Stewed Blueberries with Bay Custard and Gin

This is a pretty wicked Summer dessert, definitely for hot Summer days. The beauty of it is that the custard and blueberries can be prepared ahead of time – eg the day before – and then it takes but a few minutes for the dessert to come together.

As the title suggests, blueberries, slightly stewed, are served with icecream, a bay-flavoured custard, and savoiardi biscuits soaked in gin, rosewater and blueberry syrup. It sounds amazing, right? And it is (the gin-soaked biscuits are out of this world), but the title belies the ease with which this dish is created. Best to note that it is an adult dessert only!

Of course, it is an Ottolenghi dessert, from his book Plenty More which we are trying to cook all the way through. Note that I often massage the recipes to suit our preferences and what is available from our garden, fridge and pantry. For the original recipes, check his books and his Guardian column. In the recipe below we have substituted a custard made with custard powder for the egg-based one, as we don’t cook with eggs. It sounds horrific, I know, but I assure you it tastes just as good. Feel free to use your favourite method.

Also, blackberries are originally used by Ottolenghi but they are notoriously difficult to find here, so we have used blueberries. It might be Ok to use frozen blackberries – but warm them through with the sugar rather than cook them.

Similar recipes include Strawberry and Black Pepper Icecream, Poached Oranges with Vanilla Ricotta, and Sweet Rhubarb with Cloves and Black Pepper.

Browse all of our Blueberry recipes and all of our Desserts. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Late Summer recipes.

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Frozen Berries with White Chocolate Cream

In the extreme weather of Summer in Australia – temperatures of 47C in Adelaide and catastrophic fires across Australia – we made this beautiful dish. It was a change from consuming copious amounts of icecream and fruit lassi. It really is beautiful – sweet, chocolaty with overtones of the bitters used to dress the fruit. It is my new favourite Ottolenghi dish.

It is a dish from the Dessert section of Ottolenghi’s Plenty More. We don’t often make dessert but this one is one of the best, now on our Summer rotation. With all Ottolenghi recipes I feel free to substitute whatever is in our fridge or pantry at the time. For this recipe, I bought a bag of mixed frozen berries, and used primarily the berries other than the strawberries. It was delicious and a cost effective way of making this dish in Australia. He suggests using a lot of red and black currents, but they are hard to get and expensive here. If you find your fruit too sweet with the chocolate cream, add some lemon juice to them.

You can check Ottolenghi’s original recipes in his books and in his various print columns.

The berries in fact are very useful for other dishes – serve them with Rice Pudding, Besan Payasam, for instance, or with French Toast.

Similar recipes include Blueberries with Bay Custard and Gin, Creme Fraiche Icecream, Junket with Macerated Strawberries and Passionfruit, and French Toast with Baked Strawberries.

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

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Brussels Sprouts with Caramelised Garlic and Lemon Peel

My theme for Winter last year was Brussels Sprouts – I have written before about how I avoided them for most of the decades of my life, but I have found a new appreciation. This is because – roasted sprouts. And pan fried sprouts.

There is a thing about roasted brussels sprouts. I love how you can get flavours deep into the heart of sprouts that have been halved lengthwise. Lemon juice, orange vinegar, pomegranate molasses or various spices.

This recipe, which is from Ottolenghi’s Plenty More, uses pan fried sprouts, but there is nothing to stop you roasting them instead. In fact it saves some work if you decide to roast them (but they won’t be as crunchy). This recipe is classic Ottolenghi – 4 or 5 different processes, depending how you count them, and about an hour to make. But I have learnt to hold back my complaints about that (a little), as the flavours are always banging. It took the release of his book Simple to make me realise how complex and layered the flavours are in his other books, and especially how much that adds to the dish. Simple strips it away – the dishes are still good but somehow now quite like the Ottolenghi I know, love and complain about.

I have been working my way through Plenty More. Never one to keep up with fashion I haven’t joined the people feverishly cooking through Simple. I had intended to finish Plenty More within 12 months but found I had to take a break of some months within sight of the end. Now I have resumed, but taking it at a slower pace.

Caramelised garlic makes a lovely condiment to lentils or roast veg, while candied lemon makes a great garnish for creamy desserts or leafy salads. I always pan-fry sprouts – it retains texture and enhances flavour. — Ottolenghi

The recipe takes the Brussels Sprouts and mixes them with a caramelised garlic syrup, candied lemon peel, chilli and basil. It sounds too amazing to be believed. And indeed it is – the interplay of sweet, spicy and tart flavours is nothing short of spectacular. Imagine this as your stand-out dish on the Xmas table, or, in Australia, make it for Sunday Lunch on the Queen’s Birthday weekend, or for Xmas in July. It will knock the socks off of your guests.

Similar recipes include Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Preserved Lemon, Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Pomelo and Star Anise, Brussels Sprouts Salad, and Brussels Sprouts Risotto.

Browse all of our Brussels Sprouts recipes and all of our Garlic 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.

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Puy Lentils with Roasted Pumpkin, Sage and Feta

Don’t you love pumpkins especially as they appear with their gorgeous colours in Autumn? For me, they are the very best decoration for the table. Autumn colours, beautiful shapes, a reminder of the delights that Autumn brings.

But eventually it has to be cooked. What is better than a salad or warm dish based on lentils and roasted pumpkin? Butternut can be used.

This is also a very excellent Xmas dish.

This is a recipe from Ottolenghi’s Simple, but I played with it a bit. He recommends butternut, I used pumpkin; he uses dolcelatte, I used feta (as I keep an amazing creamy feta in stock almost constantly), he used Puy lentils, I used a similar one that is deep and delicious in taste – stocked by my whole foods store but unlabelled. It shows how Ottolenghi’s recipes are versatile, so flexible with the ingredients that you have at hand.

The salad can be served warm or at room temperature. It can be made in advance, up to 6 hours. If you want to use tinned lentils, go for it – just skip the cooking step.

Similar recipes include Salad of Butternut and Noodles, Grilled Butternut with Walnut Salsa, and Roast Pumpkin Couscous Salad.

Browse all of our Pumpkin Salads and our Puy Lentil recipes. Our Ottolenghi dishes from Simple are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or explore our Late Autumn recipes.

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Salad-e Khiar-o Anar | Cucumber Pomegranate Salad

Since discovering golpar, I have been looking at ways to use it. This lovely salad has its origin in a book by Najmieh Batmanglij, New Food of Life: Ancient Persian and Modern Iranian Cooking. It is quite a terrific salad, with the flavour bursts of pomegranate kernels, the tang of the lime, golpar and salt, the freshness of mint and the cooling taste of the cucumber. It is a remarkable mix of flavours and is totally gorgeous. It would make a great Xmas Salad with those lovely colours.

Golpar is the powder made from the seeds of Iranian Hogweed, and you can read more about it here. Pick up some of the powder or the seeds at a Middle Eastern or Afghan grocery. If you can only find the seeds, grind them to a powder in a spice grinder.

Similar recipes include Salted Cucumber Salad, Pomegranate Salsa, Tomato and Pomegranate Salad, and Golpar Namak.

Browse all of our Cucumber recipes, our Pomegranate recipes and our Salads (lots of them). If you are just looking for Cucumber Salads, they are here. Or explore all of our Early Summer dishes.

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Roasted Whole Cauliflower with Green Tahini Dressing

Cauliflowers, roasted whole, have become a fashionable item for sometime – perhaps you might say it is going out of fashion, along with cauliflower steaks. But riced cauliflower still makes a regular appearance and I am glad about that – late onto the bandwagon as usual, I tried it for the first time recently and it is quite amazing.

So it is a surprise that Ottolenghi has a roasted whole cauliflower recipe in his new book Simple. And simple it is – par boiled then roasted with butter and oil before serving with a green tahini sauce. Elements of Ottolenghi, without all the hoohaa of his other books.

In a way, though, it is shockingly simple. It almost doesn’t feel quite right, doesn’t feel quite  like Ottolenghi. Even the style of the book has changed – the texture is different (different papers used), the layout is different. I am in 2 minds about the style changes – I wanted it to have all the lux of over-the-top Ottolenghi cookbooks, but with simpler recipes.

The book defines simple in 6 different ways (the first letters of which spell out SIMPLE), and each recipe is labelled to indicate which of these various simplicities it belongs to. For me, the most important simplicity is S ie Short on Time. In my household, somewhere between 6 and 8 dishes are made daily, so spending a minimum of 1 hour on an Ottolenghi dish does not make efficiency sense, even though we might adore the dish. HOWEVER, in defence of Ottolenghi’s other books, they contain recipes that can be a whole meal. That is not the case in Simple. TBH, you’d have to make 2 or 3 dishes to make a whole meal from Simple, or pair one dish with other plates of food.

Another first impression is that, reading through Simple, many of the recipes feel like half-recipes. That is not a criticism! It is a comment on the way he layers textures and flavours in his other books, and thus the simplicity of this book shocks! For example, take Whole Roasted Cauli. I might have expected Roasted Cauli, pureed, with cooked and toasted chickpeas, a tahini dressing and herb oil topped with baby falafel with a sumac dust. No, wait! That actually sounds great! (makes note to self). But here in Simple, we have only the cauliflower with a tahini dressing. It does make the recipes very accessible for weeknight cooking. And, for all its simplicity, this dish is a cracker!

Again, the comments on simplicity are not a criticism, it is an emotional response. We all have these when confronted with change. During my project of cooking Plenty More I often lamented the complexity (especially of time) and hankered after some Elizabeth David recipes. I have my wish now, although perhaps the style of Simple is a little like Elizabeth David on a small dose of steroids. She can specify recipes in 2 or 3 lines. Ottolenghi still takes a page or 2 for each dish.

Truthfully, I can’t wait to dive into this book and get to know it as intimately as I know the others.

“I like to serve this in the centre of the table, for people to share with drinks at the start of a meal. We break the cauliflower apart with our hands, dip the individual florets and crisp green leaves into the sauce and sprinkle with salt.”

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 through Plenty More (nearly finished), 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 Life Changing Fried Cauliflower, Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin and Sumac, A Plate of Cauliflower, Cauliflower Roasted in Olive Oil, and Cauliflower Roasted with Mustard Seeds and Curry Leaves.

Our Ottolenghi dishes from Plenty More are here. As we cook more, you will find all of our dishes from Simple here. We have written about our experiences cooking through this book. Or explore our Early Spring recipes.

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

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Gratin Dauphinois | Potato Gratin with Cream

As Winter marches on, we want dishes that we can cook in the oven, to add another source of heat to warm the kitchen. Baked dishes are also usually hearty, so they warm and nourish the body in a way that we only seek in Winter. And therefore, gratin dishes are so perfect, ticking every box. We are bringing this one back, we have posted it before. But it is such a Mid Winter Winner that we wanted to highlight it for you again.

This dish layers potatoes with cheese, covers them with milk and cream, and bakes them until bubbling and golden. Delicious! It is more potato luxury from France, where potatoes, butter and cream have a natural affinity. From memory,  my daughter’s French teacher gave me this recipe, years ago.

Gratin Dauphinois comes from the Dauphine region in south east France. It first appeared in 1788. It is now popular in many parts of France.

You might also know Gratin Dauphinois by alternative names:

  • pommes de terre dauphinoise
  • potatoes a la dauphinoise
  • gratin de pommes a la dauphinoise

Are you looking for similar dishes? Try Garlic Herb Potatoes, Cheesy Eggplants baked with Saucy Tomatoes, Gratin of Potatoes and Zucchini, and Gratineed Sweet Potatoes.

You can browse our Potato Bakes, all of our Gratin dishes and all of our Potato recipes. Or you might like to browse French recipes. Or simply explore all of our Early Winter dishes.

This recipe is one of our vegetarian recipes from our first blog that was in existence from 1995 – 2006; you can find them in our Retro Recipes series.

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Watermelon, Apple and Lemongrass Salad

This year we are still getting watermelons quite late in the season, and the new season apples are beginning to hit the shops. So we have been drinking watermelon juice (yum) and making Tomato and Watermelon Gazpacho, eating it sitting outside with the birds and butterflies in the garden.

We have a number of Watermelon Salads that we make, and love the one with halloumi. Today’s salad is new to us, and we love it. It has the flair of S. E. Asia with lemongrass, lime, mint and coriander. We found the recipe in Ottolenghi’s Guardian column, and made a few tiny changes to it. It is a divine salad and one that now features each year in our Xmas week menus.

[Update: The recipe now also appears in Ottolenghi’s latest book Simple.]

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 Watermelon and Feta Salad, Apple and Grape Kachumber, Watermelon Salad with Mint and Olives, Watermelon Salad, and Watermelon Salad with Peaches and Basil.

Browse all of our Watermelon Salads and all of our Apple Salads. All of our Salads are here. Our dishes from Ottolenghi are here. We have written about our experiences cooking through Plenty More. Or browse our Mid Summer recipes.

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Pommes de Terre Maxim | Crispy Potatoes Maxim

It was much more common a decade or two ago to bake potatoes, usually sliced, with some combination of butter, cream and cheese. I guess times have changed and our weather isn’t cold enough for long enough for these dishes to still grace our tables regularly. But the recipes are worth having on hand – when guests let you know they will be arriving for a meal in less than an hour, when the weather IS cold enough to freeze the tip of your nose, and for, well, when nothing but some good old fashioned potato is going to satisfy your need for comfort.

Today is a very simple recipe – slice peel potatoes, mix with melted butter, layer on a tray and bake till crispy. We are adding it to our raft of baked potato recipes.I loved French food when I was working in France. Pommes de Terre Maxim is such a simple dish but it is oh so special. Don’t just keep it for Winter – it works well for any Sunday lunch, and even in the cooler days of Summer and into Autumn.

Similar dishes include Garlic Herb Potatoes, Batata Hara (Lebanese Roasted Potatoes), Creamy Potato Cheese Gratin, Potato Bake with CheddarGratin Dauphinois, and Potatoes Baked with Cumin and Tomatoes.

Browse all of our Potato recipes and our French recipes. Check out our other Potato Bakes and explore other Mid Winter dishes too.

This recipe is one of the vegetarian recipes from our first blog which was in existence from 1995 – 2006.  You can find other recipes from that blog in the Retro Recipes series.

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Beautiful Cold Avocado Soup

I have a couple of Avocado Soups that I make in Hot Weather. This is one of them. The other is also an amazing cold soup – Avocado and Celery.

This recipe has a little hit of sweet chilli amongst the familiar tastes of garlic, coriander and lemon.  It is an easy soup, not pureed (although you can if you want to), but the ingredients are chopped finely and pulled together with some stock. Make it early in the day for the afternoon or evening – this allows time for flavours to develop.

Have a look at other cold soups too. Try Minty Cucumber Yoghurt Soup, Quick Cucumber and Tomato Cold Soup, Chilled Beetroot Soup, and Cream of Asparagus Soup. Here is how to make a range of easy cold soups in Summer.

Are you after other Avocado recipes? Try Guacamole, Cucumber and Avocado Salad, and Retro Recipes with Avocados.

You might also like all Avocado recipes here. Or check out Cold Soup recipes. Take some time to explore our easy Mid Summer recipes. Feel free to browse recipes from our Retro Recipes series – vegetarian recipes from our first blog from 1995 – 2006.

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