Adventures with Ottolenghi

(by guest blogger Johanna)

Last fall I was excited to be invited to the first iteration of the Brooklyn Cookbook Author Club. This is a recurring gathering of Brooklyn neighbors who love to cook and eat. Each month they highlight a different cookbook author and everyone (usually about 40 people) has to bring a different dish by that author to share. The rules are simple: you have to prepare the recipe exactly as it is written, no improvisations or substitutes (if you've been reading this blog you know this would probably drive my mother crazy;-).

Of course, the first cookbook author was Yotam Ottolenghi. Those of you who are not familiar with him, Ottolenghi is an English chef, notorious for his exotic ingredients and labor-intensive dishes. Think: candied rose-petals and beet-root juice. As it was a Wednesday night, I went about searching for the simplest Ottloenghi recipe I could find. Behold, tahini and halva brownies. These were such a hit that I made them for every holiday gathering the followed.

However, this is a quarantine blog and we are not making brownies, if it's all we can do to preserve our waistlines. But I did finally get to make an Ottolenghi chicken and rice dish I had tasted at the Cookbook Author Club and wanted to try for some time. The owner of the Red Hook Lobster pound had made it and said that it was a great one-pot recipe that she cooked on regular rotation for her family. It's quite delicious and includes all those mysterious flavors you come across in Middle Eastern or Indian cuisine that you can never quite replicate.

Like I said, I'm more of a recipe person than my mother. You can view the version I used here:

The only substitution I made was to use raisins instead of barberries or currants. This saves you 'step one'. As to the ingredients, we had no cilantro which will be a relief for those of you with that recessive gene. We purchased the cardamom pods fresh, but most of the spices had been in my mothers drawer for at least a year and still packed some punch. Enjoy!

Aside from work and helping my mother set up this blog, here's what I've been up to:

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