On April 18, 2016 the library's cookbook club met for dinner with Yotam Ottolenghi's Plenty: Vibrant Vegetable Recipes from London's Ottolenghi and Plenty More: Vibrant Vegetable Cooking from London's Ottolenghi. Plenty was published in 2010 by Chronicle Books and Plenty More was published in 2014 by Ten Speed Press.
Yotam Ottolenghi is British but was born in Jerusalem with a German mother and an Italian father. This upbringing most likely set the stage for how Yotam approaches his recipes, which have an international flair.
He holds a master's degree in comparative literature and studied at Le Cordon Bleu for six months before working as a pastry chef in London where he met Sami Tamimi. Yotam and Sami grew up on opposite sides of Jerusalem, Sami in the Arab East and Yotam in the Jewish West. The pair (along with Noam Bar) opened the first Ottolenghi deli in Notting Hill in 2002. They now have four locations throughout London and Nopi, a more formal restaurant which opened in 2011.
Yotam has published five cookbooks, two which are co-authored by Sami. Their first book was Ottolenghi: The Cookbook in 2008, the sequel is Plenty, written by Yotam and published in 2010, winner of a Galaxy National Book Award.
The pair then published Jerusalem in 2012 and if you hadn't heard of them after Plenty, you couldn't miss them after Jerusalem. The cookbook is a New York Times bestseller and won the 2013 International Association of Culinary Professionals Cookbook of the Year Award and the James Beard Foundation Book Award in the International category. It brought the Middle Eastern cooking craze to a whole new level. Julie Moskin of The New York Times writes in the column Recipe Lab in 2013, "American food lovers are not only cooking from Jerusalem; many of them are cooking their way through it, as cooks did with Mastering the Art of French Cooking in the 1960s and The Silver Palate Cookbook in the 1980s."
Plenty More was published in 2014 (NYT bestseller and Library Journal Book of the Year) and Nopi (nominated for a 2016 James Beard Foundation Book Award in the Cooking From a Professional Point of View category) was published in 2015, both written by Yotam.
In 2006 he was approached by the Guardian to write a vegetarian column for their Weekend magazine. His book Plenty is a compendium of his recipes featured in the Guardian along with some new recipes.
In Plenty More, Yotam confesses that his big fear in writing recipes for vegetarians was that he would run out of ideas. This fear soon became unrealized and he found that the possibilities, ingredients and techniques were endless. He no longer worried about being pigeonholed as a vegetarian chef and embraced things like, "chunky green olives in olive oil; a heady marinade of soy sauce and chile; crushed chickpeas with green peas; smoky paprika in a potent dip; quinoa, bulgur, and buckwheat wedded in a citrus dressing; tahini and halvah ice cream; savory puddings; fennel braised in verjuice; Vietnamese salads and Lebanese dips; thick yogurt over smoky eggplant pulp..." from page vi of the Introduction to Plenty More.
The organization of Plenty is similar to how Alice Waters and other vegetable friendly chefs have used the vegetable families to structure their chapters with names like Roots; Funny Onions; Mushrooms; Zucchini and Other Squashes, etc. Plenty More employs a chapter organization using past-tense action verbs that cooks know well, like Tossed; Steamed; Blanched; Simmered; Braised; Grilled; Roasted; Fried; Mashed; Cracked; Baked; and Sweetened. Both books are filled with mouth-watering full-page photography by Jonathan Lovekin, who also photographed for Jerusalem.
In addition to Yotam's bestselling cookbooks and his restaurants, he's also got an online pantry where you can buy the specialty products his books promote. Can't find black garlic? What about lemon salt? If you can't find them locally (or on Amazon) then Yotam's online pantry has got you covered.
Club Rating: 3.5
"Delicious! The recipes come off as a bit intimidating, but aren't too difficult to tackle and are great tasting." -H.M.
"Most recipes contained at least one unusual ingredient not readily available." -M.C.
"Loved, loved, loved the recipe varieties!" - K.M.
"Very innovative!" -M.G.
"I liked the book and plan on making more. Loved the pictures." - O.H.
"Some of the recipes are quite complicated." -B.C.
"The recipes used ingredients in interesting combinations. Technique can be challenging." -M.H.
7 out of 16 club members had heard of Yotam Ottolenghi before, most from his cookbook Jerusalem.
12 out of 16 club members would recommend the book to a friend.
2 out of the 16 said they would only recommend the book to a friend if they were an experienced vegetarian cook with a lot of time on their hands, and money for fancy ingredients.
Yotam lives in London with his partner Karl Allen and their two sons.
- beet, yogurt and preserved lemon relish p. 19 (Plenty)
- surprise tatin p. 22 (Plenty)
- sweet potato cakes p. 32 (Plenty)
- sweet winter slaw p. 102 (Plenty)
- eggplant with buttermilk sauce p. 110 (Plenty)
- quinoa and grilled sourdough salad p. 128 (Plenty)
- asparagus vichyssoise p. 184 (Plenty)
- mee goreng p. 185 (Plenty)
- freekeh pilaf p.241 (Plenty)
- parsley, lemon, and cannellini bean salad p. 22 (Plenty More)
- lentils, radicchio, and walnuts with manuka honey p.126 (Plenty More)
- squash with chile yogurt and cilantro sauce p. 181 (Plenty More)
- eggplant cheesecake p.242 (Plenty More)
- cauliflower cake p.246 (Plenty More)
- membrillo and stilton quiche p. 249 (Plenty More)
- ricotta and rosemary bread pudding p. 275 (Plenty More)
- baked orzo with mozzarella and oregano p. 276 (Plenty More)
- black currant friands p. 286 (Plenty More)
- walnut and halvah cake p. 315 (Plenty More)
- halvah ice cream with chocolate sauce and roasted peanuts p.316 (Plenty More)
Eggplant with Buttermilk Sauce (from the cover of Plenty).
Halvah Ice Cream with Chocolate Sauce and Roasted Peanuts (amazing!!).