Cap­tur­ing Mediter­ranean flavours

Chefs Ot­tolenghi, Tamimi of­fer sig­na­ture dishes

Calgary Herald - Calgary Herald New Condos - - Weekend Life - LOIS ABRAHAM

TORONTO — Maple syrup is a favourite in the kitchens of two chefs trans­planted from Jerusalem to Lon­don, Eng­land.

In fact, chef Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi and his busi­ness part­ner and co-chef Sami Tamimi sell syrup from a Que­bec pro­ducer in their online store.

“We love us­ing it. We’ve al­ways been big con­sumers of maple syrup,” said Ot­tolenghi dur­ing a visit to Toronto to pro­mote Ot­tolenghi: The Cook­book.

Ot­tolenghi is their first book, pub­lished orig­i­nally in the United King­dom in 2008 and now reis­sued in North Amer­ica. Plenty, a col­lec­tion of veg­e­tar­ian fare, was pub­lished in 2010 in the U.K., and came out the fol­low­ing year in North Amer­ica.

The two said they were elated over the huge suc­cess of their third book, last year’s Jerusalem: A Cook­book, which cap­tured nu­mer­ous awards, in­clud­ing the In­ter­na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of Cu- linary Pro­fes­sional’s cook­book of the year.

The recipes in that vol­ume are based on the food the chefs grew up with on op­po­site sides of the di­vided city — Ot­tolenghi in the Jewish west and Tamimi in the Arab east. The two set­tled years later in Lon­don, where they even­tu­ally met and be­came busi­ness part­ners.

A new in­tro­duc­tion to put the cook­book Ot­tolenghi into per­spec­tive was the only change made from the 2008 edi­tion.

“This is, in essence, the food that re­ally rep­re­sents what we serve in our restau­rants the most. Al­though it’s been quite a few years since we wrote it, th­ese are key recipes that are still very much on the menu.”

Their Ot­tolenghi eater­ies and high-end restau­rant Nopi blend al­most equally sweet and savoury, rep­re­sent­ing each of their spe­cial­ties — Ot­tolenghi trained as a pas­try chef and Tamimi spe­cial­izes in savoury dishes — and fea­ture Mediter­ranean cui­sine that’s rich in flavour and colour.

Ot­tolenghi pulled out all the stops for the sweets sec­tion of Ot­tolenghi, which in­cludes deca­dent choco­late cakes and brown­ies, along with orange po­lenta cake, caramel and ma­cadamia cheese­cake and var­i­ous tea­cakes, cup­cakes and muffins. The pho­tos will make the reader drool.

“They’re a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent, but they’re man­age­able,” he said. “Even the mac­a­roons, there’s no need to pipe them, just spoon them. We re­ally tried to make it very achiev­able and doable.

The Ot­tolenghi trade­mark is veg­eta­bles pre­pared sim­ply but with strong flavours, and this book doesn’t dis­ap­point, with recipes fea­tur­ing crunchy cu­cum­ber salad, grilled as­para­gus, snow peas, egg­plant, squash, cau­li­flower and toma­toes.

Along with maple syrup, their favourite in­gre­di­ents in­clude le­mon, gar­lic, pome­gran­ate, yo­gurt, tahini, feta cheese, pink pep­per­corns and su­mac, a spice made from the crushed berries of a small Mediter­ranean tree.

Ran­dom House

“Broc­coli is our sig­na­ture dish,” says chef Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi about the Grilled Broc­coli with Chili and Gar­lic recipe.

Ran­dom House

Ot­tolenghi: The Cook­book was writ­ten by chefs Yo­tam Ot­tolenghi and Sami Tamimi.

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