I have lost count of the number of cook books I have recycled, but I have kept a few well stained old faithfuls that I frequently turn to for recipes and inspiration. Among others, they include Claudia Roden’s A book of Mediterranean Food and Arabesque, her more recent collection of Lebanese and Turkish dishes. I have kept Paula Wolfert’s classic on Moroccan Food, Tess Mallos’s The Complete Middle East Cook Book and Food of Life, the definitive Iranian cookbook by Najmieh Batmanglij.
For sea food, Alan Davidson’s world renowned Mediterranean Seafood and North Atlantic Seafood are my references and I often reach out for Yotam Ottolenghi’s and Sami Tamimi’s creative masterpiece Jerusalem ; that includes modern takes on many wonderful dishes from my Palestinian ancestral home town.
It has been a while since I bought a cook book and as I mentioned a few weeks ago, Jamie Oliver’s latest publication, “5 Ingredients” intrigued me. At first I was skeptical by his claim that he could provide130 recipes, each with only 5 ingredients. Nevertheless, I bought a copy and it has turned out to be the most useful and creative cookbook I now own.
Jamie Oliver brilliantly covers the full gamut of meat, fish and poultry dishes and includes a host of interesting vegetable side dishes. To cap it all, he has some quick and yummy desserts.
Recently I tried his Sizzling Strip Loin, a seared strip loin steak on a bed of blistered cherry tomatoes and a creamy basil-flavored aubergine purée, which was delicious, unusual, and easy to make. I also cooked this week’s featured recipe: Sticky Hoisin Chicken, delicious pan baked chicken thighs with hoisin sauce on a bed of scallions, red chillies, blood oranges and garnished with crispy chicken skin. The flavours and textures are quite original and the presentation is beautiful. —Derek Farwagi
chicken legs and thighs with skin and bone in
fresh Thai chillies
blood oranges ( but navel oranges could work)
Hoisin saucePreheat the oven to 350°F.
Put a non-stick oven proof frying pan on a high heat.
Pull off the chicken skin and put both the skin and the legs into the pan. Season with sea salt and black pepper.
Let the skin render out and the chicken gets golden – about 5 minutes, turning legs halfway. Meanwhile trim the scallions and halve across the middle, putting the green halves aside.
Toss the white scallions into the pan then transfer to oven for 15 minutes.
Meanwhile seed the chillies and finely slice them lengthways with the green scallions and pop into a ice cold bowl of water to curl and crips them.
Peel and finely slice the oranges and arrange them on two plates.
Remove the scallions from the pan and set aside.
In a small bowl (or glass), dilute 2 tablespoons of hoisin sauce with a little red wine vinegar, then spoon over the chicken. Leave it in the oven while you drain the chillies and green scallions and spread them and the cooked scallions over the oranges.
Plate the chicken on top and garnish with crispy skin.