My favourite cookbook of 2008 has to be Ottolenghi: The Cookbook
I was already a big fan of their cafes and so I was delighted to get the cookbook in my hot little hands to try to discover the secret of their amazing food. Ottolenghi: The Cookbook begins by stating “If you don’t like lemon or garlic skip to the last page”. Lemon and garlic is truly the doctrine according to Ottolenghi and features heavily in many of the recipes picking up Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Middle Eastern heritage.
The cookbook features light and fresh food with thoughtful flavour combinations. There is an emphasis on salads designed for serving on large platters and sharing with friends and in the style of the Ottolenghi cafes the sweeter side of things is not neglected. This isn’t a cookbook just for chefs though, it has good basic recipes for things like shortcut pastry and muesli. I have tried lots of the recipes and besides looking sensational they all actually work.
I don’t mean to sound evangelical but Ottolenghi: The Cookbook is really that good. The most recent winner I cooked from it was this simple but flavoursome recipe for lamb cutlets served with fig and goats cheese salad. I have adapted the recipe slightly, but true to form, garlic is a feature as well
12 lamb cutlets, French trimmed
Leaves from 6 thyme sprigs roughly chopped
Leaves from 1 Rosemary sprig roughly chopped
2 garlic cloves crushed
6 tbsp olive oil
125ml orange juice
60ml red wine vinegar
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
100g soft goats cheese crumbled
Handful of mint leaves
Handful of flat leaf parsley leaves
2 tbsp olive oil
4 fresh figs quartered
1. Marinate the lamb by rubbing the cutlets with the thyme, rosemary, garlic and olive oil. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
2. Prepare the sauce by placing all the ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to the boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 30-40 minutes until reduced.
3. Heat up a griddle or pan until piping hot. Season the cutlets with salt and pepper. Place on the heat for 3-4 mins on each side. Remove from the grill and leave to rest in a warm place.
4. Toss together the salad ingredients and place on top of the figs. Serve the cutlets with a small tablespoon of the sauce over each portion of lamb and drizzle the remainder over the figs and salad.