Ottolenghi: New light on old flavours

Ottolenghi: New light on old flavours

Israeli chef Yotam Ottolenghi has relaunched his classic cookbook from 2008, and we take a look at two mouthwatering recipes

Fennel and feta
Fennel and feta

Good news for foodies – just in time for the new year, Ottolenghi’s classic cookbook from 2008 has been relaunched, with all 140 mouth-watering recipes revisited.

Devised alongside Sami Tamimi, this culinary bible became a sensation when it was first published. Here are two delicious recipes guaranteed to spice up your High Holy Days

Fennel and feta with pomegranate seeds and sumac

Serves 4

  • Pomegranate
  • 2 medium fennel heads
  • 1sp olive oil
  • 2 tsp sumac, plus extra to garnish
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • 10g picked tarragon leaves
  • 10g parsley, roughly chopped
  • 70g Greek feta cheese, sliced
  • Salt and black pepper
Fennel and feta
Fennel and feta

This salad has all the little ‘bursts of flavour’ we look for in a dish. The little explosions of sweetness from the pomegranate seeds, for example, along with the tart astringency of the sumac. It’s lovely to eat as it is, or else served alongside some grilled fish or roasted meat. If you’re looking for a substitute to the pomegranate but want to keep the colour and sweetness, dried cranberries or sour cherries also work well.

Yotam Ottolenghi
Yotam Ottolenghi

Start by releasing the pomegranate seeds. The best way to do it is to halve the pomegranate along its ‘belly’ (you only need half a pomegranate here), then hold the half firmly in your hand with the seeds facing your palm. Over a large bowl, start bashing the back of the fruit with a wooden spoon. Don’t hit too hard or you’ll bruise the seeds and break the skin. Magically, the seeds will just fall out. Pick out any white skin that falls in.

Remove the leaves of the fennel, keeping a few to garnish later, and trim the base, making sure you leave enough of it still attached to hold the slices together. Slice very thinly lengthwise (a mandolin would come in handy here).

In a bowl, mix the olive oil, sumac, lemon juice, herbs and some salt and pepper. Add the fennel and toss well. Taste for seasoning but remember, the feta will add saltiness.

Layer the fennel, then the feta and then the pomegranate seeds in individual serving dishes. Garnish with fennel leaves, sprinkle over some sumac and serve immediately.

Apple and olive oil cake with maple icing

  • 80g sultanas
  • 60ml water
  • 280g plain flour
  • sp ground cinnamon
  •  sp salt
  • sp baking powder
  • 1 sp bicarbonate of soda
  • 120ml olive oil
  • 160g caster sugar
  • Vanilla pod
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3 Bramley apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1cm dice
  • Finely grated zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 egg whites
  • Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
  • Maple icing
  • 100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 100g light muscovado sugar
  • 85ml maple syrup
  • 220g cream cheese, at room temperature
Apple and olive oil cake
Apple and olive oil cake

This is a huge Ottolenghi favourite – many of our customers confess they order it just for the maple icing! It can also be made in advance and kept wrapped in the fridge for up to a week, ready to be brought back to room temperature and iced on the day of serving.

Grease a 20cm springform cake tin and line the base and sides with baking parchment. Place the sultanas and water in a medium saucepan and simmer over a low heat until all of the water has been absorbed. Leave to cool.

Preheat the oven to 190°C/170°C fan/Gas Mark 5. Sift the flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Set aside.

Put the oil and sugar in the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a whisk if you don’t have a mixer). Slit the vanilla pod lengthways in half and, using a sharp knife, scrape the seeds out into the bowl. Beat the oil, sugar and vanilla together, then gradually add the eggs. The mix should be smooth and thick at this stage. Mix in the diced apples, sultanas and lemon zest, then lightly fold in the sifted dry ingredients.

Whisk the egg whites in a clean bowl, either by hand or with a mixer, until they have a soft meringue consistency. Fold them into the batter in two additions, trying to lose as little air as possible.

Pour the batter into the lined tin, level it with a palette knife and place in the oven. Bake for 1½ hours, or until a skewer inserted in the centre comes out clean. Remove from the oven and leave to cool in the tin.

Once the cake is completely cold, you can assemble it. Remove from the tin and use a large serrated knife to cut it horizontally in half. You should end up with two similar discs. If the cake is very domed, you might need to shave a bit off the top half to level it.

To make the icing, beat together the butter, muscovado sugar and maple syrup until light and airy. You can do this by hand, or, preferably, in a mixer, using the paddle attachment. Add the cream cheese and beat until the icing is totally smooth.

Using a palette knife, spread a 1cm-thick layer of icing over the bottom half of the cake. Carefully place the top half on it. Spoon the rest of the icing on top and use the palette knife to create a pattern. Dust it with icing sugar, if you like.

Extracted from Ottolenghi: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Ebury Press, £27). Photos by Richard Learoyd

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