters, so I would recommend doubling the sauce recipe for the fritters alone. It really was lovely. I have made many Ottolenghi dishes with a tahini sauce but this parsley tahini sauce was something else (and SO pretty)
4. Roasted Celeriac with Coriander. (one photo)
Ottolenghi confesses that this is directly from the Nopi cookbook but added coriander seeds. I have made the previous recipe before and really enjoyed it but made a note to cut back on the recommended 2 tsp salt (although I love salt it was too much for me) The new version calls for the same amount of salt but along with the coriander, also adds a squeeze of lemon to serve, which would help cut the salt. The coriander seeds WOULD in principle, pair perfectly with the lemon juice and creamy celery flavor of the celeriac. However, the oil has been increased from one tablespoon to three! The extra oil along with the coriander seeds, causes some smoking and splattering, The coriander seeds also got far too dark and a bit bitter, after cooking for 2.5hrs in all that oil! I would recommend using the Nopi recipe for this dish, with the single tablespoon of oil and no coriander seeds, and if you want to try it with the suggested coriander, I would gently fry them in oil and then drizzle over to serve. This recipe was a bit of a disappointment, as the update just didn't work. Note: I ended up mashing the celeraic into red potatoes with their skins and a heap of butter and sour cream for serving with another dish, it wasn't the most attractive color but it was delicious. Wouldn't make the celeraic to eat alone again, personally.
In summary, there are some new recipes here and some refining and simplifying of some of Ottlenghis previous recipes (if you ignore the celeraic dish). If you already have Ottolenghis other books, then you probably don’t need a review to tell you that eventually you are going to have to buy this one too. Trust me, you do want this one too :)
If you don’t have any of his previous books then I would certainly recommend starting with this one. It would also be the best one to gift to someone new to Ottolenghis recipes.
With plenty of recipes with less than 10 ingredients or recipes that can be made in 30 mins or sooner, or recipes that can be made or prepped ahead, and lots of recipes that are one pan (or pot) meals that you can set and forget, this new book has certainly condensed and simplified the types of recipes that Ottolenghi has become famous for, or in other words, it is now Simple-er to get a healthy, delicious, perfectly seasoned and delightfully flavored and beautiful dish on the table any night of the week!
Unlike some reviewers, I have no issues with the binding. It is tight and bound the same as the Nopi book. For those that are wondering the cover isn't puffy, like the first books. I was a bit sad about that.
10/17/18 Couscous, Cherry Tomato and Herb Salad
This dish seems like a no-brainer. A simple, fresh, herbal side, quickly put together. But in my opinion, it missed the mark as written, with hardly any flavor (due to the 1.5cups of couscous) despite my newly ground Ras el Hanout (my spices are very fresh) and my mint fresh from my garden. I ended up adding a lot more lemon juice, but it still wasn't enough flavor. Next time I will double the Ras el Hanout to 2tsp, that you add to the Couscous during soaking, and I would also perhaps double to 2tsp the amount that goes in the onions while they are cooking, bringing the total Ras el Hanout to 3.5-4tsp instead of 2. There are toasted cumin seeds also, so you could boost them up too or instead of 1 of the tsp of Ras el Hanout. I would also double the cherry tomatoes, because we ended up with leftovers with no tomatoes left as they gave the flavor a much needed boost. Despite the lovely ingredients, this recipe does need to be amped up a lot. But after tweaking it's a very nice side dish.
10/30/18 Fettuccine with Spiced Cherry Tomato Sauce
I usually use my whole dried Anchos (which are dried poblanos) for mexican dishes. Soaking them in hot water then blending them. This recipe called for breaking up the whole dried Ancho and simmering along with the tomatoes which intrigued me. Anchos have a slightly sour, slightly earthy, raisin (without the sweetness) flavor with no chile heat. So I was a bit surprised by the description of this recipe as being spicy. The description states that you could switch out the Ancho for sweet smoked paprika. This would give a completely different flavor. It is also stated if you don't want the kick leave the chile out altogether. Don't worry, there is NO kick to anchos. I am wondering if Ancho is really the chile that is meant to be used here. Anyhow, I tried it as written. As expected the ancho gave a deep earthiness to the sauce. I actually found it a bit heavy handed with all those lovely, fresh cherry tomatoes. So at the end I made the executive decision to lighten the whole thing up with spoonfuls of ricotta dolloped on the top of the pasta in the bowl, added extra parmesan and a heap of basil from our garden, we agreed that the dish was improved upon for our tastes. I have attached a photo but it is hard to spot the pasta under all that cheese lol, but we liked it that way.
Slow Cooked Chicken with a Crisp Corn Crust
This is a chicken, rose harissa (this ingredient is Ottolenghis new crush - and its delicous) roasted peppers, tomatoes cilantro and a touch of dark chocolate with a corn custard.
I found this a trifle sweet. I used a dark Mast Bros chocolate, but would use Taza chocolate next time. I really thought it needed more flavor (seems to be a common refrain with me lately) The recipe reminded me of a tamale pie, but the batter on this one has no cornmeal, (it is just butter, blended corn kernals, milk and eggs, with the whites whipped into peaks) so although the recipe says it is a crisp corn crust, even if you bake it until it is very golden and firm on the top, it will still be soft and fluffy underneath. Honestly, I would prefer a cornmeal crust with this - aka tamale pie (Everyday Dorie has a recipe for Tamale pie which I am about to try as I am working through and reviewing her book too) I found that the finished dish was greatly improved with a heavy sprinkle of Merquen (smoked chile flakes) so if I do make it again I would boost up the Rose Harissa, the smoked paprika AND add Merquen to the chicken for a smoky heat. I think Merquen would compliment everything beautifully. This recipe was quite nice but I wouldn't make it again as written.
-Pork with Ginger, Green Onion and Eggplant
I love eggplant. I also love Laab, and this reminded me of that. The ground pork is paired with soy sauce, green onions, green chile, ginger, cilantro, garlic and the pork is served on top of steamed eggplant (and rice or noodles, I made rice) However, as written the steamed eggplant has no flavor, relying on the flavor of the pork topping it. The recipe statest that there should be plenty of liquid in the pork, but there was not and I did cook it as written. So I departed from the recipe here. Adding in the steamed eggplant to the pork at the end meant that I needed to add more of all of the liquid flavoring components into the dish (both dark and sweet soy sauces, sesame oil, rice vinegar, mirin etc) This made a bit of sauce which flavored the eggplant and the rice, which was delicious. I would make this again with those changes. The dish is topped with roasted, salted peanuts, toasted sesame seeds and cilantro.
Top reviews from other countries
So the recipes taste good but the simple title does not mean quick!
A really good book.
The recipes have beautiful photos to show you what you’re aiming for (I find if I don’t have a picture to go with a recipe, I have no incentive to make it) and the recipes are pretty straight-forward, as the title would suggest.
As someone who is gluten intolerant there are a number of recipes that have to be adapted but actually there’s still a lot here I can eat, which is nice - new ways of doing raw and cooked vegeatables are always welcome (for example the Hot Charred Cherry Tomatoes with Cold Yoghurt) and I absolutely love the Bridget Jones’s pan-fried salmon. I had to ignore a whole chapter on noodles and pasta and also largely steered clear of the deserts.
I still gave this book 5 stars because of its simplicity and wonderful culinary ideas and after all, it doesn’t set out to be a GF cookbook.