Plenty More — Off the Shelf
Yotam Ottolenghi's newest cookbook, Plenty More, could very well be one of the most-anticipated books of the year. It's not hard to see why. The book is gorgeous, and the recipes will change the way you approach eating vegetables — taking them from simple side dishes and turning them into stars worthy of center plate. Expectations for Plenty More were high, and Ottolenghi exceeded them at every turn.
The introduction is touching and endearing, as Ottolenghi pulls back the curtain on his hesitation to be pegged as a chef that specializes in vegetables. With his restaurant and in his other books, Ottolenghi has made it apparent he's capable of much more than a delicious vegetable dish, but the way he plays in the vegetarian space is nothing short of enchanting.
The book breaks the recipes into chapters based on cooking methods: Tossed, Steamed, Blanched, Simmered, Braised, Grilled, Roasted, Fried, Mashed, Cracked, Baked and Sweetened Preparations. The recipes you'll find in Plenty More will open your eyes to the countless possibilities vegetables offer the plate. With Plenty More, you won't simply toss apple chunks into your salad; you'll make a Tart Apple and Celery Root Salad, with wonderful little pops of quinoa and a bright hit of vinegar to bring the dish to life. You won't just steam rice; you'll make Lemon and Curry Leaf Rice, each bite fragrant with cinnamon and citrus and the herbaceous perfume of the curry leaves. You'll find Tomato and Roasted Lemon Salad, with little jewels of pomegranate sprinkled it, bursting with flavor in every bite. And the Brussels Sprouts Risotto will fill you up and keep you warm through the winter, with garlic and onions and wine-and stock-simmered Arborio rice. Try the Cauliflower Cake (recipe below), from the Cracked chapter, and see for yourself how imaginative and flavorful a simple vegetable can become when cooked with care and skill. Plenty More goes on sale October 14, and you can pre-order your copy here.
Having lived in Britain for more than 16 years, there are certain names and phrases with which I am perfectly familiar: Doctor Who, Ring a Ring o'Roses, Curly Wurlies, Blue Peter and cauliflower cheese, to name just a few; but I have no clue as to their meaning. This is mostly a disadvantage because I miss out on all sorts of innuendos and references, but occasionally it works pretty well for me. When it comes to cauliflower cheese, for example, what to me sounds like the most indulgent and comforting of dishes has to an alumnus of the British school system a stomach-turning echo of drearily soft florets swimming in a puddle of greasy water. So when it comes to cauliflower and particularly when cheese is involved, I need to work extra hard to convince my readers that this is something they might want to eat. Well, I think I've got a winner here. Serve this cake as a light supper alongside a makeshift salad of sliced cucumber, dill, mint, a little sugar, cider vinegar and canola oil. Wrapped well, this cake will taste even better the next day.
1 small cauliflower, outer leaves removed, broken into 1 1/4-inch florets
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Place the cauliflower florets in a saucepan and add 1 teaspoon salt. Cover with water and simmer for 15 minutes, until the florets are quite soft. They should break when pressed with a spoon. Drain and set aside in a colander to dry.
Cut 4 round slices, each 1/4-inch thick, off one end of the onion and set aside. Coarsely chop the rest of the onion and place in a small pan with the oil and rosemary. Cook for 10 minutes over medium heat, stirring from time to time, until soft. Remove from the heat and set aside to cool. Transfer the onion to a large bowl, add the eggs and basil, whisk well, and then add the flour, baking powder, turmeric, Parmesan, 1 teaspoon salt and plenty of pepper. Whisk until smooth before adding the cauliflower and stirring gently, trying not to break up the florets.
Line the base and sides of a 9 1/2-inch springform cake pan with parchment paper. Brush the sides with melted butter, then mix together the sesame and nigella seeds and toss them around the inside of the pan so that they stick to the sides. Pour the cauliflower mixture into the pan, spreading it evenly, and arrange the reserved onion rings on top. Place in the center of the oven and bake for 45 minutes, until golden brown and set; a knife inserted into the center of the cake should come out clean. Remove from the oven and leave for at least 20 minutes before serving. It needs to be served just warm, rather than hot, or at room temperature.