April 18 2010
For the past few years, when racking my brains for a suitable gift for someone who is difficult to please, I invariably fall back on a book – and one book in particular. Ottolenghi The Cookbook (£25, Ebury Press) is not new, but it is far less commonplace on kitchen bookshelves than Delia (Smith) Nigel (Slater), Nigella (Lawson) and Jamie (Oliver), making it the ideal gift for the health-conscious and food-obsessed.
I’ve been a fan of Ottolenghi’s small London chain of restaurant-delis since its earliest days and I love the idea of being able to recreate the dishes at home. Thanks to a little Ottolenghi sorcery, vegetables such as broccoli and French beans are transformed into a delicacy, usually via the addition of lemon juice, garlic, chilli, sage – and, more unusually, pomegranate pips. (The chargrilled broccoli with chilli, garlic and slices of lemon is divine.)
Recently, visiting my local bookshop to buy yet another copy, the bookseller told me that one customer had bought 18 copies to give to guests at her house party, so it seems that I’m not the only one who has seized on it as the perfect gift. Meanwhile, I cannot wait for the vegetarian follow-up, Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi, published on April 29 (second picture; £25, Ebury Press).