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Lovely to look at. A good gimmick in the visual lay out and use of the 'Simple' idea. Unfortunately it is simply an idea that does not translate into practicality. The recipes are wholesome and tasty, but simple? Perhaps Mr. Ottolenghi could use a dictionary, "Simple. Used to convey that something is very straightforward." These recipes are not straightforward, they are overly complicated. Why use one bowl when Mr. Ottolenghi suggests three would be better? Why not use several pans when one would serve? Let's use both the oven and the hob! The recipes are clearly not written with the home cook in mind, but from restaurant practice, where there is someone to wash-up the bowl used to reserve the wilted onions ,while tomatoes are softened in new oil, ready to receive the previously wilted onions from their special bowl. Please! Far too precious and impractical for everyday cooking. And bizarre quantities. 180gr of lentils? Why not go crazy and have 20gr more for simplicity's sake? The book would also have benefitted from more careful proof reading. I wonder if the recipes have been trialled before printing, as there are examples where not all of the often considerable amount of ingredients listed, make an appearance in the method of cooking the dish. This book is very much something of a curate's egg if it has been bought to cook from, rather than to put on the coffee table. Simple this is not.
As a long time fan of Ottolenghi, replicating many outstanding recipes from his books, TV shows and from his Guardian publications. I've always received many compliments and recommended his cookbooks to many a keen chef. I often use his books for gifting to young couples moving on to the next chapter of their lives together.
I have tried a few recipes from this book. I am by no means a novice I have found the recipes I've tried as too heavily fusion, such as the Mustardy Cauliflower Cheese, page 92. A cross on Aloo Gobi (which he fails to mention or worse even, accept ) and with the epitome of comfort food- in my opinion - Cauliflower Cheese.
I stuck to the recipe to the tee. I feel one cannot review a recipe conclusively unless this is done.
The dish was a massive fail, to say the least. The flavours just didn't mingle, the use of curry powder, chillies and cumin, even whole black mustard seed is just plain wrong. Cheddar cheese is not Indian, nor is a parsley and breadcrumbs gratin. It was so off the mark, that I had to look again at the cover to ensure I had grabbed an Ottolenghi book. I felt as though the recipe drying team had tried to hard to replicate two opposing dishes into one amalgamation.
The friend I cooked for, a novice cook, who is more of a taster. Which I think helps as he can skip the delicate nuance of ingredients and judge dishes for what they are. Remarked that he thought it seems like Ottolenghi was trying to fill the pages to sell the book on his brand name.
I agree with this entirely. Sorry Ottolenghi. On the plus, I'm not giving up on this book entirely, I'm almost certain there's a hidden gem in there. Somewhere.
I bought this book because I wanted some simple recipes to make mid-week, without using loads of ingredients and stuff that would be ready quickly.
I thought this book was full of recipes that fit into those categories, but no...some recipes are marked as 'simple', some are marked as '10 ingredients or fewer' and some are marked as 'quick' or whatever nomenclature the book uses...but it is not true that all the recipes fit all of the categories. Some of the recipes are actually reasonably complex, or require several hours of cooking but only a few minutes of re-heating before eating, and some require some hard-to-find ingredients.
One recipe is for a roast chicken, evidently quite simple and no doubt delicious, but not something I want to make mid-week when kids come home from school and we need to eat before bath-time. I also have to laugh at the recipes that require several hours of cooking in advance before food is served at another time...how does that save me any time at all?
Buy this book if you want tasty recipes from the Middle East, but don't think it's all simple stuff. It's not.
I like Ottolenghi style, and particularly his Jerusalem opus, so I was enthusiastic about this cookbook, full of simple, low key recipes, with one pot wonders that can be cooked on a busy weeknight (as per publisher's description). Truth is, the recipes are simpler than what you would usually expect from Yotam Ottolenghi, but this is not enough to make them suitable for weeknight cooking - well, not if you have time constraints, family tastes to manage and a mixed appreciation of washing dishes. There's not a lot of recipes in the book that are meals in themselves, and a lot of them are for side dishes that involves cooking something else to round up the plate. There's also a lot of mezze recipes (like this fava beans smash with muhammara that looks soooooo good), but there's no suggestion about things that would be good to eat with. I am supposed to serve the smash along with some spoon to dig in? Or will it be good with some sort of flat bread? I know I can figure this out by myself, but I was expecting a cookbook that could be use to simplify meal time, not just to simplify Ottolenghi's cooking style.
I'm gonna send this one back because it won't be use enough to justify keeping it on my already cramped bookshelf.
I heard an Ottolenghi interview about the book (never heard of Ottolenghi) and thought it would be ideal for my husband who cooks dinner for the family every week night and while a decent cook has pretty basic cooking techniques but occasionally will branch out if a recipe catches his eye. This is not that book. I didn’t look through it before gifting and as soon as he opened it he said looks a bit tricky. And once I looked through it- yes it does. Not tricky for folks for whom cooking is a special thing- but for a busy dad with 30 min to cook each night definitely. I did know it was middle eastern themed- and we like ME food, So I thought it would be good for branching out. Also the pantry ingredients are Ottolenghis pantry - not mine- and he gives you a pantry list - most of which I had never heard of or seen and I live in a big city. Lastly most everything has harissa in it- I’ve never used it (hardly even heard of it) but read its spicy which won’t work in our house (kids). So for us- this doesn’t work. I am sure the recipes are awesome and for folks who love to cook it’s a great buy.