Polenta Crisps with Avocado and Yoghurt

Polenta crisps and polenta chips are the modern way to cook polenta, and both are jolly good. The polenta is cooked to a thick mass which is spread out on trays to firm up. It is then cut to shape and fried. I can’t tell you how moreish they are, totally addictive. And when used to scoop up an avocado, yoghurt and lime dip they are even more so.

This is an Ottolenghi recipe from his book Plenty More. In the scheme of Ottolenghi recipes, it is relatively easy, just needing time to let the polenta cool. We are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area, but the only change we have made to this recipe is to add some chopped curry leaves into the polenta. You can leave them out if you wish.

Not using polenta very much? Grab that packet from the back of the cupboard; these polenta crisps should do the trick: they’re very easy to make and even easier to eat.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Butternut with Buckwheat Polenta, Peter’s Wet Polenta and Tomatoes, and Pea and Mint Croquettes.

Browse our Polenta dishes, our Dips, and our Avocado recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Winter recipes.

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Brussels Sprout Risotto with Blue Cheese

A sprout risotto? You’d better believe it. Brussels Sprout are such a controversial vegetable – you either love them or hate them. We grew up with overcooked and soggy sprouts that had the colour and natural sweetness leached out of them and left the kitchen with a cabbage-y sprouts aroma. So in our kitchen they are either eaten raw, roasted, fried, or sauteed with a little garlic.

Unusual pairings with sprouts include pomegranate seeds, pomegranate molasses or maple syrup. Salty, sweet and sour flavours are great – try lemon juice and lime juice, preserved lemon, capers, parmesan, chilli, almonds, barberries, pistachios, even tiny toasted croutons, all work very very well.

Today’s recipe uses Brussels Sprouts in a risotto. It is an unusual recipe but you will love it. It is an Ottolenghi recipe from Plenty More. It combines shredded sprouts and fried sprouts in the risotto with lemon, parmesan and the bite of Blue Cheese. How exciting! It is lemony, herby, cheesy, and of course, with the flavour of delicious sprouts.

In fact, it is Ottolenghi day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish all the latest posts of recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi books – currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often slightly massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry.

Similar recipes include Brussels Sprouts Salad, Gentle Vegetables cooked in Wine, Three Cheese Risotto, and Asparagus Risotto.

Browse all of our Risotto recipes and Brussels Sprouts recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Autumn dishes.

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Conchiglie or Orecchiette with Yoghurt, Peas and Chilli

A spicy pasta dish hit the table this week, one that certainly packs a chilli hit, but one that also includes yoghurt and feta, and the cooling peas to temper that punch. It is quite a glorious dish, silky and creamy with the texture of toasted pine nuts. I am making it in Winter, but I highly recommend it for Spring. It can be made any time of year, of course, but peas fresh from the vine lift the dish to a different level. Bookmark it now for your spring time.

The recipe is one of Ottolenghi’s from his Guardian column and from his book, Jerusalem. We are cooking our way through Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by.

Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here, and from Jerusalem here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Mid Winter recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

Continue reading “Conchiglie or Orecchiette with Yoghurt, Peas and Chilli”

Tahini Biscuits

Tahini is an oily paste made from crushed sesame seeds that is a pillar of any hummus recipe. It is also gorgeous with yoghurt, with green herbs, or with miso as a dressing on vegetables or drizzled on ice-cream. There is a sauce with garlic and lemon that rivals mayonnaise. Mix it with pomegranate or quince molasses and you have a dessert worth dying for.  In the Middle East, tahini is viewed in much the same way as Italians view olive oil. It sometimes referred to as white gold – like Italians and olive oil, it is woven into the fabric of the culture and cuisine. It has been made across the Mediterranean, Middle East and North African countries for centuries.

Plain tahini is made with hulled, roasted sesame kernels. Whole tahini is darker in colour, and is made without removing the hull. It is richer but can also be a bit bitter or gritty. The best sesame seeds for tahini are said to be the Ethiopian humera variety, thanks to their richness of flavour. Try to purchase your tahini from Middle Eastern shops – they have some of the best brands.

These cookies are like a hybrid between a short biscuit and halwa, with the typical melting texture of the former and the nutty, unctuousness flavour of the latter. For us who grew up spreading halwa over white bread to gulp it down for breakfast, they are a real throwback to childhood.

With all of the sweet and savoury uses of tahini, perhaps one of the most well known (apart from hummus) is to make cookies, or as we call them in Australia, biscuits. This recipe, one of Ottolenghi’s from his book Jerusalem, is very short (in terms of dough mixtures).

Because of that, the biscuits are divine with a cuppa. They are absolutely gorgeous in flavour, but like all really short biscuits, a cuppa complements them perfectly.

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Jerusalem. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar dishes include ANZAC Biscuits and Oatmeal Crackers.

Our Ottolenghi dishes from Jerusalem are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Mid Winter recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

Continue reading “Tahini Biscuits”

Okra with Sambal and Coconut Rice

Another dish from Ottolenghi, this one was inspired by one of his trips to Malaysia. It is a loose take on Nasi Lemak, definitely the country’s most popular breakfast. But be warned: it is quite spicy. You can make the spice paste with far fewer chillies than Ottolenghi prescribes – feel free to just use half a fresh chilli and half a dried chilli if that is to your taste. In actual fact, we make this recipe with the sambals and sambal style chilli mixes that we have on hand (quite a few) rather than make his, and I have included both his recipe and links to our other pastes, purees and sambals that are suitable.

We like this variation on typical okra recipes. In this one the okra is simmered for a few moments only and then served mixed with the chilli-onion sambal on coconut rice. Use the freshest and best quality okra, because it is cooked so briefly.

Don’t omit the crispy fried shallots (available from Indian and Asian grocers) or the coriander. They add some texture and flavour to the dish that is essential to the overall impact.

Are you looking for similar recipes? Try Malaysian Lemak Style VegetablesSri Lankan Okra Curry, and Goan Okra with Chilli-Spice Paste.

Try these different Coconut Rice recipes too. South Indian Coconut Rice, and Balinese Coconut Rice.

Or browse all of our Okra dishes, and all of our Malaysian recipes. All of our Ottolenghi recipes are here. Or take some time and browse our Early Winter dishes.

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Mushrooms with Black Glutinous Rice

Black glutinous rice, available from Asian groceries, is actually a very deep burgundy colour. It is gloriously nutty in taste, beautiful to look at and has a soft, starchy texture that is slightly al dente, because each grain retains its integrity when cooked. Like brown rice, black rice is unmilled, and it is the dark outer husk that makes it so nutty and chewy. It’s also why it takes longer to cook than many other rices, and needs to be soaked before cooking.

Black glutinous rice works in both savoury and sweet dishes. It’s a popular pudding rice in South-East Asia where it is cooked with water, coconut milk and pandan. It is best known for this delicious dessert. However it can be used in savoury ways too, particularly as a striking alternative to other short-grain rices.

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Roasted Eggplant with Crushed Chickpeas and Herb Yoghurt

How comforting is a dish of eggplant, roasted in thick slices, with chickpeas and cumin, toasted, and a drizzle of minty yoghurt sauce. How satisfying.  The eggplant is darkly roasted but achingly tender, the chickpeas are mixed with lemon flesh for an enlivening tang, and the yoghurt adds a light freshness to the dish.

Of course, this dish is an Ottolenghi recipe – did you notice his signatures? It is from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

It is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar dishes include Babaganoush, Baingan Pora, and Smoky Aubergine with Tahini and Pomegranate.

Browse our Dips and our Spreads, and our Eggplant recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

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Grilled Corn on the Cob with Miso Tamarind Mayonnaise

As I write, sweetcorn is very cheap, so we have been indulging ourselves in sweetcorn dishes. Such a versatile vegetable that can be eaten raw, simmered, grilled, roasted and pureed. In particular, corn on the cob is a special snack, bringing back memories of childhood and eating corn fresh from the vegetable garden, the juicy corns as sweet as sweet can be.

For this recipe, the corn is blanched then char grilled before being smothered in a mayonnaise with tamarind and miso. It is delicious. I use an eggless mayo as we do not cook with eggs, but use the base mayo that you prefer. I will leave that to your choice. The tamarind and miso mayonnaise is utterly delicious!

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

In fact it is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Roasted Sweetcorn and Avocado Salad, and Sweetcorn and Tomato Salad with Greens.

Browse all of our Sweetcorn recipes and our Miso dishes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Winter recipes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

Continue reading “Grilled Corn on the Cob with Miso Tamarind Mayonnaise”

Dakos | Tomato and Bread Salad from Crete

Dakos, the salad, is a loved salad of Crete, made with rock hard crisp breads and tomatoes, feta and olives. Ottolenghi has a version in his book Plenty More, born of his stay in Crete where he fell in love with it.

Dakos is alsothe name given to  oven-dried breads (often called rusks), which are made with barley to make them sweeter, nuttier and more crunchy than their wheat-only counterparts. Spread out on a plate and covered with the best ripest chopped tomatoes, good olive oil, some crumbled white cheese and black olives, they are seriously addictive. (Confusingly, both this dish and the unadorned rusks themselves are called Dakos!)

Cretan barley rusks aren’t easy to come by (try Greek grocers or online), but the salad Dakos is easy to make with any dried bread, e.g. the Italian Frese Integrali (aka friselle, freselle, frisedde, fresedde, frise) or the Swedish wholemeal Krisprolls, which are more commonly available in some supermarkets and many specialty stores. The tomato juices and vinegar seep into and soften the dry bread as they mix with the creamy cheese and olive oil, to create a timeless Greek experience.

However, if you don’t have access to Dakos or other rusks, try drizzling some medium thick slices of wheat bread with olive oil and baking for 10 – 15 mins in a 175C – 180C oven. They need to be hard, and the ingredients of the salad soak into the bread to soften it and make it addictively delicious.

The taste of any simple tomato-based salad is dependent on the quality of the tomatoes. There is a rich and beefy depth to end-of-season tomatoes that can exceed even those of high summer, but if yours are anything other than bursting with flavour, a pinch of sugar or a few drops of balsamic vinegar will help draw out their natural sweetness. And maybe mix your feta with some ricotta, to simulate the flavour of the sweet Cretan mizithra cheese, which is often served with dakos. (Thanks for this advice, Ottolenghi.)

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

In fact it is Ottolenghi Cooking the Books Day on the blog – one of two days per month where we publish the latest recipes we have tried in our project of cooking from Ottolenghi’s books – those we have cooked directly and those we have been inspired by. Currently we are cooking from Plenty More, but not ignoring his other books completely. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit what is available from our garden and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column.

Similar recipes include Simple Tomato Bread Salad, and Tapanade Bread Salad with Mozzarella.

Browse all of our Tomato Salads, and all of our Salads. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Mid Summer dishes.

We use Australian measurements: 1 tspn = 5ml; 1 Tblspn = 20ml; 1 cup = 250ml.

Continue reading “Dakos | Tomato and Bread Salad from Crete”

Broccolini with Sweet Tahini

A salad to convert even the biggest tahini-hater. It is a take on a Japanese favourite. Broccolini, or use sprouting broccoli, is mixed with other greens for a visually pleasing and refreshing blend of textures. The recipe can also be made with just broccoli, sprouting broccoli or broccolini, with just the dressing. Perfect. Even more perfect – the Broccolini can be char-grilled for the salad, should you so wish.

This is an Ottolenghi dish from Plenty More – we are cooking our way through this book. We feel free to substitute ingredients that are not readily available in our local area.

Similar recipes include Smashed Chickpeas with Broccoli, and BBQ’d Broccoli.

Browse all of our Broccolini recipes and all of our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More. Dishes using Tahini are here. Or explore our Late Summer dishes.

Continue reading “Broccolini with Sweet Tahini”