In WITF's Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

Review: NOPI: The Cookbook

Written by Donna Desfor | Dec 1, 2015 11:59 AM
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NOPI: The Cookbook

by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully

Food Photography: Jonathan Lovekin; Location Photography: Adam Hinton

Summary:  There's no confusing that NOPI: The Cookbook is a restaurant cookbook.  Just a simple glance at the recipes -Basil Spatzle in Saffron Broth with Red Mullet, Clams, and Mussels or Quail with Burnt Miso Butterscotch and Promegranate and Walnut Salsa - can be daunting to even a seasoned home cook, but that doesn't mean you should overlook the possibilities NOPI presents for all levels of kitchen enthusiasts.  The book is balanced with manageable component recipes that even a beginner can tackle with great success. 

 

What you need to know:

  • Published by Ten Speed Press, October 20, 2015
  • 352 Pages, $40 (or Amazon, $23.92; Kindle, $19.99)
  • Color photos of almost every recipe, except cocktails; there are several photo montages from inside the restaurant during service.
  • Recipes: about 100; Cocktail recipes, about10; Pantry staples, about 8

NOPI: The Cookbook, represents the vibrant and creative cooking of Chefs Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully combining bold, surprisingly intense flavors and an irreverent blend of ingredients that are as inviting and engaging as any current restaurant offerings you can find by the world's most skilled chefs, yet these are created for you to cook in your home kitchen.  Ottolenghi and Scully manage to offer the reader alternative routes through their professional recipes so that different levels of cooks can achieve delicious results and create the gorgeous artistic dishes served in their restaurant.  If you have cooked through any of Ottolenghi's previous books (including Jerusalem , a favorite of mine) you know his recipes are largely conceived of and created for a home kitchen, and you know that the results are spectacularly delicious.  The same holds true for NOPI, so long as you remember to break down the complex whole into the manageable parts. 

The book is sectioned out into standard chapters:  Starters, Salads, Sides, Fish, Meat, Vegetables, Brunch and Desserts.  Then, adds Cocktails and Condiments, along with a few pages of Meal Suggestions for grouping recipes and a detailed list of the ingredients, which is helpful for things with names like pandan leaves, galangal, and gochujang red pepper paste.  Best of all, substitutions are suggested, as well as recipes for making your own spice blends and condiments, which not only makes navigating the recipes easier, it takes the pressure off for having to invest in exotic ingredients you might only find online.

The most exciting part of each chapter is the component recipes that make up the whole.  While intrigued by titles like, Baby Carrots and Mung Beans with Smoked Labneh (yogurt cheese) and Crisp Pita, or Burnt Green Onion Dip with Curly Kale, or Chicken Supremes with Roasted Garlic and Tarragon Brioche Pudding, I was more excited by the easy technique to smoke the labneh, and the utility of the Burnt Green Onion Dip as a stand alone recipe.  The recipe for the pea and tarragon jus in the Chicken recipe is so fast and straightforward, it's become a quick sauce staple in my kitchen.  And every recipe is like that - filled with little gems of learning or components worth wrapping into you regular repertoire. 

It is worth noting that a kitchen scale is essential to cooking through NOPI: The Cookbook.  While conventional measurements are given, the recipes are not always consistent requiring measurements by volume or weight as well as by teaspoons and cups.  That said, if you have a cooking enthusiast - of any level - this is a great way to bundle together a thoughtful gift.  One that might even get you an invite to dinner.  A spectacular dinner!

As I've said technique reigns supreme throughout NOPI, and it's always manageable and often surprising!  The Butternut Squash with Ginger Tomatoes and Lime Yogurt (recipe follows) makes oven roasting butternut squash easier and faster than ever by omitting the dreaded prep and peeling the squash.  Not to mention the ginger tomato technique is so easy, too, with a surprisingly bold flavor profile, I'd make these over and again to put with a charcuterie board, a cheese board or just to chop and dress up salads or other earthy dishes. 

But when it comes to simplicity, the Burnt Green Onion Dip with Curly Kale (recipe follows) takes the day.  Taking the leap of faith and charring the green onions until they were indeed burnt (!) as instructed, I ended up with the most incredible dip with a hint of smoke and a delicate onion flavor.  In my book, the curly kale is optional!

NOPI: The Cookbook might intimidate you at first glance, but I urge you to really look close, and digest slowly what two incredibly talented chefs have created for you.  You'll find that colorful, bold and delicious tasting food isn't that hard to achieve, and they help you work through your kitchen to get you there. 


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Butternut squash with ginger tomatoes and lime yogurt

Roasted wedges of squash and roasted slices of eggplant: these are two bad boys that have been around the Ottolenghi delis and NOPI restaurant for a very long time. Any new player has to have very good credentials to gain the respect of the old-timers and get a shot on the menu. The combination here of sweet roasted squash with lime-fresh yogurt and gingery oven-dried tomatoes was deemed to cut the mustard.

Ready-made crispy fried shallots can be found in Asian food stores. If you want to make your own, see the instructions on page 110. They're a nice addition but, with the crunch already provided by the cashews, the dish can stand well without them, if you prefer.

Serves 4

  • 1 medium butternut squash, trimmed, unpeeled, halved lengthwise, seeds removed, then cut widthwise into 1-inch/2.5-cm slices (1 3/4 lb/800 g)
  • 3 tbsp olive oil
  • 6 large plum tomatoes, halved lengthwise (1lb 1oz/500 g)
  • 1 1/4-inch/3-cm piece of ginger, finely grated (1 oz/30 g)
  • 1 red chile, seeded and finely diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 packed tbsp dark muscovado sugar
  • coarse sea salt and black pepper

Lime yogurt

  • scant 1/2 cup/120 g Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 tsp ground cardamom
  • Finely grated zest of 1/2 lime,
  • plus 1 1/2 tsp lime juice

To serve

  • 1/5 oz/5 g cilantro leaves, coarsely chopped
  • 1 oz/30 g cashew nuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
  • 1/3 oz/10 g crispy store-bought fried shallots (optional)  

Preheat the oven to 465°F/240°C (425°F/220°C convection)

Mix the squash with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, 2 teaspoons of salt, and a good grind of black pepper. Spread out on a large parchment-lined baking sheet and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until golden brown. Set aside to cool.

Reduce the oven temperature to 340°F/170°C (300°F/150°C convection).

Place the tomato halves on a parchment-lined baking sheet, skin side down. Sprinkle with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, drizzle with the remaining tablespoon of oil, and cook for 80 minutes, until softened.

Place the ginger, chile, garlic, sugar and ¼ teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl. Mix to form a paste, then spoon this on top of the tomatoes. Cook for another 40 minutes, until the tomatoes are caramelized, and set aside to cool.

Place all the ingredients for the lime yogurt in a small bowl, with 1/2 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Mix well and keep in the fridge until ready to serve.

Spread the squash out on a large platter and layer the tomatoes in between. Drizzle over the lime yogurt, sprinkle with the cilantro, cashews, and shallots, and serve.

Reprinted with permission from NOPI: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Food Photography credit: Jonathan Lovekin © 2015

Location Photography credit: Adam Hinton © 2015

 


Burnt green onion dip with curly kale

Make just the dip if you want to keep things simple: it's delicious spread on bruschetta or at a barbecue, alongside some grilled ears of corn.

Slices of fried red chile and thin slivers of garlic are like old Ottolenghi friends. They've been together for many a year, sprinkled on top of various dishes of roasted eggplant or with grilled broccoli in the salad that has become our signature dish. They're on stage again here--providing heat and crunch and the supporting act to a mellow, creamy dip. Use lacinato kale, if you like, instead of the curly kale.

Instead of green onions you can use big fat Catalonian Calçot onions, if you can find them; they are wonderfully meaty, so are particularly happy to be grilled. One important point to remember: there's no such thing as overcharring your onions, so hold your nerve at the grill, whichever variety you are using. The more burnt they are, the better and more smoky they will taste. If you're having a barbecue, it is well worth grilling the onions outdoors; if you're using a grill pan indoors, make sure your kitchen is very well ventilated indeed.

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Burnt Green Onion Dip with Curly Kale

Serves 6

Green onion dip

  • 1 head garlic 
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 5 1/4 oz/150 g green onions (12 to 14), ends trimmed, then sliced in half lengthwise (3 3/4 oz/110 g)
  • 1 1/2 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 2/3 cup/150 g cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup/110 g sour cream
  • coarse sea salt and black pepper

Kale

  • 6 tbsp/90 ml olive oil
  • 6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
  • 3 large red chiles, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 1/4 lb/550 g curly kale, washed, tough stems removed, cut widthwise into 1 1/2-inch/4-cm slices (1 lb/450 g)
  • 2 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat the oven to 425°F/220°C (390°F/200°C convection).

To make the green onion dip, slice off the top quarter of the head of garlic and discard. Place the garlic in the center of a square of foil with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil and a sprinkle of salt. Wrap up the garlic, place it on a baking sheet, and roast for 30 minutes, until  soft. Set aside and, when cool enough to touch, squeeze out the garlic cloves, discard the skin, and, using the flat side of a sharp knife, crush to form a purée. Set aside until ready to use.

Place the green onions in a bowl and brush with the sunflower oil. Sprinkle over 1/4 teaspoon of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Place a small grill pan over high heat and ventilate your kitchen. When the pan is smoking hot, add the green onions and grill for 5 to 6 minutes, turning halfway through, until black and burnt all over. Set aside to cool, then finely chop. Transfer the onions to a bowl and add the cream cheese, sour cream, the remaining tablespoon of olive oil, the roasted garlic purée, and 1/4 teaspoon of salt. Mix well and set aside until ready to use.

Put the oil for the kale into a large sauté pan and place over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and chile slices and fry for 4 to 6 minutes, stirring constantly, until crisp and golden brown. Add the kale, along with 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt and a good grind of black pepper, and cook for 3 minutes--you might need to do this in two or three batches--stirring often, until the kale is cooked but still retains a bite. Remove from the heat, add the lemon juice, and serve warm on a large platter or individual starter plates, with dollops of the green onion dip spooned on top.

Reprinted with permission from NOPI: The Cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi and Ramael Scully, copyright © 2015. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

Food Photography credit: Jonathan Lovekin © 2015

Location Photography credit: Adam Hinton © 2015

Published in In witfs Kitchen with Chef Donna Desfor

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