I am very fussy when it comes to cookbooks. I know that they say ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’, but with cookbooks I think the overall presentation and photography are just as important as the recipes themselves. Fabulous photos of food inspire me to cook, blog, and most of all to improve my own photography, if only to share my delicious creations with all of you.
In view of this, I’m sure that you can see why I was immediately drawn to the latest cookbook by Yotam Ottolenghi, Plenty. The cover has a beautiful design and luxurious feel, and the photographs on the interior are phenomenal and make me want to cook all day long (although I find a guilty pleasure in reading cookbooks in bed and just staring at the pictures).
So of course I was very excited to get stuck into my new cookbook, but with almost 300 pages of vegetarian recipes I just had no idea where to start. In the end I chose something a little foreign to me, paella. I have only eaten paella once or twice, during our travels in Spain, yet I have never attempted to cook it.
Though not a traditional recipe, it looked rather appealing, especially considering it was topped with olives and artichoke hearts.
Of course, in my usual style, I didn’t have all the ingredients to hand, and had to switch out the paella rice for aborio, sherry for red wine vinegar (not even sure if that was comparable), and leave out the broad beans and saffron.
Do you like my new chopping board? I love it so much I don’t even want to cut on it… is that weird?
I have never really cooked with fennel, but I read somewhere the other day that a great way to try new things is to buy something new every time you go to the greengrocer, so what a perfect way to start.
Red and yellow capsicums were cut in thin slices.
Thankfully my housemate swooped in to the rescue with some paprika as I didn’t have any and it is the essential spice in paella.
Ideally, a paella pan is large and shallow, but a frypan was all we had and I had a bit of a problem getting the rice to cook evenly. I eventually realised that a switch to our bigger burner would work much more efficiently and finally got the paella finished.
I think I went a little overboard on the olives and artichokes as the saltiness overpowered the more subtle flavours of the paella, but overall I was rather impressed with my first attempt (though I can’t say the same for Kris, it was too much for his tastes).
Note to self: less olives next time and there is definitely no need to add salt. I would even use half a veggie stock cube instead of a whole one.