Capturing Mediterranean flavours
Chefs Ottolenghi, Tamimi offer signature dishes
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.
“Broccoli is our signature dish,” says chef Yotam Ottolenghi about the Grilled Broccoli with Chili and Garlic recipe.
Ottolenghi: The Cookbook was written by chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi.