Yotam Ottolenghi Yotam Assaf Ottolenghiis an Israeli-born British chef, recipe writer and restaurant owner...
I used to love fine dining, but I lost my appetite for it to a degree because sometimes it is too much about the effort and too little about the result.
Yogurt sauce, as you may have noticed by now, is a regular presence in my recipes - that's because it has the ability to round up so many flavours and textures like no other component does.
Pasta with melted cheese is the one thing I could eat over and over again.
Braising eggs in a flavoursome, aromatic sauce is all the rage. It is warming and comforting, ideal for the morning when you are not normally up for a great culinary challenge.
Fusion food as a concept is kind of trying to quite consciously fuse things that are sometimes quite contradictory, sometimes quite far apart, to see if they'd work.
A well-made salad must have a certain uniformity; it should make perfect sense for those ingredients to share a bowl.
Some heat, some spice and plenty of citrus are the building blocks of many North African fish dishes.
Conflict is very much a state of mind. If you're not in that state of mind, it doesn't bother you.
You can be vegetarian and eat fish. It's your choice, just say: 'I am what I am.' There are no hardcore divisions anymore.
Breakfast is always the best time for something juicy, sweet and fresh - it just feels like the right way to open the day. There's no right way, though, when it comes to choosing the fruit.
For me, the end of childhood came when the number of candles on my birthday cake no longer reflected my age, around 19 or 20. From then on, each candle came to represent an entire decade.
The differences between a tart, a pie and a quiche are a blur.
Orange blossom water would make a magical addition to your store cupboard.
You can really taste the difference between a shop-bought and a good homemade mayo.
Most pumpkin dishes involve scooping out the seeds, cutting off the skin, and chopping up the flesh before cooking.
Small okra pods have a much more attractive texture than large ones, which, when cooked, can be gloopy, stringy and totally spoil a dish.
My maternal grandmother made fantastic ox tongue with velvety roasted potatoes. She cooked sweet red cabbage and lovely cauliflower with butter and bread crumbs.
The combination of olive oil, garlic and lemon juice lifts the spirits in winter.
Most fish require a short cooking time, but cephalopods are the exception to this fishy rule. As with some cuts of larger land beasts, the longer they're cooked, the more tender they get.
Just-poached vegetables show off their natural attributes and taste fresh and light in a way you never get with roasting or frying.
New-season lamb shoulder, cooked pink, is the perfect platform for a mixture of fresh and cooked herbs.
Custard is controversial: what makes it a custard, how best to cook it and, crucially, is it to be eaten or put in a pie and thrown?
I always preferred my father's pasta the next day, when he'd put it in a hot oven with heaps of extra cheese. It would emerge slightly burned and very crisp on top.
Some days, just occasionally, when I've had just one too many chickpeas, drizzles of olive oil or chunks of feta, I crave a return to the sushi-filled joints of Tokyo.
The emotive power of hummus all over the Middle East cannot be overstated, being the focus of some serious tribal rivalries.
Cobnuts have a fresher flavour than any other nut I know of and go very well with autumnal fruit and light cheeses.
There's nothing more marvelously wintery than orange root veg mash; some butter is all it needs.
The combination of lentils with rice or bulgur is the absolute height of Levantine comfort food. I could eat it every day.
Tiny quails may not seem as impressive as a mammoth turkey, but there is something refreshing about a spread of individual birds on the Christmas table.
The way to entice people into cooking is to cook delicious things.
Chefs don't use white pepper just to avoid spoiling the whiteness of pommes puree or bechamel. It has a more peppery aroma, with sharpness and sweetness, too.
I'm a firm believer that the world should be your oyster when you're cooking. People should open themselves to other cuisines - there are a lot of hidden secrets all over the world.
One man's trash is another man's treasure, and the by-product from one food can be perfect for making another.
It's hard to beat the rough texture of steel-cut oats, with their slight resistance against the teeth.
The difference between a bland tomato and great one is immense, much like the difference between a standard, sliced white bread and a crusty, aromatic sourdough.
Call me tacky, but I love the union of sweet and sour, even in some now-unloved Oriental dishes incorporating pineapple and ketchup.
The natural sweetness of leeks, with their soft, oniony aroma, makes them the perfect winter comfort food.
The kitchen is tough. It's one of the last bastions in civilized culture that sets out to crush the spirit.
The range of ingredients available to home cooks has expanded dramatically. People are incorporating herbs and spices like lemongrass, smoked Mexican chile, sumac, and za'atar mix.
Food that's served at the table in a paper parcel always creates a remarkable culinary moment when opened, because the package is full of aromatic steam from the lightly cooked ingredients inside.
I have to admit that I can't take a whole fig and eat it on its own as I would a peach or mango. It's just too much.
Chana dal are skinless dried split chickpeas used in Indian cooking. They have a great texture and delicate flavour.
Manouri is a Greek ewes' milk cheese that's light in colour and texture. It's fresh and milky, and goes well with other subtle flavours.
Like parents, cooks shouldn't have favourites, but some recipes inevitably shine more than others.
The moment to tell my barber I was gay just never came up.
As is always the way with pancakes, the first hotcake to come out of the pan will probably be a bit misshapen. Just scoff it, and carry on with the rest.
Herbs deserve to be used much more liberally.
Vegetarian and frugal it may be, but the chickpea is one of the most versatile ingredients you could keep in your cupboards.
There is a unique freshness when eating buckwheat noodles cold with plenty of herbs and citrus acidity. I can't think of any better use of chopsticks on a hot and sweaty evening.
Urfa chillies are a Turkish variety that are mild on heat but big on aroma. They're sweet, smoky, a lovely dark red, and go with just about anything.
A food processor, or even one of those small bowls that fit on a stick blender, is a real treasure. No, that's not an overstatement.
The tang of tamarind is a great way both to flavour and lighten up slow-cooked savoury dishes.
A great fig should look like it's just about to burst its skin. When squeezed lightly it should give a little and not spring back. It must be almost unctuously sweet, soft and wet.
Most of my recipes start life in the domestic kitchen, and even those that start out in the restaurant kitchen have to go through the domestic kitchen.
For people who think of chicken as the meat choice of those-who-don't-really-like-meat, brining a bird will be a revelation.
Sea spaghetti looks like dark fettuccine and has a similar texture - you can get it in health food stores or online.
The smells of slow cooking spread around the house and impart a unique warmth matched only by the flavour of the food.
A great ratatouille is one in which the vegetables interact with each other but are still discernible from each other. The trick is to cook them just right: not over, not under.
I have yet to meet a carnivore who doesn't love a sausage roll.
Almost every culture has its own variation on chicken soup, and rightly so - it's one of the most gratifying dishes on the face of the Earth.
Blanching the cloves removes the harsh and bitter bite of raw garlic.
Healthy is in the eye of the beholder.
Lebanese mezze, Cantonese dim sum and Basque pinchos have all evolved over years and are designed to make sense together.
On many occasions, an informal buffet and casual seating offer a little more intimacy than a loud gathering around a big table.
Swiss chard is undervalued in Britain. It's a great substitute for spinach and keeps its shape well.
Brunch, for me, is an extended breakfast that should be enjoyed whenever you have time properly to engage in cooking and eating.
Chermoula is a potent North African spice paste that is ideal for smearing on your favourite vegetables for roasting.
Good asparagus needs minimal treatment and is best eaten with few other ingredients.
Rice and vermicelli is a common combination in Arab and Turkish cooking - it has a lighter texture than rice on its own.
Tossing doughnuts, fritters or fried dumplings in fennel sugar adds grown-up complexity without diminishing the indulgence factor.
Having grown up in the Middle East, eating beans for breakfast always seemed like a bizarre British eccentricity.
I love dishes that feature the various shades of a single colour, making you stop to check what's in there.
Way back when I was a junior pastry chef, I'd bake loads of muffins every morning, as many as 120 or so, while operating on autopilot.
Believe it or not, I'm as much a fan of a supper shortcut as the next person.
Good-quality nuts, toasted in a little butter and salt, make a magical addition to many salads.
I don't do guilt. Whatever I do, I do it happily.
Pomegranate molasses is ubiquitous in Arabic cooking: it's sweet, sour and adds depth.
The taste of any simple tomato-based salad is dependent on the quality of the tomatoes.
Turkish cuisine is, to my mind, one of the most exciting and accomplished in the world.
You don't need a machine to make pasta: a rolling pin and a fast hand can create a smooth, if thick, sheet.
I am sure that in the story of Adam and Eve, the forbidden fruit was a fig and not an apple, pear or anything else.
There is nothing like a good old recipe. If it has lasted, then it is good.
Pizza was made for television in so many ways: it is easy to heat up, easy to divide and easy to eat in a group. It is easy to enjoy, easy to digest and easy-going. It is so Italian!
If the first bite is with the eye and the second with the nose, some people will never take that third, actual bite if the food in question smells too fishy, fermented or cheesy.
One Indian-inspired favourite of mine is mashed potato mixed with lemon juice, breadcrumbs, coriander and chilli, shaped into patties, fried and served with chutney and yoghurt.
For those, like me, who can't rely on being given a home smoker this Christmas, you can build your own approximation with just a roll of tin foil and a big wok or pan for which you have a lid.
I get great pleasure from stuffed foods, from an apple strudel to a vegetable samosa, from a whole roasted bird with a sweet and savoury stuffing to a vine leaf filled with rice and spices.
I have a terrible tendency to lick my fingers when I cook. So much so that I got a telling off from my pastry teacher years ago, who said it would hinder my prospects.
Black glutinous rice works in both savoury and sweet dishes. It's a popular pudding rice in south-east Asia, where you'll often come across it cooked with water, coconut milk and a pandan leaf.
Chickpeas are one of my favourite things to serve with chorizo or lamb meatballs; they also work brilliantly as the quiet partner in a vibrant alphonso mango salad.
I keep returning to the combination of artichoke, broad beans and lemon. The freshness of young beans and the lemon juice 'lifts' the artichoke and balances its hearty nature.
Some breakfast cereals only come into their own as children's party treats: what are cornflakes and Coco Pops for, if not to clump together with melted chocolate and spoon into a cupcake holder?
Polenta is to northern Italy what bread is to Tuscany, what pasta is to Emilia-Romagna and what rice is to the Veneto: easy to make, hungry to absorb other flavours, and hugely versatile.
Chinese sausage, which is widely available from Asian grocers and online, is sweet, rich, and enticingly smoky. I add it to steamed rice with strips of omelette and a few baby veg stir-fried with soy.
The most important thing for me is to walk the little alleys of the city, to find the little alcove where someone is cooking something, and just watch them do it. That's my idea of fun.
If I must choose between healthy and tasty, I go for the second: having only one life to waste, it might as well be a pleasurable one.
When I was a kid, there was always food to be had on the street in Jerusalem, but anything above a falafel stand was mediocre or worse.
The only way reliably to gauge the heat of any particular chilli is to cut it in half, so exposing the core and membranes, and to dab the cut surface on your tongue.
I just don't tend to cook eggplant at home.
Verjuice may not be the easiest thing in the world to find, but you should be able to track some down in good delis and online.