Thursday, September 30, 2010

Nigella's Kitchen



Weeeeeeeeee!  I have it, I have it!  The new Nigella book!  Kitchen!  I haven't been this excited about a new cookbook since, well, Nigella Christmas!  I've actually had Kitchen for a couple of weeks now (pre-ordered from the UK, thank-you!), and I'd love to share with y'all what I've been cooking so far!  I am absolutely loving the book, and just quietly, I was really, really tempted to do another project and cook every single recipe... but you know, with a full time job I don't think it would have been totally achievable.  (Although, now that I re-read the book jacket, I see Kitchen only has 190 recipes, and it is quite likely I'll end up cooking everything anyway!)

Kitchen is a big heaving compendium, or as I think of it... 487 pages of pure awesome!  There are loads of pretty pictures - how is it that Nigella never seems to age? - and reams and reams of Nigella's fabulous prose too.  Fans will love it!  It's divided into 2 sections: Kitchen Quandaries (express-style recipes) and Kitchen Comforts, which include longer, more involved (but not complicated) recipes.  There's a good mixture between sweet and savoury, with the sweet recipes looking particularly tempting - sweet and salty crunch nut bars, treacle slice, grasshopper pie, and blondies, just to name a few.  So far I've been cooking mainly from the Quandaries section, but hopefully this will change over the next few weekends.

So, without further ado I present to you...

Egg and Bacon Salad

The first recipe I made, was the egg and bacon salad, when I was in the mood for a light lunch.  (Light in taste, not in calories obviously!)  Nigella suggests frisée or endive, but I chose plain' old cos lettuce, because it was cheaper, and it reminds me of Caesar salad.  The salad consists of hardboiled eggs, fried bacon (I chopped up a lovely piece of speck), the lettuce, parsley, and a light dressing.  Easy and delicious.


Tarragon Chicken

The tarragon chicken is, hands down, my favourite recipe from the book so far.  I've already made it twice!  Tarragon used to be a very hard-to-find ingredient, but it seems to be available at most Woolworths these days.
Fresh tarragon
It only takes about 20 minutes all up - cook spring onions in a pan, brown the chicken, pour some wine over, clamp on a lid and let it cook through.  Stir some cream and chopped tarragon into the sauce, and it's done!  I served it with rice and green veg, rescued from the depths of my freezer.


It was incredibly delicious, and even the skinless chicken breast was tender thanks to the poaching/steaming method.  So fabulous.  Note to self: always triple the sauce!


Mexican Lasagne with Avocado Salsa


This is a "lasagne" in terms of structure, not flavour.  Layers of tortillas, a jalapeño-ed tomato sauce, and a bean/corn/cheese mixture.  There are a lot of ingredients, but it's pretty simple to put together and cheap!  As per Nigella's suggestion I made the avocado salsa, which was like a chunky un-mushed guacamole, the sharp limey flavour of which contrasted well with the rich lasagne.



Speedy Scallopine with Rapid Roastini

So obviously, the below aren't scallopine (thin fillets of meat that cook quickly), but look how beautiful these pork chops are!  They're free range Otway pork - lovely!  I coated them in spiced flour and panfried them.


Hehe... look how crispy the edges got!  Unfortunately my griller is broken, so I couldn't peel off the rind and make proper crackling.  But that was probably for the best.

The rapid roastini are simply gnocchi, which are fried or roasted in a pan.  Rather like Schupfnudeln, but without having to make them from scratch. Although, apparently in Germany you can buy Schupfnudeln in packets in the supermarket, much like we buy gnocchi here.  Lucky!

I roasted them in the oven for ease, but I think they'd be even nicer fried in a pan.  It's a quick and easy way to get potatoes on the table for a midweek meal.  The pork chops, the roastini, plus a tin of my favourite beans made a wonderful dinner.



"My Mother's Praised Chicken"

Nigella devotes a whole chapter to "Chicken and its place in my kitchen", the first recipe of which is a lovely chicken soup.  Being big chicken soup eaters at my house, I've already made this twice, and I think it will be my default chicken soup recipe from now on.  It's extremely easy, and lends itself to any number of variations.  In fact, tonight for dinner we had this soup with our beloved Markklöβchen.  I think you know you've found a good recipe when it becomes part of your repertoire, and when you feel comfortable altering it depending on your mood.


I like the fact that you use a whole chicken for the recipe, rather than a carcass or wings, as it gives more meat for later, yum yum.  At the moment it takes me about 20 minutes to set everything ready and in the pot for its 2-hour simmering time, but I reckon the more I make it the faster I'll get.


The first time I made the praised chicken was last week, for my parents after they came back from an indulgent 10-day holiday in Japan, as I thought they'd appreciate a nice light and cleansing dinner (or cheng, as we say in Hokkien).  Let's just ignore the fact that we inhaled a whole lotta Pierre Hermé macarons straight after, hehehe.



Curly Pasta with Feta, Spinach and Pine Nuts

This pasta recipe comes from the Off the Cuff chapter, which is based on storecupboard recipes.  I did need to buy frozen spinach and feta, but had everything else lying around the kitchen (I used macaroni instead of the cavatappi Nigella suggests.)  The sauce is rich with spinach and feta, and I prefer my pasta a bit saucier than Nigella's (ooer!), so I might reduce the amount of pasta next time.


So now that I've compiled my Kitchen photos, I see I've started with the more practical, express-style recipes, but trustez-moi, I have my eye on some rather fabulously impressive recipes too!  Watch this space.

14 comments:

almostalwaysravenous said...

sounds like an awesome book! is it on sale here yet? =)
ah simple and tasty!

LR said...

OMG, please, please, PLEASE do "Sarah Gets into Kitchen!!!" You have totally made my day with the mere suggestion of the consideration!
I get my copy in 12 days. Can't wait...and will follow your progress (because we all know I don't cook).
Lisa xoxo

penny aka jeroxie said...

Oh wow! You are a nigella fan... big time.

My Restaurants Melbourne said...

do you have the recipe for mexican lasagne? please post, I'd love to have a go at that one. nice photos

Sarah said...

@almostalwaysravenous - I think it's at Borders here now, but I haven't been to the shops in ages so I wouldn't know, sorry! You're right, it IS awesome! :)

@Lisa - Lol you're funny! So excited for when you get your copy, you will LOVE it!!

@Penny - Lol, Yup!

@My Restaurants Melbourne - Thank-you! Unfortunately it's not my recipe to share. Especially as I plan to cook most of the recipes from the book, I don't think I should start posting up the recipes! Sorry! :(

xox Sarah

Bridgett said...

Wow, everything looks wonderful! I loved the tarragon chicken when I tried it and loved how simple and quick it was with such delicious results. If you haven't tried her chicken with greek sauce, give that one a go...its so yummy. So what's next? lol

Celeste @ Berrytravels said...

Oh, I've never thought to even look at Nigella's books. But looking through the stuff you have made from her books is changing my mind!

Boffcat said...

Mmm, I'll have to try that tarragon chicken! So far my top Nigella Kitchen recommendations are the Carbonnade à la flamande and the Guinness gingerbread - but then you can tell that one's going to be delicious just from the name...

Iron Chef Shellie said...

Have ordered... can't wait to try the recipes!

Youmi said...

I read your post about Korean food. Yes, I'm Korean. Hi!
I'm a big fan of Nigella, so I get to you surfing her.
I can't get "Kitchen" yet.
I expect you to cook Nigella's dishes.

Sarah said...

@Bridgett - Well, I made the pork knuckle... and the apple/almond muffins... and the crustless pizza! Click on the "Nigella Kitchen" icon on my sidebar to keep up with the recipes! :) Will have a look at the Greek chicken, looks yummy!

@Celeste - Nigella is so deeply fabulous. I know lots of people are put off by the celebrity chef thing, and the supposed innuendo in her programs (although I never pick those up, lol), but her recipes are amazing! So suited to my cooking style. :)

@Iron Chef Shellie - Fabulous! Can't wait to see you blog about some of the recipes!

@Youmi - Yes ma'am! :D

xox Sarah

Anonymous said...

Very impressed by your efforts, the pictures look great! Just bought Nigella's book myself, and got it autographed by the lady herself, at a book signing in New Jersey. Absolutely stunning bone structure, very pale, not all THAT big, but wobbily voluptuous. Not healthy looking. It's just plain BAD for you to eat too much of her style food. Be warned. Lovely lady, a bit shy under her public persona. That voice!

traduda said...

I am hoping to cook the Praised Chicken soon, but not sure which pot to use. Don't have one that is the size she used on the show. What size did you use? My chicken is 5 lbs. Thanks!

Angela Montenegro said...

Omg I've wanted to try cooking the Tarragon chicken ever since I found the recipe in InStyle (they put some of Nigella's recipes in it). Now that I know where to buy tarragon I will definitely try this soon!