Yotam Ottolenghi And Noor Murad On Their New Book And Easy Tricks For Great Flavor

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What inspired the concept of “Extra Good Things?”

Noor Murad: “Extra Good Things” came after our last book, “Shelf Love.” Both ideas were born in the last couple of years when there was a big shift in the way we cooked and ate. “Shelf Love” was all about using up humble ingredients and clearing out your shelves and finding accessible ways to make really good food. “Extra Good Things,” on the other hand, is about filling your shelves back up with all the added extras, all the condiments that make a good meal even better.

It also is the way that we were eating at the time, where instead of having to constantly cook meals from scratch — from start to finish — we would go into our fridges or our cupboards where we had all these extras, these condiments, pickles, pestos, chili sauces. We’re using them to make very simple meals like a baked potato or cheese on toast, but jazzing them up with all these added extras. That’s how the concept came to life and how we brought it into the book.

When you are working on a collaborative book like this one, what’s the process like?

Yotam Ottolenghi: It’s the same system we’ve got throughout our recipe development in the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen where different people try different recipes. Then, we all get together and talk about them, have discussions in which we change the recipe, think about how we can improve it, how we can add a little touch or a twist to make it more interesting — more “Ottolenghi,” if you like.

The same applies for books. Most of my books over the years have been collaborations in which there are these kinds of conversations going on about the whole concept around the recipes and about the whole book itself. Noor and I had this conversation about the notion of wanting to give people condiments, like she explained, to allow them to create these shortcuts for flavor through those condiments. The condiments allow them to cook more often but with less effort.

With the actual creation of the recipes, Noor led that and used her recipes and recipes from other members of the team to create the chapters, with each chapter doing something slightly different. There are chapters about oils, and there are chapters of sauces and sprinkles and fresh additions. We would taste them, discuss, and see if there’s room for improvement. Essentially, Noor led it, and I was part of the conversation throughout to make sure that we would have something that would appeal to as many people as possible.

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