Asked to choose a recipe from Yotam Ottolenghi’s Jerusalem book for a new cookbook club, I opted for Lemony Leek Meatballs, citrussy flavoured patties! Reasons why I choose that recipe, how I cooked it and what did I feel about using Ottolenghi’s and his foodie partner Sami Tamimi’s famed cookbook where to be shared amongst my fellow enthusiasts. My selected recipe was to be discussed and shared with fellow home cooks during a gathering of the popular Borough Market Cookbook Club, in south London run by food writer and chef Angela Clutton.
Given a choice of dozens of recipes and dishes to pick from, the word that caught my eye was, of course ‘Lemony’, a top division citrus fruit. Citrus fruit appears in thousands of Middle Eastern dishes, with around 20 chosen selected for the Jerusalem book including those made with oranges and clementines.
Ultimately, the recipe I chose and made at home is not too dissimilar to a regular burger or patty, but with the addition of having spent 20 minutes or so bubbling away in a fragrant mix of chicken stock and lemon juice. The final addition of a dollop of Greek yoghurt and a generous helping of chopped flat leaf parsley gives the final flourish and enhances the flavour connection with the Middle East.
Borough Market is a thriving artisan food market just south of the River Thames and its Kitchen hosts a regular Cookbook Club in which the lucky few who get a place bring a prepared dish from a particular recipe book. This Club was a full house in the kitchen with 15 cooking and baking enthusiasts contributing a range of dishes and culinary experiences. For example, using recipes from the classic Jerusalem book, club members shared plates of Open Kibbeh; saffron chicken and herb salad; cardamon rice pudding with pistachios and rose water, and a well received Helbeh (fenugreek cake) and a glass of wine specially selected by experts at the market’s Borough Wine stall. I opted for a couple of glasses of a light and aromatic Vacluse, France origin Muscat wine, with fruity aromas of citrus and peach which paired well with the Middle Easte-rn tones and oils of the dishes we sampled.
Things we learnt …
- while portions in the Ottolenghi restaurants might leave you wanting more, following instructions from the recipe books you’ll get generous portions.
- many recipes call for herbs including fresh coriander and parsley leaves. You’ll need bunches and bunches.
- there aren’t many sweet or pudding recipes in the book, but the cardamom rice pudding with rose water and pistachio, and a yeasted fenugreek cake, essentially a semolina cake soaked in lemon juice and orange blossom water, were delicious.
- Yotam and his writing and restaurant partner Sami Tamir are seriously popular. However, equal numbers are put off making his recipes by the famously long list of ingredients listed by an equally lengthy method. However, many of the ingredients are already found in your larder, and those that aren’t, perhaps fenugreek and pomegranate will soon find a spot on your shopping list.
The atmosphere in the kitchen was very positive and supportive of fellow enthusiasts. We each introduced our prepared dishes with a few words about why we chose to cook the dish
The intense citrus flavour of the Lemony Leek Meatballs that I offered was remarked on (in a good way) as they managed to hold their shape and not disintegrate as they were prized away from their wrapping. Only two sweet dishes were served, a reflection of the book’s bias towards the savoury.
However, the rice pudding and the yeasted fenugreek cake would, l feel, have met Ottolenghi’s approval, with the surprise addition of fenugreek (normally found in curry dishes) giving the cakes Middle-Eastern lustre while the cardamom notes of the rice pudding were reminiscent of a dinner in Jersualem.
Borough Market’s monthly Cookbook Club is free to join, with places filling up quickly. The next club night is in December and will see Angela leading the group through another culinary classic, Delia Smith’s Winter Collection.
Search Borough Market Cookbook Club for more!