Yotam Ottolenghi, one of my favourite chefs and food authors, recently released a new cookbook called Simple. As a long term fan, I couldn’t wait to see it. Imagine my surprise when I received a copy of the book ahead of its release and invited to lunch with the chef himself! Today I am sharing with you the recipe I chose (Chocolate, Sesame and Hazelnut Rolls) and also some photos of the Cookbook Club with Yotam Ottolenghi.
First of all, let me tell you a little bit about the new book. The idea behind Simple is to help people in creating wonderful dishes without too much effort. Some of the recipe from Ottolenghi’s books require long preparations and unusual ingredients available only at specialised stores or online. They aren’t complicated, but they certainly require effort and time.
SIMPLE changes that. It’s an Ottolenghi book for people with little time to spare.
What does SIMPLE cooking mean to you? For me, it’s definitely about an easy prep and every day ingredients. I often decide at the last minute that I want to (and have time to) cook or bake. I never plan too much in advance. The recipe I end up making every single time, without fail, is the one recipe in a cookbook that I already have all the ingredients for.
All the recipes featured in Simple follow these principles: they take less than 30 minutes to make; require 10 ingredients or less; are easy to make ahead; with ingredients you’ll likely have in your pantry; perfect for lazy cooks and bakers; and are easier than you think.
If you always wanted to recreate the flavours Ottolenghi is famous for, but with minimum effort, Simple is the book for you. It is definitely the perfect cookbook for me!
To celebrate the launch, The Happy Foodie (by Penguin Random House) hosted a supperclub at Rye London studios with UK’s most inspiring photographers, food writers and stylists. I was one of them! :) We were all asked to prepare one recipe from the cook book, either savoury or sweet, and bring it along for the big potluck lunch.
They called it the Cookbook Club and it was one of most fun and delicious events I’ve ever been to!
Yotam Ottolenghi was there with co-author Tara Wigley (Esme Howarth, the other co-author of the book, couldn’t be at the lunch). It was so nice to meet Yotam and Tara, chat to them about the cookbook and watch them as they demonstrates two recipes. We then all sat down around the long table at Rye London and shared the wonderful meal.
The company, food and wine (thank Nyetimber!) were amazing, so what more could I have asked for? Oh well, a photo with Yotam Ottolenghi, of course! **
I was so impressed by the efforts all the guests had put in preparing the dishes. Everything was beautifully laid out on the table and I tried to try as many dishes as I could. You can see them all on Instagram under the hashtag #thfcookbookclub. Among my favourites were the Butter Bean Mash with Smokey Muhamarra, the Roast Aubergine with Curried Yoghurt & Almonds, the Butternut Squash Salad with Lentils, the Lemon Blueberry Cake and the Honey Thyme Cheesecake.
Of course, I also loved the recipe I made which was Chocolate, Sesame and Hazelnut Rolls.
In the original recipe, the rolls are made with Nutella. The dough is homemade, but don’t be put off by it. It is really quick to make and it requires just 40 minutes of proofing. In Yotam’s words:
Two assumptions here. One is that everyone has a jar of Nutella somewhere, and second that making your own dough and rolling it up into all sorts of deliciousness is easier than it looks. The result is somewhere between a cake and a biscuit, best enjoyed as a treat with a cup of tea or coffee. [Yotam Ottolenghi]
Personally, I didn’t want to use Nutella, as I find it too sweet (I prefer to use artisanal spreads or buy from high quality chocolatiers). If you have a little time to spare, I recommend making your own chocolate spread for these rolls (as I did), using the recipe from Ottolenghi’s Chocolate Krantz Cake on my blog.
The dough is stretched thin to the point of being quite delicate, it is important that the chocolate spread is runny. If you decide to use Nutella, soften it before spreading it.
- 150g strong white bread flour, plus more for dusting
- ¾ tsp fast-action dried yeast
- 1 ½ tsp caster sugar
- 3 tbsp olive oil, plus more for greasing
- ¼ tsp salt
- 65ml lukewarm water
- 40g blanched hazelnuts, toasted and roughly chopped
- 20g sesame seeds, lightly toasted
- 150g Nutella or chocolate filling (see below ingredients)
- zest of 1 small orange
- 2 tsp icing sugar, optional
For the chocolate filling
- 50g icing sugar
- 30g cocoa powder
- 130g dark chocolate, melted
- 120g butter, melted
Mix flour, yeast, sugar, 2 spoonfuls of oil and salt in a large bowl until combined.
Gently pour in the water. Using a spatula, bring the mixture together. Transfer to a lightly oiled surface and knead the dough for 3 minutes until soft and elastic. Add a little more oil if the dough starts to stick to the surface or your hands. Transfer to a lightly oiled bowl and cover with a clean, damp tea towel. Leave to rise in a warm place for 40 minutes, until nearly doubled in size.
Preheat the oven to 220°C fan.
Combine the hazelnuts and sesame seeds in a small bowl and set 1 tablespoon aside.
On a lightly floured surface, roll the dough out into a 40x30cm rectangle, so that the longest side is towards you, parallel to the work surface.
If you’re are making the chocolate cream, follow these steps. Mix the icing sugar, cocoa powder, melted dark chocolate and melted butter. Beat until you get a smooth, spreadable paste.
Using a spatula, spread the dough with chocolate cream (or Nutella), leaving a 2cm border clear on the top edge. Sprinkle the orange zest evenly over the Nutella, then scatter over the mix of sesame seeds and chopped hazelnuts. With the longest side still towards you, roll the dough into a log. Brush with the remaining spoon of oil, then sprinkle over the tablespoon of sesame and hazelnuts you had set aside. Press them gently into the dough to stick. Trim the ends of the log and cut the roll into 10 segments, each 3cm long, and transfer to a parchment-lined baking tray, seam side down.
Bake for about 8 minutes, until golden-brown. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly.
Optional: dust with icing sugar immediately before serving (in my opinion, the rolls look prettier without it).
Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of Simple cookbook. All opinions are my own.
** I actually already had a photo with Yotam from the launch of NOPI cookbook a few years ago!