The food at NOPI restaurant is a heady mix of Middle Eastern and Mediterranean flavours with additional influences from around the world – just the kind of cooking my friend and fellow blogger Lisa aka Cookwitch adores, so I asked her to review this new cookbook written by Yotam Ottolenghi and NOPI’s head chef Ramael Scully on my behalf. I am sure you will enjoy her guest post below; to learn more about Lisa read my recent Meet The Blogger interview with her, here.


Most people have heard of Yotam Ottolenghi, the gently spoken Israeli of the big brown eyes and welcoming smile, wandering around the world in search of beautiful food. Many may not have heard of Scully.

No, this is not a foray into X-Files alien food, this is a wonderful partnership – sometimes more of a tug o’ war – between the more familiar Mediterranean influences of Yotam and the still slightly mysterious Eastern zing of Scully, a chef raised between Australia and Malaysia.

They say:

“The Mediterranean influence is still strong in our cooking but we are as likely, these days, to be reaching for the mirin and miso as we are towards the pomegranate molasses, olive oil and date syrup. The cupboard is wide, the menu ever-changing and the experiments ever-underway. We continue on with both a boundless enthusiasm and an unswerving dedication to detail. The result is some very merry-making food.”

Merry-making food? Bring it on, I say.

The book is an utter joy right from the start. The voice of it is extremely loving, and slightly teasing, telling of the differences in approach between Scully and Yotam, plus properly highlighting the brilliance and dedication of the rest of the staff. To paraphrase;

Scully: How about we put a chilli/salt/pickle garnish there?

Yotam: Do we even need a garnish?

It is a restaurant cookbook, yes, with the most popular dishes from NOPI, but everything in it seems achievable. If extra time is needed, it tells you. If an ingredient is hard to source, it tells you what you can use instead.

It also doesn’t talk down to, or over you, or assumes that you already know everything. For me, it gave me that bit more confidence in making some of the recipes.

Every photo almost glows on the page. There are simple dishes, with just a few ingredients, and there are long and involved ones, but you never get the sense that the author is telling you not to attempt them because you’re not a chef.

There are some I wouldn’t do unless I had a week off, and some I could probably do in an evening, if I was organised (or motivated) enough, but in the main I would put them down as being Weekend with Nothing To Do cooking. (Other people count a weekend spent cooking as relaxation too, don’t they? Not just me? Anyone?)

Having spent a week buried in the book, I finally decided on the courgette fritter recipe.

I’ve been on a real vegetable kick lately, and though the Mixed Cauliflowers with Golden Raisins, Ricotta and Capers called to me, I had overdosed on cauliflower the week before, so I felt a nice, green change was needed. Plus it has cheese in it, so that was a done deal.

I admit that I am NOT a recipe book cook. I am a recipe book reader. I honestly find cooking from someone else’s recipes quite tiring, as I think I get nervous that I’m going to do it wrong, or miss a step. If I try a recipe that I know I will want to make again, I write it down in a small notebook, and list the steps in the order that I would cook them. Once I’ve done that, it makes it easier. I know, I’m weird.

I really did want to give this a try though, so I persevered. Even though I read the recipe countless times, I still managed to forget things when I went shopping. I also changed some ingredients. One out of necessity and another because I loathe the original.

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Courgette and Feta Fritters

Adapted by Lisa from Nopi: The Cookbook

For the fritters
3 courgettes, coarsely grated, then popped in a colander with 1 tsp salt to drain
2 eggs, lightly beaten
60 g self raising flour (might use chickpea flour next time, lower the carb count and make it GF friendly)
2.5 tsp ground coriander
1.5 tsp ground cumin (original was ground cardamom, but I really dislike it, and 1.5 tsp is a LOT)
2 small shallots very finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, grated (I used a garlic press)
Finely grated zest of two limes
150g feta, crumbled into 1cm bits (original recipe calls for manouri cheese which is hard to find unless you have a Greek grocer near you)
For the sauce
200ml sour cream
5g chopped coriander (I had none, so I used chopped celery leaves that I had in the freezer)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom (nope, not me!)
grated zest and juice of 1 lime. (I totally forgot the juice)


  • When the courgettes have sat for 10 minutes, squeeze all of the water out and put into a large bowl.
  • Add in the spices, flour, shallots and zest, then mix in the egg.
  • Gently mix in the crumbled feta so that it doesn’t disperse too much.
  • (The book says to put oil in a frying pan to a depth of 2-3mm but with a good non-stick pan, you probably won’t need that much.)
  • When the oil is hot, drop in dessertspoonfuls of the mixture, 4 at a time spaced well apart. Flatten them a bit with the spoon.
  • (I formed mine into loose and slightly lumpy quenelles, to see if I could, but that is really not necessary.)
  • Cook for 6 minutes, until they are browned and crispy on one side, then turn them over and cook the other side.
  • For the sauce, mix together all the ingredients.
  • Drain the fritters on paper towels, and serve hot with the dip, though they are equally good when lukewarm. I would reheat them in the oven, they should crisp up again.

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The second recipe of the day was the result of misreading another recipe further into the book. There’s a recipe in the book for lamb rump with vanilla braised chicory. I parsed it as vanilla braised lamb. When I realised I thought, well, why not? So this happened.

My Brain:

“Ooh, lamb with vanilla. No, wait, that’s lamb with CHICORY braised with vanilla.
Although…[goes to shops]
What would you braise it in? I’ve got red wine, but would rosé be better? Marsala perhaps? Nobody’s got that. No, I’ll have to stick with red. Maybe the butcher has venison! That would work.
[goes to butcher]
No, the lamb leg looks nicer. Still not sure about this cooking liquid though.
Hang on…[mentally catalogues shelves]
Tea. I have vanilla tea. And cinnamon sticks. Ok…this might work. ”
What was actually said out loud:

Vanilla & Red Wine Lamb

Inspired by Nopi: The Cookbook’s Lamb Rump with Vanilla Braised Chicory

1/2 small leg of lamb, bone in, FAT ON, in a covered casserole dish
2 small bottles red wine (18.7cl)
2 small bottle’s worth of water
1/2 cup Vanilla Ceylon Tea
5 dried rosehips
1 shallot, cut in half (not peeled)
1 small stick cinnamon, snapped in half
1 vanilla pod, split in half lengthways
2 tbs honey
1 tbs date/carob/fig molasses – or blackstrap molasses


  • Put all the above in a pan, bring to the boil, then lower the heat right down and simmer for an hour.
  • Take off the heat, leave to cool, then pour it all over the lamb. Place the vanilla pod on top of the lamb joint.
  • Cover, place in a hot oven (200C) for 1/2 an hour, then turn the heat down to 150C and let it cook for a good 3 hours. Test it for tenderness at the 3-4 hour mark, and if it’s tender (it fell off the bone for me) then keep the meat warm and reduce the sauce down in a pan on the stove top until it is thick and jammy.
  • Serve it with roasted squash or mashed parsnips, or perhaps a puree of white beans because that sauce, oh that sauce, needs a transportation vehicle. Or maybe just a loaf of good bread…

I am still reading through the book.

Venison fillet with Date Labneh, Blackberries and Peanut Crumble anyone?


NOPI: The Cookbook is published by Ebury Press, who provided a review copy to Kavey Eats. Currently available from Amazon for just £12.99 (RRP £28).



Guest Post by Tom Cox.




A while ago now Kavey invited me to review a cook book on her blog. Me and my girlfriend Nat often do our share of the cooking in the household (currently living with her parents and brother) and I decided this would be a great opportunity to try something new. So after reeling over the dozens of cook books available on the list Kavey provided me, with it being world cup time and my particular penchant towards the new and interesting, I eventually decided on the extremely colourful Brazilian Food by Thiago Castanho.


First impressions were great, it had loads of really interesting looking chapters with really rich interesting pictures and a short excerpt from a review by Michael Palin (a personal favourite of mine). I decided we were definitely onto a winner.

The one thing that I really liked about the book is that it’s not just a cook book, it’s a tome on Brazilian cooking and culture with tidbits of history about Brazilian cuisine and history, quotes from anthropologists and all in all you really get a taste of the culture that cultivated this cuisine. However, this blessing is also a bit of a curse as it’s not the most accommodating of cook books with a lot of ingredients you’d struggle to find at your local supermarket and although there are a couple of tips about visiting an African/ Asian food shop there is some stuff I’m pretty sure has simply never made it to our shores (a bold claim I know but seriously try and find annatto oil). Some of the recipes had some pretty advanced cooking skills and weren’t altogether clear at times.

In short unless you’re a professional chef or some sort of super foodie (I consider myself a pretty good cook) then I reckon you’ll struggle with quite a few of the recipes.


Ultimately I decided to go for one of the simpler looking recipes Galinha Caipira, or for those of us who’s Brazilian Portugese is a little rusty, Braised Chicken. This recipe, Thiago notes, was one of his grandmother’s and I hoped it would give us a good example of real wholesome Brazilian cooking. This recipe had very few of the really difficult to source ingredients apart from annatto oil, annatto now being a plant that I’ve developed somewhat of a disliking for after trying desperately to find in every random foodie looking shop I could find. I did discover that annatto oil is also known as achiote oil, but in the end I substituted oil, paprika and turmeric.

The recipe was quite simple but the picture was somewhat misleading and had a few ingredients in the picture that weren’t present. Although it called for both red and white onion in the ingredients, it made no mention of when to use one or the other in the method of so I went with my best judgement.

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We decided to serve this with Coconut rice (as opposed to the serving suggestion of Brazilian-style white rice) which I think was a fantastic choice in the end as what the main lacked in flavour the coconut rice made up for by being a real treat! The taste of the chicken dish was a little dull and didn’t really have anything distinctive about it; this should have been pretty predictable from the list of ingredients but I thought I’d give the book the benefit of the doubt, somewhat to our disappointment.

In summary if you have a good couple of days to source, prepare and cook a meal then I’d say go for it this book is a real visual treat and gives you bucket loads of really great insight into the vibrant country in which the food was developed.

I’m sure if I’d had the time to dedicate to one of the more complicated recipes I’d have enjoyed it more but for the average cook I’m not so sure it suits. It’ll stay on my book shelf more as an interesting insight into Brazilian food and culture as opposed to something I’ll be trying to cook from again.


Kavey Eats received a review copy of Brazilian Food from Octopus Books. Brazilian Food is currently (at time of writing) available on Amazon for £20.40 (RRP £30).


It’s not often I start a new job and discover fellow foodies in my team; more often new colleagues find my interest (they tend to use the term obsession) surprising, beyond their comprehension, even weird. Of course, they tend to come around when the chocolate review samples make it into the office…

TomCoxMiniWhich means it was nice to start my current contract and find that several of my teammates are pretty keen on food too. One told me about cookery classes he’s attended recently. Another discussed her weekend addiction to burgers (though she’s veggie during the week). And one talked animatedly about the forest of chilli plants he’s nurturing and the various cookery books which are most popular in his house at the moment.

It didn’t take long for me to invite Tom Cox to write content for Kavey Eats. He’s not only keen on eating out and cooking at home, he also loves reviewing stuff and writing about it!

Over to Tom for his feedback on Tabasco’s Sauces & Marinade collection.


Chipotle and Smokey Bourbon (Mild) 3.5*

A tomato based sauce spiced with Tabasco brand pepper sauces, Scotch and Bourbon Whiskies

This had a nice smoky flavour, quite like a smoky barbeque sauce with just a hint of spice and a relish-like hit. Perfect on burgers or ribs (as the back of the bottle suggests and very rightly so). It is however quite sweet (although it has nothing on chipotle and cola) and I can’t really detect any sign of a Bourbon-y taste, more like smoky, ever-so-slightly spicy barbeque. We tried to use this as a marinade for some chicken we were doing on the barbeque but unlike the back of the bottle says, this isn’t suitable for use as a marinade on its own and may need mixing with some oil to avoid it sticking and stripping all the skin and sauce off.

Sweet Chipotle and Cola (Mild) 1.5*

A sweet sauce spiced with Tabasco brand pepper sauces and cola flavoured soft drink

We had really high expectations for this one, me being a fan of all the weird and wonderful things I can possibly find to eat (this is pretty tame but appealed). However, this was our least favourite. The problem was it was far too sweet and I swear even had a very mild foamy banana taste (the ones you get from the pick and mix, not a banana that had the misfortune of catching fruit rabies). It did however have a nice mild warmth and I’m sure if you like mildly spicy and very sweet then this would do it for you.

Peppery Deep South Creole (Medium) 4*

A tomato based sauce spiced with Tabasco brand pepper sauce

A nice mild heat and this is the one you definitely want at your barbeque. A nice blend of ketchup-like sweetness and tomato-tartness with a lovely medium heat and sweet peppery flavours. This would be absolutely perfect on your burger or an addition to a chilli for a chilli dog. A really great take on a barbeque classic.

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Fruity and Fiery Hot Habanero (Hot) 4*

This was the most interesting; the first 2 seemed like jumped up ketchup/ barbeque sauce (don’t get me wrong I’m all for making those two things a little more exciting) but this one was a little different. It had a nice manageable heat for people that like heat and had a really exotic flavour – like a fruity, spicy Indian piccalilli but a little less tart (owing to the mango and papaya I would guess). Again I would agree with the back of the bottle on this one – it would be nice in a stir fry as the main event but I feel it might be a bit out of place at your summer barbeque.


Overall I like that Tabasco are trying new things other than a scorching sauce that is useful only for supposedly encouraging growth of so far virtually non-existent hairs on my chest (I like to think of it more as highly evolved). They’ve managed to put a new, more flavoursome and spicy spin on some otherwise quite dull table condiments and hopefully we’ll see a lot more new and exciting innovation from this capsaicin crazed company.


Kavey Eats received sample products from Tabasco.

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