As the Ottolenghi Test Kitchen releases its latest cookbook, the duo talk to Prudence Wade about kitchen mishaps and cooking for their families.

Ottolenghi's Test Kitchen - a buzzing hub of food creativity, brought together by Yotam Ottolenghi - sounds like some kind of culinary utopia.

The OTK, as it's lovingly known, headed up by fellow chef Noor Murad, 32, is where the new Ottolenghi recipes are dreamed up - and a few kitchen mishaps are encountered.

"Exploding aubergines" are not unfamiliar in the OTK, shares Ottolenghi.

"When you cook an aubergine without cutting it, there is a chance you're going to get steam inside the skin, and then it kind of pops," says the Israeli-born British chef. "And if it's further down the line, it is a big pop. Personally at home, and I think one or two times in the Test Kitchen, we have had this.

"It's fine if it's in the oven, because you just need to clean the oven. But if it's on the stovetop, it's the whole kitchen that's covered in bits of aubergine."

The moral of the story? "It's really important to pierce your aubergines before you start cooking them, if you cook them whole," the 53-year-old urges.

Aubergines are a classic ingredient in the Ottolenghi repertoire, joining the likes of kohlrabi and za'atar in the latest book co-authored with Murad, Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things, a follow up to the first OTK book in 2021, Shelf Love.

"Where Shelf Love was all about stripping your shelves, Extra Good Things is all about filling them back up with all the different condiments and sauces, sprinkles and pickles that you can use to accessorise your meals," says Murad. "For me, I feel like extra things are super relevant right now.

"It's a way of bringing luxury to your table at home. So you can have beans on toast or scrambled eggs, or something really simple, but then you can elevate it with all these little flavour bombs. That's really the way we in the Test Kitchen love to eat."

And they certainly love to eat in the Test Kitchen - which sounds like a dream job, although it can come with its pitfalls, says Murad.

"Working in the Test Kitchen is the most amazing thing, but the hardest thing is being surrounded by so much food all the time - and trying not to eat all of it, and not feel completely sick at the end of the day."

Despite being around food and cooking all day, Murad still tries to make time for it after work. "I do still cook at home, because I'm quite health conscious - it's really, really simple food, something like a frittata or a soup," she says. "Your palate is being assaulted all day with all these amazing flavours, then you almost need to calm it back down."

Ottolenghi agrees entirely with this, although he's even less inclined to cook after coming home from work.

"I pick - there are a lot of food leftovers from the kids, because kids never finish their meal," he says. "Sometimes around 9:30pm I often think I'll go to bed without dinner, because I've eaten all day - but there is this moment just before you're about to go to bed, 9:30pm, 10pm, when you're hungry. Then I often get a slice of cheese and pickle - I love that combination, maybe a bit of mayo. Then I'm happy."

Ottolenghi's recipes tend to involve a few more ingredients than just cheese and pickle, and his style is so distinct that his name has even become a verb: 'to Ottolenghify'.

"It's funny, because I knew it was used in a particular way - 'Oh, let's do Ottolenghi' - but when Noor wrote the introduction to this book and she used the verb 'to Ottolenghify'... I understood what she meant as soon as I read it.

"In some way, that means to inject something which is delicious but familiar with something which is a bit unfamiliar, and a bit of excitement," he says. "I never quite understood it until she used it, but now I totally get it."

So what would it mean if you were 'to Noorify' a dish?

Ottolenghi is best placed to answer this question: "There's a lot of zing in the way Noor cooks, with acidity and with herbs. For me, that's very Noor - to take herbs and zinginess to the extreme, [with] extreme flavours. The other thing I love about the way Noor cooks is there's always a nice little finishing touch that is above and beyond - it's not just a garnish, it's a very well thought out garnish that rhymes with the flavour that is already in there."

He dubs this kind of cooking "to Noorish" - a play on "nourish".

Both styles are about plentiful portions to share with loved ones, and Ottolenghi and Murad have already been cooking recipes from their new book for friends and family. Murad has made the green frittata with burnt aubergine - a take on two Persian dishes - saying it's simple to cook, "But it has that wow factor. If you present it for brunch, people will be like, 'Oh wow, this is amazing', but it doesn't really take that long to make. I like those dishes - maximum reward with minimal effort."

And Ottolenghi has been making confit leeks with puy lentils and leek cream for his family, as well as the coffee mousse with tahini fudge, saying: "My kids love it, even though it's coffee flavour."

He says his children, Max, nine, and Flynn, seven, "Have become adventurous recently - they weren't always. They were always on the good side of the scale rather than the very picky side, but there are things they wouldn't touch - that's changed now.

"They more or less eat most things, if they woke up on the right side of the bed - and not the wrong side."

Ottolenghi Test Kitchen: Extra Good Things by Noor Murad and Yotam Ottolenghi is published by Ebury Press, priced £25. Photography by Elena Heatherwick. Available now.