Ottolenghi Potluck Party

As much as I love to cook, occasionally it is nice to throw a party where everyone contributes to share the fun and the finance. Ottolenghi is perfect for this type of sharing because he features so many recipes on his web site, you don't have to buy any of the books. It's fairly safe to say after trying a few of his dishes you will probably want to. The selection is edited all the time so you won't always see the same dishes. There is marketing sense in his generosity. He publishes a weekly vegetarian cooking column in the Guardian newspaper, so he's already giving away a few secrets. He also gets extra mileage because he has plenty of material to make cookbooks from the column, so you don't have to feel sorry for him.

When I sent out the email invitation with a link to his recipes, I claimed Branzino in Chraimeh Sauce as my dish to build the menu around. I asked that each person 'reply to all' with the dish of their choice so everyone could keep up. Here are some of the dishes that arrived at my house for an Ottolenghi Potluck.

Pomegranate Tomato Salad: The colors are extraordinary as is the pop of acidity from the seeds to accent the tomatoes. 

Pomegranate Tomato Salad: The colors are extraordinary as is the pop of acidity from the seeds to accent the tomatoes. 

Cauliflower cake is dense with eggs, cauliflower, parmesan and hearty enough to be an entree.

Cauliflower cake is dense with eggs, cauliflower, parmesan and hearty enough to be an entree.

The cauliflower cake was so pleasing to me with the red onion accenting the rosemary and basil flavors, while sesame seeds provide crunch.

The cauliflower cake was so pleasing to me with the red onion accenting the rosemary and basil flavors, while sesame seeds provide crunch.

Branzino sautéed in a 12-inch pan. 

Branzino sautéed in a 12-inch pan. 

Branzino is a Mediterranean favorite with firm white flesh, usually served whole and stuffed. Some call it the Mediterranean Seabass.

Branzino in chraimeh sauce 

Branzino in chraimeh sauce 

Chraimeh Sauce is a famous Tripolitan (Libyan) Jewish holiday dish made a little differently by every family with great pride. The redness is from paprika and tomato paste. The sweet, hot and spicy is from ingredients such as garlic, caraway,  cumin, cayenne and cinnamon. Gefilte fish is commonly used at holidays. Amberjack is another favorite fish for this sauce. Although Ottolenghi says any white fish will do, salmon is recommended by him because it is so easy to find. In other words, whatever you like is good!

I liked the chraimeh but another well known sauce I have made several times with halibut and branzino is chermoula, a green sauce from parsley and cilantro that is easier to make and versatile for fish or poultry.

 

Vegetable Paella

Vegetable Paella

This is just so pretty I want to cook it often. There are always a few vegetarians around and they do not feel they are getting short shrift with this paella on the buffet.

freekah

Freekeh salad required a food dictionary to learn it is a grain. It is a young, green durum wheat that is burned in processing to give a smoky aroma.

I'm a pie person, but this is one fabulous rich, moist cake gilded with chocolate that completed the evening. Everyone gave a two minute report on what it was like making their recipe and why they chose the wine to go with. The group waddled home with many leftovers. It was a very fun.

Karen Tripson