Friday, 2 November 2007

Nigella Express, nearing the end of the road.

I’ve decided. I’m changing the number of Express Recipes for the project to 40. I’m sure I’ll cook more than that, because I still love the book - but at a leisurely pace, and after the 40 you’ll just see the lookers! A lot of the food I’ve chosen isn’t really what I’d have planned to blog otherwise, and indeed I’ve never blogged everything I cook, but I’d rather blog from different books, after all this is Cooking The Books, not Book! I hope that you won’t think badly of me for reducing the number of recipes, and I hope that I’ve not disappointed anyone. Having bought so many new books with the end of year influx of new books, I want to write about what is current in my kitchen, and I feel a bit limited by my self imposed constraints.

This said I will still continue until I get to 40, then move on to other kitchen adventures, with only the occasional revisit to Nigella Express.

28. Hokey Pokey
My Mum has told me that when she and her Sister where children and their Mum went out leaving Dad in charge he used to make sweets with them. Either Scottish tablet or this hokey pokey, which is also known as cinder toffee or in this locality as puff candy. It’s easy to see why it’s called puff candy, as it’s sugar and golden syrup boiled to a caramel then some bicarbonate of soda is added and it puffs up and causes air holes in the candy. You might be more familiar with what I mean if you think of our Crunchie Bar or Violet Crumbles in Australia.
I’ve come across hokey pokey before when we were in New Zealand, I remember a hokey pokey ice cream, which was a vanilla ice cream with very small pieces of honeycomb folded through it, mmm.
So I made this for my Mum and she was happy with it, it brought back totally different good memories for her and me too =)

29. Calamari
I have always loved calamari in batter with a garlic mayo or lemon mayo dip. When we are in Paris we have it for a main course in a little bistro opposite the hotel we stay in. I know it’s not very healthy, but every once in a blue moon it’s a treat. The flour and semolina that the squid rings are coated in has Old Bay seasoning added in, and it adds a savoury edge, though not a specific spice taste. I guess I should own up that I have only deep fried anything at home in my entire life maybe four times, so I’m no expert at deep frying! Still this was easy and pretty speedy too, even considering I had to sort out my own squid, as bought sliced is not available where I live.
We liked this, I think it could have been crispier, but that is, I’m sure, down to my lack of confidence deep frying. After I’d sliced the squid the hand that had been in contact with it became a bit sore, puffy and red. Ten minutes after we had finished supper I had a migrane headache. I must have some sensitivity to my beloved calamari, and I would never have thought that it could cause a migrane! It’s not fair (wail)!

30. Jumbleberry Crumble
This meant to be an on hand in the freezer pudding that just needs a few minutes assembling before being baked in the oven. I did use the suggested mixed frozen berries, but I just put the made up crumble in the fridge overnight, so it was very cold, but not frozen. Nigella made this on the TV programme to go with the book, but instead of the individual portions as in the recipe she doubled the topping mixture and altered the base quantities a bit. I made it as one big pudding, as crumble is Hubby's favourite pudding and a single helping might have seemed a bit ungenerous! I’ve given the quantities I used below, I think they are right to what Nigella made except that I added in a little more sugar to the berries, as I’ve found the boxed frozen berries to be green-rhubarb-sour in the past.
It was a lovely crumble, like the Blackberry Crisp previously covered in this project the fruit part had a wonderful colour, and I couldn’t help smile at the name ‘Jumbleberry’. I might just have to keep a box of berries in the freezer so that I have a fast pudding at the ready!

31. Banana and Butterscotch Muffins
These are a quick muffin recipe that Nigella came up with to use up the never-ending supply of over ripe bananas in her house. They are quick to mix up, as most muffin recipes are, and ostensibly a banana muffin but made something different with the addition of some butterscotch chips. Also good with white and dark chocolate chips the recipe says… They were good plain muffins, the only alteration to the recipe I made was to hold back some of the butterscotch chips and sprinkle on the top before baking in the oven. At their best very fresh.

Hokey Pokey
From Nigella Express by Nigella Lawson courtesy of here .
I was going to say that this isn't as fun as it sounds, but then I reconsidered. Hokey pokey is the Cornish term for honeycomb, and is wonderful eaten in golden shards or crumbled into the best vanilla ice cream. I include it here as it is the perfect present to take to a dinner party. Better than flowers, as they need to be put into a vase, better than chocolate, which people tend to smile politely at, but put away in a drawer. I've found no one can resist a bit of hokey pokey. The quantities I've specified don't make an awful lot - enough to fill a little tin 12 cm diameter and 6 cm deep / 4 and a half inches diameter and 2 and a half inches deep -but any more and you'd be sued by your dentist.

1/2 cup sugar

4 tablespoons dark corn syrup

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

Put the sugar and syrup into a saucepan and stir together to mix. You can't stir once the pan's on the heat, though.
Place the pan on the heat and let the mixture first melt and then turn to goo and then a bubbling mass the color of maple syrup - this will take 3 minutes or so.
Off the heat, whisk in the baking soda and watch the syrup turn into a whooshing cloud of aerated pale gold. Turn this immediately onto a piece of baking parchment or greased foil.
Leave until set and then bash at it, so that it splinters into many glinting pieces.


Paola said...

Yum! It all looks fantastic, KJ! We loved that crumble and are having it this Saturday again. I've been thinking of making the hokey pokey as well...but I fear for my teeth!

Don't worry about disappointing by cooking less recipes btw. How could we ever be disappointed by you?! Everything I see here makes me want to run into the kitchen!


ps: I have a friend coming over tonight and she's in for a treat...the chocolate pb fudge sundae!!

Deborah said...

I'm amazed you will even be cooking 40 recipes from the same book. I don't think I've cooked even half that many out of any of the cookbooks I have. I'm impressed!!

Cynthia said...

Oh man, looking at this post makes me so very hungry. I LOVE calamari, everything is great.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I'm going to make the hokey pokey tomorrow as we've having a bonfire party. I may just have to get that book tomorrow - eek! Such a rule breaker!

Pat said...

Oh KJ your Crumble looks yummy as do those muffins!!!

Lydia said...

I'll definitely take some of those muffins, if there are any left! I think making 40 recipes from any one cookbook is amazing -- but also would make me more than ready for a different set of tastes.

Susan said...

Hokey Pokey - we call them molasses sponges, although they are hard and crunchy. I've enjoyed the ride down "Nigella Express," but will be happy to tag along on any detours you feel like making.

Amanda at Little Foodies said...

I meant I'm such a rule breaker by the way as in breaking my no cook books rule. In the end I didn't buy it. Instead I made her brownie recipe (in a star pan).
I love to read whatever recipes you've cooked from whichever book you've chosen so happy either way.

Abby said...

WOW! You are very ambitious! I'm impressed. I LOVE what you call puff candy - we call it brittle! Yum.

annauk said...

40 recipes from one book is amazing KJ!
I'll look forward to more of your inspiring creations from other books!

Kate / Kajal said...

Hey theses hokey pokey look interesting. Are they the same as honey comb ??If they are then i'd love the recipe.

Gemma said...

It is great that you have cooked so much from this book. I am struggling to not buy too much before Christmas but there are just so many amazing books coming out - I really want Moro East next. Anyway, these dishes look great as always, I really want to try to make my own Crunchies with the hokey pokey recipe.

Truffle said...

What wonderful creations. That crumble looks particularly tempting and I've always had an incredible weakness for calamari. Actually I love all of them! Great post!

Nora B. said...

Hi Kelly-Jane,
You don't have to apologise about changing stopping at 40 recipes. I don't think I've seen any blogger as patient and focussed as you have in terms of sticking with one book for as long as you have. I can totally understand you wanting to blog about other books. Nigella should send you a thank you package for all this publicity you are doing for her new book. ;-) \

This post is as tempting as the rest - I love honeycomb & would love to try making my own hokey pokey. I'm sorry to hear that you are allergic to calamari. I hope the migraine didn't last too long. Take care!

Shaun said...

Kelly-Jane ~ I love hokey pokey. Yes, hokey pokey ice cream is still alive and well in New Zealand. In fact, I had a few scoops of it a couple of weeks ago. I think yours looks brilliant. I'm curious to learn what other cookery books you're going to be cooking from.

Kelly-Jane said...

Paola, thanks you :) and hope the sauce was as fab as it sounds!

Deborah, Thank you.

Cynthia, reading foodie posts and hunger seem to go hand in hand!

Amanda, well you were nearly a rule breaker :) Hee hee.

Pat, thank you.

Lydia, that's what I'm thinking, I haven't finished with NE, but need something different too!

Susan, Thank you, and molasses sponges - what a fantastic name!

Abby, thank you!

Anna, more books on the way... :)

Kate, I'll post the recipe for you in a couple of days.

Gemma, I didn't know about Moro East, but will go and have a look now!

Truffle, thank you.

Nora, a package would be wonderful, but I wouldn't imagine that would happen!! I'll post the recipe in a coupl of days for the hokey pokey.

Shaun, I’m really glad to hear it’s still going strong =) I’ve bought a lot of new books, as they’ve come out recently and would like to do something with them for the blog. The one I’m reading just now is The Pastry Queen at Christmas by Rebecca Rather, she is so good! And of course I’ve had to re-read her first one too… and it goes on…


Elle said...

A great collection. I'll make the calamari, crumble and muffins, but not so sure about the puff candy. Looks tooth ache sweet, if pretty.

Helen said...

Hi, I just stumbled upon your blog and am really enjoying it- my family and I are cooking our way through Nigella Express this year (one recipe a day + other Nigella recipes to round out to a year) and blogging about it on
Last year we did Rachael Ray's 365 Recipes: No Repeats, ( and in comparison this years food has been amazing (even only 8 days in). Your blog is helping me decide what order to cook in, thanks!