Nigella Express

Week 89: Linguine with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Mushrooms

So I had a bit of a panic the other night and had to find the quickest thing I could possibly cook after work, and my go-to book on occasions like this is Nigella Express.

To make this for four you will need: 225g chestnut mushrooms, 80ml extra virgin olive oil, 1tbs Maldonado salt, 1 small clove of garlic, juice and zest 1 lemon, 1tsp fresh thyme leaves, 500g linguine, fresh parsley, 2-3 tbs freshly grated Parmesan, and pepper.  As usual I halved the ingredients because I was just cooking for the two of us.


The method for this is simplicity itself.  Mix the oil, salt, garlic, lemon zest and juice, and thyme in a large bowl.  Finely slice the mushrooms and mix them up in the solution and leave to steep for a bit.


Cook the linguine like it says on the packet, drain it but retain some of the cooking water and put the pasta and water in with the mushrooms.  When I got to this stage I wished I’d used a bigger bowl, so I lobbed mine all back in the pan to toss around.


Toss everything together, add the parsley, Parmesan and grind in some pepper and serve.


I really wanted to like this, but I just didn’t.  Firstly I went slightly wrong, I completely forgot the lemon and left everything steeping in salty thyme-ey oil for 10 minutes until I remembered and added it.  The main problem was that it was just far too salty.  Crazily salty.  My lover could only finish half of his and that half went straight through him, I finished it but I didn’t feel to good after.


I wanted to try it again with even less salt, but my lover has banned me from making it again! Can’t win em all…

Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2007 ISBN 9780701181840)

nigella express

Week 86: Naan Pizza

A really quick recipe, but I don’t know how I’ve managed without a it all my life.  I like pizza, my favourites are from pizza express, but buying ones to cook at home are a bit hit and miss, and I’ve always shied away from making my own… Until now!


Week 80: Rib-Sticking Stir-Fry

Wham! And the dinners cooked! It’s been a while since I stir-fried anything, despite getting my wok out all the time.  We went off to a wedding at the weekend, and needed to have one last healthy meal so I could button my jacket! And no carbs so I was bound to loose 9 stone over night.  The pictures are a bit blurry this time, I was a tiny bit drunk when I got round to cooking…


Week 55: Rapid Ragu

I remember being a schoolboy back in the 90s and pasta sauces were becoming a thing.  My Mum (known as the poisoner), decided that we should have pasta with everything. Some nights it was with fish fingers (yep), some particularly terrible nights it was pasta and quorn escalopes (no sauce), and then she discovered Ragu.

I’ve been avoiding this recipe for the last year because to my poor scarred mind Ragu is slimey lukewarm tomatoish sauce over some slightly wet pasta. And to be honest, I would probably still be avoiding it if my lover hadn’t told me to make it. I still wasn’t everso keen on the idea until my lover said that Gino D’acampo was on the radio and said that you don’t need to eat Ragu with pasta, and it should be really meaty – so I was sold! Hurrah!

To make this for four you will need: garlic oil, 125g pancetta (cubed), 500g lamb mince, 75g caramelised onions, 80ml Marsala (I used some leftover white wine), 400g tin chopped tomatoes, 75g green lentils, and 50g grated Red Leicester cheese.  Nigella recommends using caramelised onions from a jar, but I couldn’t find it and had to make my own by finely chopping an onion and slowly frying it with butter and a bit of sugar.


I’m going to track down a jar of these onions before I make it again, and also see if the lentils come in a jar like capers – just to cut down on waste.


Firstly heat 2 tablespoons of garlic oil in a medium saucepan (with lid) and fry the pancetta until it starts to go crispy, then add the lamb (break it up as you stir it around while it browns)


Add the caramelised onions,  the Marsala, the tin of tomatoes, the lentils, and 125ml of water, then bring to the boil. Simmer for 20 minutes then serve with grated cheese.


It was really tasty – good thing too cos half went in the freezer – next time I make it I’ll simmer it for slightly longer or at a slightly higher temperature so there’s less juice, but all in all I’d say Nigella’s Rapid Ragu was a success. Hurrah!



Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2007 ISBN 9780701181840)

nigella express

Week 47: Chicken Schnitzel with Bacon and White Wine

So this was the week that nearly didn’t happen – I asked my lover to choose a recipe because I was crazy busy at work, and I couldn’t find the ingredients for what he chose.  So as an emergency replacement, I am very proud to present: Chicken Schnitzel. Tadaaa.

I was interested to try Nigella’s take on Chicken Schnitzel, my Lover made his Polish Grandmother’s Polish Schnitzel (breadcrumbed etc) so I was keen to try it German style.

Absolutely no ingredients: 1 chicken breast each (an escalope), 2 rashers of bacon each, 25ml of white whine each, and a teaspoon of garlic oil for the frying pan.

Nigella says to use escalopes, but as usual I couldn’t find exactly that in Hammersmith Sainsbury’s, so I bashed a pair of breasts with my rolling pin.  I could have worded that better… then my lover said I was being too gentle with them then bashed them really flat – about half an inch I think.

Turn the pan on quite high, add the oil and then the bacon.


Fry the bacon until crispy and then set it aside in some foil to keep warm.


Fry the chicken for 2 minutes on each side, make sure you check the chicken is cooked before taking it out the pan (Nigella recommends cutting into it to check for pinkness – mine took about 5 minutes in total)


When the chicken is done plate it up (or remove it to a serving plate if it takes your fancy).  Crumble the bacon into the pan, pour in the wine and stir it around until it all bubbles up (this bit happened far too quickly to take a picture)

Pour this over the chicken and eat it.  I was surprised how quickly this cooked – if I hadn’t chosen to serve it with oven chips dinner would have been done in 10 minutes!


As my lover just this minute said “This weekend you’ve cooked two quick meals that we’ll definitely have again” and we definitely will.  Sorry Babushka, I prefer my Schnitzel German style!

Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2007 ISBN 9780701181840)

nigella express

Week 46: Gammon Steaks with Parsley (and peas)

Week 46! Welcome to my lovely new followers!  Not party-ish food this week, but I hope you like it all the same 🙂

So this week my lover took a trip out of town for a few days, and as the saying goes while the cat was away this mouse played.  Not with the strumpets of Hammersmith, no this mouse plumped for much more forbidden fruit – pork! My lovers a pork-dodger so I never get it at home 😦

And I’ve had my eye on this recipe for a year. A YEAR!

Gammon is hands down my absolute favourite meat ever – I prefer it to bacon any day of the week – and I think that not being able to cook it makes me yearn for it even more.  This delicious looking dinner is the ultimate in speedy after-work scran, from cooker on to the table in 10 minutes – without using every single utensil and pan you use.

Nigella recommends serving the gammon with marrowfat peas, and then gives alternatives if you can’t bring yourself to eat them. This got me intrigued as I had no idea what a marrowfat pea was, so I got a tin, I’m not proud.  Imagine my delight when I opened the can and found they’re mushy peas before they go mushy! Hurrah! I cooked the peas as instructed on the side of the can, on a low heat with all the juices that come in the can.  I put the pea pan on when I put the frying pan on for the gammon, and kept an eye on it so the peas didn’t boil (but did get piping hot).


For the gammon you will need: garlic oil, 2 gammon steaks (approx 200g each) white wine vinegar, honey, freshly ground pepper, parsley, and a big juicy tin of marrowfat peas.


Heat 2tsp of garlic oil in a largish frying pan (big enough for 2 gammon steaks) and turn the peas on low, and when the oils hot out the steaks in and cook them for 3 minutes each side.  While the steaks are frying mix 2tbsp of white wine vinegar with 4tbsp of water, 2tsp of honey and a load of freshly ground pepper in a bowl of something. Also roughly chop up some parsley.


When the steaks are done take them out the pan and put them onto warmed plates (and turn the peas off) and then pour the vinegary mix in to the hot steak pan, with a load of parsley. Stir and scrape the mix around for a bit until it’s hot-ish and gammon-y and pour it over the steaks. Then drain the peas and serve the illicit gammon-y deliciousness, and for once it looked just like the picture in the book! Hurrah!


This is a genuinely delicious and speedy dinner! The peas might not be the finest of fine dining but they compliment the gammon to a tee, and the vinegar-iness of the glaze goes really well with the natural saltiness of the gammon in a really sly fish-and-chipish way. Did I mention it was delicious?!?



Anyhoo, gammon comes in packs of two and I really want to make it for my lover, cos I just know he’d love it… he’d better!


Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2007 ISBN 9780701181840)

nigella express

Week 43: Mirin-Glazed Salmon

So here’s something I thought I would be able to tell you about much sooner than the forty-third week of the New Recipe Night project… This week, I cooked fish for the first time.  I’ve cooked tinned fish this year, and who can forget Nigel (from week 14:, but never an actual chunk of fish.

I suppose what attracted me to this was that it looked like an easy introduction into cooking fish, it looked quick to cook and I already had the ingredients.

To make this for 4 you will need: 4 x 125 g pieces of salmon (Nigella wants narrow and tall, rather than wide and flat… the minx) 60 ml (4 tbsp) mirin, 50g soft light brown sugar, 60 ml (4tbsp) soy sauce, 2 tbsp rice vinegar, 1-2 spring onions.

I’ve recently got in to sushi rice, and now that I’ve stopped burning it to the pan it’s become a firm favourite.  If you are like me, cruelly without a rice-cooker, you will need to get the rice cooking before you make the marinade (which is probably exactly the same as if you do have one)

Start your rice cooking and then in a bowl or dish that will hold all your bits of salmon, mix the mirin, brown sugar and soy sauce together.  Eight minutes before the rice is due to be cooked, put your fillets into the marinade for 3 minutes for the first side, and 2 for the second.


Whilst this is marinading, shred the spring onion (to look like the shredded spring onions you get with crispy duck at the Chinese). Then heat a large non-stick frying pan on the hob.  Put the salmon in the pan and cook for 2 minutes, turn over the salmon and add the marinade and cook for another 2 minutes.


If you’re a genius at timing your rice should be done as you turn the salmon, so while the salmon and marinade are bubbling away, you should be able to drain the rice (if it needs it) and put it out on your serving plates.


Take the salmon off the heat and dish up on top of the rice.  Then add the rice vinegar to the pan to warm through.  Nigella says that this is supposed to form a dark, sweet and salty glaze for you to pour over the salmon.  I’m not sure what I did wrong, but it turned black and burned onto the pan in a massive puff of fishy smoke.  I spotted some of the smoking goo onto the salmon, it didn’t look very glazed but I sprinkled it with the spring onions all the same.


The salmon was delicious, perfect with the rice, a little too blackened maybe but I’m pretty sure I had the hob on too high.  Unfortunately the last step to make the glaze burned itself onto my ‘non stick’ pan so hard that it’s taken forever to clean, and still has big black patches that are now part of the pan.  Also, my lover doesn’t really like fish, so it’s not going to become a regular dinner round here, but I still might make it just for me once I’ve worked out what I’m doing.

Fish.  Tick.


Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2007 ISBN 9780701181840)

nigella express

Week 26: Merzuez with Halloumi and Flame-Roasted Peppers

Here is a recipe that takes longer to say the title than it does to prepare.

This is a very simple recipe from Nigella Express, the page before my favourite Curry in a Hurry (from Week 8 To make this for four you will need 8 Merguez (or spicy sausages 340g-ish) 250g block halloumi cheese, 220g jarred flame-roasted peppers, 1 tablespoon of garlic oil.

I had  bit of a mission trying to find the ingredients; it was Monday and my usual butcher was shut.  Off to the big Sainsbury’s I went like a fool.  Sainsbury’s in Chiswick don’t sell Merguez sausages, but they sold spicy pork sausages.  I picked up a pack and went to the butcher’s counter and asked if they were like Merguez – a simple enough question – and the butcher looked at the pack and said:

“I don’t know sir, I’m not a sausage expert”

Off I went to my back-up butcher (who opens when mine is shut) and they had proper lamb Merguez, although they were quite small so I bought six… can’t have enough sausage haha!  I also had a little trouble finding garlic oil – after coming up blank in Sainsbury’s, I googled how to make my own and up popped Nigella’s website which told me that making your own garlic infused Olive Oil was actually a Botulism risk.  So I used olive oil instead.

Enough waffle!  To make this dish start off by turning your oven on to 220c/gas 7 (alter if you have a fan oven) and dust off your low-sided roasting tin.  Put the sausages in the tin:

Cut up the halloumi into 5mm slices and put them in the pan, then cut up the peppers and throw them in too.

Drizzle with oil (I only put a little on, the peppers are pretty oily) and put it in the oven for 15-20 minutes.

While its cooking I would recommend preparing some sort of rocketty salad, or come cous cous to soak up the oil.  I forgot, but my friend made it with salad and really liked it.

When its done in the oven the halloumi should have coloured in places – my ovens pretty fierce so it burned a little, but I think that added to the flavour!

I like this, and I really liked how simple it was to make, but my lover isn’t keen on halloumi so I’m not allowed to make it again!  Can’t win them all.


Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2007 ISBN 9780701181840)

Week 25: Roquamole and Mexican Scrambled Eggs

Two recipes in honour of it being week 25.

Continuing on from last week’s high-powered mixer madness, I thought it only right to have a go at Nigella’s Roquamole, to rev some more ingredients into a pulp; and my lover fancied the Mexican Scrambled Eggs – because we weren’t sure what a Quesadilla was!

Both recipes come from the Nigella Express book, and were really easy to make.  I’ve always been a fan of dipping things in guacamole, so the chance to combine guacamole with a big hunk of smelly cheese was too good to miss!  To make Roquamole for four hungry dippers you will need: 125g Roquefort (or St Agur), 60ml sour cream, 2 ripe avocadoes, 25g sliced pickled green jalepeno chilli peppers from a jar, 2 spring onions, and a quarter tsp of paprika.

First loosely mash the cheese with a fork, mix with the sour cream, and then mash in the avocados.  Roughly chop the jalapenos and finely slice the spring onions, and stir it in.

Spoon the Roquamole into a respectable dish and dust with the paprika.  Nigella recommends putting the bowl in the centre of a large dish and spreading the crisps round it – If I’d done this only my dog would have eaten crisps.  She also recommends blue corn tortilla chips to dip, but I couldn’t get them and wolfed it down with doritos instead.

Now for a confession:  I have never scrambled an egg before, and I don’t really like them.  So Mexican scrambled eggs seems a strange choice for dinner.  I liked the idea of it being more than just a wet yellow mess, so I thought I’d give it a go!

To make Mexican Scrambled Eggs for two you will need: vegetable oil, 2 soft corn tortillas, 1 tomato, 1 spring onion, 1 small green chilli (I used a jarred one from the Roquamole) 4 beaten eggs and a quarter teaspoon of Maldon Salt (or a pinch of normal salt)

First de-seed and chop up the tomato and chilli, and roughly chop the spring onion.  Then heat 2 tablespoons of oil in your heavy based frying pan, cut up the tortillas and lob them in the frying pan and toss them round a bit until golden and crispy.  Remove them from the pan and put to one side.

Put the tomato, chilli and spring onion into the oily pan, stirring it around for a minute to two.  Add the fried tortillas and then pour in the beaten eggs and the salt.

Scramble the eggs in the normal style, once the eggs start setting remove from the heat and continue stirring until they’re done to your liking.  This is where I went slightly wrong, never having scrambled an egg before – I think I kept it moving in the right way but I just kept on going.  As a result they were a bit rubbery and squeaked like halloumi against my teeth.


Voila!  Mexican Night!  It was delicious.  I wish I’d made the Roquamole for four rather than halving the ingredients, normal Guacamole is dead to me now and I will probably die a fat cheesy mess.  I loved the eggs, the tortillas gave it a brilliant texture and were really tasty – and it wasn’t too spicy!

Halfway through his eggs my lover turned to me and said “I’ll teach you how to scramble an egg and you can try again…”

High praise indeed.



Nigella Express, by Nigella Lawson (Chatto & Windus 2007 ISBN 9780701181840)