Cookbook library: Yotam Ottolenghi says “simple”

It may not come as a surprise that, like many people who are fans of food and cooking, I own almost every one of the Yotam Ottolenghi cookbooks. Well, from the ones published in Poland, I miss the one with the title: ‘Taste’. I hunted them fiercely because they really are worth paying attention to.

This latest cookbook, written by Ottolenghi with Tara Wigley and Esme Howarth, with photos by Jonathan Lovekin, presents 130 recipes that focus on the essence of simple cooking. Previous books already require some technical knowledge, and this one is more accessible.

The famous chef started his culinary career as a pastry chef and now runs many restaurants in London, where he has lived for a long time (he grew up in Jerusalem, where his father was a professor of chemistry at the Hebrew University, and is of Italian, Jewish and German origin).

What does Ottolenghi mean by “simple”? There is a helpful outline in the book’s introduction, marked with colors and stamps. The six letters of the word “simple” mean “short on time,” “10 ingredients or less,” “make ahead,” “pantry,” “lazy” and “easier than you think”. According to the publisher’s description, we have a polonized description:

  • you will prepare them quickly,
  • contain up to 10 ingredients,
  • they can be prepared in advance,
  • based on what you have in your pantry,
  • do not require a lot of work (for the lazy),
  • are easier than it sounds.

There is some expansion of these terms, and each recipe is marked with appropriate markings, so it’s easy to understand what the author meant. It’s a nice trick, but for the observant. 

Note that this is Ottolenghi’s point of view. It is he who thinks that they are simple. Most of them are dishes that are assembled quite quickly, often in one dish or pot. So we have a lot of soups, stews and salads, but also those made of things baked on trays. However, you may have a problem with some ingredients, not everyone can be found in your cupboard, unless you have already cooked from its recipes and sumac or za’atar are already in your pantry.

The dishes he creates focus on providing us with colors, full flavor, a large amount of vegetables, herbs, spices and sauces, but also various textures and textures. It’s not really a boring kitchen.

The chapters are organized into basic categories (raw vegetables, cooked vegetables, meat, desserts), and at the end of the book there are menu suggestions, from brunch to feast, so you have plenty of room to choose from and show off in front of your friends. You can surely surprise them with this.

This is a useful and engaging book, filled with the types of dishes that contributed to Ottolenghi’s broad and well-deserved reputation. Are they simple? you have to judge for yourself what skills you have, because for me they are simple but extraordinary. It is food worth putting on a plate and another cookbook that is very worth adding to your collection.

Summarizing :

As with his other books, the recipes work. There is rarely anything in them that I would change or improve. However, unlike many of his other books, these recipes are within the reach of ordinary home cooks who don’t want to check out a long list of obscure ingredients and sit in the kitchen for hours. Of course, there are ingredients that are hard to get in Poland, but this is not a major problem.

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