Nigella Express

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…

(more…)

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 http://wp.me/p42Dr4-O). 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)

Periodic Pudding Number 4: Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

Far too many weeks have passed since I dusted off an old dessert, so last week I thought I’d give one a bash.  The Pineapple Upside-Down Cake has seen more comebacks than Cher.  I remember begging my mum to try making us one went it swooped back into fashion in the 90s.  It was a disaster… probably Anthea Turner’s fault.

I can’t tell if the Pineapple Upside-Down Cake is making an actual comeback, there seem to be a lot of them plastered across Pinterest but I might be missing some implied irony.  Anyway, there’s a recipe in Nigella Express and I wanted dessert.

To make Nigella’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake you will need: a 24cm tatin tin/23cm solid cake tin, 6 slices pineapple plus 3 tbs of the juice from the tin, 11 glace cherries, 100g flour, 1 tsp baking powder, quarter tsp bicarb, 100g soft butter (plus extra for greasing), 100g caster sugar (plus extra for the tin) and 2 eggs.

Firstly, turn the oven on to 200c/gas 6 (alter if you have a fan oven), butter the base of your tatin pan – I would recommend buttering the sides too – then sprinkle 2 tablespoons of sugar over the the butter and arrange the pineapple rings and cherries on the bottom.

My tin is slightly smaller than the recipe recommends, but it’s the same one I do my tatins in.  In the old days, this was exotic.

Nigella recommends doing the next step in a food processor, but I did it by hand because I had a headache.  Put all the cake ingredients (butter, flour, eggs, bicarb, baking powder and sugar) into a bowl and mix them together until the batter is smooth.  Then add 3 tablespoons of pineapple juice from the tin and stir some more.

Pour the mix over the pineapples  and spread it out gently to cover all the fruit in the bottom.  Bake for 30 minutes.

Run a spatula around the edge of the tin, put a plate over the top and flip it over without burning yourself on the red-hot cast iron skillet or on any escaping molten pineapple juice, and you should have yourself a Pineapple Upside-Down Cake… mine looked like this:

I don’t remember it being such a heavy cake, maybe I’ll use less pineapple juice next time to see if it lightens the sponge a bit.

We just ate it on its own, but I’m guessing in the old days people ate it with a tin of carnation, or a slice of span or something.  Definitely one to make again!

 

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

Week 15: Cheddar Cheese Risotto

It’s been so long since I made a risotto I’d forgotten why I stopped; but I thought it would be good to give it another go.

Rather than dust of my old ‘blow-out risotto’, I reached for my Nigella Express book.  This recipe uses 1 tbs butter, 1 tbs oil, 2 baby leeks (I could only find adolescent ones in Sainsbury’s, so I made do with them) 300g risotto rice, 125ml white wine, half a teaspoon of Dijon mustard, 1 litre hot vegetable stock, 125g Cheddar cheese and some chives.

I had my old faithful grating cheddar in the fridge, but I decided to save it for another day and get something special instead.  I bought some Montgomery Cheddar from Neal’s Yard in Covent Garden, which nearly got eaten on the bus home.

After heating the butter and oil in the pan I tossed in the leaks to soften.  I’m not sure what a baby leek is, but they didn’t have one in Sainsbury’s so I bought one big one.

I love leeks!  Once the leeks were soft I stirred in the rice and after a minute or two I added the wine and mustard and kept stirring until the wine was absorbed.

Then came the really boring bit, the bit that reminded me of the other reason I stopped making risotto.  I had to ladle and stir in a litre of hot stock into the rice, only adding the next ladle-full of stock when the last one had been absorbed.  I think the rice got full pretty quickly, because by the end of Nigella’s prescribed 18 minutes, there was still quite a bit of the stock left and I wasn’t sure what to do with it.

I ignored it.  Rather a smaller risotto than a wet one!

I weighed out and cut the Cheddar  into chunks, and stirred it into the risotto for a few minutes until it began to melt and then served it up with a sprinkling of chives (which I mostly sprinkled all over my kitchen)

I liked the taste, but not how it felt in my mouth (as the Actress said to the Bishop).  There’s something about the texture of risotto that makes me feel a little ill, so I probably won’t make this again, but it tasted delicious.  The Montgomery Cheddar has a very strong flavour, whereas the leek and white wine are quite tart, so they really complimented each other.

Maybe I’ll use the flavour combination again in some sort of exotic quiche?

But hurrah!  I finally managed to make something for Cheese, Please!

 

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


									

Week 8: (Chicken) Curry in a Hurry

At last!  I plucked up the courage to delve into Nigella.  So to speak.

nigella express

I’ve had the book for ages, and I remember it being on TV a couple of years’ ago, and we joked how we never had any stale croissants left in the cupboard, and should we try to caramelise them after a night out we’d probably burn the house down (Caramel Croissant Pudding, page 23) – and all these years later, I probably still would.

I’d made a tuna-beany salad from it years’ ago, and it was really nice; but never made anything hot.

Until now.

I’ll admit, it was a bit of a special occasion – my friend was coming to stay and she says I can’t cook… so like a mature adult (that I am), I used Nigella as a weapon.  Biff, take that for can’t cook!

I think I was always put off making the hot recipes by the received horror of tracking down the ingredients for a Nigella recipe.  I’ve sat through many a boxing day dinner listening to a family friend’s story about getting the last star anise in the whole of Nottinghamshire, dishing out black eyes in the process – especially to do something festive with it on Nigella’s say so.  I must say, it wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be.  I’m lucky there is a good Thai Supermarket down the street, and the butcher is a whizz with chicken; however I had a bit of trouble with the soya beans.

I wasn’t sure what a soya bean was, and I wasn’t entirely sure where to get them from – so I went to a health food shop.  They had dried ones, which I would have to boil and simmer for hours but no fresh.  Then I went to Whole Foods in Kensington, and they had the dried ones, but the shopboy said they had no fresh or frozen.  They had frozen edamame beans (which google said were the same thing), but only in massive bags.

Yay for Brook Green Tesco’s though, they sold frozen soya beans in bags small enough for my tiny little ice compartment, my Nigella ingredients finding mission over for this week.  I reckon you can get hold of Green Thai Curry Paste and Nam Pla fish sauce in most larger supermarkets, but if you live near an ‘oriental supermarket’ you’d be better off going there.

I “accidentally” went to the pub and got a little ginny before making this the first time, and I had to substitute a beef stock cube for the required chicken one, but it was lovely.  Genuinely lovely.  There was an awkward moment where it looked like a pan full of sick, but the water boiled down to a nice thick sauce and we didn’t have to order pizza.

I have made this a few times now, but still not made it with the quantities below – I have found that half quantities will serve 4 easily, and it freezes well .

To serve 6 you will need: wok oil, 3 tablespoons finely chopped spring onions (although I usually leave them pretty chunky out of laziness) 3 or 4 tablespoons of Green Thai Curry Paste, 1 kg chicken thigh fillets (When I make half the quantity I use two breasts) 1 can of coconut milk, chicken stock (250ml of boiling water with enough stock for 500ml), 1 tablespoon fish sauce (nam pla), 185g frozen peas, 200g frozen soya beans, 150g frozen fine beans (I use fresh ones) and 3 tablespoons of fresh chopped coriander, which I always forget.

Heat the 2tbs of wok oil in a large lidded saucepan (although I’ve made this a load of times and can’t work out which bit I’m supposed to put the lid on for) and throw in the spring onions, cook them for a couple of minutes and add the curry paste.

Put the chicken in with the onions, and cook for about 2 minutes stirring continuously.  Then add the coconut milk, stock, fish sauce, frozen peas and soya beans.  Simmer for 10 minutes then add the frozen fine beans.  If you use fresh ones like me add them after about 5 minutes so they’re not tough.  It will look just like this:

Cook for another 3 to 5 minutes and serve.  Nigella recommends serving with rice or noodles – I’ve not tried with noodles but its delicious on a baked potato.

Curry Hurry

Bravo Nigella – I’m not scared anymore!

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