Book reviews by Mobilism's Book Review team
Dec 13th, 2018, 7:10 pm


TITLE: Ottolenghi SIMPLE
AUTHOR: Yotam Ottolenghi
GENRE: Non-Fiction, Cookbooks, Food & Wine > Regional & International > European > Mediterranean > Quick & Easy
PUBLISHED: October 16, 2018
RATING: ★★★★☆

PURCHASE LINKS: Amazon iBookStore

Review: You would have to be living under a rock if you haven’t heard of Yotam Ottolenghi, the man who made vegetables fashionable again and inspired people to cook with it more. Yotam Ottolenghi was born and raised in Jerusalem; now living, and co-owner of five delis and restaurants, in London after studying at Le Cordon Bleu. He has authored 6 super-hit cookbooks before Ottolenghi Simple and this new cookbook hits the mark as well; his streak still continues.

SIMPLE here is an acronym

S – short on time: less than 30 minutes
I – 10 ingredients or less
M – make ahead
P – pantry
L – lazy
E – easier than you think

Each recipe is from across 300+ pages, 130 in total listed by the definitions that apply. Though the title might be considered an oxymoron as everyone has a different approach to cooking, different levels of control or readiness involved, with some more spontaneous than others. I love that SIMPLE meets vibrancy expectations I always have with any Ottolenghi cookbook, full-page photos, and the SIMPLE tags on the top making the recipes easy to classify for the picking.

The recipes are definitely simple but one needs to follow the instructions in the precise manner provided, it’s not something that can be winged. One of the things I immensely like is that list of ingredients also mention what prep work must be done for it. (For example, 5g basil leaves: finely chopped, plus a few extra leaves to serve; 1 lemon: finely grate the zest to get 1 tsp, then juice to get 2 tsp, 100g pomegranate seeds from half a pomegranate, few kept aside for garnishing.)

One of the recipes is ‘Bridget Jones’s Pan-Fried Salmon with Pine Nut Salsa’, This is the dish that Patrick Dempsey’s character mentions in the film Bridget Jones’ Baby, which he says is “from Ottolenghi”. The dish was, in fact, fictional, but Ottolenghi has retrospectively created in honor of that mention. While the recipes are simple, some ingredients are not that simple to come across; for example, Rose Harissa. I absolutely adore that Ottolenghi’s cookbooks are always separated by types of ingredients or dishes. Brunch, Raw Veg and Cooked Veg, Meat, fish and seafood and of course Dessert.

Nutella, Sesame and Hazelnut Rolls

Makes 10 rolls.

150g strong white bread flour, plus a little extra for dusting
¾ tsp fast-action dried yeast
1½ tsp caster sugar
3 tbsp olive oil, plus a little extra for greasing
¼ tsp salt
65ml lukewarm water
40g blanched hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
20g sesame seeds, lightly toasted
150g Nutella, softened (in the microwave or gently on the stove, until easily spreadable)
1 small orange – zest finely grated, to get 1 tsp
2 tsp icing sugar

Put the flour, yeast, sugar, two tablespoons of oil and the salt in a large bowl and mix to combine. Gently pour in the water, then, using a spatula, bring the mixture together until combined into a dough. Transfer to a lightly oiled surface and, with lightly oiled hands, knead the dough for three minutes, until soft and elastic. (You may need to add a little more oil if it starts to stick to the surface or your hands.) Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl, cover with a clean, damp tea towel and leave to rise in a warm place for 40 minutes, until nearly doubled in size.

Heat the oven to 240C/465F/gas 9. Combine the hazelnuts and sesame seeds in a small bowl and set aside one tablespoon of the mix.

On a lightly floured surface, roll out the dough into a 40cm x 30cm rectangle, so that the longest side is towards you and parallel to the work surface. Using a spatula, spread the dough with the Nutella, leaving a 2cm border clear on the top edge. Sprinkle the orange zest evenly over the Nutella, then scatter over the sesame and hazelnut mix. With the longest side still towards you, roll the dough into a long sausage. Brush with the remaining tablespoon of oil, then sprinkle with the reserved tablespoon of sesame and hazelnuts (gently press these into the dough, so they stick). Trim the ends, cut the roll into 10 3cm-long segments and lay seam side down on an oven tray lined with baking paper.

Bake for about eight minutes, until golden brown, then dust with the icing sugar and leave to cool slightly before serving.

Ottolenghi is a genius at pairing Mediterranean spices, vegetables, fruits, nuts, and, to a lesser extent, meats and fish, in marvelous ways. I like that the end of the book includes something of an index that categorizes the recipes by suggesting themes for
    - a Summer Vegetarian feast
    - a Winter feast
    - a Tapas feast
    - a Middle Eastern feast
    - etc

I rarely buy physical copies of cookbooks anymore but Ottolenghi recipes have proven to be consistently delicious; hence, Yotam Ottolenghi is always on my list of must-buy cookbooks by famous chefs and so I purchase both the hardback and eBook formats.
Dec 13th, 2018, 7:10 pm