Been doing a lot of cooking out of a couple of cookbooks the past couple of months. Ottolenghi's Plenty More (above, Spice-Stuffed Potatoes, filled with mint and tamarind, great), and David Bailey's Fresh Vegan Kitchen. Oh also some experiments from the Inspiralized website that I'll talk about in another post maybe.


Plenty More seems to be having a pretty high success rate, I don't know how much of that can be attributed to knowing what kinds of things to aim for and what things to avoid after cooking through most of Plenty. "No patties under any circumstances, no matter how good they sound" is a good rule for example.

And since it was a Christmas gift, we've really only cooked wintry shit. Root mash with wine-braised shallots was really good on a cold late-winter night; stuffed peppers with fondant swede and gruyère was an unusual concept, if better cold from the fridge the next day; winter saffron gratin was slightly too much trouble, but maybe that's just the fussiness of Jerusalem artichokes...this beetroot and celeriac gratin was easier and better if you take all of the ridiculous Epicurious-comments-section-esque VDuck shortcuts as outlined below.


beetroot and celeriac gratin.

500ml double cream
1 medium onion, peeled and quartered
20g thyme sprigs, leaves picked but also keep the stems
2 bay leaves
6 cloves garlic, peeled and lightly crushed
Shaved skin of 1 large lemon
8 whole cloves
Salt and white pepper
4-5 medium beetroots (700g), boiled, peeled and sliced 2mm thick
1 large 900g celeriac, peeled and sliced widthways 2mm thick
100g hard mozzarella, grated
150g extra mature cheddar, grated

OK so: the Plus doesn't have cheddar (I don't blame them, almost no one does), so I used two packets of pre-shredded Old Amsterdam (aged Gouda) instead, and two balls of 49 cent mozzarella instead of "hard mozzarella" whatever that is. I think this means I ended up using roughly 150g of each cheese, but it could've been slightly more. And it means that around the two-hour mark I had a bit too much liquid in the pan (fresh mozzarella does this), but due to the eventual total cooking time it worked out OK.

And of course the Plus didn't have raw beets, nor did they have their normal vacuum-packed pre-roasted beets, so I bought a big jar of pre-sliced and marinated beets instead and just rinsed it really well. And I couldn't imagine putting a half liter of double cream in a recipe, so I used half soya cream, and didn't notice it at all, which makes me think you could maybe use all soya cream.

And yeah, there's a step where you steep the first six ingredients together for a while and then drain the cream and throw the solids away. I didn't drain the cream after I boiled it with the lemon and garlic and all that shit in it, I just threw all of it in the baking dish when I layered the beet and celeriac layers.

And then I baked the whole thing for 3 fucking hours or whatever because Nelsker's oven has mysterious buttons that never seem to do the same thing twice. Seriously, we've successfully turned on the broiler about three times in 18 months I think. There are only three unlabeled, textless buttons that can either be pressed or unpressed, some combination of them turns on the broiler, but.....yes, file under "Unsolved" for now.


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