Great Britain

Couscous cake and Middle Eastern mac’n’cheese: eight show-stopping new recipes from Team Ottolenghi

Originally located under a railway arch in north London, built from equal parts brick and tahini, walls coated in olive oil and floors stained with spice, the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen started off simply as the place where I play with my food; my low-tech lab where ideas turn into dishes, which turn into recipes. Gradually, though, like a sourdough starter, it began to absorb outside “contaminators”, gathering fizz and bubbles and a load of funk, until finally it became rich, deep and splendidly distinct.

The OTK crew are the equivalent of a good loaf’s life-affirming natural yeasts. Through them, my food, rooted in Jerusalem and the Middle East, has become our food, having been on all kinds of journeys, borrowing harissa from north Africa and chaat masala from India, using newly discovered chilli pastes from south-east Asia or Mexico, and adopting some cheffy techniques from our London restaurants.

Heading up the team is Noor Murad, who informally crowns herself the queen of Middle Eastern feasts; Verena Lochmuller is basically the Google search engine for all baking questions; Tara Wigley is the in-house word wizard; Gitai Fisher keeps us all in check and out of trouble; Chaya Pugh, the latest addition, adds heaped spoonfuls of zesty personality to the brew.

In 2020, during the first lockdown, we had to close down the test kitchen, but we kept our conversations alive and lively, mostly on Instagram, cooking dishes embedded in personal and national traditions, messing them up a little, adding intensity, colour and a bit of wow.

OTK: Shelf Love is a result of that moment. Put together masterfully by Noor, it tells the story of the different crew members, of what we cook when we can’t go shopping every day – or simply don’t want to. It explores the humble ingredients lost in the depths of our kitchen cupboards.

In this book, the first in a series for home cooks, we share recipes, ideas, skills and solutions that allow readers to explore their pantry, fridge, freezer or vegetable box. With us, we hope you will learn a bit of shelf love – that is, the art of transforming simple ingredients into the equivalent of a great loaf of sourdough: objects of wonder, delight and pure deliciousness.

Chickpeas cacio e pepe

Ottolenghi Test Kitchen's chickpeas cacio e pepe
Putting our favourite little bean centre stage. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian

These are inspired by cacio e pepe, a rich Italian dish of pasta coated in lavish amounts of butter, black pepper and cheese. This applies a similar technique to our favourite little bean, using the flavourful parmesan chickpea water to create the emulsified sauce. Chickpeas differ in size depending on where you are in the world, so if you feel this should be a little looser, just add a splash of water. Be sure to start the night before by soaking your chickpeas.

Prep 20 min
Soak overnight
Cook 2 hr 10 min
Serves 4

300g dried chickpeas, soaked overnight in plenty of water and 1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
3 tbsp olive oil
8 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
80g parmesan, finely grated, plus 1–2 optional rinds (60g)
¼ tsp bicarbonate of soda
2 red chillies, thinly sliced into rounds, seeds and all
2 tbsp apple cider vinegar
250g baby spinach
15g parsley, roughly chopped
100g unsalted butter, fridge cold and cut into 2cm cubes
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 170C (160C fan)/350F/gas 4. Drain the chickpeas and set them aside. Put two tablespoons of oil into a large, high-sided, ovenproof saute pan or cast-iron saucepan for which you have a lid, and place on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the garlic and cook for 90 seconds, until starting to colour. Add the parmesan rinds, if using, the drained chickpeas, bicarbonate of soda, 1.2 litres of water and a very generous amount of coarsely cracked black pepper (give it about 40 grinds). Bring to a boil, skimming the scum from the surface as needed, then cover and bake for 75 minutes. Add three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and continue cooking, covered, for another 30 minutes, or until the chickpeas are very soft and the liquid has reduced by about half.

Meanwhile, mix the chillies, vinegar and a small pinch of salt in a small bowl. Set aside to pickle.

Towards the last 10 minutes of cooking the chickpeas, put the last tablespoon of oil into a large frying pan on a medium-high heat and, once hot, cook the spinach, adding it to the pan in batches with a quarter-teaspoon of salt for about four minutes until just wilted. Add the parsley and remove from the heat.

When the chickpeas are ready, remove the lid and, while still hot, add a quarter of the butter cubes and about 15g of grated parmesan, mixing until the butter has melted into the sauce. Continue in this way, adding a quarter more of the butter and 15g more of parmesan until you’ve used up all 100g of butter and 60g of the cheese. Finally, add another very generous grind of coarsely ground black pepper. The sauce will have thickened significantly, coating the chickpeas nicely. Add a splash more water if you like it looser. Remove the parmesan rinds, if using.

Top with the spinach mixture, the pickled chillies and their liquid, and a final sprinkling of parmesan, serving extra grated parmesan alongside.

Make it your own
Swap the pickled chillies for a squeeze of lemon instead; serve with any greens, such as chard or broccolini; use cannellini or butter beans, adjusting liquid levels.

Very giant couscous cake

Ottolenghi Test Kitchen's giant cous cous cake
Let it crisp up before the ultimate cake flip. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian

This “very giant” cake is versatile in that you can use other leftover cooked grains or whatever herbs, cheeses and spices you have to hand. Once you’ve got all your components ready, it’s a matter of pressing it into the pan and letting it crisp up before the ultimate cake flip. There are two key ways to ensure cake-flip success: a non-stick pan; and trust – that it will work, that you can flip it, that sometimes what is upside down is really right side up. Serve with a big green salad for a complete meal.

Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr 20 min
Serves 4

250g giant/pearl couscous
320ml boiling water
10 spring onions, trimmed and left whole (150g)
120ml olive oil
150g baby spinach
1 tbsp coriander seeds, toasted and roughly crushed with a pestle and mortar
100g low-moisture mozzarella, roughly grated
50g pecorino, finely grated, plus extra to serve
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
15g basil leaves, roughly torn, plus a handful extra to serve
220g Greek-style yoghurt
2 eggs
50g plain flour

For the pepper sauce
2 red peppers (320g), seeds and stems discarded and each pepper quartered (280g)
1 tomato, halved (100g)
60ml olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
2 large heads of garlic, skin on and top ⅛ trimmed to expose the cloves
1½ tbsp red-wine vinegar
1 tsp maple syrup
salt and black pepper

Heat the oven to 220C (200C fan)/425F/gas 7. Start with the pepper sauce: put the peppers and tomato on a medium baking tray lined with greaseproof paper, and toss them with one tablespoon of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Drizzle the garlic heads with a little oil, wrap tightly in foil and place them to one side of the tray. Roast for 35 minutes, or until the pepper skins are well charred and the garlic has softened.

Peel the peppers and tomato, discarding the skins, and put the flesh into a food processor. Squeeze the garlic cloves out of their papery skins and add to the machine along with the vinegar, maple syrup, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Blitz for a few seconds, then, with the motor running, slowly drizzle in the remaining three tablespoons of oil until the sauce is smooth.

Meanwhile, put the couscous, half a teaspoon of salt and the boiling water into a medium saucepan on a medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, cover and turn the heat to medium-low. Cook for 10 minutes, then remove the lid and set aside to cool.

Place a large, non-stick frying pan on a high heat. Toss the spring onions in half a tablespoon of oil and fry in the hot pan for four minutes, turning halfway, until softened and lightly charred. Set the spring onions aside. Turn the heat down to medium-high, then add another half-tablespoon of oil and the spinach to the pan. Cook for 90 seconds to wilt, then transfer to a large bowl.

Roughly chop the spring onions and add two-thirds to the spinach bowl. Add the cooked couscous, crushed coriander seeds, both cheeses, the garlic, basil, yoghurt, eggs, flour, half a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and mix well.

Wipe out the frying pan, add five tablespoons of oil and put on a medium-high heat. Once hot, add the couscous mixture, using a spoon to distribute it evenly. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for 18 minutes – the edges will start to turn golden. Use a spatula to gently separate the cake from the sides of the pan, running it under the cake to try to loosen it from the bottom. Remove the pan from the heat and, very gently, invert the whole thing on to a large plate.

Add a tablespoon of oil to the pan and slide the cake back in, crisp side up, to brown the other side. Cook on a medium heat for eight minutes, before sliding the cake on to a large wooden board or platter.

In a small bowl, combine the remaining chopped spring onions with the extra basil leaves and the last tablespoon of oil. Sprinkle the cake with the extra pecorino and top with the spring onion mixture. Serve the pepper sauce in a bowl alongside.

Make it your own Try leftover cooked rice or pearl barley, parmesan and gruyere, dill or tarragon, toasted cumin or fennel seeds – the options are endless. Double up on the sauce – it makes a great vegan alternative for pasta.

Burnt aubergine, tomato and tahini

Ottolenghi Test Kitchen burnt aubergine, tomato and tahini
Scoop up with warm pitta bread. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian

This dish was born out of some leftover tomato pasta sauce, as well as a few aubergines that really needed using up. Scoop this up with warm pitta and eat it alongside other meze, or with soft-boiled eggs for a hearty breakfast.

Prep 20 min
Cook 1 hr 10 min
Serves 4, as part of a meze spread

4 medium aubergines (1kg)
3 tbsp olive oil, plus extra for greasing
2 garlic cloves, peeled and thinly sliced
15g pine nuts
1½ tsp cumin seeds, roughly crushed with a pestle and mortar
1½ tsp coriander seeds, roughly crushed with a pestle and mortar
½ tsp chilli flakes
30g tahini
5g dill, roughly chopped, plus 1 tbsp extra picked leaves to serve

For the tomato sauce
3 tbsp olive oil
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped (180g)
4 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
1 tsp tomato paste
1 x 400g tin of plum tomatoes, roughly crushed by hand
½ tsp caster sugar
salt and black pepper

Place a well-greased griddle pan on a high heat. Prick the aubergines all over with a fork, eight to 10 times. Once the pan is smoking, cook them, turning as necessary, for about 45 minutes, until well charred all over and softened through the middle. Set aside to cool completely and, once cool enough to handle, peel and discard the stems and skins, and roughly pull apart the flesh into strands (don’t worry if there’s a little skin attached). Set aside.

Meanwhile, make the tomato sauce. Put the oil into a medium saute pan on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for six minutes, stirring occasionally, until softened and lightly coloured. Add the crushed garlic and tomato paste, and cook for a minute more, then add the tinned tomatoes, sugar, 100ml of water, half a teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Bring to a simmer, then lower the heat to medium and cook for 18 minutes, stirring occasionally, until thick and rich.

Make the topping: heat the oil in a small frying pan on a medium-high heat, add the sliced garlic and the pine nuts, and cook for 60–90 seconds or until lightly golden. Add the spices and a tiny pinch of salt, and remove from the heat immediately. Set aside.

In a small bowl, whisk the tahini with two and a half tablespoons of water and a pinch of salt until smooth.

To the tomato sauce, add the burnt aubergine, three tablespoons of water, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Cook on a medium-high heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally, until heated through. Remove from the heat and stir through the chopped dill. Drizzle with the tahini, then spoon over the fried garlic and pine nut mixture, and top with the picked dill leaves. Serve warm.

Make it your own Save time by using a jar of tomato sauce instead; replace the burnt aubergine with chopped roasted courgettes or red peppers.

Beyond potato salad

Ottolenghi Test Kitchen beyond potato salad
Jazz up this veggie version with lemon, herbs and toasted seeds. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian

This is a spin on the – very retro – salad olivieh, a mayonnaise-based potato salad with many different variations, depending on whose household you’re in. Some add shredded chicken, peas or mashed carrots, some eliminate the egg. We kept this version veggie, using lots of lemon, herbs and toasted seeds to jazz it up. It’s a real use-up-what-you-have type of dish, suitable to take on picnics or to serve as a barbecue side.

Prep 25 min
Cook 50 min
Serves 6, as a side

650g king edward potatoes, scrubbed clean, or another floury potato such as maris piper
5 large eggs
80g mayonnaise
220g Greek-style yoghurt
3½ tbsp lemon juice
105ml olive oil
30g gherkins, thinly slice into rounds
10g tarragon leaves, roughly torn
10g chives, sliced into 1cm lengths
tsp coriander seeds, toasted, then roughly crushed with a pestle and mortar
¾ tsp nigella seeds, toasted
¾ tsp sesame seeds, toasted
½ tsp aleppo chilli, or ¼ tsp regular chilli flakes
salt and black pepper

Put the potatoes into a medium saucepan for which you have a lid, and pour over enough water to cover by about 4cm. Season with two teaspoons of salt and bring to a simmer on a medium-high heat. Turn the heat to medium, cover and cook for 25 minutes, or until the potatoes are easily pierced with a fork. Drain and, when cool enough to handle, peel and discard the skins, and roughly crush the flesh in a large bowl to give you a lumpy mash.

Meanwhile, cook the eggs in boiling water for eight minutes, or until just hard-boiled. Drain, peel and discard the shells, then use a box grater to roughly grate the eggs and add them to the potato bowl.

In a medium bowl, whisk the mayonnaise, yoghurt, two and a half tablespoons of lemon juice, two tablespoons of oil, one teaspoon of salt and a generous grind of pepper. Add this to the potato mixture and mix well to combine. Transfer to a large serving plate, spreading it out to create a slight well in the centre. Cover and refrigerate if not serving right away.

Mix the gherkins, herbs, the remaining tablespoon of lemon juice, five tablespoons of oil, one eighth of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Spoon this all over the potato mixture. Mix all the toasted seeds and the chilli, and sprinkle over the top. Serve at room temperature or cold.

If you want to get ahead, make the day before and keep refrigerated, loosening it with a splash of water to serve, if needed.

Make it your own Go traditionally retro and add cooked peas and carrots, or shredded chicken.

Green cannellini and tahini

Ottolenghi Test Kitchen green cannellini and tahini
Eaten warm for breakfast, this will keep you full till dinner. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian

Variations of warm beans served with tahini are popular throughout the Arab world, with dishes such as chickpea fatteh and ful mudammas with tahini at the forefront. Such dishes are typically eaten warm for breakfast, and are a sure way to keep you full until dinner. They are the inspiration for these herby cannellini beans, which can easily be served at any mealtime.

Prep 15 min
Cook 40 min
Serves 4 as a main, 6 as a side

1 round white or brown pitta (100g), pocket opened up, then roughly torn into 2-3cm pieces
1 tbsp za’atar
75ml olive oil
3 x 400g tins of cannellini beans, drained
30g parsley, roughly chopped
30g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
30g chives, roughly chopped
tsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly crushed with a pestle and mortar
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed
tbsp lemon juice
salt and black pepper

For the tahini sauce
80g tahini
tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove, peeled and crushed

For the chilli oil
tbsp olive oil
½ tsp chilli flakes
¼ tsp paprika

Heat the oven to 200C (180C fan)/390F/gas 6. Toss the pitta with the za’atar, two tablespoons of oil, a quarter-teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper, and spread out on a medium baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bake for 12 minutes, tossing halfway, or until golden and crisp. Set aside to cool.

Set aside 100g of the beans in a medium bowl. Put the remaining beans, 600ml of water and one teaspoon of salt into a medium saucepan on a medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 15 minutes, or until the beans are nicely softened and warmed through. Keep warm on a low heat until ready to serve.

Make the tahini sauce by whisking all the ingredients with 70ml of water and a quarter of a teaspoon of salt in a medium bowl until smooth. It will thicken as it sits.

Make the chilli oil by putting the oil and chilli flakes into a small frying pan and placing it on a medium heat. Cook for four minutes, then add the paprika and remove from the heat. Set aside.

Put the reserved 100g of beans into a food processor with the herbs, cumin, garlic, lemon juice, remaining three tablespoons of oil, one eight of a teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper. Blitz until smooth, then transfer to a large bowl.

Drain the warm beans in a sieve set over a bowl, then add them and 100ml of their cooking liquid to the herb mixture, mixing well to combine. You want the beans to be well coated and for the whole mixture to be saucy (but not overly wet), so add a couple of tablespoons more of the cooking liquid if you wish (discard the rest).

Transfer to a large, lipped platter and drizzle over half the tahini sauce and all the chilli oil. Sprinkle with half the pitta and serve warm, with the extra tahini and pitta alongside.

Make it your own Play with your beans – we love this with chickpeas too; play with your herbs – use what you have to hand.

Middle Eastern mac’n’cheese with za’atar pesto

Ottolenghi Test Kitchen Middle Eastern mac'n'cheese
Cooking in milk makes this velvety and rich. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian

This recipe is a Middle Eastern take on a mac’n’cheese, thanks to the addition of cumin, a herbaceous za’atar pesto and crispy fried onions. Cooking the macaroni in the milk, as we do here, bypasses the need to make a bechamel. The starches are released into the soon-to-be-cheesy sauce, making it velvety and rich without the need for the more traditional flour-butter roux.

To make the crispy onions, finely slice a couple of onions into thin rounds, toss with two tablespoons of cornflour, then fry in hot vegetable oil in about three batches, for four minutes per batch, or until golden.

Prep 25 min
Cook 30 min
Serves 4 to 6

300g dried cavatappi or fusilli
600-700ml whole milk
65g unsalted butter, cut into roughly 3cm cubes
3 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed
tsp ground turmeric
1½ tsp cumin seeds, toasted and roughly crushed with a pestle and mortar
75ml double cream
150g mature cheddar, roughly grated
180g feta, roughly crumbled
salt and black pepper
45g crispy onions or shallots, store-bought or homemade, to serve

For the za’atar pesto
1 large lemon
3 tbsp za’atar
20g fresh coriander, roughly chopped
1 garlic clove, peeled and roughly chopped
40g pine nuts, lightly toasted
90ml olive oil

Put the pasta, 600ml of milk, 350ml of water, the butter, garlic, turmeric, one teaspoon of salt and a good grind of pepper into a large saute pan on a medium-high heat. Bring to a simmer, then turn the heat down to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, for 10–14 minutes, or until the pasta is al dente and the sauce has thickened from the pasta starches (it will still be quite saucy). If using cavatappi, you might need to add the extra 100ml of milk at this stage, depending on how saucy you like your mac’n’cheese. Turn the heat to low and stir through the cumin, cream and both cheeses until the cheddar is nicely melted.

While the pasta is cooking, make the pesto. Finely grate the lemon to give you one and a half teaspoons of zest. Then use a sharp knife to peel and segment the lemon and roughly chop the segments. Place in a bowl with the lemon zest and set aside. Put the za’atar, coriander, garlic, pine nuts, one eighth of a teaspoon of salt, a good grind of pepper and half the oil into a food processor and pulse a few times until you have a coarse paste. Add to the chopped lemon in the bowl and stir in the remaining oil.

Transfer the mac’n’cheese to a large platter with a lip or a shallow bowl, dot all over with the pesto, and top with the crispy onions.

Make it your own Play with different cheeses and spices; use alternative pasta shapes such as macaroni, adjusting liquid levels as necessary.

Celebration rice with lamb, chicken and garlic yoghurt

Ottolenghi Test Kitchen celebration rice
Make this for a feast of feasts. Photograph: Louise Hagger/The Guardian

This warming spiced rice is a definite show-stopper, the kind of meal you would make for a special occasion. We toyed over including this recipe in the book, laborious as it is, but rice deserves to be prized and treasured – taking centre stage at many a family table – so make this one as a weekend project, a feast of feasts, a real cause for celebration. Yes, it takes time, but it is oh so worth it.

Prep 15 min
Soak 1 hr+
Cook 2 hr 20 min
Serves 8

For the chicken
1 whole chicken (1.4kg)
2 cinnamon sticks
1 onion, peeled and cut into 6 wedges (150g)
1 head of garlic, skin on and halved widthways
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground cinnamon
2 tbsp olive oil
tbsp lemon juice
5g parsley, roughly chopped
salt and black pepper

For the rice
2 tbsp olive oil
40g unsalted butter
1 onion, peeled and finely chopped (150g)
300g minced lamb
3 garlic cloves, peeled and finely chopped
1½ tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground allspice
400g basmati rice, washed, soaked in cold water for at least 1 hour and drained

For the garlic yoghurt
500g Greek yoghurt
2 garlic cloves, peeled and crushed

For the garnish
50g unsalted butter
30g blanched almonds
30g pine nuts
¾ tsp aleppo chilli, or ½ tsp regular chilli flakes
5g picked parsley leaves
4 tbsp pomegranate seeds

Put the chicken into a large saucepan with the cinnamon sticks, onion, garlic, two litres of water and two teaspoons of salt. Bring to the boil, then lower the heat to medium-low and simmer, covered, for 70 minutes or until cooked through. Lift out the chicken and, when cool enough, tear into large bite-sized chunks, discarding the skin and bones. Put the chicken in a bowl with the ground cumin and cinnamon and set aside. Strain the stock through a sieve set over a large bowl, discarding the solids. Measure out 850ml and keep warm (save the rest for another use).

For the rice, put the oil and half the butter into a large saucepan with a lid, and place on a medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for seven minutes, stirring often, until lightly golden. Add the lamb, garlic and spices, and cook for two more minutes, stirring often, until the lamb is no longer pink. Add the rice, 700ml of the warm stock, one and three-quarter teaspoons of salt and a good grind of pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to low, cover and cook for 15 minutes. Take off the heat and let it sit, covered, for 15 minutes more. Add the remaining butter and set aside.

Meanwhile, make the yoghurt sauce by whisking the yoghurt, garlic, three-quarters of a teaspoon of salt and the remaining 150ml of warm stock in a medium bowl.

Put two tablespoons of oil into a large saute pan on a medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces and cook for five minutes, to warm through. Off the heat, stir in the lemon juice and parsley, and set aside.

Make the garnish by putting the butter into a small frying pan on a medium-high heat. Add the almonds and cook for three minutes, stirring, until lightly coloured. Add the pine nuts and cook for another two minutes, until golden. Remove from the heat and add the chilli.

Spread the rice over a large, round serving platter. Top with the chicken, then pour over half the garlic yoghurt. Finish with the nuts and butter, followed by the picked parsley and pomegranate seeds. Serve the remaining yoghurt alongside.

If you want to get ahead, cook the chicken the day before, refrigerating the flavourful stock and shredded chicken separately.

Make it your own Swap the lamb for minced beef, or a mixture of the two. The cinnamon rice is a treat on its own, so skip everything else and eat with some veggies and a spoonful of yoghurt.

Upside-down lemon, maple and vanilla pudding with lemon-maple butter

Ottolenghi Test Kitchen upside down lemon pudding
Perfect for showcasing winter lemons. Photography: Louise Hagger. Food styling: Emily Kydd. Prop styling: Jennifer Kay. Food styling assistant: Valeria Russo. Homeware: The Conran Shop

This magnificent pudding was made with the purpose of showcasing winter lemons, their bitter flesh a great way to cut through an otherwise decadent eating experience. In a happy accident, this was tested alongside a separate dish that included a maple-butter sauce. A squeeze of lemon and a generous amount of maple butter was spooned over the pudding because, well, why not? And it suddenly dawned on us that lemon‑maple butter had been the missing component all along. Lesson learned: sometimes that which is very, very wrong can turn out to be really quite right. Be sure to remove the butter for the pudding from the fridge well in advance – it needs to be super softened at room temperature before making the base.

Prep 15 min
Cook 1 hr 40 min
Serves 8

3 medium lemons, thinly sliced into ¼ cm-thick rounds to get 24 slices, pips removed
165ml maple syrup
1 vanilla pod, halved lengthways, seeds scraped and reserved with the pod
225g plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
tsp salt
225g unsalted butter, softened at room temperature, then cut into 2cm cubes
3 large eggs, plus 1 yolk
225g light soft brown sugar
60ml whole milk
240g creme fraiche, to serve

For the lemon-maple butter
50ml lemon juice
120ml maple syrup
120g unsalted butter, fridge cold and cut into 1½cm cubes

Heat the oven to 180C (170C fan)/375F/gas 5. Line a 30cm x 20cm baking dish with a piece of baking paper large enough to cover the base and sides, with enough overhang to fold over the pudding as well.

Place a large, non-stick frying pan on a high heat and, once very hot, char a third of the lemon slices on both sides – about one to two minutes per side. Remove and repeat with the remaining lemon slices.

Put 120ml of maple syrup and the scraped-out vanilla pod in the base of the lined baking dish. Top with the charred lemon slices, spreading them out so they cover the entire base and overlap in places.

Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into the bowl of a stand mixer with the whisk attachment in place, and mix on medium speed to combine. Add the softened butter, eggs, egg yolk, vanilla seeds, brown sugar, milk and the remaining three tablespoons of maple syrup, and mix on medium speed for two minutes until combined. It will look as if it’s split a little, with some smaller cubes of butter, but that’s OK.

Spoon the mixture into a piping bag, snipping off the base, and pipe evenly on top of the lemons in the baking dish (piping ensures the lemons don’t move around too much). Gently smooth over the mixture with the back of a spoon. Fold over the excess baking paper to cover, then wrap the dish tightly in foil.

Place the baking dish in a larger roasting tin (roughly 40cm x 28cm). Pour enough boiling water into the tin to come 3cm up the sides (about 1 litre), then bake for 70 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the centre comes out clean. Remove the foil, unwrap the top of the pudding and lift the dish out of the water. Set aside for five minutes, then carefully invert the whole thing on to a platter, and remove the paper.

Towards the last 10 minutes of cooking, make the lemon-maple butter. Put the lemon juice and maple syrup into a small saucepan and bring to a simmer on a medium-high heat. Cook for about two minutes, then turn the heat down to low and, when no longer simmering, gradually add the butter cubes a little at time, whisking in each addition until incorporated. Don’t let the mixture boil at all – you should be left with an emulsified sauce. Remove from the heat.

Drizzle one-third of the lemon-maple butter over the pudding and serve warm with the extra maple butter and creme fraiche alongside.

Make it your own Try this recipe using kumquats instead of lemons, and orange juice instead of lemon juice.

Black limes: the ingredient you need to try

We get it; they can be intimidating if you don’t know what to do with them – bitter, astringent, mysterious. What even are black limes? Well, they’re limes that have been treated with a salt-water solution before being left out to dry in the sun, until completely dehydrated and very dark. Also called Omani limes, loomi aswad or noomi basra, they’re a staple ingredient throughout the Gulf, adding an earthy, bitter depth to dishes. If there’s one funky ingredient we want you to add to your cupboards, it’s a bag of black limes. They last for ever, and oh, do they pack a punch.

A few black lime hacks: throw them whole into soups and stews, adding a subtle astringent tang. Make sure to poke a few holes in them first – this will help them soften and release their flavour into the liquid they’re cooked in. Blitz them into a powder to use in rubs and marinades. A coffee or spice grinder is best for this, ensuring the smoothest texture. To help this along, use the palm of your hand to lightly crush the black limes before blitzing.

Decrease bitterness by removing the seeds, if you wish, although this isn’t really necessary. Use the black limes to make a sour tea called chai loomi. Roughly break apart 3 to 4 limes and remove any seeds. Gently simmer in a litre of water for 10 minutes, then strain and add fresh mint, a squeeze of lemon juice, and sugar or honey to taste.

Our favourite kitchen hack: grating tomatoes

It’s the surest, fastest way to get all the juicy pulp and seeds – sans skin. All you need is a box grater and a wide bowl to catch the pulp and juice. You may also need a sieve if you want to drain the pulp of any juice. Place the grater upright in your bowl, gently push your ripe tomatoes against the coarser side of the grater and grate until you are left with just skin. Make sure to only go as far as you can – careful of your fingers! The riper the tomato, the easier it will be to grate. Discard the skin.

Once you’ve collected all your grated tomato goodness, you can then use it as a dip as we do for za’atar parathas, as a topping for grilled bread with tomato and fried garlic, cooked into the base of soups and stews, such as our magical chicken and parmesan soup, or simply stirred into dishes for freshness as we do in both our butter beans with preserved lemon, chilli and herb oil, and braised beef short ribs with butter beans and figs.

What’s in your freezer?

You can tell a lot about a person from what they keep stashed on ice. This is what we always have to hand.
Yotam Sliced sourdough and pistachio ice-cream.
Verena Dough – all sorts, but mostly pie dough, ready to be baked at a moment’s craving.
Noor Nuts, fresh dates and za’atar.
Tara Frozen lasagne for the kids, vodka for the adults.

Football news:

Gasperini on 2:3 with Manchester United: They have enough spark in such an environment to get started. I don't know if Atalanta could have done more
Sulscher on 3-2 with Atalanta: Manchester United have a tradition of turning over matches. We believed in ourselves
The Premier League clubs have won all 4 Champions League matches this week. Spanish teams have 10 points in 5 matches, Italian teams have 6 points in 4 games, Bundesliga clubs have 1 win and 3 losses
Maguire on Ronaldo Atalanta's winning goal: We see them every day in training. An important goal
Thomas Tuchel: Lukaku has a dislocated ankle, Werner has a hip injury
Ronaldo scored twice from a free kick in the game with Atalanta: past the goal and into the opponent
Bruno Fernandes made an assist in the 4th match of Manchester United in a row