Ever since the wonderful Wilderness Festival, we’ve become a little bit addicted to the various culinary delights from Ottolenghi and Moro. I always like to think of myself as being a little bit behind the trends, someone once told me I would never be a visionary and so I’ve taken this on board and now store any ideas and discoveries and release them to the world when they think it’s all over…..well that’s what I like to tell myself anyway. So, with that in mind, I am very aware that these two restaurants / cookbooks / deliciousness won’t necessarily be new to many, but if like me you haven’t yet attempted them at home, may I suggest that you do….immediately.
We started with The Moro Cookbook and both Ottolenghi’s, Plenty and The Cookbook and most recently we’ve moved on to the wonderful new Jerusalem from Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi. We’ve re-stocked our spice cupboard with things such as Zatar and Sumac and made sure there’s enough Cumin, Turmeric, Corriander and Cardamon to see us through every recipe we may attempt. To begin the feast I chose something relatively easy : Chilled Red Pepper Soup and Cauliflower Fritters, both from Ottolenghi followed by Aubergine and Tomato Pilav from Moro. Not all in one sitting, that would be ridiculous….although very very tempting.
And then last night came the best of the best, both from Jerusalem : Pureed Beetroot with Yoghurt and Za’atar and Butternut Squash and Red Onion roasted with Tahini and Za’atar. It was ridiculously good and so easy and really annoying that we had no one over for dinner to
show off to share with.
Pureed Beetroot with Yoghurt and Za’atar – Ottolenghi, Jerusalem
6 medium beets trimmed
2 small garlic cloves, crushed
1 small red chilli, seeded and minced
250g plain Greek yogurt
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons Date syrup (or pure maple syrup works too)
1 tablespoon Za’atar
Handful roasted, crushed hazelnuts
2 tablespoons goat cheese, crumbled
2 spring onions, thinly sliced
Preheat the oven to 350°. Wash and trim the beetroot and wrap each one individually in silver foil. Place in a baking tray and cook for about an hour – until you can pierce them with a sharp knife.
Once cool peel the beetroot, cut into wedges and transfer to a food processor. Add the garlic, chilli and yoghurt and pulse until blended. Add the olive oil, date or maple syrup and za’atar and puree. Season with salt. Scrape into a wide, shallow bowl. Scatter the hazelnuts, goat cheese and spring onion on top and serve.
Butternut Squash and Red Onion, roasted, with Tahini and Za’atar – Ottolenghi, Jerusalem
1 large butternut squash (around 1.1kg), cut into 2cm x 6cm wedges
2 red onions, cut into 3cm wedges
50ml olive oil
Maldon sea salt and black pepper
3½ tbsp tahini paste
1½ tbsp lemon juice
3 tbsp water
1 small garlic clove, crushed
30g pine nuts
1 tbsp za’atar
1 tbsp roughly chopped parsley
Heat the oven to to 220C/425F/gas mark 7. Put the squash and onions in a large bowl, add three tablespoons of oil, a teaspoon of salt and some black pepper, and toss well. Spread, skin down, on a baking sheet and roast for 40 minutes until the vegetables have taken on some colour and are cooked through. Keep an eye on the onions: they may cook faster than the squash, so may need to be removed earlier. Remove from the oven and leave to cool.
Put the tahini in a small bowl with the lemon juice, water, garlic and a quarter-teaspoon of salt. Whisk to the consistency of honey, adding more water or tahini as necessary.
Pour the remaining oil into a small frying pan on a medium-low heat. Add the pine nuts and half a teaspoon of salt, cook for two minutes, stirring, until the nuts are golden brown, then tip the nuts and oil into a small bowl.
To serve, spread the vegetables on a platter and drizzle over the sauce. Scatter the pine nuts and oil on top, followed by the za’atar and parsley.
The Old Pill Factory was a very exciting pre Christmas find. It opened a few months ago in Witney, Oxfordshire, which I suppose I can now call my local high street town. There’s not a great deal in Witney, there are all the necessary mainstream chains you need and expect and parking is free, everywhere, ALL THE TIME, but aside from that I wouldn’t necessarily have called it a shopping destination. Well not if you’re looking for something a bit different anyway. That was until I discovered The Pill Factory, which has now become my new favourite shop and from where I shall purchase all presents for myself and others from now on.
It’s essentially a vintage emporium comprising a number of different dealers all selling their wares and who, in their own words “are passionate about breathing new life in to antiques and vintage home ware”. My kind of shop. There are a few bits of lingering reproduction – especially in the smaller home ware sections – but if you steer clear of these, there are some real treasures to be found. My two very favourite Christmas presents were courtesy of The Old Pill Factory. This enamel storage tin was reclaimed from a barge and the enormous blue enamel kettle….well that’s just about the best thing in my kitchen.
So if you find yourself in West Oxfordshire, I highly recommend a visit to Witney. There are a whole host of fabulous little antique shops to discover in these parts but this is a very very good place to start.
Treat the dapper gentleman in your life to one of Marwood London’s beautiful lace ties. Perhaps also tactfully encourage him to team it with a bib to avoid dripping the cranberry sauce down it.
This is the time of year for tradition and the tradition in e-commerce is to bombard any email addresses you happen to have with promotional material. In that spirit may I present some seasonal prints for your
evidication edificeat mild irritation.
With snow and whatforth the first 2 are clearly so christmassy that they should put you in a very festive mood indeed. The third one, it may surprise you to hear, is hanging at this very moment in the V&A museum in the heart of London’s South Kensington (red light) district as part of ‘Private Eye : The First 50 Years‘ which runs until 8th of Jan.
These 3 prints, signed and numbered, I am offering, and it breaks my heart to do so (it doesn’t), at the cut price rate of £30.
And this here link should speed you to my cartoon megastore
May your ding dongs ding merrily on high.
A rather late advent calendar offering today – apologies. Been busy stapling off cuts from the Christmas tree together to make decorations for the fireplace, very satisfying indeed.
I bought this Merry Christmas wire garland a couple of years ago and although it’s a bit boring on it’s own it’s lovely mixed in with a few branches and ribbons. I found it in by accident at a Christmas fair but I’m pretty sure you can find them online too.
And if you don’t have a staple gun I strongly recommend you get one. They make decorating so much easier all year round, be it indoor or out. You can transform (or destroy) a room in 5 minutes flat.
I love these books. They are a reprint of the classic Ladybird collection called Make and Do and include 3 books – Tricks and Magic, Easy To Make Puppets and Things To Make
The perfect present for any wannabe domestic goddess or those determined to do more crafts with their children. Not that I’m speaking from experience.
I have one brand new boxed set to give away. All you need to do is answer this question in the form provided below :
Who founded Ladybird Books?
Winner announced Monday 12th December so that I can try and get it you in time for Christmas.
If like me you seem to have more and more children, babies, in laws and out laws to buy for with every Christmas, then you need some of these. The Celia Lindsell lavender home ware collection provides some perfect stress relieving, sweet smelling presents which will please even the trickiest of recipients.
There are the most gorgeous lavender bags and cushions of all sizes for wardrobe, drawers, sofa or bed and some cute as a button offerings for children and babies. There are lavender filled door stops for the chicest of homes and bottled pure lavender oil which can be sprinkled in the bath to soothe away Christmas aches and pains.
All products are available from the online store and gift wrapping is also on offer. What a wonderfully relaxing way to do your Christmas shopping.