Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Ottolenghi' Cookbook for Those Who Want to Capture Flavours of Mediterranean

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

'Ottolenghi' Cookbook for Those Who Want to Capture Flavours of Mediterranean

Article excerpt

'Ottolenghi' captures Mediterranean flavours

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TORONTO - Maple syrup -- that quintessentially Canadian ingredient -- is a favourite in the kitchens of two chefs transplanted from Jerusalem to London, England.

In fact, chef Yotam Ottolenghi and his business partner and co-chef Sami Tamimi sell syrup from a Quebec producer in their online store.

"We love using it. We've always been big consumers of maple syrup," said Ottolenghi during a visit to Toronto to promote "Ottolenghi: The Cookbook."

"We like it a lot because we like to add some sweetness to dressings or any dish to balance out sharpness or heat and maple is good because it's got a little flavour but not too much flavour. Like if you add honey, it takes over," he said.

"It blends with the flavours and it's got this little bit of caramel feel," added Tamimi.

"Ottolenghi" is actually their first book, published originally in the United Kingdom in 2008, and now reissued in North America. "Plenty," a collection of vegetarian fare, was published in 2010 in the U.K., and came out the following year in North America.

The two said they were elated over the huge success of their third book, last year's "Jerusalem: A Cookbook," which captured numerous awards, including the International Association of Culinary Professional's cookbook of the year.

The recipes in that volume are based on the food the chefs grew up with on opposite sides of the divided city -- Ottolenghi in the Jewish west and Tamimi in the Arab east. The two settled in London years later where they eventually met and became business partners.

A new introduction to put the cookbook "Ottolenghi" into perspective of the years that have passed was the only change made from the 2008 edition.

"It's basically the same because I didn't feel there were any adjustments that needed doing," Ottolenghi explained.

"This is in essence the food that really represents what we serve in our restaurants the most. Although it's been quite a few years since we wrote it, these are key recipes that are still very much on the menu."

Their Ottolenghi eateries and high-end restaurant Nopi blend almost equally sweet and savoury, representing each of their specialties -- Ottolenghi trained as a pastry chef and Tamimi specializes in savoury dishes -- and feature Mediterranean cuisine that's rich in flavour and colour.

Writing "Jerusalem" went more quickly and smoothly than "Ottolenghi," which represented a huge learning curve for the duo, who were unfamiliar with writing recipes and spent a couple of years compiling the book.

"This was quite challenging," said Tamimi. "I remember the first few recipes I did at home, like how do you do that? When you're at the restaurant, you just add things and make things."

"You have to stop and think about it even when you add a pinch of salt" and write it down, noted Ottolenghi. …

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