Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Ottolenghi Crazy

We are experiencing a bit of an Ottolenghi obsession in this house at the moment.  I don't consider this to be a bad thing.  If you aren't familiar with Yottam Ottolenghi's cookbooks, his column in the Guardian (on which Plenty is based), or his London restaurants, I highly suggest poking around various websites and getting to know his food.  It's with a tinge of regret that I didn't call enough in advance for reservations at his restaurant the last time we were in London.

The recipes seem to be filling a need for our general food cravings: lots of pulses (chickpeas, lentils, and beans), aromatic spices, and complementary layers of simple ingredients.  Listen to me, sounding as if I ever in my life used the word pulses to refer to beans--must be the Ottolenghi wearing off on me.  Maybe it's because we've been in that no man's land of fresh ingredients, otherwise known as early spring.  The beginning of asparagus season this month has signalled a turning point, but the month preceding it was hard for us.  We've drawn a lot of inspiration from the cookbooks.

Our favorite recipe so far has got to be the Quinoa Salad with Dried Iranian Lime.  Alas, no dried limes to find here in Amsterdam--we're substituting lime juice and lime zest.  If you're in L.A. and you want to know where to get them, I've got a few addresses for you.  I lived in The Valley (the San Fernando Valley to you non-Southland people) for a few years, and the gigantic Persian market in Van Nuys was probably one of the greatest redeeming values of living "so far" from all of my friends.  This recipe has appeared twice on our menu in the last week-and-a-half, despite the extra effort of going to the super-chic supermarket for the orange sweet potatoes, honestly really worth the extra step. Besides, the youngest member of our family has really gotten into sweet potatoes.  As you can see, the eggplant from the soba noodle salad has also been a hit with the younger crowd.

 Lots of changes going on in the house at the moment.  A growing baby, making some travel plans, making some choices about a career move.  It's all been a little overwhelming, but when doesn't life seem to be really full.  I will say that it feels like with the arrival of spring, life (and cooking) has become more manageable.  Maybe I just needed some more sunlight.  Well, I've got my wish; the sun rises here a little after 6:00 a.m. and sets well after 8:00 p.m.  This is good for me but not so great for a baby, who hates to go to sleep.  We finally broke down and ordered a massive black-out shade for our bedroom window.  Whatever keeps us rested and sane, right?

Now go make some Ottolenghi recipes.  You can thank me later.