Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Do Ottolenghi recipes work?

Like most people who like cooking I've ended up with an Ottolenghi cookbook. I'm very happy about this. The recipes sound enticing, the pictures look great and the heritage is all there. But actually cooking the recipes, that's a different story.

My first venture was marinated turkey breast with cumin, coriander and white wine. In the little bit of blurb that goes with the recipe it suggests that the same sauce would work very well with lamb. The first clue that all may not be as it seems is that sentence, "would work very well with lamb", not 'does work very well with lamb'.

And it didn't. The marinade hadn't penetrated the meat at all despite the recommended 24 hour marinading time. In fact, the marinade seemed to have diminished the taste of the lamb. Heating and reducing the marinade to achieve a sauce wasn't successful either.

Maybe my mistake was to try this with lamb rather than turkey, but the recipe did say it would go well with either. Perhaps I'll try it with turkey one of these days, but turkey just isn't a meat I think about eating very often.

Undeterred I had a crack at another Ottolenghi recipe from the same book (Plenty) - Puy lentils with sour cherries, bacon and Gorgonzola. It's not an everyday sounding dish, but not one which demands the use of unusual ingredients that are hard to get a hold of.

Again, the write-up is rich with promise - "the sweet, sour and salty flavour...make a heady starter". All very enticing, and simple enough to make. But the end result just doesn't deliver. Interestingly this dish does not receive the glossy photograph treatment, perhaps because it doesn't look great - essentially a bowl of lentils with some blue cheese on top. The flavour? What you'd expect, sort of. You can taste everything, the lentils, the bacon, the sour cherries and the cheese. But I'm not convinced that they work together as a dish. I wouldn't cook it again, let's put it that way. 

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