Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Plenty of ceramics and china finger bowls

I started cooking from a new book last week, but have been so overwhelmed with cleaning out my mother's house, plus taxes, plus euthanizing chickens, plus watching the entire first season of Community, that I haven't had any energy for posting. I'll do better.

The cookbook I started was Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi. This was the cookbook that Gabrielle Hamilton chose over Dorie Greenspan's Around My French Table in her infamous Tournament of Cookbooks review last year. That review caused me to start cooking from Greenspan's book, which I adored, and also caused me to become obsessed with the writing of Gabrielle Hamilton. I'm not sure I'm going to adore or become obsessed with Plenty, but it completes the trifecta. Did I use "trifecta" correctly? In any case, it's a cool sounding word.

To decide what I think of Hamilton's review is one reason I chose Plenty. The other reason: it's a vegetarian cookbook and lately the dishes I make again and again are all vegetable dishes. Like this, and this, and this. I subsist on these three dishes and I want more like them in my repertoire. Will Plenty deliver?

Last week I made the sweet potato cakes with yogurt sauce.

You steam sweet potatoes and then mix them with chopped scallions, soy sauce, flour and hot pepper and form the batter into patties that you fry and serve with a delicious yogurt-olive oil-cilantro sauce. The cakes themselves tasted quite lovely, but were gummy. Were I truly dedicated to making a fabulous sweet potato pancake, I would play with this recipe and improve it, but apparently I'm not dedicated. Grade: B+.

I also made the cacophonous saffron cauliflower. Too much going on in that melange -- raisins, saffrons, olives, onions, cauliflower -- with nothing to bring everything together. I ate this dish, but did not like it, nor feel any interest in ever eating something like it again. Grade: C+.

Last night, I made the chickpea and chard stew with tamarind. It was sour and contained caraway seeds and I've had better greens and beans preparations. I'm pretty sure I could make better chickpeas and chard without a recipe. Grade: B-.

It dawned on me last night that my kids now accept everything I serve them without complaint. This takes some of the comedy-drama from the blog, though it it certainly makes my life more pleasant.
And after. Back to the old house for more china and Christmas ornaments today. 


  1. I do not think that a day will arrive when my kids eat whatever I put in front of them. You give me hope, but really--I am searching for the second dinner we will all eat. (The first and only so far is the Armagnac chicken from Around My French Table. So thanks again for that.)
    Good luck with the house, etc.

  2. Dawn Nichols3/22/11, 2:46 PM

    So glad to read another post! I have also been eating the kale and quinoa pilaf a lot. Last time the cheese I wanted to use had gone bad, so I substituted a big handfull of emmentaler. It was amazing - and I think it tastes even better than the original recipe. So if you are looking for a little "remix" of that recipe, you might want to try that.
    Wish you a great time and delicious food!

  3. I made the quinoa and kale last night handed it to my fiance as he walked in the door and he cleaned his plate. His favorite meal is Taco Bell so I was surprised. The bag of kale I bought is huge so I am going to try the peanut dressing slaw tonight. Love your blog.

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