Dispatch and Ottolenghi

I’ve never been a “Take Away” kind of Gal, but during Lockdown I gave it a whirl and I have to say with mixed results!

For Himself, a recent birthday gift was 4 cooking classes complete with a home delivery of all the food stuffs along with a video course. As he loves good Indian food ( not your corner shop type of curry) this seemed the perfect answer. The only problem was, well there were a couple, a) upon ordering the course one had to choose the dates, so these were picked at random by me, and b) fitting it in with our not so busy schedule. I say not so busy, but nonetheless it seems difficult, compounded by the fact that I got carried away and found another “Take Away” that we just had to try !

Yotam Ottolenghi who grew up in Jerusalem, with a German grandmother and an Italian one and learnt to cook by way of London and his partner Sami Tamimi a Palestinian who grew up also in Jerusalem, so a complete melange of Arab, Jewish, German and Italian and a mutual love of food. Both of them arrived in London in 1997 and realised that they both wanted the same thing. Looking at their list of restaurants and takeaways, it was an obvious step to do a Cook It Yourself type of menu. This was ordered via a company called Dispatch, one of many which sprung up during our various Lockdowns.

Since then, they have opened 7 restaurants/deli’s/ takeaway venues.

They are :-

  • Rovi in Mayfair
  • Nopi in Soho
  • Spitlefields, which is their largest, open for breakfast, lunch and dinner
  • Islington
  • Belgravia, which is small and mostly a takeaway
  • Notting hill
  • And the last is Marylebone my neighbourhood, which is small but open for breakfast and lunch. Must make a mental note to try it for breakfast.

Our Takeaway menu was for starters copious, it was meant for two, but we actually had it over two nights. It consisted of lamb and Portobello mushrooms, Flatbreads, caramelised onions with green herb dip, Smokey marina feta cheese, burnt aubergine with tomato and tahini, smooshed carrots, coriander and pistachio pesto and pickled onions, Chaat masala, chickpea and polenta chips. Dessert was Muhallabieh, burnt honey orange syrup, with Kataifi and pistachio sugar. Phew that was a lot and even better, everything, was extremely well labelled, or rather numbered so the instructions very easy to follow. This has not always been the case with the Atol Kochar. For example in the first delivery there were no instructions to keep the spices for the following weeks ( not a problem here as I waste not want not). Ottolenghi even provided the skewers and rubber gloves.

So as yet, I have not delved into my various books and recreated this menu, bottom line, it was indeed simple to do but 18 packages of this and that, means that one needs maybe a sous chef as well, one negative , and a little on the greasy side !

Keralan food including some very yummy Beetroot.

We have been on our travels for the past two weeks. We started off on the French Alps, our home from home. Autumn was in full swing, the colours were just amazing. Autumn in the mountains ( and in a lot of France) life almost comes to a standstill. Of course most of the population still go to work and kids go to school but cafes, bars and restaurants take a break and this was so with what we consider our local in Morzine. However all that were open, even outdoors scanned our Pass Sanitaire! I now have three versions and the simplest to use is the Irish version and scans well!

We were there for only a few days but found time to do a mammoth shop ( mask wearing of course, after all it is mandatory in France). Why the shop? We were heading to the South of France to meet up with the rest of our family for a long overdue Wedding Anniversary. Twice cancelled we now wanted somewhere warmer than the UK, so wine was needed.

We rented a renovated 16 C farmhouse in the Luberon which would be big enough for 12 of us, and it was. The downside was, the Pool was closed, but the upside was Chantel who appeared and cooked our evening dinner.

Two vegetable dishes have recently come my way. The first was something that is very very French and I have known and have eaten many many times but had forgotten just how lovely it is. Grated Carrot salad. Actually the previous last time I ate this salad was in Brasserie Zédel, one of Corbin and Kings restaurants in London. Here they offer a Prixe-Fixe menu and the starter is listed as shredded carrot. I think the average Englishman might not understand this as being a salad, but it is indeed.The lovely Chantel served this as one of our starters on evening.

To make this very simple but very delicious salad, grate some carrots ( quantities do not matter as any extra can be refrigerated for the next day) add a chopped green onion ( scallion) and if you like some chopped walnuts or pecans along with some chopped parsley. Make a vinaigrette ( or use shop bought )using sone oil, Dijon mustard and lemon juice. Add a pinch of salt. Mix well with the grated carrots and serve.

The other, vegetable which we have both decided is a really quiet delicious, is basically curried beetroot. Himself had taken delivery a few weeks ago, of the second of his cooking class meals. This time it was Kerala Sea Bass with a coconut sauce, Rice and Beetroot.

The beetroot is simplicity itself, especially as it can be bought ready cooked.

Very simply, take a pack of cooked beetroot and roughly chop ( I prefer smaller bits but whatever suits you). Chop about an inch or so of ginger, and a green chilli . Heat a pan and add some oil either coconut or sesame is best. Add 2 tsp of yellow mustard seeds and cook until it pops! Add the ginger and chilli along with a pinch of salt, 1 tsp of turmeric 1/2 tsp chilli powder and the beetroot. Cook for a few minutes until the beetroot is heated through. To give it a bit more umph I added 1/2 tsp of English Mustard powder. One could also add a lump of creamed coconut. I recently served it with some grilled salmon. Will now be on my list of must eat vegetables.

A Devils Chicken ( Poulet Grillé à la Diable)

In French cuisine it is well known that any meat or poultry that has a mustard and pepper coating followed by breadcrumbs, is called à la Diable, or in simple terms, Devilled. Take a simple hors d’oevres of boiled eggs, the yolk when mixed with something spicy, they then become devilled eggs! Hence anything that has a spicy coating can be called devilled.

I was wanting something different to make using simple chicken thighs. If you can buy them deboned so much the easier, but it simple to remove the bone, all you need is a sharp knife and maybe a bandaid/ plaster or two. And for this dish DO NOT remove the skin ! I know that, we all know that the skin is calorific but when crispy it is the tastiest bit. So don’t remove the skin ! ( and when I want some spicy chicken I will use this mixture on chicken breasts)

I like to make this dish with a combination of Dijon mustard, English mustard powder and some hot chilli powder. You will also need some fine dry breadcrumbs , homemade is best but a bit of a pain really so use shop bought ( non coloured) breadcrumbs, or panko crumbs, but these will have to be smushed some as they tend to be rather chunky. ( do this by putting the crumbs into a polythene bag and rolling with a rolling pin.)

  • Serves about 3
  • heat oven 180 C
  • 6 chicken legs or thighs, deboned
  • 2-3 tablespoons of Dijon mustard
  • 1-2 teaspoons of English mustard powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 2 eggs beaten
  • 4 Oz / 120 grms breadcrumbs
  • 2 Oz butter

Mix together the mustards and chilli powder. Pour the eggs into a shallow dish. Put the breadcrumbs into another dish. Smooth the mustard mixture over the chicken ( it does gets a bit messy), dip into the egg and then the breadcrumbs.

Place the chicken into an ovenproof dish. Dot each bit with a knob of butter and bake for about 30 mins. Put the chicken onto a cooling rack for a few minutes before serving. Can be eaten hot or cold.