Taleggio and Spinach Brioche Couronne

After watching the final episode of Paul Hollywood’s Bread, I really wanted to make his Savoury Brioche Couronne, but as it’s not vegetarian, I wanted to use a different filling. Step forward Yotam Ottolenghi and his Taleggio and Spinach Roulade from his new book Plenty More.

Making the brioche dough was pretty straight forward and it went into the colder of our two fridges to spend the night. Unlike the brioche that I’d made a couple of weeks before, I put this dough into a large enough container. Even so, it still ballooned enough to touch to the clingfilm that I’d placed over the top of the bowl.

The following morning the dough came out of the fridge a few hours before I knew that I was going to need to bake it. If I’m being honest, I could probably have got it out a little earlier, as the couronne didn’t see to rise that much once it was made. The dough was still quite soft, even though it had been in the fridge all night. The top had formed a little bit of a skin, so I might need to oil it a bit more next time, although it didn’t seem to affect the dough once it had been rolled out.

I had to use quite a bit of flour to stop the dough from sticking to the work surface and the rolling pin. It wasn’t as easy to handle as Paul made it look on the telly either, every time I tried to pick it up to turn it round I nearly put my fingers through it, as it was quite floppy. For some reason I didn’t get my measuring tape out, so I definitely rolled the dough out too large. It was supposed to be a 40cm x 50cm rectangle, but I went over on both dimensions, especially the width. This made the dough a bit on the thin side, which became a problem when it came to rolling up.

I was a bit worried about Yotam’s filling, as you have to slather some crème fraîche over the dough before adding the rest of the fillings. I was a bit worried that this would stop the dough from cooking properly, but given Paul’s recipe calls for four mozzarella balls, which are renown for outputting large amounts of liquid when melted, I figured that a little crème fraîche would be probably be fine. It was.

As I’d made the dough a little on the thin side, rolling it all up meant that the tomatoes and lumps of taleggio wanted to burst through the dough. In retrospect, I could have squished both flat with my hand, before scattering them across the dough. Eventually though, it was all rolled up and rolled out into long thin sausage. As I don’t own a Scottish Scraper, I just used one of my big Global knives to shop down the middle of the dough and split it in two.

When you see Paul twisting the two sausages of dough together on the telly, it looks relatively easy. In reality it wasn’t quite that simple, as the two sausages of dough just weren’t robust enough to be picked up and thrown about like that. You picked up and end and the dough just started to stretch, there was no way it was going to wrap itself into a nice looking twist with just a few flicks of the wrist.

Not to be deterred, I somehow managed to twist the two strands together and form the whole thing into a kind of ring shape. I did struggle trying to join the two ends, as can clearly be seen in the photos. Once it was successfully on a baking sheet, it was put into a polybag and left to rise for about an hour. I think it would have benefitted from a slightly longer prove, as it didn’t seem to have risen that much at all. After a bit of an egg wash, it was into the oven.

While it was cooking, I knocked up a couple of salads to go with it. One was just a simple rocket, olive, tomato and feta affair with a simple white wine vinegar and olive oil vinaigrette. The second, was a chicory, mulled pear and taleggio salad, with a honey mustard dressing.

I was a bit unsure about the chicory salad, as it’s not something we really use. As we don’t have a griddle pan we can use on our induction hob, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to char it enough to soften it. I needn’t have worried though, a stinking hot frying pan did the job and the salad was really nice. A perfect use for one of the Kilner jars of mulled pears that didn’t seal.

Taleggio and Spinach Brioche Couronne

So what was it like? It was really nice, if maybe a touch on the doughy side, in my opinion. I’m not sure if I thought it was doughy because that’s just what’s like, or if it would have benefited from a longer final prove, or slightly longer in the oven. Never having made one before, it’s hard to know what the outcome is actually supposed to be like.

It appeared to go down well with everyone though and the leftovers I had for the lunch the following day were pretty tasty too. It’s definitely something I would do again, maybe with a slightly longer final prove though.

Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chilli

Yotam Ottolenghi's Roasted Butternut Squash with Sweet Spices, Lime and Green Chilli...

Another Yotam dish that looks amazing in the book, but rarely looks amazing once it’s on the plate.

If you want the squash to have nice sharp edges like in the photo, you’ll need to cut the skin off the squash before you roast it. If you peel the skin off afterwards, the edges will be all rough and uneven. You could try cutting the skin off after you’ve roasted, but you’re not going to get that nice crisp edge you get when you chop a squash before it’s been cooked.

Presentation wise, you’ll need a really big platter, unless you want all the squash slices to be piled on top of each other. Also, if you put all the dressing on top. of the squash, you’ll not be able to see the squash, as there’s quite a lot of it. Similarly, the coriander, if you chop the required amount and sprinkle it on top of the dressing, you’ll not be able to see the dressing.

Other than that, it’s a really tasty dish.

Chard and Saffron Omelettes

Chard and Saffron Omelettes

I’ve been meaning to post about this Yotam Ottolenghi Chard and Saffron Omelettes recipe for ages. It’s more of an observation than anything else, but possibly the continuation of a rant I started when going on about Maria Elia’s Ginger Beer-Battered Stuffed Tofu with Asian Mushy Peas.

I get quite annoyed when I follow a recipe and what I produce is nothing like the photo in the book. As far as I’m concerned, if I’m following a set of instructions, what they result in, should look like the end result that is displayed in the book. My current annoyance is with fillings, as I’ve absolutely no idea how you’re supposed to fold these omelettes into quarters and keep either the filling inside them, or stop them falling to bits.

I’ve made this recipe more than once and either the omelettes disintegrate the moment you try and fold them, or you can’t fit anywhere near a quarter of the filling into them and then fold them into a quarter. It might just be my overly perfectionist nature, but that really pisses me off.

Other than that, these are plenty tasty, especially when made with chard out of the garden.

Fried Butterbeans with Feta, Sorrel and Sumac

Fried Butterbeans with Feta, Sorrel and Sumac

I’ve made this Yotam Ottolenghi Fried Butterbeans with Feta, Sorrel and Sumac dish a couple of times now and I really quite like it. I’ve not been able to find any sorrel though, so I’ve always made it with baby spinach and extra lemon juice instead. Since I haven’t found any sorrel locally, I’ve resorted to buying some seeds and am trying to grown my own, just so I can taste this dish as it is meant to be.

The one thing I’ve found though, is the success of the dish is dependent on the quality of the dried butterbeans. One packet of dried beans is too much for the recipe, so you have some left over. You may want to make sure you use the same, or similar, brand of beans and especially make sure that you use beans that are dried to a similar level. Otherwise when you mix packets, you’ll find that the beans cook at different rates and you end up with some of the your beans turning to mush, while others are under cooked.

Mango and Coconut Rice Salad

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I’ve made this Yotam Ottolenghi Mango and Coconut Rice Salad a number of times, it’s a firm favorite. A couple of things though; don’t use rancid coconut flakes, make sure they’re relatively fresh, nothing worse than munching on rancid coconut flakes. Also, it’s currently the arse end of the alphonso mango season at the moment, so do yourself a favour and pop down to your local exotic ingredients shop and buy some; your taste buds will thank you.

Quinoa Salad with Dried Iranian Lime

This is one of those Yotam Ottolenghi recipes that we don’t make enough, it’s really delicious. Just go easy on the dried lime though, as it’s very potent and pungent. Making this dish isn’t with out a bit of middle class angst though, mainly caused by reading Can vegans stomach the unpalatable truth about quinoa? on The Guardian website

If you’re struggling to find any dried lime, then pop down to your local Asian supermarket, if you’re lucky enough to have one. We have the most excellent Nasreen Dar in Cambridge, which is one of my first ports of call when I need to pick up some more esoteric ingredients.

Cooking Over Christmas

I did quite a bit of cooking over Christmas, but I didn’t take photos of everything as sometimes it just wasn’t possible, or appropriate. There’s plenty of draft posts sitting waiting to be finished though, as I did take quite a few photos and want to jot down some notes on things for the future. In the meantime, here’s a few photos of some of the things I cooked over Christmas…

Green Couscous

I love Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty, it was the first recipe book I bought where I wanted to cook all the recipes; even the ones with ingredients that I don’t really like. One of our favorites is the Green Couscous, it’s so simple and quick and is so delicious that even the kids eat it. It’s supposed to be a side salad, but it makes so much, that we normally have it as a main course, or as part of a sharing table. It’s great to do on a lazy Saturday or Sunday, when you don’t want to exert yourself, but still want something really tasty for lunch.

Entertaining

Aubergine with Buttermilk Sauce

We had friends round for dinner last Saturday evening, which meant I got to do some cooking. It was just a shame that I was recovering from a bout of tonsillitis, so I’d not really been up for looking through recipe books, or even thinking about cooking for the previous week and a half. But since I needed to put something on the table, I had to break out the recipe books and try and put together a menu.

I originally thought about finally attempting some stuff out of the Terre à Terre cookbook, but realised that I wasn’t quite well enough for that level of forward planning. Which basically left it as a straight flight between Yotam Ottolenghi’s Plenty and Denis Cotter’s For The Love of Food. Since I didn’t want it to be too formal, or too demanding, I decided to go with some recipes from Plenty, not that I’m trying to say that Denis Cotter is to formal or demanding, he’s not. The starter was new, but the three things I’d picked for the main course were all recipes I’d cooked before, I was trying to make it a relatively easy and stress free day and go for more of a Mediterranean table covered in food affair.

I wasn’t sure about what to do for pudding though, but as I’d been flicking through Maria Elia’s The Modern Vegetarian a lot recently, I decided to go with her Orange, Lavender and Almond Syrup Cake. I’d wanted to make it a couple of weekends previously, but something came up and I didn’t get the chance, so this was the perfect opportunity.

The notes below are mostly to jog my memory if I ever come to cook them again for entertaining people. If you find them useful then great!

Starter: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Aubergine with Buttermilk Sauce
I followed the recipe to the letter, with the oven at 200°C, but after the stated 40 minute cooking time, the aubergine wasn’t really done enough. I wouldn’t say it was still raw, but it certainly wasn’t as soft as I was expecting. I’ll have to bare this in mind if I do it again and either leave them in for longer, or use a slightly higher temperature. The only other things I can comment on are that unless you absolutely drown the aubergines in the buttermilk sauce, you’ll have loads left over. Similarly with the pomegranate, you probably only need the seeds from half of one, unless you really want a massive pile on top.

Also just realised that I didn’t sprinkle any za’atar on top of the buttermilk sauce, not sure where my head was at that evening…

The recipe for this one is on the Guardian’s website.

Main: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Itamar’s Bulghar Pilaf
Nothing to be said about this one, it’s dead easy to prepare and tastes amazing. Really this is a just a note to myself to make sure that I have all the required ingredients before starting to prepare a dish, especially tomato purée. Then you don’t have to txt your guests and ask them to pop into the supermarket on their way over to pick you some up…
Main: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Leek Fritters
The recipe calls for chopping the leeks into 2cm thick slices and fry with the shallots for fifteen minutes. Two things, either stir the leeks more frequently so they don’t catch and cook for a bit longer so they are soft all the way through, or chop them slightly thinner so they don’t take quite as long to cook. I found that not all the leeks were soft all the way through when prepared according to the recipe. Also, don’t whisk the egg white before it’s required, otherwise it goes a bit manky if left to sit for a bit and re-whisking it doesn’t get it back to how it was.

Finally, you really need to leave them to cook for quite awhile on each side, if you try and flip them to early, they’ll just fall to bits and be rubbish. The base should be quite a dark brown before you attempt to flip them, then you know that the fritter is solid and will survive being turned over.

This recipe is also available on the Guardian’s website.

Main: Yotam Ottolenghi’s Smoky Frittata
This recipe calls for scamorza affumicata, which is a smoked mozzarella. I know you can buy it from the cheese shop in Cambridge, but they have to order it in and it might take a week, so you really need to plan in advance. I’m sure that the oak smoked cheddar that I use instead gives a totally different taste and has different melting characteristics. One of these days I really need to get my finger out and order the real thing. Also, when adding the smoked paprika, make sure you are whisking in a big enough bowl, as it has a tendency to clump together.

Yupo, yet another recipe that’s on the Guardian’s website.

Pudding: Maria Elia – Orange, Lavender and Almond Syrup Cake
The recipe just calls for a 20cm springform cake tin, just make sure the one you use is deep, as this is one big cake! I prepared a tin and the I just knew it wasn’t deep enough once all the ingredients had been mixed together. The picture in the book is top down, so gives no indication of depth, but the one I made was 5cm deep at the edges and 7cm deep in the middle. Also remember to put the cinnamon stick into the syrup when you’re making it, I’m sure that would have made it even more delicious.

The recipe says to cook for around an hour, until a skewer comes out clean, I ended up cooking mine for an hour and a quarter and the skewer wasn’t coming out clean from certain parts of the cake. In the end I just figured that it had had enough and took it out, I didn’t want to do my usual thing of over cooking everything.

Turns out this recipe is on the Daily Mail website.

Pudding: Maria Elia – Ginger Sorbet
Always leave a sorbet mix to cool completely, before putting it into an ice cream maker. Otherwise it’s just going to waste the ice block and instead of turning to sorbet, it’ll just cool down. I still can’t fathom why I poured hot sorbet mix into the ice cream maker, it defies all logic.

It also took longer than three hours to set, it was more of a granita than a sorbet after about five hours. Even the next day, it was still more of a granita than a sorbet, might just have been my idiocy though.

The recipe for this one is on some Australian website – LifeStyle FOOD.

Overall I was quite pleased with how things turned out. The bulghar pilaf was lovely and the leek fritters and their green sauce went wonderfully well with it. I think the smoky frittata would have been better on its own with the pilaf though, it just wasn’t on a par with the leek fritters and the flavours of those two, while they both went with the pilaf, don’t really work together for me. Maybe the pilaf and fritters with a side of some crushed beans, feta and za’atar with some flat breads would have been better, I might have to try that next time.

The Orange, Lavender and Almond Syrup Cake was absolutely delicious, even the kids were noshing their way through it the next day. I can see myself baking that one again and again. I’ll have to have another crack at the ginger sorbet too, but I’ll let it cool down before going in the ice cream maker next time.