Chicken Satay With Pak Choi

In spite of beginning with a Bank Holiday, this is going to be a particularly busy week for one Hungry Boy. With the main criteria for the week’s recipes being ‘ease’, how interesting that all recipes should end up being Nigel Slater ones. 

The ease of this recipe is that most of the ingredients just go in the food processor, so there is zero prep. Wizz hot chillies (we used up a big one that was lurking in the fridge too) with peanuts, soy sauce, ginger and oil, then smear the paste over two chicken breasts.

Bake these in the oven for thirty minutes, then when they’re almost done quickly stir-fry the Pak choi in a little soy sauce.

The paste makes a delicious crust with a subtle heat that builds and clears your sinuses for the evening.

Lemon Polenta Cake

Sorry for bombarding you with posts today, but I’ve been catching up a bit after getting behind. No excuse other than laziness!

The last post today is for some of Nigella’s lovely lemon polenta cake from Kitchen. We’ve made this many times before and love it, so with a few lemons sat in the fruit bowl it seemed a good way of using them up.

On top of that, we also had a huge sack of polenta in the cupboard. Normally we have coarse polenta in, but we’d mistakenly bought fine this time around. Nigella actually says to use fine for this recipe, and it works really well but I must confess that we prefer the slightly grainier texture from using coarse – it makes the cake a bit more unusual.

Sweet, lemony and crumbly. Gluten free too, if that’s important to you.

Salmon in a Creamy Herb Sauce with Spinach

I think I overstretched myself with this one – an attempt to mix up two recipes. The main is salmon in a cream and herb sauce from Nigel Slater’s The 30-Minute Cook. To accompany it, I thought that a spinach dish from Nigella;a Feast would fit the bill. We don’t actually have a copy of Feast, but this recipe is available on her website.

It didn’t go to plan though. In short, my salmon was thick and took longer to cook than expected which meant I had some rapidly cooling potatoes and spinach whilst my salmon was getting more and more burnt on the outside. As a result, the creamy sauce ended up being a bit of a non-starter.

That said, despite the disappointment we both managed to polish off what was on our plates, so it can’t have been too bad. I think that in hindsight I was asking for trouble, taking two recipes which are quite quick to prepare individually, but which in combination meant there was little margin of error.

Sausage and Bean Risotto

I’m always a fan of a one pot recipe for a simple reason – less washing up. So I had another look through One Pot Wonders and found this risotto recipe. It uses Toulouse sausages which we can get from the supermarket and have enjoyed many times in some of Nigella’s recipes.

I cooked this in a stovetop casserole dish, but should probably have used a big pan instead – the moisture stopped the sausage meat balls from crisping up as intended, but that didn’t stop it being a big, hearty and flavourful dish. If anything, there was almost too much to eat… but we paced ourselves and (surprise, surprise) there were no leftovers in the end…

Coq au Riesling

This recipe is really an excuse to have some mid-week wine. The recipe comes from Nigella Express, is for 4-6 people, and a whole bottle of Riesling is an ingredient. We halved the recipe which left us with half a bottle of wine to enjoy!

The method here is super super simple. Garlic oil and pancetta (supposedly bacon lardons but we substituted) cook in a pan before you throw in some chopped leek, oyster mushrooms and chopped chicken thighs. Pour the wine over, chuck in some bay leaves and pop the lid on. About 30-40 minutes later you’ve got dinner. 

Nigella suggests buttered noodles with these – I just slapped some tagliatelle in the bowl and that suited us just fine. 

Easy prep, easy wash up. If you’re prepared to twiddle your thumbs whilst it cooks, this is a lovely easy supper. 

Trillionaire Shortbread

So we’d watched Jim Chapman making millionaire shortbread on YouTube. We were inspired to make some and went rummaging through our cookery books to find a recipe… we didn’t just find a millionaire though, we found John Whaite’s recipe for trillionaire shortbread in his first book John Whaite Bakes.

Ingredients-wise it’s pretty simple, and the method is too. The tricky part is the timing: make the shortbread, let it cool; make the caramel and pour it over the shortbread, let it cool and set; then finally make the chocolate ganache and pour it over. The caramel took an age to firm up, so most of today was spent hanging around the house and occasionally giving it a prod.

I also made a major blunder… I used golden caster sugar instead of regular, which meant that the key step in making caramel (“wait until it turns amber”) was lost on me because it started out that colour! But it all worked out in the end.

End result? Utterly, utterly decadent and delicious. I was feeling really guilty after eating a slice until I discovered Daniel Frazer has an even more calorific version.

Chowder with Asian Flavours

Dinner tonight comes from Nigella Lawson’s Express and is a pretty quick one. Cook potatoes and leeks in chicken stock with bay leaves and mace. Then add some smoked cod, coconut milk and lime juice and let the fish cook before adding some prawns and tinned sweetcorn.

Personally, I wasn’t a fan of this one. The lime juice ruined it for me and made the sauce much too bitter. I managed to save it a bit by adding some caster sugar to counteract it, but the flavours didn’t really do anything for me. Mark on the other hand thoroughly enjoyed it.

A shame really. I’d always though this recipe looked good in the book, so it’s a bit disappointing that I didn’t enjoy it in the end. We didn’t go hungry though… check out the next blog post…

Chocolate Orange Loaf Cake

When I found out one of my colleagues at work had a birthday coming up, obviously a cake was required! But with limited time, I also needed something quick and easy so I turned to this recipe by Nigella which always reliably turns out a great cake. All the orange in it makes it really aromatic too.

But I can’t make a cake for the office and let Mark go without. So I baked two. Imagine the scene – a huge vat of chocolate orange cake mixture with its scent wafting through the house.

The cake went down a storm at work. And at home, we’re enjoying it very much as well. 

Anna del Conte’s Lamb Ragu

A few years ago Mark worked with an Italian lady who gave him a copy of Anna del Conte’s “The Gastronomy of Italy”. It’s a truly beautiful book but not one we’ve cooked from very much. Whilst having a browse I spotted a recipe for lamb ragu which reminded me of a similar recipe in Nigella’s repertoire. Nigella is a fan of Anna do this makes sense and there are strong similarities between the recipes. 

That said, Anna’s is somewhat more involved with mushrooms, red wine and red wine vinegar. There’s also a lot cooking things and then taking them out of the pan for a bit. I took the lazy route and skipped as much of this as possible, trying to turn it into a (nearly) one pot. 

End result? Big flavour. Big success. A bit more fiddly than Nigella’s but a more rounded result. I’ve got a feeling we’ll be coming back to this book. 

Pan-fried White Fish, Chorizo and White Bean Broth

A combination of all typically Spanish things, this BBC Good Food recipe seems a fairly good balance between simplicity and authenticity. Chorizo and cubes of white bread are fried with garlic to make croutons, while white beans (we used haricot) are boiled with thyme and bay leaf. 

Fry an onion with paprika, add the drained beans and some chicken stock: there’s your broth.

Pan fry the fish, and serve on the broth (not forgetting the sprinkles!)

In hindsight, the execution wasn’t quite as straight forward as I’d hoped, and I can’t help but wonder whether Nigella has any recipes like this – it’s right up her street, and her version would be much more streamlined and simple. Maybe it was the large quantity of washing up for a ‘bowl food’ meal. My haricot beans came from a tin unlike the dried beans described in the recipe, so perhaps they could be cooked straight in the broth. Then, close to the end of the broth’s coking time, the fish could be pan fried, set aside, and the croutons and chorizo rapidly cooked in the same frying pan.