Angela Clutton reflects on the latest gathering of the Cookbook Club
You need to know about the breads that a couple of our Cookbook Club members brought along to our recent events for At Home by Honey & Co. Because these breads were incredible. Exceptionally light, fluffy, and fabulous. Their cooks swore blind that achieving dough of this level was made easy by the recipes, so we must take them at their word, knowing that’s the typical vibe of the rest of this book too: uncomplicated recipes with maximum eating impact.
Perhaps it is that which most sets this book apart from the other Middle Eastern cookbooks we’ve done at the Cookbook Club thus far. One of the members who came along was telling us how she felt At Home lacked the intricacy of even the preceding Honey & Co books. Meaning, I think, that wife-and-husband, cooking-and-writing team Sarit Packer and Itamar Srulovich have absolutely succeeded in putting together a book that epitomises the food they enjoy together at home and the food they want us all to be able to enjoy together at home, or whenever we just want something glorious—but not necessarily extravagant—to eat.
‘Glorious’ takes me back to those breads. Turkish yoghurt bread with aubergine filling was every bit as good as you might now be imagining it to be just from the name. Enriched dough encases aubergines that have been roasted in herbs and sherry vinegar, along with grated parmesan. The bread is formed into a top-knot and after baking, given a final smattering of olive oil and salt flakes. Heavenly.
A sharing feast
It arrived at our sharing feast hot on the heels of the Jerusalem sesame bread, which had seemed unbeatable. Although I don’t think it was beaten, just matched. The ‘Honeys’ (as Sarit and Itamar are often affectionately known) suggest using these little loaves for sandwiches or dipping. We went down the latter route, ripping off pieces to scoop up the taramasalata I made. It was my first time making it and it is frighteningly easy to do. Everyone loved it, so I will answer the question people have been asking me: I got the cured roes at Shellseekers Fish and Game.
The breads have stolen the show of this feature, as they did on the day, but quick mentions are also due to the chicken maklouba; spinach, egg and filo pie; green shakshuka; and baked goat’s cheese in walnut pastry with fig relish. We had fewer desserts than is often the case—testament, I think, to just how many savoury dishes grabbed our members’ attention. But thank goodness one of our gang did bring the tahini cake with lemon and white chocolate. Slicing into its airy, springy sponge was so pleasurable I could have carried on doing that all day. But then we wouldn’t have gotten to eat it, and what a shame of shames that would have been.
At Home proved again the enduring popularity of Middle Eastern cookery—with the added bonus of not needing to (necessarily) commit hours of your life or dozens of ingredients to achieving the end result.
19th & 23rd February: The Complete Nose to Tail by Fergus Henderson
19th & 23rd March: The Naked Chef by Jamie Oliver