Trying to work more vegetables and grains into your diet? Me too. But feeling less than inspired at the start of 2018? Me too. Seeking ideas, I stumbled upon a new cookbook by Yotom Ottolenghi titled Plenty More. The recipes are all vegetarian as Ottolenghi does a weekly food column for the Guardian that is strictly plant-based although the chef himself is not a vegetarian.
The British/Israeli cook opened a deli in Notting Hill that quickly gained a cult following due to its inventive dishes, characterized by loads of vegetables, unorthodox flavor combinations, and the abundance of unusual Middle Eastern inspired ingredients such as rose water and pomegranate molasses. When asked to explain his cooking philosophy, Ottolenghi said, “I want drama in the mouth.” Well, I do too, Ottolenghi!
Here are two recipes that I tried yesterday for lunch and dinner which turned out to be spectacular even when I made some slight modifications based on what I had in the cupboard. And due to the fact that I have a few micro greens on my hands. One recipe is simply carrots and the other one is a new way to prepare rice.
Honey-Roasted Carrots with TahiniServes 22 tbsp honey1 tablespoon olive oil1 tsp coriander powder1 tsp cumin3 sprigs of rosemary6 large carrots, peeled and each cut crosswise into two 2 1/2-inch batons 1 1/2 tablespoons micro greens (chef used cilantro)Salt and black pepperFor the Tahini Yogurt Sauce1 tablespoons tahini paste1/4 cup Greek yogurt1 tablespoon lemon juice1 clove garlic, crushedSaltPreheat the oven to 425 degreesPlace all the ingredients for the tahini sauce in a bowl with a pinch of salt. Whisk together and set aside.Place the honey, oil, coriander, cumin and rosemary in a large bowl with dash of salt and a good grind of black pepper. Add the carrots and mix well until coated, then spread them out on a large baking sheet and roast in the oven for 40 minutes. Stir at least once.Serve warm with a spoonful of sauce on top, scattered with the micro greens.Baked (yes, baked) Rice
5 short cinnamon sticks (I get mine at Fiesta)
5 star Anise (or cloves)
A few Kaffir lime leaves (chef uses curry leaves but I didn’t have any). You can keep the leaves frozen until you need them.
2 cups basmati rice, rinsed, soaked in water for 15 minutes, and drained well – don’t skip this step
2 tsp. sesame oil
salt and white pepper
Preheat the oven to 400ºF
Put the cinnamon sticks, star anise, lime leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper in a saucepan. Cover with 2 3/4 cups water and place over high heat. As soon as the water boils, remove the pan from the heat.
Spread the rice out in a baking dish or roasting pan approximately 9 1/2 by 12 inches, cover with the boiled water and aromatics, and stir well. Lay a piece of waxed paper over the surface of the water and cover the dish with aluminum foil. Cook in the oven for 25 minutes, then remove and leave to sit, covered, for 8 to 10 minutes.
Just before serving sprinkle with sesame oil (chef recommended butter and lemon juice) and fluff up the rice with a fork. Transfer to a serving bowl and serve at once (you can remove the stems and cinnamon sticks or keep for the look).
Eighty percent of life is showing up.I am not sure who said that first but I am a big believer in the statement. Just doing the work, is its greatest feat. Even on the days you don’t feel like it, showing up can make all the difference. Intention is great, and inspiration is great, but if you’re not there for it, not doing the work for it, you have nothing to show but ideas and aspirations.
In the past, my daughters would come to me with an opportunity for a scholarship or an internship and doubt themselves if they should apply. They would ask, “aren’t there better qualified people than me for the opportunity?” The answer is probably “yes” but you won’t know until you try. And who knows, maybe you will be the only one to put in your application or one of just a few who took the time and the effort. So try they have over the years to mostly successful results. And when not, at least they knew they tried.
Recently a friend was excited about her daughter’s news that she was selected for a school option by a competitive lottery. She was told at an open house that she shouldn’t bother to select this school because it was so popular with a growing wait list and her daughter wouldn’t get in. My friend shared these comments with me and we both agreed that was bad advice to follow. My friend worked with her daughter to complete the rather challenging paperwork including an essay and submitted it by the deadline (always make the deadline). Guess what? Her daughter was accepted to the school. And if she hadn’t at least tried to apply, the experience of completing the paperwork, participating in interviews and opening the acceptance letter are ones that this young lady would never have the both the discipline and the joy of experiencing.
My number one rule for living my life well? Show up. And if you don’t meet all your new year’s resolutions or you have already messed up on a few, start again tomorrow. I guess my other rule for a happy life is to just start over. We all deserve a few do-overs.
Showing up also means supporting others in your community. Attend the performances of others, purchase the handmade goods of people you respect, and read articles by people who write the way you want to write. If you expect people to show up for you, you need to show up for them.