Monthly Archives: April 2012

Caramelized fennel with goat cheese

April 26, 2012

Caramelized fennel with goat cheese

Page 172, Ottolenghi

So, readers, let’s review. B and I believed that we disliked eggplant before starting the Year of Plenty and trying Ottolenghi’s version of eggplant. B and I also believed that we disliked fennel. Anyone want to take a guess at what sentence comes next? Yep, Ottolenghi really is a miracle worker with ALL vegetables. Although I will admit that any vegetable that you caramelize and then top with goat cheese is probably going to taste alright, we were still surprised by how absolutely delish squish this dish was!

It made the perfect accompaniment to our grilled fish and dilled rice for dinner tonight, though we also hypothesize that it would be amazing on crostini, or as a light dessert, or just eaten alone with your fingers while standing at the kitchen counter. Whatever – you have totally done it too, so don’t pretend. Just make this and eat it however you prefer. It’s delicious and decadent with the sweetness of the fennel and the creamy tang of the goat cheese. And it’s easy! This came together in less than 10 minutes while the fish grilled. Fennel for the win! Who knew?

Caramelized fennel with goat cheese

4 small fennel bulbs

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

3 Tbsp olive oil

1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp sugar, depending how sweet you want it

1 tsp fennel seeds

1 small garlic clove, crushed or diced

3/4 cup chopped dill

grated zest of one lemon

coarse sea salt and black pepper

goat cheese

Start by preparing the fennel bulbs. First, cut off the leafy fronds, keeping a bit aside for the garnish. Next, slice off the end of the root and remove the tough outer layers, making sure the base still holds everything together. Cut each bulb lengthwise into 1/2 in. thick slices.

Melt butter and olive oil in a large frying pan over high heat. When the butter starts to foam, add a layer of sliced fennel. Do not overcrowd the pan and don’t turn the fennel over or stir it around in the pan until one side has become light golden, which will take a few minutes. Using tongs, turn the slices over and cook for another few minutes. Remove from the pan, add a bit more olive oil and butter if needed and repeat the process with the remaining raw fennel.

Once all the fennel is done and removed from the pan, reduce the heat, then add the sugar, fennel seeds, and plenty of salt and pepper to the pan. Fry for 30 seconds, adding a little more oil or butter if needed, until the sugar is dissolved, then return all the fennel to the pan and caramelize them gently. Once the fennel is caramelized, coated with sauce and tender, turn off the heat and add the garlic. Stir again to incorporate it.

To serve, toss the fennel in a bowl with the dill and lemon zest. Taste and adjust seasoning. Arrange on a serving plate, and top with goat cheese .



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Lettuce salad

April 22, 2012

Lettuce salad

Page 146, Ottolengi



B and I have been full on obsessed with Basta’s eggplant sandwiches lately. Basta is one of the new restaurants in town (next to Atlas and owned by the same folks) and their eggplant sandwich is fabulous. Fried eggplant on home-baked rolls, topped with mozzerella cheese and calabrian chili sauce, it is served with a bibb lettuce salad that we crave almost as much as the sandwich itself (which is A LOT, by the way. It is rare for a week to go by where we aren’t talking about how to make it to Basta for lunch either Saturday or Sunday, as the sandwich is only served for lunch-  which is the only drawback saving grace).

So I am embarrassed to admit that we had Basta eggplant sandwiches with the lettuce salad on the side for lunch, and then for dinner? We ate the other half of the sandwich and I made Ottolenghi’s version of the self-same salad. His with capers and radishes rather than the traditional cucumber and tomato that come with Basta’s version.

Gentle readers, it was delicious and I am not even a tiny bit sorry that we ate the same meal for lunch *and* for dinner.

Ottolenghi’s Perfect Lettuce Salad with Radicchio, Radishes, Tomatoes, and Capers
( recipe adapted very slightly from Plenty: Vibrant Recipes from London’s Ottolenghi.)

Salad Ingredients:
1 small head butter lettuce, and 1/2 head green or red leaf lettuce and 1 small head radicchio, core removed and thinly sliced
3 green onions, thinly sliced on an angle
1 bunch radishes, cleaned and cut into half-moon slices
1 cup (or more) cherry tomatoes, cut in half
2-3 T capers

Dressing Ingredients:
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 1/2 T fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 tsp. caper brine
1 1/2 T olive oil
1 1/2 T grapeseed oil
salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste


Tear the lettuces.  Slice the radicchio, green onions, and radishes, and cut tomatoes in half.  Arrange in bowl or on plate.
Stir together the crushed garlic, lemon juice, and caper brine, then whisk in the olive oil and grapeseed oil a little at a time until the dressing is well-emulsified.  Add salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste.
Toss the salad with the dressing so all ingredients are lightly coated with dressing.  Top with capers and serve! 


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Soba noodles with eggplant and mango

April 21, 2012

Soba noodles with eggplant and mango

Page 112, Ottolenghi

Another triumph from the eggplant chapter! After eating this fabulous, tangy, sweet and tart salad, B turned to me and said, “well, we like eggplant”. Granted , so far we have only liked it either whipped into risotto, or fried, and who doesn’t like fried eggplant? Ottolenghi’s noodle dish has a mango, loads of cilantro and basil, onions (I used green, he used red), and two eggplants, diced and fried. Pair all of that with soba noodles and dress it with a rice vinegar/sugar/lime/sesame oil/garlic mixture that gets warmed on the stove to dissolve and then cooled.




Serves 6

1/2 cup rice vinegar
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1/2 fresh red chile, finely chopped
1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
grated zest and juice of 1 lime
1 cup sunflower oil
2 eggplants, cut into 3/4-inch dice
8 to 9 ounces soba noodles
1 large ripe mango, cut into 3/8-inch dice or into 1/4-inch-thick strips
1 2/3 cup basil leaves, chopped (if you can get some use Thai basil, but much less of it)
2 1/2 cups cilantro leaves, chopped
1/2 red onion, very thinly sliced

In a small saucepan gently warm the vinegar, sugar and salt for up to 1 minute, just until the sugar dissolves. Remove from the heat and add the garlic, chile and sesame oil. Allow to cool, then add the lime zest and juice.

Heat up the sunflower oil in a large pan and shallow-fry the eggplant in three or four batches. Once golden brown remove to a colander, sprinkle liberally with salt and leave there to drain.

Cook the noodles in plenty of boiling salted water, stirring occasionally. They should take 5 to 8 minutes to become tender but still al dente. Drain and rise well under running cold water. Shake off as much of the excess water as possible, then leave to dry on a dish towel.

In a mixing bowl toss the noodles with the dressing, mango, eggplant, half of the herbs and the onion. You can now leave this aside for 1 to 2 hours. When ready to serve add the rest of the herbs and mix well, then pile on a plate or in a bowl.

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Saturday morning pancakes


The year of Plenty includes many delicious things that are *not* found in the cookbook of the same name. This morning’s breakfast was perfection on a plate basking in the sunshine. I have been craving pancakes for days, and B agreed to make them for me this morning. She used the fantastic recipe for vegan pancakes from Post Punk Kitchen – they are like soft, fluffy joy on a plate. We had no soy/almond milk, so B made them with regular 1% milk and they still turned out perfectly. This is the new go-to pancake recipe at our house. The first time she made them, V and I swooned.

Happy weekend, all. I hope it is full of delish squish food – and pancakes if you want them! Find the recipe here if you want these clouds of carb-based goodness. And if you are really decadent, you will top them with salted butter and real maple syrup. Yum!



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Egg, spinach and pecorino pizza

April 18, 2012

Egg, spinach and pecorino pizza

Page 156, Ottolenghi

Another night of comfort food deliciousness from Ottolenghi was in order. I took the recipe (link below) and made it easier by using a Coop-bought 6-grain pizza crust. I halved the crust ratio and wilted 1.5 lbs of spinach (that is a considerable amount of spinach, friends) and added in two cloves of garlic after wilting. I spread the grated sheepsmilk pecorino on the pre-bought crust and topped that with all of that wilted spinach and a sprinking of turkish seasoning (including za’atar) and baked it at 400 degrees for 15 minutes. After that initial baking period, I broke 3 eggs and nestled them individually into the spinach, and popped it back in the oven for 7-8 minutes until the whites were set and the yolks were still runny. Remove from oven and serve! Easy, delicious, and relatively nutritious for a pizza.

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Chard omelettes

April 17, 2012

Chard omelettes

Page 142, Ottolenghi

Anytime we need comfort food around here, it is likely to come in the form of an egg dish for at least one of us. And this one was spectacularly comforting and restorative for both of us. A thin omelette with herbs, spread with a layer of crème fraîche, and then filled with a potato/swiss chard mixture that is DELICIOUS with lemon and garlic flavors that are totally unexpected and perfect.

Chard and Saffron Omelette (Ottolenghi) 
Serves 4 (or 2 hungry people) 
1/2 lb (1 medium) waxy potato, peeled and cut into 3/8 inch dice
1 cup water
pinch of saffron threads
3/4 lb Swiss Chard stalks and leaves (I omitted the stalks), shredded
salt and pepper to taste (season this dish well)
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, crushed
5 eggs
1/4 cup milk
2/3 cup chopped herbs (tarragon, dill, parsley)
vegetable oil
1/2 cup creme fraîche, cold
Put the potatoes, water and saffron in a large pan and bring to a boil.  Simmer for 4 minutes, then add the chard and some salt and pepper.  Continue cooking, covered, for 10 to 15 minutes, or until the potato is soft.  Drain out any excess liquid that is left in the pan.  Off heat, add the lemon juice and garlic.  Leave to cool.
Whisk together well the eggs, milk, herbs and some salt and pepper.  Pour 1 teaspoon of oil into a hot, 9-inch nonstick frying pan, then use one-quarter of the egg mixture to make a thin round omelette.  Transfer to a paper towel.  Make three more omelettes in the same way.  Leave to cool down. 
Divide the cold creme fraîche among the omelettes, spreading it over half of each.  Taste the chard mixture and adjust the seasoning, then spread generously over the creme fraîche. Fold each omelette over in half, then fold again to get a fan shape.  


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Broccolini and sweet sesame salad

April 15, 2012

Broccolini and sweet sesame salad

Page 94, Ottolenghi

A day that starts with lunch of  my current obsession – Basta’s eggplant sandwich – and ends with broccolini and sweet sesame salad is a fine day indeed. Ottolenghi strikes again with a simple vegetable salad that explodes with flavor – I would not have thought to put broccolini in a salad, and Ottolenghi himself admits that “the use of tahini is a move no Japanese would ever dream of making” in this dressing. It is a perfect combination, though. Pure Ottolenghi.

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