Monday, 24 September 2012

Nigellissima, Review and First Makes

Being a big Nigella fan I was very happy when I had my copy of Nigellissima Instant Italian Inspiration by Nigella Lawson Chatto & Windus 2012 in my hands.

It is a relatively slim book for Nigella, but as she says in the introduction there are lots of her Italian recipes in her other books, and this book is full of new recipes. Chapters are: *Introduction* Pasta* Flesh, Fish & Fowl* Vegetables & Sides* Sweet Things* An Italian Inspired Christmas* Notes*. The notes one at the end gives make ahead and leftovers advice for some of the recipes, where this is appropriate.

The photography is stunning and Petrina Tinslay needs a mention here as she manages that hard to capture thing where the food photography is both something that you would like to cook and eat; but somehow art at the same time (David Loftus is another star at this). The recipes are easy to follow and well laid out, all preceded by chatty introductions from Nigella.

You can feel Nigella’s love for Italy in her words, and it is a book that inspires you to the cooker. The only thing I don’t like about this book is the weird cover. When I think of Italian food nowadays I imagine a cornucopia of good things or a fantastic beautiful and great tasting ingredient. This cover doesn’t sit well with that image for me, but hey ho. There are a good number of pasta dishes, but there is a lot more besides. I particularly like the Italian-Inspired Christmas chapter, which is full of good things.

It is Italian inspired though, so don’t be expecting a book of truly authentic Italian Mama’s recipes. I’m not as hung up on authenticity as some are. My base point is I like to know what is actually authentic about cuisines that are not my own; but I tend to then alter them to what I like and my own family will eat anyway, - is that not just what Nigella has done here? If the results are as good as the prawn pasta rose and nutella cheesecake below – I can cope with a bit of inauthenticity!

So how about a little taster of the recipes? Tortelloni Minestrone, Pasta Risotto with Peas & Pancetta, Farro Risotto with Mushrooms, Italian Roast Chicken with Peppers and Olives, Beef Pizzaioli, Tagliata for Two, Iced Berries with Limoncello White Chocolate Sauce, Romanesco with Rosemary, Garlic, Lemon and Peccorino, Chocolate Nougat Cookies, Chocolate Salame, Cappuccino Pavlova and an Italian Christmas Pudding Cake.

My friend Anna G has also had great success with the Chocolate Olive Oil Cake, so it is now also on my long list of to-makes as well. Here are the dishes I’ve cooked so far:

Chilli Crab Risotto
There are a number of risottos in Nigellissima, but this is the only rice one. It’s light, delicious and very filling.
Vanilla Panna Cotta
Silence reigned when I put this one out, and I’m not surprised it was a perfect panna cotta. Rich, dreamy, and vanilla scented. Nigella has three panna cottas in the book - this one, a Nutella one and a coffee one – we will try them all eventually.
The strawberries here have a teensy bit of balsamic vinegar added. I bought a high end bottle of balsamic last time I was in Valvona and Carolla in Edinburgh, and it added a pleasant depth to the berries. You do need a good vinegar though, because I have tried this berry / balsamic thing with cheaper vinegar and it just doesn’t do.

This is meatloaf by another name. It was ok, needed a bit of help I thought, maybe some crispy bacon through the base and olives on top. This is the only recipe here I wouldn’t try again.
A cheeky little tiramisu, made in moments. I halved the recipe to make just two. Although I do think hubby felt a bit robbed that there wasn’t a big dish to have seconds from!

Cherry Tomatoes with Olives
Gosh, this was so good, simple and not for children (alcohol), but hubby and I had this as a side dish and little one had just tomatoes and olives, so that worked out well. It’s a simple dish, but very good.

Gnocchi Gratin
Unusual this one, but we all liked it, fastest potato gratin ever.

Prawn Pasta Rosa
We all loved this one, I changed the method slightly and added the chilli at the end after removing little ones portion so everyone was happy. Creamy tomato kissed pasta with prawns, yum yum. I’ve made twice now, once with the pasta suggested and once with spaghetti. Spaghetti gets our vote.

Sicilian Pasta with Tomatoes, Garlic and Almonds
I halved the anchovies here, and I really liked this alternative pesto. I’ll make it again just for me, I found it’s sweet – sour pull good. My little one took such an aversion to the telephone cord shaped pasta that she had to be bribed with pudding to eat it (well she couldn’t have just Nutella Cheesecake for tea!). I’ve heard before of children who will eat say spaghetti but not other shapes of pasta as it doesn’t taste the same, but so far I’d managed not to experience that first hand. I get off very lightly really!

Nutella Cheesecake
This is an amazing dessert, simple to pull together and so good to eat. As a general rule I like sweeter puddings than this, but the base is sweet and the filling not so much, together they are fabulous! If you like Ferrero Rocher give this one a go. I would have expected my daughter and myself to like it, but even hubby who would never eat Nutella normally, was won over by it too. This is the one I’m making to take to events this party season. You can find the recipe here.

Next Up: Under the Walnut Tree


Miss C Flash said...

Wow, you have made so many recipes from this book. I really like the Nutella cheesecake, looks amazing. Nigelissima will be my pay day treat. Yum x

Kelly-Jane said...

I'm sure you'll love it :) x

Nicola said...

Oh wow you've made so many recipes already! I've just managed to make two so far but I have many more bookmarked to try. I am definitely going to make the nutella cheesecake, it looks amazing.

Emily said...

Great review! I have only two of her books ;(

Katherine said...

Thanks for the review Kelly Jane!! I haven't got the book yet, but I think I need to buy Feast before I get this one.
I did make the Sicilian pasta this evening and loved it (the recipe is on and I love the look of both prawn dishes in your pictures! The Meatzza doesn't appeal to me so I'll leave that one alone!

Katherine said...

I meant both seafood dishes, the prawn and the crab!

Maria♥ said...

Great review on Nigellissima and all the recipes you've made look delish. I've only tried the Italian Breakfast Banana Bread and the Italian Apple Pie, both lovely recipes. Can't wait to try the Nutella Cheesecake :)


Kelly-Jane said...

Nicola, it is indeed amazing!

Emily, more to collect later?!

Katherine, the meatzza wasn't for me either. Feast is my very favourite Nigella book, I love them all, but Feast is just so special to me. Lucky you having it to look forward to. :)

Maria, they both look great in the book, mmm.

Thank you for your comments. x

Maggie said...

I've got my eye on the Nutella Cheesecake. I haven't bought the book but everything you have cooked looks delicious.

thecelticcookinshanghai said...

Your dishes all look amazing, but can't help wondering if this is just a book too far? Maybe Nigella is past her sell by date. I know this will be very controversial with your readers, but I think she is so over the top on her show and now don't even enjoy watching her. On a trip home recently I saw her new show and after about 5 minutes had to switch off. Not saying her recipes are no good, I have every other book of hers but won't be buying this one. Think she's a victim of over exposure.Sorry to all your readers.

Choclette said...

I've heard about the book of course, hard not too, but it's good to find out a bit more about it. That nutella cheesecake looks amazing and it gets extra ticks form me for not being too sweet.

Kelly-Jane said...

Maggie, thanks.
Celtic Cook in Shanghai, I'm enjoying her new series, well for the most part anyway, not as ott as the last one, fortunately! Don't worry though, we are all different :)
Choclette, the cheesecake is really lovely!

Grazing Kate said...

I'm sorry to be the bearer of sad tidings...just made the prawn pasta rosa from the book and thought it was awful! It seemed unfinished - it really needed something else - it was rich yet bland - even the kids weren't into it. We added lots of salt and pepper and some grated parmesan - other good additions would have been lemon juice and rocket leaves or maybe some stronger herbs or spices. I usually wolf down her food, but typically I tell my husband to cook and it's a disaster!

Kelly-Jane said...

Grazing Kate, I've made this a few times now, and once it didn't come out the same, I think I didn't simmer it quite long enough that time. Having said that we do love creamy pastas! Thanks for your comment.

Andrea@Familyconnect said...

I'm planning on having a Nigellissima inspired Christmas dinner this year. My family would complain if I moved too far away from the classic meal, but I think I can squeeze an Italian twist or two past them ;-) The Nutella cheesecake will definitely be on the menu (I love Ferraro Roche!)

Brownieville Girl said...

Can't wait to get my hands on it - Thanks Kelly-Jane

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