One of the newest members of our Cookbook Club is also arguably the most notable. Mr. Yotam Ottolenghi himself joined to answer our questions, but starstruck members initially just flooded him with compliments, like this one from Corrin Crone Phillips:
Yotam Ottolenghi not only are you my favorite chef, you are one of my favorite people. Thank you for sharing yourself with us; I draw endless inspiration from your body of work and am so grateful for you.
The numerous posts eventually forced the chef to admit to the virtual world that the praise caused him to blush!
Once the initial "OMG! Ottolenghi is here!” shock and awe began to slowly subside, members started firing off questions for the chef. Here are 5 things we've learned so far:
Shalini Roy asked, “What are a few of your childrens' favorite recipes from your books?”
According to Yotam, his boys, like many of us, are fans of his Mejadra.
Mickey Saldana wanted to know his go-to meal when he comes home tired and his brain is too tired to think of something to eat:
If not Mejadra (since the kids love it), Yotam says he goes for "a good tomato sauce for pasta, with a tin or two of smoked oysters thrown in."
Mejadra from @ottolenghi's Jerusalem, page 120 . Someone asked on the @Food52 Cookbook Club if there was "a way to take a picture of lentils and rice and make it pretty". This was as good as it got for me, haha. . #thecookingofjoy #mejadra #ottolenghi #f52cookbookclub #jerusalemcookbook #mujadara #vegetarian #f52grams #shareyourtable #foodandwine #feedfeed #eattheworld #tastespotting #thekitchn #vegan #seriouseats #eater #fwx #howisummer
Yotam also answered two of our most burning questions, “What do you mean when your recipe calls for red chilies,” and “How do I deal with the skins on all those darn chickpeas?!”
As far as the chilies go, he advises, “Unless otherwise stated, I normally mean something that's moderately hot, i.e. 2 to 3 on a scale of 1 to 5.” And as for the chickpeas, Yotam confides that there's no need to individually peel them, saying: "If you follow the Jerusalem method then at least some peels will come up to the surface and you can skim those off. The rest, a good food processor should be able to deal with.”
Alexandra Lafond asked the ultimate question for any lover of cookbooks: What are his current favorites?
One of the most exciting things happening in the Club, even as the month of Ottolenghi closes out, has been the extra-high level of participation:
As Sheila Scully said, “One thing that struck me, especially in the last few days, is the number of people posting for the first time. I hope they will all become as hooked on posting as I am—it's great to have more active participants and perspectives!”
Even for those of us who made a lot of Ottolenghi's recipes this month (like the two spreads above), it might feel like June came to an end too quickly. Don’t despair, there is always Throwback Thursday, so you can revisit the Ottolenghi suite of books weekly—just include the hashtag #TBT when you share your photo in the Club.
Join us by posting your triumphs on Facebook and tagging your photos on Instagram with #f52cookbookclub. And pick up July’s club pick, David Lebovitz’s My Paris Kitchen—we can’t wait to cook with you!