Woohoo! I have had Nigella Express for a whole week now, thanks to a gorgeous friend of mine who ordered it for me online. It's already out in the UK, but won't make it to Australian shores until the end of the October. How could I wait?
Needless to say, I absolutely love it! It's got heaps of gorgeous pictures, and really great recipes and ideas. The chapters all have different themes - e.g. breakfast, Mexican, cooking in advance, holidays, parties, workdays etc., and there is a large variety in terms of the type of recipes. I've been reading it voraciously, and cooking from it a lot. Even though I am quite busy at the moment, I've been able to try heaps of the recipes, because they are all express - easy and fast, but still delicious.
These little babies were made on request of my friend who bought me the book. They're a mixture of rice bubbles, cornflakes, quick oats and sesame seeds, held together with some melted butter, chocolate and rice malt syrup. Interestingly enough, I had the rice malt syrup in my pantry, whilst I had to make a shopping trip to get the rice bubbles and cornflakes. The finished product was chewy and moreish, and a good alternative from the usual tea-time treats.
Fast fries - bash a few potatoes with a rolling pin, and shallow fry in oil for 6 minutes a side, partially covered. It's one of the fastest way of making potatoes that I've tried. We had these for dinner one night to go with a marinated chicken from a semi-gourmet poultry shop and some mushrooms. I fried them in some northern European rapeseed oil, which I recently received from a friend of mine. According to the label, it has a feinem butteraroma, is low in saturated fat, has a high smoking point, and is full of those good omega-3 fats that my doctor says we're supposed to eat more of. Perfect for making you less guilty about eating fries. The fries themselves had a great contrast between soft interior, and crunchy outside, with lots of crunch coming from the irregularly bashed potatoes. Fabulous.
I made the following menu when I went over to my friend Frances' house for dinner and a girly chat / catch-up / gossip session.
Scallops and Chorizo
Chickpeas with Rocket and Sherry
Flourless Chocolate Brownies
The scallops and chickpeas were super-simple, taking only 30 minutes to put together. You chop, you fry. That's about it! My friend also made a salad of finely sliced celery, Neil Perry's Classic Mayonnaise and walnuts. (See the background of the photo below). I wasn't sure if I'd like the salad, but the combination was superb. Thank-you Frances!
We then made the flourless chocolate brownies; mainly because we had all the ingredients at hand. The only appropriate baking dish we had was a ceramic pie dish. It was slightly smaller than the recipe requires, and took a bit longer to bake. We added white chocolate chips to the mixture because white chocolate is awesome. It was crusty on the top, and meltingly soft within. If you let it set overnight in the fridge, you'd end up with firmly sliceable brownies. We, however, ate it straight out of the oven like a molten chocolate pudding.
Linguine with Lemon, Garlic and Thyme Mushrooms
I had been wanting to make this pasta dish ever since I spied it in the TimesOnline.co.uk previews of Nigella Express. I absolutely love Nigella's pasta recipes and couldn't wait to try it. For this, you steep sliced chestnut mushrooms (I used the cheaper, fresher-looking Swiss browns at the market) in olive oil, lemon juice and zest, salt, pepper, and thyme. Then, you simply toss hot pasta through the mushrooms, sprinkle with parsley, and eat.
It was absolutely wonderful. I will definitely be making this again!
Finally, we have the meal I made for my good friends Daniel and Kevin last night. Absolutely easy peasy.
Tarte Fine aux Pommes
We found all the ingredients at the local Safeway, did the shopping in half an hour, and got dinner ready in about 45 minutes. We had mashed potatoes to go with, made by Kevin "I'm-Irish-so-I-know-how-to-make-mashed-potatoes". I was very impressed with the stew. For something that only simmers for 25 minutes, it had a surprising depth of flavour.
For dessert, we had the tarte fine aux pommes. It's just a sheet of puff pastry, pricked all over and covered with thin apple slices. (Nigel Slater has something very similar in Appetite). However, according to Kevin, this tart is "totally a Ready-Steady-Cook thing". Whatever, despite its total simplicity, it does look very fancy..
8 recipes in 7 days! Almost feels like How to Eat all over again.
But wait! There's more... I currently have some pork ribs and chicken marylands marinating in the fridge, to become Maple Chicken n' Ribs tomorrow night. Stay tuned!