Saturday 29 November 2008

More Nigella

Here is the next instalment of my cooking from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson. Now that Christmas is much nearner, indeed December is nearly here, reading Nigella Christmas is such a joy, not just for the recipes either, the pictures too, of both food and serving / kitchen bits and pieces. I’ve bought a few new bits of Christmas crockery recently, and will cover them all between now and Christmas, here are the first couple though.

Nigella’s Christmas mixing bowls in melamine. I wasn’t sure about the melamine reading about it online, but it’s actually every bit as good as it’s pottery counterparts. I imagined the melamine would be light, but it’s not, it’s substantial and also has a rubber (?) bit on the base to make them non-slip on a kitchen worktop. They are great in the different colours in each set as well.

Next is a Maxwell Williams round platter, a local kitchen shop to me had these on sale for half price, so it was only £8.oo – bargain I thought!
De Luxe Macaroni
Food wise I’ve made a hodge-pode assortment of recipes! Starting off with De Luxe Macaroni, I made a bit of a booboo with this one, because I halved the recipe, but left the cheddar at the full amount. I obviously didn’t plan this but we loved how cheesy it was with the (in effect) extra cheese and will leave it as such next time. If you are worried about the evaporated milk in the recipe don’t be, my hubby doesn’t like evap milk, but he had thirds!

Hot Scnocolate
Hot scnocolate next, very yummy and I made this on a day last weekend when we had snow, and it was delicious, the peppermint schnapps was pretty subtle in the drink, not very boozy tasting, but nicely minty.

Tiramisu Layer Cake next, a real party piece, creamy, chocolate-y and a bit of coffee, but it wasn’t overpowering - a good balance we thought. Next time I’ll decorate it with the chocolate coffee beans on top.
Apple and Onion Gravy
I did roast pork last weekend, and tried ont Nigella’s apple and onion gravy to go with it, she describes it as a mixture between sauce and gravy, very good it was too. I reheated the leftover sauce to go with some butchers sausages – fabulous!

Pecan Sprouts, I make Christmas Sprouts from Feast as my regular Christmas Day ones, and I love them so much. The pecan sprouts were lovely too, although I did decrease the butter a bit!

Gingerbread, here spread with some butter, I’ve made this one before as Christmas gingerbread cupcakes, and it’s as good as ever.

This morning I made the cranberry mincemeat (more on this next time) - our house smells so devine and Christmassy. Now time for some present wrapping…

Monday 17 November 2008

More Nigella Christmas

Girdlebuster Pie
Time for a bit more Nigella Christmas. Now that the shops area bit more Christmassy, I’m happy if a little frazzled by the thought of how much I have to do between now and then! My cards are half written though, and I’ve found it’s a lot easier to write them in the morning when the sun is shining through the window than at night when the curtains are drawn and it’s a cold night.
Jewelled Couscous
For any non regular readers by Nigella Christmas I mean the book by Nigella Lawson out last month. I have been consumed by the need to make her GirdleBuster Pie since I saw a picture of it. It is so lovely I changed the recipe slightly by making the crust and freezing it with the ice cream, vanilla in our case. Then sliced it and served the toffee sauce with bourbon in it (a taste sensation for sure) in a jug, this was mainly because I wanted to be able to give little people sauce without alcohol in it as well. I was really quite worried that I might not be able to cut it smoothly, indeed I was worried about even getting it out of the dish, but it was fine, I had no need to worry about it. It’s bonus is it lives in the freezer and can be whipped out at any time when a gorgeous pudding is required.
Party Chicken
Party Poussins with jewelled couscous and a butternut squash side. I made this with skinless chicken breasts, which is not what Nigella suggested, I’d use thighs next time. Spiced roast squash is a must make, I kept snaffling bits - it is butternut squash at its most spectacular, well in my opinion anyhow. The recipe is in the text introduction for the party poussins.
Spiced Roast Squash
If anything would make life at this time of year easier it’s these fabulous Rocky Road bars, my goodness they are good, and with the amaretti in place of the more regular plain biscuits they are knockout. I’ve been trying them out on friends to gauge reactions, and they go down really well, people tend to think there is booze in them, but it’s just the amaretti biscuits, you must give them a go!

Notes: Nigella used 250g dark chocolate and 150g milk chocolate, plus mini marshmallows, I really don’t like mini marshmallows, so even though it is a bit tiresome, I think it’s worth buying the big ones and snipping them into 4 to replicate the mini ones, but with a bit more taste.

Christmas Rocky Road
Slightly adapted from Nigella Christmas by Nigella Lawson 2008.
175g soft unsalted butter
200g dark chocolate, broken into pieces
200g milk chocolate, broken into pieces
4 tablespoons golden syrup
200g amaretti biscotti (the hard ones), crushed into crumbs and lumps
125g marshmallows, large pink and white ones, scissored into 4 each
150g glace cherries
150g brazil nuts
2 teaspoons icing sugar, to dust (optional)
(1)Heat the butter, chocolate and golden syrup in a heavy-based saucepan over a gentle heat, then cool a little
(2)To the melted chocolate mixture add the biscuit crumbs, marshmallows, glace cherries and brazil nuts, fold in well to coat everything.
(3)Tip the mixture into a 13 x 9"baking tin and smooth the top the best you can with a spatula.
Refrigerate for about two hours or overnight.
(4) To serve, cut into 24 bars and dust with icing sugar and edible glitter for the festive factor.

Monday 10 November 2008

Spiced Chicken on Melting Onions with Preserved Lemon

Last week there was such a ripple of sadness around many of my online forum friends when one of us passed away. I felt shocked and heavy hearted when I heard of Pistachio's passing. It feels so wrong, and sad that we won’t again see her name lit up in the users online box, hear her words, see her cooking on her blog from her Spanish kitchen. How dreadful it must be for her husband.

The speed of it is so hard, a few days between hope of the Doctors finding out what was wrong, and how to make it better…to the hard reality of not coming home from hospital and eventual death. When this is condensed into such a few precious days, it brings real shock and a feeling of unreality to those who grieve.

A number of us are making something as an In Memory Of sort of foodie celebration of the wonderful person Pistachio was, and still is wherever she is now.

I have been meaning to make this recipe for more than two years (!) and did indeed make my preserved lemons then, and the have been slowly maturing in a dark cupboard since. Pistachio was the person in our foodie group that found Crazy Waters Pickled Lemons by Diana Henry, and she of course passed on such a good find. I can remember seeing a picture of Pi’s dish of Moroccan chicken with spices from the book, and it was really spectacular, I made it soon after and it was so different and sort of exotic, I loved it.
In the making
Not long after Pi said this dish was also lovely as well, and it is. The melting onions and preserved lemons give the dish such a great flavour, the cooked preserved lemons tasting much better in the dish than they do raw! Diana Henry says she craves this dish and I can see why, it has a taste all its own. I’ve given the recipe below as it should be, but I reduced the garlic by half and the cayenne down to 1/8 of a teaspoon. I served it with Ina Garten’s couscous with pine nuts and currants through it, to give a sweet and crunchy element.

God bless you Pi wherever you are and thank you for your foodie legacy =) xx
With couscous
Spiced Chicken on Melting Onions with Preserved Lemon
From Diana Henry’s Crazy Water Pickled Lemons

Serves 4

4 Chicken Breast joints, skin on and partly boned
30ml (2 Tbs) Olive Oil
3 Onions, halved and sliced into half-moons
2.5ml (½ tsp) ground Turmeric
225ml (8fl.oz) Chicken Stock
2.5ml (½ tsp) Saffron Threads
85g (3oz) Green Olives
for the marinade:
½ Preserved Lemon
6 Garlic Cloves, crushed
5ml (1 tsp) ground Ginger
2.5ml (½ tsp) each of ground Cumin, Paprika and Cayenne
60ml (4Tbl) Olive Oil
30ml (2Tbl) Lemon Oil (from the preserved lemons)
Salt and Pepper

to serve:A good handful of flat-leaf parsley or coriander, roughly chopped
(1) For the marinade, remove the flesh from the inside of the lemon and chop it up, retaining the outer rind to use in the sauce. Mix the flesh with all the other marinade ingredientsRub the marinade all over the chicken, spooning some marinade just under the skin if you can. Cover and leave in fridge for at least 3 hours, or overnight. Turn the joints every so often.

(2) Heat the olive oil in the bottom of a shallow, ovenproof pan. Add the chicken and quickly cook the outside until nice and golden. Put the chicken aside.In the same pan, start to cook the onions. When they are softening and beginning to turn translucent, add the turmeric and continue to cook stirring, for another minute. Bring the stock or water up to the boil and dissolve the saffron in it. Add this to the pan, along with the chicken pieces and any juices that have come out of them. It will look as if you don’t have much liquid, but this is all it needs – the chicken will continue to get nice and golden on top while the sauce makes itself underneath.Cook in an oven, preheated to 180˚C (350˚F) Gas mark 4, for 30 minutes.

(3) Cut the lemon rind into fine strips and add it to the dish with the olives 15 minutes before the end of the cooking time. (You’ll need to rinse the olives if they are in brine, but if they’re in olive oil just drain them.) Scatter with parsley or coriander, and serve with rice, couscous or flatbread.

Sunday 2 November 2008

Nigella Christmas

Christmas Puddini Bonbons
It was with much excitement that I received Nigella Christmas (by Nigella Lawson) last month! How lucky we are to get a new Nigella book two years in a row. It’s a bigger book in format than her others, very glossy and so many pictures all the way through. There are some recipes that have appeared in print before, but I’m ok with this as I know what I cook on Christmas Day is more or less the same every year; it’s all the surrounding satellite cooking and entertaining that changes for me. Having said that though there are a lot of new ones as well, my favourite chapter is Come On Over, I’d like to cook the whole chapter =)

There are many recipes I’d like to try, and I have made a start, my question for myself in relation to the blog was ‘Would I make a ‘project’ of it?’ I’ve decided to make a mini project of it, much the same as the Nigella Express project from last year, but on a smaller scale in the run up to Christmas itself. Same format as last time, many pictures with the just a few recipes.

Some new purchases have been made after seeing Nigella Christmas: some pretty pink pots (the ones that the chocolate chestnut pots are pictured served in in the book, a couple of liqueurs, lychee and peppermint schnapps, PX sherry and an amazing cake tin, which is very pretty in itself.
Parsley-ed Fish Gratin
My first make wasn’t sweet – I could hardly believe it myself! I made the Parsley-ed Fish Gratin, which I changed only a bit by using half the parsley, this wasn’t a conscious decision, I just didn’t buy enough! It was lovely, the crispy potatoes on top were gorgeous too. I also used 50/50 smoked and unsmoked fish.
Chocolate Chestnut Pots
Next were Chocolate Chestnut Pots, I made these before buying the pink pots, but they are lovely, extremely rich in taste due to the sweetened chestnut puree.
Christmas Puddini Bonbons
Christmas Puddini Bonbons, from the minute I saw these in the book, I knew I had to make them, they are just so cute. Well, this coupled with the fact I have a real liking for Thorntons chocolates shaped like Christmas puddings. They were everything I hoped they’d be, and just on or two is a real little feast in itself, mmmm. I bought the Pedro Ximenez sherry for this, and it’s a gorgeous drink, I reckon you’d like it if you like sherry, marsala, madeira or any of the sweet dessert wines. It has an incredible taste of raisins. I found the mixture quite fiddly to roll into, extremely sticky (!) but definitely worth the effort.