There are only a few chefs that I distinctly remember the first time I heard of them.
Yotam Ottolenghi is one of them.
Years ago in Miami I was waiting for a friend to arrive at a coffee shop/book store and she was really late. So I browsed around the cookbook section - always my favourite section - and came across "Jerusalem". Despite being published two years previously I'd never heard of the cookbook or the strangely named author. However I knew as soon as I'd read a few pages that I was buying it. [I usually find that a cookbook has to inspire me in the first couple of recipes I read or else I put it down, however... I have been a sucker for beautiful photographed recipe books with no substance in the past too!]
I've always loved Middle Eastern food but up to that point I'd only been familiar with kebabs, hummus, tabbouleh and filo pastry desserts. This was a whole different world. Ingredients such as kohlrabi, barberries, sour cherries and rose petals; condiments like Pomegranate Molasses, date syrup, rose water and the spices za'atar, sumac and aleppo chilies opened my eyes to a plethora of new ways to cook, new dishes to make, new flavours and tastes to experience. I think I spent the whole of my last year in Miami cooking nothing but Middle Eastern food.
After buying "Jerusalem", I then bought "Plenty More" the second of his vegetable recipe books, and then the original "Ottolenghi- the Cookbook" and finally "Sweet" last Christmas. I still have more to add to my collection but after 4 years I find I still have a million recipes in the cookbooks I have to try.
Most of all the thing I love about Yotam Ottolenghi's recipes is that they always "work" for me. His recipes are so well tested that its almost impossible to mess up, however I have also found that they can be a little bit labour intensive especially when it comes to peeling and cutting for his salads in Plenty More.
Anyway over the next few weeks I will be showing you my favourite recipes and those I make frequently. I hope you get to try some of them out.
Email me @ firstname.lastname@example.org to let me know which of his recipes you swear by.