Tuesday 13 April 2010

Nigella's Feast

There is nothing I like more than a weekend morning potter around the kitchen with Feast by Nigella Lawson on the cookbook stand cooking up something delicious for my family later that day or throughout the weekend. I can’t tell you how often when I do this the weather is sunny and there is a little breeze coming in through the window, and I give thanks to God I can tell you =)
Feast is most definitely one of my very favourite cookbooks. When it came out I cooked from it relentlessly for a long time. Just before my obsession came to an end I started blogging, and I sometimes think it’s a shame that I didn’t blog at that point, as I’d like to look back at all of what I’ve cooked from Feast, and also to share with you.
I’ve recently started to cook from Feast again, and have taken new pictures of the same recipes, but where I’ve liked the older pictures better, I’ve gone with them. This is the first of a couple of big Feast picture posts I’m planning. Now is a good time, as I’m guessing I may have a new favourite soon. In the form of Nigella’s new one, officially announced (last week) as due out in the UK in September – "Kitchen: Recipes from the Heart of the Home". There is to be a 13 part TV series too I’ve read =)
In the following pictures you’ll see six from the Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame chapter, I’ve cooked all except one (the chocolate chestnut one). I’ve always meant to cook the last one on my list to, but somehow have never gotten round to it, well not yet anyhow.

Chocolate Fruit Cake
An extremely moist fruit cake, fruity with the usual fruit and prunes (which I love) too. Not overtly chocolate-y and doesn’t taste of the Tia Maria coffee liqueur in it either, it just all adds to the depth of flavour this cake.

Chocolate Honey Cake
A really intense chocolate his this one, very small portions! I very mich enjoyed making the marzipan bees, mine are not perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but I still like them a lot. I couldn’t force myself to dot the bees all over the cake, I’m far to ordered for that (!), so a bee ring it was.

Chocolate Orange Cake
A simple chocolate and orange cake, low fat and flour free, so perfect if you have issues with flour. I had to decorate it a bit, so I melted a little milk chocolate and dotted spots round the cake, which I toped with candied orange slices. Overnight the moisture from the chocolate seeps into the candied orange and makes them taste better and look like little jewels to boot.

Chocolate Raspberry Heart
Chocolate, cream and raspberries. A classic cake, and very pretty in real like too.

Old fashioned Chocolate Cake
A plain iced chocolate cake. I made this cake first the day of Prince Charles and Camilla got married, five years ago. I’ve kept the picture though and never see this cake without thinking of them. I’m not even royalist, maybe just very sentimental, with high hope for love and romance.

Rigatoni al Forno
This make a huge dish of pasta, but then it is for feeding a crowd.

Cornbread topped Chilli Con Carne
We love the chilli, and I’ve made it lots of times, but alas the cornbread topping was really not our thing. The guacamole is fabulous too.

Chocolate Cheesecake
Smooth, smooth, smooth and chocolate-y!

Rococoa Cake
I was so chuffed with myself the first time I made this, it is so pretty, tastes great too.

Easter Egg Nest Cake
This is another pretty one. The chocolate cream made it too rich for us, I’d rather just have simple whipped cream on top of the cake.

Holiday Trifle
Apricot and pandoro trifle. No alcohol, so fine for all the family. Flavoured with cardamon and topped with honey, pistachios and almonds.

Georgian Cherry Rice
Goodness, I love this rice! Fruit and rice, oh yes!! I have often made this in a pan as an accompaniment to other dishes, it doesn’t have the depth of flavour of being cooked inside the roast chicken, but I like it either way.

Georgian Stuffed Chicken with Beetroot Puree and Green Beans in Herbed Yoghurt
Lovely, I like a bit of pan juices-gravy with this too. A real feast.

Kedgeree Risotto
This is gorgeous. I don’t often do fishy risotto, don’t know why because the two I do make I just adore.

Malteser Cake
I’ve kept the best till last. One of my all time favourite cakes, moist and tender sponge, malty frosting and a few Maltesers for good measure. I have made this one for so many different things, a family tradition in our house now. I know from reading on food forums and Nigella.com that this cake and the Chocolate Guinness one have people really divided. They both seem to be loved or loathed, I dislike the Guinness one with a passion, but love this one in equal measure. I’m sure there is a chocolate cake to please everyone in the Chocolate Cake Hall of Fame.

Tuesday 6 April 2010

Feed Me Now

This posts book Feed Me Now by Bill Granger (Quadrille Publishing) came out last year in 2009. I am conscious of neglecting my Bill books a bit, I guess it happens when you have, ahem – well too many cookbooks, don’t tell anyone I said that now will you? Recently though, I got my new Bill off the shelf and we have enjoyed a number of great family meals from it since.

The chapters are Rise and Shine, Midday Fuel, Afternoon Treat, Family Fare, The Dinner Dash, On a Shoestring, Freeze Me, Friends Over and Sweet Dreams. The layout is clean and bold, but softened too by very good use of colour in the text. This book is a bit bigger in page size than most, loads of fresh, light and gorgeous looking pictures and all the recipes I’ve tried have worked really well.

The book is as the title would suggest for feeding yourself and your family right now, when you haven’t long to linger over the prep and cooking, the results are fresh and delicious though, and good for busy days cooking.

Some more recipes I have on my list from this book are Italian Onion Soup, Melt and Mix Lemon Slice, Grilled Beef with Sweet Chilli Relish, Fettuccine with Asparagus Pesto, Pork Steaks with Cashew Nut Salsa and Gooey Chocolate Cake with Raspberries.

Porcini and Pancetta Risotto
I did use Bill’s recipe here, but varied it a little by using 2 leeks instead of onions, Marsala instead of white wine and stirring through one tablespoon of mascarpone at the end. I only did this really to use up bit and pieces I already had, but I’m sure Bill would not mind, he seems a very easy going cook on TV. It was delicious.

Baked Chicken with Lemon, Potato and Green Olives
Quick, tasty and kind of comforting too, what more could you want for a quick midweek meal?

Spicy Prawn Stir Fry
This is at its most basic a Thai red curry, it’s quick because it uses a bought paste, but it’s a lot lighter than many of its kind as there are lots of vegetables and not too much coconut milk. I love this one a lot.

Chicken and Shitake Stir Fry
Great family friendly Asian stir fry, but then I really adore kecap manis. I thickened up the juices at the end, by adding one teaspoon of cornflour (mixed with some water to make a smooth paste) at the end. Have made this one a number of times.

Grilled Pork with Warm Cranberry Dressing and Pistachios
This was just gorgeous, my family are big fans of meat and fruit together, and this was right up our street. Very nice supper indeed.

Blueberry Tea Cake
I tend to think of Bill for savoury recipes more than sweet, I’m not sure why this is. After trying this cake though I’, going to try more of his sweet ones, it’s really knockout. The blueberries are juicy, the sponge moist, the icing a perfect crowing glory.
For the recipe for this wonderful cake click here.