Chicken Cosima

A slightly unusual name for this dish, but it makes sense – it comes from Simply Nigella and is the dish Nigella made for her daughter Cosima’s 21st birthday. Apparently it contains all the things Cosima likes best – and we can concur that she’s got good taste!

That said, I did muck up the quantities. The chicken thighs we’d bought had gone off so I had to go and buy more but the supermarket only had larger packs… the recipe in the book is to serve six, but although I halved the quantities I ended up using enough chicken for six people. Whoops.

Still, we ate it all. As I said before, Cosima has good taste.

Apricot Almond Cake with Rosewater and Cardamom

We’d polished off the matcha cake from Simply Nigella and with a day off work, I couldn’t resist making another cake. This cake comes from the same book, but you can also find the recipe on Nigella’s website.

Despite the slightly esoteric list of ingredients, it’s actually remarkably easy to make – I hadn’t even given the oven enough time to warm up completely. There are strong parallels between this and the clementine cake we made a few weeks ago, since it involves lots of eggs and begins with boiling some fruit – but boiling dried apricots for 10 minutes is a lot less tedious than boiling clementines for two hours!

The end result is very nice indeed. A dense but light cake with an unusual but beautiful set of flavours. Neither the apricot, the cardamom or the rosewater dominates but the end result is lovely.

Spiced and Fried Haddock with Broccoli Purée

Continuing this week’s Simply Nigella theme, tonight it’s another recipe. Given all the bad press which processed red meat has been getting, it’s probably a good thing that we’re having fish for dinner too.

I had to double check the ingredients for this a few times – although the recipe is for two people, it calls for 500g of frozen broccoli (that’s nearly 18oz) which seemed a huge amount. However, when you cook it and blitz it into puree, the volume reduces dramatically. The end result is that you eat a hell of a lot of vegetables without really realising it.

We made a couple of substitutions – no coconut oil for the puree, so we used butter instead. And in the absence of gluten free flour we just used the plain stuff. I must admit, I didn’t think that the ginger and paprika in the seasoning were all that noticeable, but the end result was a nice bit of fish and an interesting variation on mushy peas / cooked broccoli.

Matcha Cake with Pomegranate Icing

Dessert tonight also comes from Simply Nigella. We’ve had a stash of matcha tea sat in the cupboard from our last trip to Paris so this was a great opportunity to put it to an unusual use.

The cake is a chiffon cake – separating egg whites and yolks, which means lots of folding in but should result in a lighter cake. I think I overdid it and knocked a fair bit of the air out of mine; the end result looks a bit flatter than the pictures in the book. Also I couldn’t track down any cherry juice so, as suggested in the book, I went with pomegranate juice instead to get the same pink colour in my icing.

End result is a very nice but slightly unusual cake. You can definitely taste the matcha; it’s a tea like flavour but a bit more fresh and bitter. The sweetness of the icing offsets it beautifully though. Taste aside though, it’s a very visually striking cake.

Slow Cooked Korean Beef and Rice Pot

After meeting Nigella last week and getting our copy of Simply Nigella signed, this is the first week in which we’ll be trying out some of the recipes from it. Since it’s Sunday and we’ve nowhere to be, one of the slow cook recipes from the book seemed like a good place to start.

This recipe scores extra points for using gochujang, the magical Korean chilli paste which we’ve used in other recipes from Nigella in the past. In fact, the very first post on our blog was for her Korean Keema which uses gochujang.

It’s incredibly easy this one. We don’t have a slow cooker, so we used a cast iron lidded pot in the oven. Everything goes in the pot, you mix it up and then leave it for about 2.5 hours. Just before the end you quickly cook some beansprouts and throw them into the pot for the last 10 minutes. Dinner is served!

We also had some thick buttered bread on the side for some extra carbs and calories; very useful for mopping up the juices!

Sri Lankan Cauliflower and Butternut Squash Curry

We may have met Nigella today, but today’s dinner comes from Thrive on Five. It’s a big plate of vegetables with a nice helping of spice.

My ingredient photo is a bit short – I missed out a few things like turmeric, creamed coconut and vegetable stock, but you get the gist. I was a bit worried it wouldn’t all fit in the pan I was using but it did – just.

We served it up with some rice, plus a big dollop of yoghurt topped with cinnamon. There was a little bit more than we could manage, although we had used more butternut squash and cauliflower than we were supposed to simply because of the size of what we bought. It wasn’t the most authentic curry flavour we’ve made (Nigel Slater still wins I reckon) but it was very nice all the same. A very pleasant way to get our five a day.

Meatballs and Tomato Sauce

We’ve had a copy of Nigella Bites on the shelf for a few years now but never seem to really use it. I’m not sure why, so I dusted it off and decided to give her homemade meatballs and pasta sauce a try. The full recipe actually includes making your own pasta, but that was a step too far for a dinner that I’m cooking after a long day at work!

Making the meatballs is pretty easy, mixing mince with egg, salt, pepper, oregano and breadcrumbs. This is then shaped into balls which go in the fridge whilst you get on with the sauce. The sauce is pretty simple too – chopped onion, garlic and oregano are fried in butter before adding tomato passata and water. A pinch of salt, pepper and sugar gets added too. Bring it to the boil and add a little milk, then put the meatballs in the simmering liquid. Wait for them to change colour before stirring and then cook for about 20 minutes.

By the time it’s ready the sauce has really thickened up and the end result is rather special. We enjoyed this one a lot – very satisfying, even if it does take longer to make than just whacking some pre-prepared meatballs in a jar of pasta sauce.

Cranberry and Walnut Chocolate Brownies

This one comes from a book we’ve not used in a while – Paul Hollywood’s How to Bake.

The recipe is very easy to follow, as long as you can resist eating the enormous block of Bourneville chocolate which is involved. Not sure how Americans would make this without ready access to Cadbury’s classic chocolate bar?

Unfortunately, something went wrong. Despite following the cooking guidelines, the end result was too soft in the middle. We tried it in the oven for longer but the edges started to dry out and burn but the middle was still too gooey. I suspect the problem was that I used large eggs instead of medium eggs – in hindsight I should have cooked it for longer at a slightly lower temperature, and perhaps covered it with foil.

All that said, the brownie which was salvageable was damn good and is rapidly disappearing from the kitchen.

Beef Stew with Anchovies and Thyme

We’ve been enjoying the delights of some slow cooked meals on and off over the last few, so we decided to give this one a try from Nigella’s How To Eat. There’s a slightly tweaked version of the recipe on her website, and that’s the one we went with.

The joy of this is that you can take some fatty stewing steak which would be tough and gristly under most circumstances and transform it into something mouthwateringly tender and succulent over the course of the three hours this spends in the oven.

It’s super easy to make, throwing the onion, garlic, carrots and garlic in a pot to soften and then the steak cut into pieces. You then throw in the thyme, anchovies, and pour over some wine, some marsala, some tomato puree and some beef stock. Slam it in the oven with a lid on and wait whilst the house gradually starts to smell amazing. Don’t fret about the anchovies – there’s no fishy flavour at the end.

Were it not for the time involved, this would be one of the easiest recipes we’ve ever made. This is the kind of thing you could serve up to dinner guests and they’d think you were the world’s greatest chef.