Yotam Ottolenghi’s new book Plenty is on my number-one list of cookbook classics. What is excellent is that all the recipes are vegetarian, and although I am a fond lover of fish and meat, I find myself salivating at these recipes. Such moreish recipes like ‘parsnip dumplings in broth’ or the more exotic sounding recipes like ‘soba noodles with aubergine and mango’ where you think to yourself: ‘no this couldn’t possibly work?’ end up delighting your tastebuds. I used to pass by Ottolenghi’s recipes in the Guardian as I must admit I was a bit sceptical. It seemed like he loved using raisins (ick!) in a majority of recipes and fruity elements mixed with savoury, which are or should I say ‘were’ my ultimate food hell.But now I am an absolute and utter Ottolenghi convert and have tried about five recipes so far that have worked a gem! I have now come to the conclusion that this man is a genius! As you can tell, I couldn’t be more enthusiastic.
The cookbook is divided into categories based on the main ingredient and the overall presentation is very clean looking. This is quite hard for me being a bit of a messy cook: first of all the cover is white and now the book already looks like it has caught some onion, oil stains and other food splatters; second of all there is a lot of white space around the images which doesn’t help with the kitchen spills. I don’t have a copy of Ottolenghi’s last book which was a huge success and got tremendous reviews, but I think that the layout and text design is much more attractive and simpler than the last one.
The green pancakes instantly appealed to me. I always think of my best friend Kushana when I see recipes with fritters or pancakes as she was the one person who introduced me to them years ago. The most astonishing aspect of the recipe is the lime butter, who could resist the combination of lime, coriander, garlic and chilli added to the wonderous thing that is butter? The flavours all work really well together and the texture is definitely more pancake-like (quite thick) than it is fritter or rosti-like. One thing to note about the recipe is the baking powder. Although there is a lot, it doesn’t taste overpoweringly like baking powder because the other ingredients balance it out nicely. Due to my greediness, I only took a couple of quick shots of this meal but the picture does not do justice to the most deliciouness of this recipe!
Green pancakes with lime butter
250g spinach, washed
110g self-raising flour
1 Tablespoon baking powder
1 free-range organic egg
50g unsalted butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cumin (use freshly ground if you can)
6 medium spring onions finely sliced
2 fresh green chillies, thinkly sliced
1 free-range egg white
olive oil for frying
100g unsalted butter, at room temperature
grated zest of 1 lime
1 1/2 Tablespoons lime juice
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/2 teaspoon of white pepper
1 Tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
1/2 garlic clove, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon chilli flakes
Make the lime butter by putting the butter in a bowl and mixing it with a wooden spoon till soft and creamy. Add the ingredients for the butter and mix well. Tip out into cling film and roll out into a sausage shape. Twist the ends to seal and chill in the fridge till firm.
Add spinach to a pan with a little hot water to wilt. Drain and squeeze out all the moisture when cool. Chop and set a side.
Now make the pancake batter. Add flour, baking powder, melted butter, whole egg, salt, cumin, and milk in a large mixing bowl and whisk till smooth. Add the spring onions, chillies and spinach and mix with a fork. Whisk the egg white to soft peaks and gently fold into the batter.
Heat a frying pan on med-high heat. Add olive oil and for each pancake, ladle 2 Tablespoons of batter into the pan and press down gently. Cook for about 2 minutes on each side or till you get a golden-green colour. Continue until all the batter is used up. Serve with the lime butter and some salad on the side.