"Ottolenghi: The Cookbook," now available in North America, captures the essence of the London restaurants of chef Yotam Ottolenghi and his co-chef and business partner Sami Tamimi.
In the book, they offer 140 recipes that are fresh, simple and full of the colours and textures of Mediterranean cooking so those who can't travel to the Ottolenghi or Nopi restaurants can capture the flavours at home.
Here are two recipes to try.
Grilled Broccoli With Chili and Garlic
"Broccoli is our signature dish and this recipes makes the most out of broccoli," says Ottolenghi, adding this dish is very easy to make.
"A lot of people who would never touch broccoli eat this because of the smoke. You put it on your grill pan and just let it smoke. It's very important to follow the cooking instructions because it's all about underboiling it. You literally cook it for a minute or two and then you put it on your griddle. Then in the second cook you give it the smoke. ...
"Then you put on an infusion of olive oil, chili and garlic, basically just heat it on the heat with those ingredients, then pour it on the hot broccoli and all those flavours are absorbed into the broccoli, so it's kind of hot and spicy."
For even more oomph, add four chopped anchovy fillets to the chili and garlic when cooking them in the oil.
2 heads broccoli (about 500 g/1 lb)
Scant 125 ml (1/2 cup) olive oil, divided
4 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 mild red chilies, thinly sliced
Coarse sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
Toasted almonds or very thin lemon slices (with skin), for garnish (optional)
Separate broccoli into florets (leave on the individual small stems that the florets grow on).
Fill a large saucepan big enough to easily accommodate broccoli with plenty of water and bring to a boil. Throw in broccoli and blanch for 2 minutes only. Don't be tempted to cook it any longer.
Using a large slotted spoon, quickly transfer broccoli to a bowl full of ice-cold water. You need to stop the cooking at once. Drain in a colander and let dry completely. It is important that the broccoli isn't wet.
In a mixing bowl, toss broccoli with 45 ml (3 tbsp) of the olive oil and a generous amount of salt and pepper.
Place a ridged grill pan over high heat and leave it there for at least 5 minutes, until it is extremely hot. Depending on the size of your pan, grill broccoli in several batches. The florets mustn't be cramped.
Turn them around as they grill so they get char marks all over. Transfer to a heatproof bowl and continue with another batch.
While grilling broccoli, place oil in a small saucepan with garlic and chilies. Cook over medium heat until garlic just begins to turn golden brown.
Be careful not to let garlic and chili burn — they will keep cooking even when off the heat. Pour oil, garlic and chili over hot broccoli and toss together well. Taste and adjust seasoning.
Serve warm or at room temperature. Garnish broccoli with almonds or lemon just before serving, if desired.
Makes 2 to 4 servings.
Apple and Olive Oil Cake
This cake has a maple icing "so it's a Canadian-Middle Eastern fusion," says Ottolenghi. "It's a cake that can't go wrong. It's so easy to make. It's hard to spoil it. Even people who've had no experience in baking always say to me that is the first cake (they) made and it works perfectly."
He advises using a sharp apple, such as Granny Smith.
The olive oil gives this cake extra depth and intensity. The complex flavours mature over time, so consider wrapping the cake in plastic wrap and refrigerating it, ready to ice and serve, for up to three days.
Somewhat less festive (and less calorie laden), this is still very satisfying without the maple icing. Just dust lightly with icing sugar.
Heaping 125 ml (1/2 cup) golden raisins
60 ml (4 tbsp) water
550 ml (2 1/4 cups) all-purpose flour
2 ml (1/2 tsp) ground cinnamon
1 ml (1/4 tsp) salt
2 ml (1/2 tsp) baking powder
6 ml (1 1/4 tsp) baking soda
125 ml (1/2 cup) olive oil
175 ml (3/4 cup) superfine sugar
1/2 vanilla bean
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 1-cm (1/2-inch) dice
Grated zest of 1 lemon
2 egg whites
Icing sugar, for dusting (optional)
105 ml (7 tbsp) unsalted butter, room temperature
Scant 125 ml (1/2 cup) light brown sugar
Scant 90 ml (6 tbsp) maple syrup
250 g (8 oz) cream cheese, room temperature
Grease a 20-cm (8-inch) springform cake pan and line bottom and sides with parchment paper.
Place raisins and water in a medium saucepan and simmer over low heat until all the water has been absorbed. Let cool.
Heat oven to 160 C (325 F). Sift together flour, cinnamon, salt, baking powder and baking soda and set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment (or use a bowl and whisk), place oil and superfine sugar. Slit vanilla bean lengthwise in half and, using a sharp knife, scrape seeds out into bowl. Beat oil, sugar and vanilla together, then gradually add eggs. The mix should be smooth and thick at this stage. Mix in diced apples, raisins and lemon zest, then lightly fold in sifted dry ingredients.
In a clean bowl, whisk egg whites, either by hand or with a mixer, until they have a soft meringue consistency. Fold them into the batter in 2 additions, trying to maintain as much air as possible.
Pour batter into lined pan, level it with an icing spatula. Bake for 1 1/2 hours until a skewer inserted into centre comes out clean. Let cool in the pan.
Once cake is completely cooled, remove from pan and use a large serrated knife to cut it in half horizontally. You should end up with 2 similar disks. If the cake is very domed, you might need to shave a bit off the top half to level it.
Icing: Beat together butter, light brown sugar and maple syrup until light and airy. You can do this by hand or, preferably, in a mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add cream cheese and beat until icing is totally smooth.
Using icing spatula, spread a layer of icing 1 cm (1/2 inch) thick over the bottom half of the cake. Carefully place top half on it.
Spoon remaining icing on top and use icing spatula to create a wavelike or any other pattern. Dust with icing sugar, if desired.
Makes 6 to 8 servings.
Source: "Ottolenghi: The Cookbook" by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi (Appetite by Random House, 2013).