Look at your cookbook shelves. How many of those books do you cook from and how many do you just skim now and again? There’s no crime in cookbook as lookbook, but I have to believe most authors are hoping you’ll actually make the recipes. With Yotam Ottolenghi and Sami Tamimi’s Jerusalem, the photos are gorgeous. It would be easy to let it just be a lookbook. But you’d be missing out. To get us cooking, not just looking, Beth of omgyummy and her friend Sarene have created a virtual cooking community centered around Jerusalem, where we’ll be cooking from the book, sharing our results and talking ingredients. Ahead of official kick-off, on Sunday I made the Barley Risotto with Marinated Feta.
But for the smoked paprika, this could have been a tomatoey Italian barley dish. It’s a good reminder that at least for a first run through, get the ingredients called for in the recipe. Don’t cut corners and use sweet paprika because you already had it in the cupboard. As my mom used to say, “Do it right the first time.” And then after that, do whatever the hell you want. (Ok, she didn’t say that part…or maybe she did).
I got the barley going just as the Seahawks game was getting started so every 15 minutes I was running back into the kitchen to give the pot a stir. Toward the end, you’ll want to be close to the stove to ensure things don’t start sticking and burning. I did go the full 45 minutes, but the last 15 was really touch and go as the barley finished absorbing the tomato mixture. At 30-35 I would have had a little more soupiness. Next time.
I’d forgotten the caraway seeds (so much for “do it right the first time”!), so the first night we simply had the risotto topped with plain feta alongside some improvised beef and pork kofte with a side of roasted cauliflower. Later I picked up the caraway seeds, toasted them and let them sit in the olive oil for a bit and then drizzled it over the feta before serving. In the end, the caraway didn’t make a huge difference flavor-wise, but it made for a prettier presentation.
If you’re interested in joining in or just following along, full details on Tasting Jerusalem and how it’ll work are available at omgyummy.com. You can also follow #TastingJrslm on Twitter and Instagram, and like the Tasting Jerusalem Facebook page.