Shelf life, by Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi • Glam Adelaide

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Great recipes to encourage home cooks to be creative and experiment

Yotam Ottolenghi is an award-winning Israeli-born chef and author, with this book being the first in a series to be based on his test kitchen. Co-author Noor Murad, originally from Bahrain, runs the test kitchen along with six other multi-talented, multicultural contributors. Both the authors’ backgrounds and current food trends have contributed to a focus on Middle Eastern dishes and ingredients.

The long COVID-19 lockdowns in the UK have made people more interested in cooking at home and using what’s at hand to avoid having to go out shopping. The premise behind the book is to show cooks how they can whip up a tasty midweek dinner with ingredients from the pantry or freezer, plus vegetables and/or meat. The test kitchen has created recipes where substitutions are encouraged, following a “this for that” philosophy. As the book states on page 9, “…in this new world, the need to improvise, to roll with the punches, is more crucial than ever.”

The book has a hard cover and a nice glossy paper, which I hope will be clean. Unusually, it starts with a fold-out ingredient index, so if you have chicken in the freezer or chickpeas in the pantry, you’ll find four and seven recipes for those items, respectively. Each chapter explores new ways to use familiar ingredients and encourages readers to experiment with what they have at home, starting with things you might find at the back of a pantry shelf, then storing vegetables and using your freezer to your advantage. .

CRISPY CHICKEN AND SPAGHETTI IN ONE PAN (PAGE 122)

The only change I made was less garlic. The recipe is clearly marked on the left page with two photographs showing the finished dish and the pasta added to the pan on the right. This is a terrific one skillet dish, cooked in the oven after browning the chicken thighs and onions. This method of cooking spaghetti results in two textures for the pasta, crispy on the edges and al dente in the center, which is a great contrast. However, the final touch of a topping of toasted parmesan, breadcrumbs and herbs left the dish very dry. Next time I would add more water for the pasta or reduce the breadcrumbs to retain more liquid.

5 TOADS A DAY IN THE HOLE (PAGE 106)

It was a brave choice for me because, I am ashamed to say as a Yorkshire woman, I have yet to rise a Yorkshire pudding. This recipe calls for the five servings of vegetables we’re all supposed to eat every day roasted in oil, tomato paste, maple syrup and herbs. Like all recipes, home cooks are encouraged to use what they have and substitute other vegetables. I didn’t make the mushroom sauce from the recipe because our family prefers the onion sauce. I followed the batter recipe to the letter and left the pan in the oven long enough for the oil to smoke before adding the batter and vegetables. Although the pudding didn’t rise as well as my mom’s, it was hands down the best toad in the hole I’ve ever made. I have since cooked it with chicken and spinach sausages alongside the vegetables and it was just as tasty.

Reviewed by Jan Kershaw

This review is the opinion of the reviewer and not Glam Adelaide.

Distributed by: Penguin Books Australia
Published: September 2021
Recommended retail price: $49.99




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