January 4, 2013
Wrap up and Eggplant with buttermilk sauce
Page 110, Ottolenghi
The post it notes have been removed from all of the pages of Ottolenghi’s Plenty, and I have completed highlighting the recipes that were prepared in 2012. All that is left is the post-mortem of the year’s worth of recipes. Oh, and one final hurrah, for I could not go gently into the next year without making the signature dish from Plenty, the beautiful Eggplant with buttermilk sauce on the cover. As most of you know, B and I went into this project not really liking eggplant, and Ottolenghi changed that for us with his burnt eggplant technique. The gorgeous eggplant on the cover were a slightly different matter, being whole and not burned and all. We enjoyed this dish, but probably would not make it again. The yogurt sauce was divine, though. As were all of Ottolenghi’s uses of greek yogurt. That was one of the things that made both B and I fall in love with his food — and when we did our rundown of our favorite dishes this year, MOST of them involved greek yogurt in one manner or another.
I began the year expecting to cook equally from both Diana Henry’s Plenty and Ottolenghi’s Plenty, but quickly found that Ottolenghi’s recipes were vibrant, exciting, and much more compelling than Henry’s. I decided early on to focus on the Ottolenghi book almost exculsively, with just a few recipes here and there from Henry to fill in the gaps. I ended up preparing 73 dishes from Ottolenghi and 23 from Henry for a total of 96 recipes over the course of the year. B and I spent some time tonight choosing our favorites and I present you with our top 5 lists below!
My Top Five Favorite Recipes from the Year of Plenty
- Who knew that a Chard and saffron omelet would make it to my number one spot? This herbed omelet has a filling of creme fraiche and soft waxy potatoes combined with chard and lemon juice. I would not have thought it up, but oh did I love it. The flavors in the filling were bright and the dish not terribly heavy, yet utterly comforting and delicious. It also comes together with ingredients most of us have on hand ( outside of the creme fraiche, which could certainly be replaced with greek yogurt, which is now a staple in our fridge thanks to a year of cooking Ottolenghi-style). https://theyearofplenty.wordpress.com/2012/04/17/chard-omelettes/
- A Diana Henry favorite comes in at number two for me, with her amazing Restorative chicken and parsley risotto https://theyearofplenty.wordpress.com/2012/01/22/restorative-chicken-and-parsley-risotto/. The recipe can be found here http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/7028153/Chicken-lemon-and-parsley-risotto-recipe.html for those of you needing a dose of restorative goodness with a lemony kick.
- The Chickpea Saute with greek yogurt was an early dish and an early favorite! So ridiculously easy and flavorful, so healthy and somehow totally comforting, this is a total winner. It was also my first lesson in how herbs, lemon, and greek yogurt can make anything delicious. It was a fabulous lesson to learn and take with me from this year. https://theyearofplenty.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/chickpea-saute-with-greek-yogurt/
- Quinoa Salad with lime was a total win! If you have a potluck in the next year or so, expect me to come bearing this dish. It was easy to make and had some of my favorite taste combinations with the herbs, mint, sweet potato, feta, and lime dancing with the quinoa and wild rice. It also held up well in the fridge and was possibly even better a few days later. https://theyearofplenty.wordpress.com/2012/11/10/spicy-moroccan-carrot-salad-and-quinoa-salad-with-persian-lime/
- How could a green bean salad make it onto my top five list? That is a question that only you can answer when you make this – which I recommend you do as soon as fresh ones are available again. The black mustard seed MADE the dish pop and I am a convert to this spice that had never before taken up a spot in my pantry. https://theyearofplenty.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/green-bean-salad-with-mustard-seeds/
B’s Top Five Favorite Recipes
- This one is a total no-brainer for me and anyone that knows her — Henry’s luscious stew of beef and carrots in stout with those dreamy horseradish dumplings won the day and the year for her!https://theyearofplenty.wordpress.com/2012/02/12/beef-and-carrots-in-stout-with-parsley-and-horseradish-dumplings/
- The Ottolenghi Chickpea Saute with greek yogurt came in a close second – and is on my top 5 list as well. It was an early dish – made just 12 days into the project, but the flavors were so fabulous and the dinner so comforting, it was a clear winner for both of us. And SUPER easy. If you choose just one dish to try, this would be a great one. https://theyearofplenty.wordpress.com/2012/01/12/chickpea-saute-with-greek-yogurt/
- Smashed Cucumber Salad with ginger and garlic was our offering to the Chinese New Year party at Grassfield Manor, and I think B might have eaten 3/4 of it herself! She fell in love with the flavors in a way that surprised me for such a simple cucumber preparation. It did have a lovely zing, though, and eating it with dear friends and loads of other fantastic Asian-inspired dishes may have helped it into it’s third place finish. https://theyearofplenty.wordpress.com/type/aside/
- Grape Leaf, herb and yogurt pie was a winner for both of us, as well. You may notice the greek yogurt trend that is emerging here – Ottolenghi does amazing things with vegetables, herbs, and yogurt and this recipe is a fantastic example of the ways he uses acid and herbs to make dishes sing. I actually made the dish with kale, since it was so abundant for us this year and the blanched kale leaves had the exact same consistency as grape leaves. https://theyearofplenty.wordpress.com/2012/11/04/grape-leaf-herb-and-yogurt-pie/
- Carmelized Fennel and goat cheese was the total dark horse of this race! And yet here it is on the top five for B this year. She had always professed to dislike fennel (as had I) until this lovely combination of sweetly caramelized fennel paired with tangy goat cheese made an appearance on our table. Now we are both converts and B counts it among her top dishes from the year. https://theyearofplenty.wordpress.com/2012/04/26/caramelized-fennel-with-goat-cheese/
A few honorable mentions go to https://theyearofplenty.wordpress.com/2012/01/05/leek-fritters/ and https://theyearofplenty.wordpress.com/2012/07/03/shakshuka/ which we did not have room for in our (incredibly arbitrary) top five lists, but that we LOVED something fierce.
There were only a few real misses this year. I point you toward Ethiopian Spiced Pumpkin Soup which was bland and way too thick until I doctored the holy living pumkin out of it, and to Parsnip dumplings in broth. I only point you there so that you can avoid them, though! With so many fabulous dishes to make, skip these two, my friends. And let me know if you need a package of squid. I have a frozen one that I planned to use for a recipe from the Diana Henry book that just never quite happened. :- )