I have written about my cooking group in several posts including Dulce de Leche Sandwich Cookies (wish I had one right now), Chana Masala (yum), Roast Chicken with Garlic, Lemon & Parsley, and Tomato, Feta & Preserved Lemon Salad.
Well, we kicked off our 2016-17 season last week here at my home and most in the group were able to attend. Sadly, our fearless leader, Charity and our friend, Leann could not be with us, but it was a festive reunion after our summer hiatus nonetheless.
One of the most wonderful things about this cooking group is that each of us brings a unique culinary perspective to share. Each host chooses their theme for the evening and everyone weighs in ahead of time with the dish they are going to share so presumably there is a balanced meal. Sometimes we have outings and other times we have someone from outside the group (or inside) come and teach us something fun.
On the only other occasion I asked everyone to bring a dish inspired by the former Hammersley’s Bistro in Boston. I have done other dinners with other groups where I’ve asked folks to bring a dish from their favorite cookbook (and to bring the book) and this past summer, my girlfriends and I had an all-vegetarian pot luck which was incredibly fun. The dishes were all so creative!
So for last week’s cooking group gathering, I chose to celebrate dishes from the mini empire that is Yotam Ottolenghi, who together with Sami Tamimi wrote the cookbooks, Jerusalem, Ottolenghi. He also authored or co-authored the cookbooks Plenty, Plenty More and Nopi. If you are a fan of big, bold flavors and interesting food combinations, and you haven’t taken a look at these cookbooks, you may want to give them a try!
What I find so fascinating about these theme dinners is what people find within the cookbooks. What I may gloss over, another person finds enticing and vice versa because of an ingredient, a flavor combination or a cooking technique. I have discovered new recipes from some of my very oldest cookbooks by enjoying a meal at someone else’s table.
In any case, let me show you the dishes from our Ottolenghi together. Not all of the pictures were terrific as we have moved into evening light and that proves a little challenging for the lense. And I have included one of the recipes for Parmesan and Poppy Biscuits that were loved by all. I actually made them this week to bring along to a few meetings (the recipe makes a bundle). The biscuits are cheesy with a hint of spice and the texture of a shortbread. They are perfect with a glass of wine or as a snack. The only ingredient you may not have in your pantry right now is the poppy seeds.
I asked a few people to bring nibbles which was a good idea since our dinner plates as you will see later were full to the brim. With 12 people attending, that wasn’t hard to do so 3 people brought appetizers, 8 brought main course items and 1 brought a dessert. We had an extra appetizer in there from someone who was inspired at the last minute to make a second dish!
To begin we enjoyed this flavorful Burnt Spring Onion Dip…
A blurry picture unfortunately, but this Muhammara, a red pepper and walnut based dip from Ottolenghi’s website was delicious. The cook behind this substituted fig molasses for the pomegranate molasses called for in the recipe…
These Stuffed Portobellos with Melting Taleggio from Plenty were decadent…
And these (sadly blurry) Parmesan & Poppy Biscuits from Ottolenghi (recipe below) have changed my life…
Roasted Parsnips and Sweet Potatoes with Caper Vinaigrette from Plenty were amazing. Leftovers could make a wonderful base for a pizza…
Butternut Squash with Ginger Tomatoes and Lime Yogurt (added after the picture) from Nopi was also delicious and packed a little heat which I really loved…
Lemon and Eggplant Risotto from Plenty is something I am going to make really soon for my husband. The flavor of the lemon in this dish was spot on and the rice made for a wonderful compliment to the vegetable centric meal…
Turkey & Zucchini Burgers with Green Onion and Cumin from Jerusalem are a dish I have previously posted on the blog. If you haven’t made these, please whip up a batch this weekend because they are a crowd pleaser…
My contribution were these Kofta b’siniyah, a combination of lamb and beef with all the spices of my childhood including one of my favorites, allspice. That flavor profile, and kofta in general is something we ate quite a bit of when I was growing up. My mother used to boil kofta in chicken broth and we would eat it almost like a soup. My father especially loved this dish.
Back to Ottolenghi, we also enjoyed a yummy quinoa based Parsley, Lemon and Cannellini Bean Salad from Plenty More…
Pear and Fennel Salad with Caraway and Pecorino from Ottolenghi’s website was light and refreshing…
Beets with Yogurt and Preserved Lemon Relish from Plenty. I have never met a beet I didn’t love…
Someone made the brilliant suggestion to take a picture of one of our plates and I am so glad we did…
And sadly, this photo is miserable, but the Fig and Goat’s Cheese Tart was a perfect way to end our meal…
Last but not least, here is our group shot which we were inspired to take to capture the moment in time. We caught it twice actually because as luck would have it, right when we finished our last friend showed up after a meeting at her daughter’s school! Of course we had to regroup…
My version of Parmesan & Poppy Biscuits…
See you next week!
This recipe is from Ottolenghi The Cookbook written by Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi with some minor adjustments from me. The biscuits taste divine and go wonderfully with drinks. The recipe says it yields 35, but I got about twice as many as that!
- 1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour, plus plenty extra for dusting
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- pinch of cayenne pepper
- pinch of fine salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 165 grams of unsalted butter or 2/3 cup, about 12 Tablespoons
- 6 ounces or 165 grams freshly grated Parmesan cheese (fine grate)
- 2-ounce container of poppy seeds
- 1 large egg, beaten
- Sift the flour, baking powder, paprika and cayenne into a bowl and add the salt and pepper.
- Mix the softened butter with the Parmesan until they are well blended, either by hand or with a spatula or with a stand mixer using the paddle attachment (my preference) until a soft dough forms.
- turn the dough out onto a well-floured work surface and divide it in half. Use plenty of flour, both on your hands and on the work surface, to roll each piece into a long long approximately 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic wrap and place in the fridge for about 30 minutes to firm up.
- Scatter about 3/4 of the jar of poppy seeds over a large flat tray that is big enough to hold the logs. Brush the logs with the beaten egg and then roll them in the poppy seeds until covered. If your logs were like mine and not perfectly rounded, you may need to help this along by sprinkling the poppy seeds over the log. Refrigerate again for 1 hour (at this stage you can also wrap the logs and freeze them).
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Cut the logs into slices about 1/4 inch to 1/3 inch thick and arrange them on the pan, spaced 1 1/4 inches apart. Bake for 12 minutes or until nicely browned (mine took about 17-20 minutes). The crackers should be dark golden and smell amazing (they do!). Leave to cool completely before serving or storing in a tightly sealed container where they will keep for many days (I know this because I was gone for 4 days after our Ottolenghi dinner and was delighted to find them waiting for me upon my return. Delicious as the first night!).
Tips from The Kitchen Scout
When I baked off my first log, it look a bit longer than the 12 minutes called for in the recipe and I elected not to flip the crackers. When I baked off the second long, I decided to flip them after 15 minutes and continue cooking for another 5 minutes or so. This step is optional
One Year Ago: Tailgate Brownies
Two Years Ago: The Market restaurant in Gloucester, Massachusetts
It really was an incredibly joyous and yummy gathering. We are so blessed to have this group filled with incredibly talented and creative women. I feel humbled to be a part of it. Thank you Val for your post and blog!! Anne
We are! I am so glad you enjoyed the post (and blog), Anne! xo